This fluently proficient goat learned by doing.

We want to acquire a new competency, a new target skill. To do so we begin sharing and naming “Techniques” that will accelerate our acquisition of the target skill. The first principle for acceleration is to remove every barrier between us and the performance of that skill by “Obviously!” removing all ambiguity, uncertainty, and guessing – and because we are pursuing competence, we begin by actually performing the skill, prioritizing “Fluency” over knowledge.

One way of seeing how Fluency connects to other techniques.

Valuing knowledge over fluency has created an epidemic of normalized incompetency in the modern world.

This is a constant theme of accelerating the learning process; once you pursue actual competent performance of a skill, you necessarily must prioritize doing it. The sooner you start doing, and the more you do, the faster you’ll improve.

Countless students graduate institutions knowing a lot about many things. Far fewer know how to do many things.

Hand-wringing over the poor education students receive, the blaming of teachers, students, parents, or government, all belie the fact that the solution lies right at hand. Whatever skill you want a student to be competent in, you must set up an environment where they do it consistently. Everything else must take a back seat.

Any obstacle to this fundamental mission of doing is an obstacle to learning itself.

Language classes around the world are a classic example of this; students may attend 8 (or more) years of foreign language classes, and yet still fluency in the target language is out of reach. They know a lot about the language, but they don’t know how to speak it fluently.

The only way to master a skill is by doing it.

Introducing the technique

Short: “This is technique “Fluency”. In this game we are pursuing fluent speech over proficiency.”
Long: ” Meaning, we value fluent expression in the language at a low level of proficiency, over hesitant, inarticulate language use at a high proficiency. Whatever we do, we aim to do it well.”

Applying the technique in language acquisition

When in doubt, just start speaking.

  • TQ Mumble encourages players to speak and sign regardless of whether or not they’re doing it “perfectly”.
  • TQ Copy-Cat an excellent tq Fluent Fool to proceed confidently through the language.
  • TQ Start at the Beginning by asking “What’s that?”.
  • Feel your way through the language by speaking it; you know when and how to apply techniques by how it feels as you attempt to speak.
  • Move forward deeper into the language only when all players seem comfortable doing so.
  • Say things tq In Threes often. Tend to do things one more time than you think you need to.
  • Fluency doesn’t mean perfection; you don’t need to wait for players to perform perfectly before proceeding. You’re looking for readiness and comfort.

But what about…?

When playing with students well-trained in the classroom paradigm of the language learning, we often hear questions about grammar, requests for translation, and attempts to use the language at a far higher proficiency level than the student-player is capable of sustaining.

In these situations, the students don’t know that they are still playing by old rules, the rules of the institutional classroom; these rules are invisible to them, and now just seem like the common sense of “how you learn”.

Many techniques have been innovated for exactly these kinds of players seeking to recover their original ability to rapidly learn. Again, a game leader must decide whether they have sufficient fluent proficiency to play with such players, who will struggle with playing by the “new rules” of accelerated learning; some players may be too challenging for now.

•    TQ Warm, Fed, Rested, Safe, Willing reminds us to choose players willing to play by the rules of the game.
•    TQ Killing Faeries underscores the comical tragedy of translating language during play.
•    TQ Riddle-Me-This directs players to just play, and trust that they will enjoy solving the puzzles of meaning on their own, by playing
•    TQ Sorry, Charlie! redirects player curiosity, keeping it within their current fluent proficiency.
•    TQ Limit keeps the play narrow in scope so that players continue to confidently move forward through the language.
•    TQ Start at the Beginning continually reorients the game, and keeps players experiencing confidence and success when the game wanders off on tangents.

Written by Evan Gardner

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[…] Last month, both Mark Seemann and David Bernstein published a critique of TDD based on whether it promoted good design (or not), using SOLID principals as a litmus test. Like much of the rampant discussion of software as a craft, most of the disagreement comes from a ingrained response to value knowledge over fluency. […]

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