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GoldList Method Explained Part 5 – The GoldList Book: The Distillations


Headlisting is the first thing you do in the GoldList book and, at the beginning of any project using GLM, for a time it will be the only thing you’ll do, but in the long run only around 30% of our time is spent in this activity, and 70% on the distillations, as the graph below demonstrates:

glcamemb

The blue 30% is the amount of overall time you’ll spend putting your materials into the Headlist, and the remaining three areas of the book you have before you now are 21%, 15% and 10% of the total so that this book (as we have intimated before this is called a “Bronze” level book and what is coming up is hinted at in the left hand part of the diagram) makes up in total 76%, a little over three quarters, of the time and effort needed to bring a project to its conclusion, given the assumption that we stick to 70% distillation, which is on the conservative side, as you will find for yourself no doubt, in due course.

That was part of the so-called ‘big picture” and maybe you got that right away, maybe you were confused. Never fear, we will now take this all step by step.

5.1 The First Distillation

So, now you are at a point in time where two weeks have passed since you last looked at the material in the Headlist. You will hopefully NOT have not been looking it over in the meantime trying to remember it, because if you have you have been basically doing an Anki or Supermemo without the computer and those methods work the other way round to GLM and require more work. They can’t be combined together with GLM. You need to have Headlist lines that you have not seen as such for two or more weeks. Remember the minimum is two weeks, there’s no upper deadline set in stone, although some people work to a soft deadline of two months, just to pace themselves, but that’s entirely optional.

If you happen to have come across some of the same words while carrying on with studying the language in the GoldList it doesn’t matter. Don’t get worried about that and also don’t get worried if you see in a minute that because you forgot a word you included it again in the Headlist, that happens and it’s quite natural. All it means is you get a better distilling result for that page, the second time you come across it. It all comes out in the wash.

Common words will be encountered almost every time you work with the language and of course you will learn them, so no need to worry if you see them too often while working with the GLM.

OK, so now, you can make a distillation, which means taking what you don’t know from the Headlist and writing it out again in a new List which will always be on the top right of the double page, opposite where your Headlist is. It will have its own numbering system, and of course through all the books any retained item will have a number about 70% of the one it had in the previous list.

You can make a distillation plan or just distil straight of you prefer. You can test yourself, by covering up half the page if you want to do that. I personally find no need to do that.

Basically if you make a plan for the distillation, you are marking up the previous list (in this case the Headlist) to show that you remembered the item to your satisfaction and won’t therefore include it again at all, or that you have some recall but maybe not enough of the word or phrase or information the line contains, and you therefore Combine it (or in later distillations possibly reCombine it) with another line in order to lose one line. It is also possible to Combine more than one line at once.

I use a cross with a circle around it for outright kicking out, and the same cross with a circle but with lines coming out to indicate lines I want to join in a Combination (or Recombination, for those Combined on an earlier distillation – more on this below). You can pick your own symbols and develop them, but I have a standard set I use which are as follows:

35242233_10156418439439328_8641819102605737984_o

As you can see there are a lot of signs which can be made and some specific to your own needs as a learner and even differ from project to project. The main place to use such symbols is in a distillation plan and it helps to make sure you get the most out of distilling. Please note the comments section below where I am indebted to Arrowhead for requiring a closer explanation of some of these symbols.

The plan is done not long before the actual distillation, maybe just before it. The plan should not be done prior to the end of the two-week “fermentation” period – as any good whisky maker knows, you first have to ferment before you can distil!

So whether you test yourself or you make a distillation plan or do neither of these things, effectively the questions you are asking in order to decide what happens to a line are the same:

  1. Do I have any recall whatsoever of this line, or does it feel as if I must have been blind drunk at the time and have no memory of ever seeing it before? (If there is total absence of recall, and it feels like you are looking at this line for the first time, then you need to write it out again as it is)
  2. Do I feel I have total recall of the line, and have even been thinking about it or actually using it recently, since the two-week fermentation period ran out? Or would I know pretty well what it means and remember any irregularities about the item that I included on the line? (If so, then the item should be discarded and not included in the next list at all. If you have remembered it for more than two weeeks, the chances are high enough, functionally high enough, that you won’t forget it, it’s probably made it through to the long-term memory)
  3. I feel like I know this info but not quite well enough to be comfortable losing it entirely going forward, can I find some lines about which I feel the same way to match with in a Combining of lines? (If so, then you can Combine the lines).
  4. There’s also a question as to whether I even need the information. Sometimes on mature reflection we simply decide that something we copied from the material earlier is vocabulary we wouldn’t even need in our mother tongues, and we can kick such things out as well, but there really won’t be many in this category if we were wide awake when we did the Headlist.

5.2 How do I Combine the Lines?

There are several approaches to Combining lines

  1. Produce a collocation which reflects actual usage of the words involved. (You can do this if you have it in the materials, some courses do, in Assimil for instance the exercise parts of the lesson are very good for this), or
  2. Combine them so that you have like an imaginary title for a picture or poem. You can then imagine what sort of picture of poem or story that might be. Because this is a use of Creativity, it does not switch on the Short-term memory like forced repetition or forcing mnemonics can. Creativity was identified in part 2.8 as one of the things encouraging long-term memory, and the fact that there are more letters and syllables in the Combined version than in either of the initial lines doesn’t stop it being easier to remember than either was alone. Because you are giving context. Have you noticed that it is sometimes easier to remember people’s names by remembering the full name and not only the first name? or
  3. Recombining is when you are in a later Distillation and you look again at the lines that were combined and see a situation where one part is, against the odds, learned a bit better than the other. Now you can combine them again using the less-well-remembered parts, into a new title for an imaginary work, and lose another line. Imagine that you didn’t remember four words, the word for “cope with”, the word for “stew”, the word for “asparagus” and an expression for “shady business deals”. In one distillation you make the sentences “I can’t cope with these shady business dealings” and “Is there asparagus in this stew?” and have two lines from four. But reviewing it next time, let’s say you’ve remember the shady business expression and you also remember the asparagus, so the clear strategy is to recombine with a new sentence “I can’t cope with this stew”. That’s the idea of Combining and Recombining.
  4. Listing things together which are usually recited in order is a good use of combining, for example, numerals, the colour series of the rainbow, the days of the week, the months of the year, etc. These are naturally recited in order and so when combining you could take a Headlist where you have the seven days of the week and put them in D1 as “Monday, Tuesday” in one line, “Wednesday, Thursday” in the next. You might have that recombined as “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday” in the second distillation, and in the third you might be able to drop out parts and either abbreviate them or kick them out altogether.
  5. It can be useful to list opposites together also, “black and white”, “big and small”. This helps for adjectives most of all, but even phrases like “more or less” are useful, and in some languages you’ll note that they say “less or more, as in the Polish “mniej więcej”.
  6. If you cannot be sure that you know it, and cannot easily Combine it, and you feel that it is a waste of a whole line still including it, because it is a word you probably won’t use as you don’t use it much in your own language either, then you can also chuck the word out. We are aiming at a big passive reserve, therefore we DON’T keep words included which we know passively and would be perfectly able to understand in reading and writing, just because it doesn’t spring immediately to mind. This is why testing oneself into the target language from one’s own language leads to overly pessimistic results, unless you are a real superstar (like Lydia Machova, one of the best-known proponents of the GLM, who actually manages to do this) so I don’t recommend testing yourself that way. If you must, then test for understanding by covering your existing language, rather than the target language.
  7. Finally, when it comes to Distilling, remember Newton’s Third Law of Motion:

    Lex III: Actioni contrariam semper et æqualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse æquales et in partes contrarias dirigi.

Which basically means that “to every action there is always an opposed and equal    reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts”. Stated in another way, the action force is equal and opposite to the reaction force.

When you think that the same Creator created both the world of physics and the human mind, moreover placed the one in the bounds of the other for the time we are now experiencing, it is no surprise to note that in psychology this works very well also – restated as “for every conscious action there is an equal and opposite unconscious reaction”. If we consciously throw something away, we rarely go looking for it because we tend to remember very well what we have thrown out. We look around for things we accidentally lost, but what we intentionally threw out, we tend not to need to look for, but remember the object. Well, we can harness this in distilling too. Hence, Newton’s Third Law of Distilling reads thus: “If in doubt, chuck it out”.

Combining by the way is very flexible and is the thing which has been the biggest hurdle to those who have attempted to make apps for the GoldList Method. You can combine at will in the Excel version, but doing it in an App seems more tricky and nobody has seen a way round that yet. If you think you can programme that, let me know.

Okay, so we have done our first First Distillation. Most people at this point experience a positive surprise that the Method, counterintuitive as it seemed at first, did indeed lead to them being able to comfortably distil the list down and they are starting to get that if they rinse and repeat this process through the further Distillations, then they start to feel “Hey! I really am going to get all this material into my long-term memory, and as long as this David James bloke isn’t lying about the activation process (I’m not) then it is starting to dawn on me that if I keep doing this I will inexorably get to where I wanted to be in terms of learning a foreign language which I never could before”, or, for advanced learners “…really am going to be able to get more out of my decreasing available learning time”.

There is a minority of people, that’s become clear, who are not experiencing this quite yet and so we need to explain and recap a bit in the hope of helping those who are not getting the pleasant surprise most users are experiencing at this point.

5.3 What if I don’t manage to reduce a page by 30% on distillation?

The first thing to say is, for sure some pages are never going to be a 30% reduction. You may have tried to get to something like 17 lines or 18 from your 25 (or 13-14 for 20 line method folks) and either found it easy to do much more than that, or struggled and given up with a lower reduction, maybe only 10% down in some cases.

On a page-by-page basis, this is not something to worry about. It is not necessary for every page to have exactly the right amount, but if you distil, let’s say a hundred lines, and are not somewhere between sixty and eighty lines as a result from that hundred, then you need to ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Have I understood the above criteria for chucking out, retaining outright and Combining? Or am I setting myself too high a standard, as if the objective was to be continually active and not passive in the language? Because this misunderstanding about what needs to be done in actual fact is the single main reason some people (thankfully only a minority of attempters but you also matter to me, be sure of it) baulk at their result at this point. Please go back and be sure you understood the Eight Basic Concepts in part 2, and see how these are reflected in what we did with the HeadList and the Fermentation Period and the process of Distillation,
  2. The next reason for a lack of success can be mixing the Method with short-term memory methods which is done by approaching the same material with another method during the Fermentation Period. The GoldList Method is the opposite approach which means you leave them to be forgotten if they are only in the short-term memory. We are not renewing those synapses in the short-term memory so as to get ourselves confused in the time of Distilling. In particular people getting better than 40% consistently and then complaining that later on they forgot things they were supposed to have remembered for ever, might be doing that,
  3. Being ill, stressed, on medication, on alcohol, using drugs – these things are all not conducive to the normal function of the long-term memory,
  4. Ignoring what I said about the breaks is likely to cause your long-term memory to have gone on strike at some point in the process, leaving you with your short-term memory or nothing,
  5. If you really don’t like or trust your materials then you probably will subconsciously reject them, meaning the unconscious memory, the long-term memory, won’t play ball here either,
  6. Distractions, irritations and also music playing in the background are likely to mean you cannot harness the long-term memory to what you want.Some people say that they like to work, even revising for exams, with background music. But I will tell you as an absolute promise and in just a moment prove to you, that you cannot work this way with the long-term memory. As it is an unconscious process, you cannot dictate to the long-term memory which of the various inputs going on around you it should be sampling. You say you have had success before, revising to exams with music? Yes, that figures, I am sure you did. And equally sure that if I put the same exam in front of you two weeks later the retention rate would be very disappointing.  Not a problem if all you intended to do was pass an exam, but if you wanted to build on that info in your brain and use it through your whole life (as you do when learning a foreign language) then that was a fail, I’m afraid.   Think about this, background music study fans: how many pop songs do you know the lyrics to, without ever having made an attempt to rote learn them the way you needed to do for a handful of poems force fed to you by teachers in your early teens? And how many of those poems do you remember? I guess that you know lyrics, at least in part, to hundreds of pop songs. If I asked you to write down what lyrics you could remember from song after song of which I would play you just some opening bars, you would yourself be amazed at the huge long-term memory store you would be regurgitating onto the paper, and sometimes for songs you hadn’t heard for many years but used to like listening to. None of this did you ever purposefully intend to learn. But you would have difficulty reciting poems you did try very hard to learn at around the same time.By now, if you have been reading all of this carefully, you’ll know exactly why this phenomenon exists and you’ll recognise that your long-term memory was busy sampling all these songs effortlessly while your short-term memory was engaged at the other study.  If you love music, for sure that will be the first thing the long-term memory will sample, leaving what you think you are studying for the short-term memory which you don’t want for this, or nothing at all – which you don’t want either.  I’m not taking any responsibility for failure to get effects with the GoldList Method if users had music playing or insisted on trying to study while some distractions were going on in the background, even maybe some interesting conversation in a cafe. Try to keep these things to a minimum. If there are no other inputs for the long-term memory, then it must sample the language work you are doing, especially if you are motivated, interested, enjoy your chosen materials and have trust in them as reliable materials,
  7. Don’t just expect to be able to push your unconscious mind around. It is not always going to play the way you want. Ensure you are healthy, with plenty of fresh water, fresh air, exercise, sunlight, a balanced diet with no deficiencies, no bad molecules messing with your system, and plenty of sleep also. Then you can expect to get the best from all functions of your body, the conscious and unconscious ones alike.
  8. If all of the above is still not helping, you might like to try looking into the harmful effects of wheat consumption. Dr William R. Davies may have an explanation that will work for you. The fact is, there are people with such a permanent mental fog induced by wheat products that they don’t even realise what is going on with them until they stop eating it and it clears up. I think that a chemically healthier without the gluten and exorphine effects Dr Davies writes about cannot help but work and study better, including with the GLM, indeed this has been my own personal experience recently, hence my recommendation.

 

 

5.4 Practical Example of the First Distillation

If you refer back to 4.2, you will see some photos of the Headlist I made for Indonesian from the German textbook by Assimil “Indonesisch Ohne Muehe” used by kind permission of the publisher.

What you saw there was the first six double pages, that is the first 150 Headlist lines of this Project.

Here we see photos taken of the same double pages after the required two weeks of “fermentation” have passed, in fact nearly one month has passed as you’ll see and there’s absolutely no problem with that.

So here you see some distillation plan on the right hand side of the left hand page, the Xs in circles, sometimes incorporating brackets to plan combinations, or in some cases condensations of text.

This is maybe not an entirely typical case as I kept a little more of the H in D1 because of interesting things in the German text as well as the actual Indonesian being learned. People do ask me from time to time, “can you learn two languages at the same time with the GoldList Method?” The answer is ‘yes’, but especially ‘yes’ when using one to learn the other. I had, for example, forgotten since high school and dear old (young at the time) David Morgan chugging through Hammers German Grammar with us, that “meines Nachbarn” takes an -n and probably would have said “meines Nachbars”. Anyway 25 goes nicely into 16, and there will be more analysis of what’s kept and lost on this page when we look at the second distillation.

H26D1

So as you know the absence of a date at the top of this D1 list simply means that the one from the previous double page still is valid, i.e. we’re still on the 8th July.

Again we used a distillation plan with symbols. You might see an arrow showing to take info in the combination from several lines below, too long to use brackets comfortably.

Here the numbering of D1 goes from 17 to 33 because the previous page went up to 16. Each distillation level has its own sequential count over the entire length of the project, regardless of how many sequential bronze books need to be used.

33/50 is a very nice 2/3 ratio.

H51D1

Here we have much the same thing. A date is still not required, we still see evidence of a distillation plan, we are still using the sequential numbering, this time from 34-50 and 50/75 is still a very nice two-thirds ratio, showing us that we are on a good track.

H75D1

In fact, on this one, the fourth page, the date hasn’t changed, but I did put a reminder on the top of D1 to show that we are still on the same date. This is just to reduce possible time looking back and forth by me later on when I am checking review limits later on.

H101D1

You’ll notice that in this one I didn’t bother to do a distillation plan but still ended up with the same ratio, showing that it’s not always necessary to do such plans. If they help, do them, if not, don’t.

H126D1

And here’s the last one, very similar to the previous. I end up with 100 at D1 for 150 in that batch in H.

I mentioned the word Batch, and I might take a sideline inito it here, but it is a diversion from the main flow of ideas. The above was, in my mind, a single batch of work. I did those six double pages to H then waited while I was working on a different project (Agriculture, FWIW) and then did all six pages together to D1. I cannot go back and do them to D2 immediately, so either I could switch to working on one of my other GoldList Projects or develop the Headlist for more Indonesian. Well, 150 lines of a language won’t get anyone very far, and so there needs to be another set of work done on Indonesian before I can go back and do D2 on these six pages. So I call these Batch A and the next set I call Batch B. I will just show you the first and the last pages of Batch B at Headlist level and you’ll note the dates of it. H151H

As you see, it’s still the same date as I finished the D1 on Batch A. I went on and started the H for Batch B, and I also noted that this is Batch B.

H625H

So in the end I did 500 words in Batch B, before going back to do D3 on Batch A because enough time had elapsed to allow that. If you are not really into working this way and prefer to be less systematic, that’s also perfectly fine.



5.5 Second Distillation

OK, so now another few weeks have gone by, and we see that we are all caught up to within two weeks of the Headlist as far as the First Distillation is concerned, and also some of the D1 list, which we dated every new day, is now also older than two weeks and is therefore “ripe” for distillation again.

So we make the second distillation at the bottom right of the double page, right under the place we had the first distillation.

Let’s just remind ourselves of the image I showed you earlier in Part 4:

glimg1
As you see we are following round in a ring on each double side, for purely ergonomic reasons. Last time you got used to moving distilled items from left to right, now from top to bottom. Both of these are directions in which we naturally work in languages using the Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, etc. alphabets.

If you are working with a Semitic writing system such as Hebrew or Arabic in at least one of the languages (the target language or the language of instruction) you might choose to start with H at the top right, then go top left for D1, etc., that is, make a mirror image of the above. I would suggest that would be more natural and ergonomic for those scripts.

So in the majority of cases, D2 is on the bottom right and to get to that list we distil the D1 exactly in the same way as we distilled the Headlist to get to D1. We are asking questions about the contents of the line see if whether we leave it out altogether going forward, because we know that we remembered the meaning at least passively (doesn’t need to have remained active) so that we know what it means, would know also if it were written incorrectly, and can remember any irregular info about the word in the line. For two-line explanations, we are maybe trying to abbreviate them to single-liners, or reduce three-line explanations to two lines. We are building series like “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday” that might be a bit longer that the series Combined in D1, and we are making Recombinations of the lines Combined at D1 with the object to lose further lines.

In the main you’ll often find that a page’s worth which was hard to reduce by 30% in D1 is actually a lot easier at D2, while it’s possible also to find you did a better than 30% reduction in D1 but aren’t able to be so aggressive in D2. These things tend to happen and if you notice that, it’s normal.

You’ll often notice at D2 also that items Combined in D1 were easier to remember in their Combined form. By this time also you’ll be noticing duplicates you made in the earlier work and they will be falling out also.

You do not need to be looking at the Headlist, you are deriving the D2 list from the D1 list, and already at D1 you shouldn’t have needed to check back to the materials if you were Headlisting properly. You may suddenly have doubts about something if it seems to conflict with something you learned later and in such cases you’ll want to look back at the materials, and if the confusion still exists check in other materials, on-line or in Groups. Unfortunately few materials are free of errors, and therefore it is not a concrete rule that you shouldn’t check back, you should simply be attempting, when you Headlist, to need that as little as possible.

In short, everything about Distillation from 5.2 above is true here. You will start to encounter Recombinations and there is some value in doing a Distillation plan just prior to actually writing out that Distillation, using your own set of marks or the ones I developed in the above picture. There’s no rules around the notation you use for that, nor even about whether you self-test covering over half the lines or not.

Your D2 is once again about 70% or so of the D1, so therefore it is clear that you now have learned to the long term memory just over half of the material as 70% of 70% is 49%. However, don’t forget that doing what you just did means that you’ll have another 30% of 49% going into the long-term memory, you just don’t know yet which lines they are, until the two-weeks fermentation period is out and you come to distil again.

Therefore, referring back to the pie chart at the start of this section, you will be pleased to note that having completed the second distillation on a certain number of lines, you’ve done about two thirds of the entire work to be done on that material. It’s all plain sailing from here.

5.6 Practical Example of the Second Distillation

Just as we have seen before the example of an Indonesian learning Project at H and at D1, lets now look again at these same pages showing the first 150 words of Headlist as they appear in D2.

H1D2

OK, so once again it’s dated and you’ll see the date of 28th July is a full 20 days after the date for D1 which is in turn 29 days after the Headlist. I reiterate that the upper limit doesn’t matter, we just make sure we keep to the minimum of fourteen elapsed days.

Again, we start with numbering D2 from the number 1, and that will be kept through all the pages so that we can easily calculate overall relationships. Some people don’t care about this and don’t want to know that, and asked do they really need to count? Well if you won’t use the numbers and won’t be motivated by the numbers, then you don’t have to count. At the same time such a mindset is likely to be less attracted to this Method in the first place as this is more interesting for those who do like to score and track progress at any task using numbers.

Again we have a small distillation plan done just shortly before the distillation, and we are able to reduce 16 lines to 9.

H26D2

Please note the pen is courtesy of CMS Cameron McKenna, a firm favourite Firm of lawyers of mine. Not only are they great friends of mine, but also the pens in their meeting rooms write better than the pens of the other legal firms I know. If you know a firm of lawyers or a hotel chain that has even better pens, please let me know.

Here there is no distillation plan but the resulting 15 words in the D2 list is not very well distilled. This is perfectly normal though, they can vary, so if it happens just occasionally it is not an issue.

H51D2

Again, 14 words in this part, still not so fantastic but without a plan, and it’s numbered 25 to 38 because each distillation level has its own sequence of numbering, and this is the third double page of it. I am labouring this because it is a frequently asked question and people seem to have difficulty getting it.

H76D2

This time we got 12 lines at D2, bringing us to 50 which is half of the H of 100. D2 should, after some time be running at roughly half of the H number.

H101D2

Here we have what looks like a much better level of distillation. Note the date appears here because we started a new day, it is a day later than the previous four sides of D2.

Here let me go into a little more helpful analysis, so that we can really get at the core of what this distilling business is all about (and my thanks go to Alvaro Molina on the GoldList Method User Group on Facebook for encouraging me to prepare this explanation)

You may/should note, in this example, 40% of the lines of the headlist still exist, rather than the usual 50% ish. The Headlist has 138 words and D2 has 83 words, so 60% of the words are still left in 40% of the lines.

In fact, at least 80% of the important info of the H is left in the D2.

So doing GLM this way you could say is a lot about summarising and condensing the info, which is a very good stage for internalising the info.

Probably in D3 it will be hard to condense more without outright deletion, but by this time I will be able to delete more with confidence.

And here’s the last of the Batch A D2 work, for completeness’ sake:

H126D2



5.7 Third Distillation

This starts to become a case of rinse and repeat. Those using 25 in their Headlists will have tried to eliminate something like 8 lines to get to a D1 of something like 17 lines, and then 5 lines to get to a D2 of something like 12 lines, although sometimes you are going to be on 10 or 15 lines, and don’t worry when that happens. Now you’d be looking to reduce by 3 lines to get to 9 lines per double page in D3, but I could show you examples where I don’t have anything left at all at D3, and also where I have 13 or 14 and it is a sweat to fit it in under the Headlist.  The average run rate should be something not that far off 9 and anywhere between 5 and 11 is still absolutely fine.

I do like to be a little more aggressive in distilling at D3 than I was at D1 or D2 if I can get away with it, and the architecture of the double page means that you are more squeezed for space here than you probably were for D2. I like to be slightly less aggressive in the next distillation, for reasons I’ll come to, so the time to be a bit pushy is now.

Right now those of you who have been kind enough to read pretty much everything I’ve written before now on the GLM might be saying “hang on, you haven’t told us that before”, well, for sure there has to be something new for the book right? Otherwise you senior user guys won’t need to read it.

The process of making this third distillation on the bottom left (except for the Semitic mirror technique mentioned above) accounts for 10% of all the work, as you saw in the pie chart, so by finishing the D3 stage you’ve covered 76% of the work, more than three quarters of what you need to do, for all that material.

“What about the other quarter?” I hear you ask. I hear you go on to say “We have a quarter still to do, but we don’t have any space left in our books, you never thought of that, did you, you fat Englishman?” Well, yes, I did, actually, so don’t get hasty with me. The solution to where we go from here is in the next Part.



5.8 Practical Example of Third Distillation

Here we continue with the same example from the Indonesian project:

As before, we see a fresh date which is at least two weeks later than the date of the second distillation at the bottom right. There is evidence of a planned distillation, and we can see some distillation plan marks on the second distillation, three of them in fact and sure enough the number of lines reduces from 9 to 6. The numbering of the third Distillation is once again a continual list across the entire book or set of Bronze books in its own right, starting at 1 here and we therefore expect the number at the top of the third Distillation on the second double page to be 7…

 

… so no surprise there. As you can imagine, six lines is hardly a decent session’s work on the GoldList and so there is no need for a new date on the second sheet. This time you can see a rather aggressive level of distilling so that there are 6 lines planned to be jettisoned and in the event I even manage a seventh, going from 15 down do 8 lines this time.

This is worth maybe taking a moment to comment on. You see the leeway that we have here, and there is really nothing unusual about this. The first double page went down 25-16-9-6 and the second page went down 25-17-15-7. The biggest reason for the hefty reduction in lines in the second double sheet at D3 is the fact that I was being more conservative and cautious at D2. You’ll note that it sometimes works that way. Items that don’t go in very well the first time sometimes go in well the second, and what doesn’t go in well on the second often goes in well on the third.

That having been said it is not a bad idea to be aggressive on the third distillation and allow a bit more leeway on the fourth, coming up, so that a little bit more is visible in the D4, which is the equivalent of Headlist for the silver level. One can always be more aggressive again on D5. On average one tends to be a little bit more adventurous on the odd-numbered Distillations.

This is fairly similar to the last. The date has been added although it didn’t change from the first page, simply for future convenience. Again the actual reduction going through is more aggressive than the plan, by one additional line. It is good to check this so that you have a way of spotting whether you left out only the lines you wanted to leave out, and didn’t skip one by accident.

You’ll note a lot of the language of instruction is simply falling out at this stage because I baically remember the meanings and the explanations, and just want to be sure I remember the actual shape and inner sound of the words in Indonesian.

I find it is nice to have nice round numbers at whole hundreds, and I managed that in this case. We can see nice and clearly that so far this exercise has yielded a 67% rate of retention at D1, 50% at D2, and 30% at D3.  The planning of Distillation seems to have fallen by the wayside, by like I say, that’s not an essential. It can be useful, but not always.

Here we still have 8 lines from 10, but then again getting to 10 lines at D2 is more aggressive than average, so we have the reverse situation to the one on the second double page. Anyway, you see how these things often “come out in the wash”, so to speak.

And now the final one in this set:

A date change happens even during this side, which means I may have been interrupted the day before or run out of time. There is no distillation plan on this sixth double side. In any event the whole batch goes down 150-100-70-45 and you can see how each of those numbers are 66.7%, 70% and 64.3% respectively so these retention rates, taken over the first six double sides of the Project, are fairly consistent.

The next time we look at this, in the next Part, we will see how many of the 45 lines we have at D3 here will become the first 25 lines of a new D4 “Headlist Equivalent” in the Silver Book.

 

Anyone wishing to share in the funding of the coming GoldList Method Book and other coming resources can now do so here.

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  1. Dear Mr. James,

    after reading a lot about your method I am using the GLM for two languages I started from scratch. And it works perfectly for me.
    Now I have two further questions regarding the GLM:

    1) I was wondering about the effectiveness (and sense) of using the kicked out lines of a destillation for a new (reversed) headlist. Please tell me, what you think about it (regarding active and passive skills and time spend learning).
    Let’s say I am a native English speaker and I want to learn Spanish. I’d start the usual way with the H (new Spanish words followed by the English explanation) and with the first destillation I kick out 8 known lines.
    But now I’d write these 8 kicked out lines into a new book and create a new H but in this book I would write down the English explanation followed by the Spanish word. So for every destillation I’d need to search my brain actively for the word or phrase in Spanish. Knowing the line I’d kick it out for good.
    What do you think? Would this way of “recyling” lines actively be a waste of time?

    2) I’d like to relearn a language I’ve learned up to a high level in school about 15 years ago. I still know a lot of the stuff but I am sure I forgot a lot of grammar rules and rarely used conjugations and vocabulary. I think the GLM would be perfekt to let my brain remember the forgotten (or hidden) parts. But I don’t know where to start!
    Would you recommend to start the GLM in this particular case on a beginners level and write down EVERY word (or phrase or rule…) into the H, knowing that I already know at least 22 lines out of 25, just to have a compete systematic headlist? So with the first destillation I’d just kick out everything known, what leaves me with maybe two or three lines in D1.
    Or would you just take a language learning book for beginners and read through it and write just the few words or rules I didn’t remember into the H?
    Or would you just start with a regular book (e.g. a novel) and just write down the unknown words there?
    I guess I am asking about needing a system to relearn or reaktivate the “forgotten” language.

    I am looking forward to your answers!

    Maria

    PS: Is there an available video of your presentation of the GLM at the last polyglot gathering?

    Like

    • Dear Maria,

      Many thanks for this very encouraging comment.

      Let me start with the last comment, there is supposed to be a video available, but it appears that so far not all the videos from the conference are up on the YouTube channel of the conference. I will ask after it to make sure there is serviceable footage.

      Now for your first comment, re using the thrown out words in an additional goldlist book for activation. While this might work as an activation exercise, it is not really the best thing to do, but rather to continue to build the headlist using new words and example sentences which by their nature are going to contain those earlier words you kicked out before. This is a good reason also for those who have noticed that sometimes they do forget a word entirely which made it through a distillation period, even one well over 2 weeks, not to worry as these words are going to come back again if you simply press on.

      Good activation includes reading, listening to audiobooks, conversations over Skype and most of all being in the country and because it can take three days, if you want to turn up to an interview active then the trick is to arrive in the country three days earlier and spend that time on immersion. You think that might be expensive, but the cost is nothing as big as trying for no good reason to keep yourself in continual activation mode using classes, skype lessons or even marrying someon, the most expensive way of all to learn a language, by the way.

      As to your second question, I have done this and I think that it is sometimes a question of restarting below your old level just as a refresher. But you do not need to include words or rules or expressions from the material which you easily remembered. That is a waste of the time it takes to write them. It will not be long before you settle into having mainly new material in the headlist.

      In my case I did this with French and got up to speed again by listening to the Paul Noble course for the audio-frontloading, even though I do have a reasonable French accent. Then I used three texts, Using French by Oxford, Mot a Mot, and the Routledge 5000 word Frequency dictionary. Soon I was comfortable reading some of the easier novels again., and you just build on from there.

      Like

  2. You ‘forget’ to return the pens? If it’s no big deal, what’s the problem with requesting the favor of them? And what’s the problem with buying one’s own?

    What good is being a Christian if it’s not to be different than the world?

    Like

    • Being a Christian is not about refusing to take the complimentary pens from lawyers’ offices. If only it were that easy! The point I am making is that a really quality firm like CMS shows its quality in everything it does, right through to the pens they give in the meeting rooms.

      Then there are other Firms who tell you they have “quality in everything they do” but their pens are useless dross, not fit to be used and made of plastic too, which ends up polluting the environment, not metal and rubber like the CMS ones.

      Sure I can buy pens and generally when it comes to propelling pencils I have to buy them as nobody is giving out quality ones. I also sometimes buy pens but I am not aware that CMS Cameron McKenna has a little shop selling its pens. Aquila muscas non captat, as they say in legal Latin. I have a very good pen from my college, which I happened to be using today. It also is metal and it also writes very nicely. The porters lodge sells them at a pound a pop to help the college and so I buy them when I go there, obviously.

      If I were to offer a pound to CMS for one of their pens to take it out of the meeting I imagine that they would be insulted, they would take it as some kind of sarcasm maybe.

      A pound would buy you around fifteen seconds of one of their top lawyers’ time. By the time the question had been asked and answered you would have taken as much as the value of the pen in lost time, or twice as much.

      Like

      • Ah, so (now) they’re complimentary pens. Then there’s no need to forget to return them, is there, since they’re free anyway.

        And you’re right. Being a Christian is much more difficult than not taking pens. Considering Christ’s words about oppression is much more difficult than not taking pens, for example.

        Like

  3. Hi again, Davy Ojiisan. I am going to use your symbols to distille, but from the picture you included, there are some I just cannot read. I’d appreciate if you could tell us about:
    – pent up Heh (above BT)
    – crossed out > <
    – " in a circle
    – pent up RL
    – from concatenate to hyphenate
    – end of batch
    – and the ones below End of project

    By the way, just to be sure, the Distillations are not numbered, right? Also, maybe you want to leave a comment on here: https://www.universeofmemory.com/the-goldlist-method-scientific-critique/

    Thanks in advance! ❤

    Like

    • Yatou-san konnichi wa! Many thanks for these questions.

      The revision marks given are by way of example and can/should all be personalised. I am only giving mine for illustrative purposes only.

      That having been said, I am still quite happy to talk about them.

      The “Heh” in a box reminds me or comments on some funny concidence, such as a sentence talking about storms being encountered while one is raging outside, as indeed it is now. Maybe that will help the L/T memory or synapses forming, maybe not.

      The crossed through denotes where you might think something derives from something else, but in fact it is quite a separate derivation. For example you might think, learning the Polish word for camel “wielbłąd” that it derives from the word for “much” and for “error”, as if it were much given to wandering around in error. However, the origins are an old ProtoGermanic word ulbandus you can find which itself might derive from the Hittite word “hulpant” or “hunchback” (some people take it to a Sanskrit root I personally find less convincing) and this was the term for a camel used in Ulfila’s Mark’s gospel, so properly attested as the actually Visigothic term for a camel.

      The same word is likely to have been the one working through Greek and Latin to give us “elephant”, quite a different animal in Linnaean taxonomy, but sharing a certain size with the camel and maybe a certain humpiness of back, though nothing compared to the camel of course. I don’t fancy it’s chances fitting through any eyes of needles, anyhow.

      So I would show wielblad !< wiel, blad. This shows that the "obvious" derivation is in fact a folk etymology.

      The " in a circle is to introduce a mnemonic. Later in your comment you ask me to have a look at what Bartosz Czekała wrote, well, I will get on to this person and his GLM related hatchet job a little later in this response, but for now it is relevant to say that he is a proponent of mnemonics and one of his misdirected criticisms of the GLM is that we don't do mnemonics. What I actually say, though, about mnemonics is to include them if they suggest themselves naturally. The one where the Polish camel makes a lot of mistakes while blundering around the Polish desert, which coincidentally, is called the Błędow Desert, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C5%82%C4%99d%C3%B3w_Desert, ("heh", a propos) might not be a valid etymology but could be a very good mnemonic especially as it helps us remember both the word for the camel and the name of the Polish desert. What we do not do is to start trying to manufacture mnemonics and word play around the material like Tim Vine getting ready for his latest Edinburgh Fringe performance. If it presents itself to our minds, we use it, if not, we don't force it. That is in my own experience the approach that strikes the best balance.

      “RL” in a box I write only when there's a risk I might review into within two weeks of writing. I just pop that “RL” (meaning “review limit”) ahead of even looking at the material at the point where I should stop or break into the two-week fermentation period.

      “Concatenate” means you write it together and “hyphenate” means you write it with a hyphen. For example "mithilfe von" is concatenated, you don't write "mit Hilfe von" as you might expect, and this mark just shows that. Hyphenation or non-hyphenation is to draw attention to where a hyphen should be or not be and reminds you that you really did look at that, and the hyphen should definitely be there or not be there, in cases where you might be inclined to getting it wrong.

      This actually illustrates all the meta work which can be going on when a person writes or reviews her GoldList.

      The use of most of these are really quite rare in my own usage but when I introduce a new one I put it in this legend or key even in case I don't remember what it was for.

      End of batch and the ones you refer to in curly boxes are related to the way I do GLM and I don't even want to trouble people with that, but since you ask I tend to approach a new topic first with batch A which is 1000 lines of headlist, then go back, do the D1 for the A batch and do the B batch at 900 lines, then do D2 on A batch, D1 on B batch and C batch has 800 lines. Each one gets smaller and smaller until it reaches 5,500 lines. Then I start working back up again to 900 lines and this gives a total of 10,000 lines, over 19 batches.

      For real hard-core GLM for big projects it might be worth others thinking up a system like that, but I don't incorporate it in the normal GLM explanation narrative.

      The numbers in curly boxes are how far I got in a give week. The weekly target I always have is also 550 lines, and this is first 100, then I might change topic and do 90, then 80 etc. 100+90+80+70+60+50+40+30+20+10 is 550. I use the curly boxes for these figures. I don't recommend this as it would just overcompiclate things for when people are anyway trying to get to grips with the system, but for me it is a good motivation and pacing a week's work. I got used to it. I don't know why but I just find triangular numbers like 55 attractive. If someone is not interested in triangular numbers which I imagine will be 90% or more of the population, then there’s no reason why they would incorporate triangular number sequences into their work plans.

      I hope that answers what you might find confusing about the review marks I use, but like I say, everyone should develop their own personal set of review marks depending on what they need and what interests them.

      Now when it comes to your point about what Mr Czekała has to say, well, he has written his criticisms in a punky way and his army of sockpuppets which give him encouraging comments (and all say exactly the same thing while calling on God to thank Him for not exposing him to the idiocy of what we do, they all, assuming they are more than one person), are written in a punky way. The same does not apply of course to GLM users who tried to show him he has completely misrepresented the system. They wrote nicely, and they got answered, of course, in a punky way. What can you do? If someone has a punky mentality, then they write like one, no surprise. No surprise for someone who rarely fails to put a like on his own Facebook comments, for that matter.

      The funny thing is that he claims it is a scientific rebuttal, when he neither writes in academic terms, neither did he really find out what the GLM is nor what it is based on.

      What we are left with is a long article where Mr Czekała takes swipe after swipe at a GoldList Method alledged version entirely different to the actual GLM. This he carries out in a self-congratulatory way in the hope, I suppose, of getting people interested in the seminars he does at 80PLN (20 EUR) a seat and the programme he is fixing to sell according to the pop-ups on his site.

      It's not very nice that he could put people (real people as opposed to his sockpuppet commentators) off trying the Method, which, as I know full well, has helped a lot of people and will continue to help them if they let it, and which is not a commercial venture, all just in order to try to get people to buy an inferior product from himself.

      He basically conducted his business in an unethical way in making an advert for himself while knocking the system he could perceive to be competitive to (or disruptive to) his own business aspirations. This is of course frowned upon throughout the world and is seen in Polish law as something called "nieuczciwa konkurencja", or at least would be if he did it to a commercial competitor, which so far he has been maybe wise enough to avoid doing.

      He himself, if you look at his LinkedIn profile, was only in the actual world of work for a very brief period after leaving university. His only real job, at least the one he bothers to show, is in the sales department of UPC for 11 months to April 2014, so that won't have been enough time or seniority to really develop a sense for how business ought to be done. Since that time he claims to have been running his "own company", but what he in fact has is a single-person "działalność gospodarcza", which is something in fact most people here in Poland have. I also have one, with a Regon, a NIP and all sorts, and it is nothing to brag and shout about, call myself Panie Prezesie, etc, etc, etc. He set his one up according to the CEIDG (the Polish register of such businesses) in October 2016, which means he could bill normally and get his VAT back since then, previously he worked doing language lessons using presumably umowy zlecenia, or short-term contracts for a defined activity. Anyway there are sizeable gaps in the LI profile, but that's nothing to criticise him for, after all, there's no law saying we have to have complete LI profiles, it's just very evident that "own company" is a bit of an overstatement.

      Still, “little acorns, etc etc.” Far be it from me, an accountant, to wish any business anything other than success and growth. But he needs to remember that he is not really the big seasoned businessman he wants to present himself to be. Not yet anyway.

      Additional evidence of his bad will and low ethic was how he used another of his sockpuppets, purporting to be a girl from Żywiec but whose FB posts are all about him and nothing else, to infiltrate the GoldList Method User Group and find out everything which was going on. Of course I know exactly who this is, but I am not going to put "her" out of the Group. Nothing was said I wouldn't happily say to his face, even if he turns out to be a hard lad like Clugston. I just would recommend for his own mental hygiene and reputation that he comes onto the Group openly and makes his criticisms (some of which might well be valid if only they were directed at the real GLM and not his version which I assume he received in a cave from Jibreel) openly too. Sockpuppets are not for serious people.

      Now when I finally did respond to his article asking him to at least find out what the GLM really is by linking right here, rather than to what Gareth and Christopher did, both of which I greatly appreciate but are only very small intros to the ideas leavig a lot opento misunderstanding, he said to me in private email "why did I approve the Gareth Popkins version, if it's not right?" The fact is I am very happy when Gareth, Chris or quite a lot of other people write intros to the GLM in their blogs or feeds or channels, and they usually do so with links to this site which gives me the chance to give the full version. I do not know what world you have to live in for a person to be grateful that a friend gave the method some publicity to mean that that article suddenly becomes the official and comprehensive version even when that article itself links to something that he studiously ignored! And this from someone who claims to read 30 academic studies on psycholinguistics with his morning coffee. I don't think so.

      He seemed to understand it well enough when he went on Anna Edu’s podcast and spoke in four languages. His Russian was really hard on the ear because about 30% of the words were mispronounced, and he was getting a lot of Polish interference in his grammar. His Spanish was not so bad but for some reason he was getting his z/c sound and his s sound muddled up, so that there were times I wondered if he really thought s should be pronounced as theta and z/c as sigma. His German showed issues with grammar (unable to decline articles and adjectives to the dative case and word order issues in the syntax) and all of the languages showed a tendency for him to stick to pretty basic vocab and repeat a lot. Nevertheless, not once did Anna criticise or correct his errors. Why? Because it would have been rude and unfriendly and she is clearly too well-bred and well-mannered to do something like that. Well, I am also too well-bred and well-mannered to be anything other than sincerely grateful when my friends promote the methods, and I will keep any corrections or amendments in such circs to a minimum, especially given that they are linking to where I write the full version.

      Finally, though, he agreed to look and redraft his effort if he deemed it necessary to do so. If he does, and he comes up with valid criticisms I won't be denying them. I’ll be happy.

      Recently there was the case of Dr Waring who came and criticised the method again in my view without fully getting it. People from the actual milieu of psycholinguistic academia probably would have more barriers to getting it than people who don't know about it, as this is new wine and new wineskins, and they come to it with an armful of their own wineskins that have been around the block. Waring was rather pompous and got the mickey taken out of him on the group for that, at which point he upped and left, but remained in correspondence with me, showed himself moreover to be a thoroughly likeable sort, and the upshot is that I have a bunch of academic textbooks winging their way to me. One, Fernandez and Cairns Fundamentals of Psycholinguistics, arrived this morning and I already started on it.

      Why bother? It's not about doubt as to whether this works, given that we know experimentally ourselves that it does. But maybe I'll find insights about why it works, and something clicks from other experiments I can read about. But also it is to make sure that the words, the language that I am using to explain it is also clear to the specialists in the field. If experiments are ever to be conducted on this which I have always been in favour of, then I will need to be able to communicate with academics and understand what their theories are and why. And this is true whether I get a ton of aha moments reading them and redraft hald my own explanations, or whether I can safely dismiss them lot as the blind leading the blind. For sure, if the GLM is based on a bit of psycholinguistics as well as a bit of experience with workflows and processes, and practice in learning and being a polyglot, then the workflows and processes bit, as well as the practical polyglottery is probably quite a bit stronger in my own CV and LI profile than the psycholinguistic theory. So it won't hurt to read those books. Maybe Czekała will be making some of the exact same points, if that's what he's been studying. Fine, if that's the case I really don't mind that. We will make the Method better. It is not the laws of the Medes and Persians which cannot be changed.

      Hope the above wasn't too boring and long-winded.

      Like

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