Posted by: Brian Glass | June 4, 2010


I believe that flashcards are very efficacious, at least when it comes to building vocabulary in Latin. I happen to have a stack of them that is about 6 inches tall sitting here on my desk. In general I keep a smaller stack next to the larger one for recently learned words because we can’t do the whole stack every week.

The last time we did the whole stack it took us 2 days with a class period of 1 hour. The problem is that Micah isn’t really a big fan of flashcards. In fact, they are probably his least favorite part of Latin. You see, when I’m doing a full stack, about 5 minutes into the drill Micah’s mind starts to wander and he is distracted by dust particles, babies, or anything else that happens to be nearby. Consequently I’ve been trying to keep full-stack sessions to once per month.

But this morning I had a brilliant idea. A wonderfully awful brilliant idea. Micah just needs a bit more motivation. He generally does quite well under pressure. I wrote this little script. I setup my music player, Rhythmbox, to play some Beethoven. Then I ran this little script. It plays music for two seconds and then pauses for five. We have five (+2) seconds for each card. We did it in one hour instead of two and kept the cards we missed in a separate pile to work on more. It’s actually pretty small. It’s amazing how focused he can be with a little pressure.

import os,time
while True:
    os.system('rhythmbox-client --play')
    os.system('rhythmbox-client --pause')

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