TED rule 6

Medan, Indonesia

I finally managed to escape Kuala Lumpur and its physically exhausting nightlife, I left my great friends, my beautiful motorbike – still for sale! – and flied to Medan, Indonesia. I then looked around to buy a motorbike, not so easy when you’re not Indonesia resident, and rested, waiting for the week-end to end and the shops to open again. Hopefully by the time you read this post I’m riding to Toba Lake and new adventures!
In Medan, I’m learning to respond to all the friendly “Hey Mister!” coming every 10 minutes from smiling kids, taxi drivers or any people in the street. In 3 days I haven’t seen any foreigner, which can explain also all the astonished looks I get, but hey, I feel like a star! Many come spontaneously to help me translate to Indonesian, to give directions or just to talk a little bit in English, when they can. And to really feel this country I decided I really need to speak the Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia), and quickly. I have an assimil method, I also use free software to remember the words, but that’s not fast enough, and that’s not fitting my way of learning. Then I remembered Tim Ferriss, an impressive guy who, you can imagine, gave a TED talk.
Tim Ferriss was born in 1977, in 2001 he founded a sport nutrition supplement company, brain QUICKEN, sold it in 2009, and he is now an angel investor for companies like twitter or stumbleupon. He also gained a Guiness record for the most consecutive tango spins in 1 minute, he became national champion of Sanshou (chinese kick boxing), wrote 2 best sellers (“the 4 hour workweek” and “the 4 hour body”), had a show on history channel, and, that’s the worst, he is quite good looking.
I first stumbled upon Tim after the publication of his first book: “The 4-hour workweek, escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich”, in a google video. It was the first time I was watching a video about productivity by someone else than an old teacher, and I was impressed. So there were methods to learn and work more effectively? He got me and I started to follow blogs and videos about the subject. And 4 years after, I can tell  it worked!
As you’re going to see in the TED talk, Tim applies 2 main ideas:

  • The Pareto Principle: “For many events, 80% of the effect come from 20% of the cause”, and  “focus one’s attention on those 20% that contribute to 80% of the income”
  • The Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” or how Tim turns it: “The perceived complexity of a task will expand to fill the time you allowed for it”

So when you have a task to complete – or something new to learn, deconstruct it, look at the 20% you have to do and allow you only a short deadline. Then you’ll be effective.

You now understand, I’m interested in the 2nd part of his talk. And here is my TED rule 6: I’ll learn bahasa Indonesia, and maybe the other languages I’m going to need (Taralog for Philipinnes, Mandarin for China…)
Now you can stop reading, or if you’re interested by Tim’s method to learn effectively a new language you can continue after the jump, I’m going to summarize it. If you’re really interested I recommend switching directly to his blog Here or Here.

First, deconstruct the language:

  • Is there new grammatical structures that will postpone fluency?
  • Is there new sounds that will multiply by 2 or 4 the time to fluency?
  •  How similar is it to languages I already understand? What will help or interfere?
  • How difficult is it? How long does it take to be fluent?

In order to help, Tim proposes to ask a native speaker to translate 6 sentences:

– The apple is red
– It is John’s apple
– I give John the apple
– We give him the apple
– We give him the apple
– He gives it to John
– She gives it to him

From the translations you can analyse:

  1.   How the verb conjugate based on the speaker. The placement of indirect object (John), direct object (apple), and pronouns. Try also with negation and different tenses
  2. Fundamental sentence structure (is it Subject-Verb-Object or Subject-Object-Verb?)
  3. the 3 first sentences also show if there is a much dreaded noun cases (like the die,der, das… in German)

Try also to get the translation for sentences like “I must give it to him” or “I want to give it to her” to see auxiliaries.
Then choose your system and progression priority:

  1. Effectiveness (Priority – What): choose the appropriate material
  2. Adherence (Interest – why): on material. Choose only material (books, newspapers) that you’re interested in
  3. Efficiency (Process – how): Ask yourself if the method is the most appropriate one?

Another great advice from Jim is to look first at the 100 most common written & spoken words, and translate them.

Again, go to Tim Ferriss blog (LINK) for more detailed explanations. I’ll try his approach to learn bahasa Indonesia and give you feedback, hopefully soon!


3 Comments on “TED rule 6”

  1. jiu says:

    Hey thanks for all these tips John john, that’s really useful stuff

  2. acaudron says:

    Very nice video – this guy Tim Ferris is indeed very inspiring, and you just got me hooked on TED talks… amazing source of knowledge!

  3. […] adventures! I am now preparing my trip to Taiwan, then Hong-Kong, Beijing and Pyongyang. Following TED rule 6 I will have to learn Chinese, better to start now and look at manuals, dictionaries and online […]


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