A French in Taishan

Review - The 4-Hour Chef, Tim FERRISS

I discovered the 4hour books from Tim FERRISS through the 4-hour body then continued with the 4-hour Work week (his first book chronologically speaking). 4 hour chef is the most recent, published in November 2012.

At first look and reading the first glimpse when it was first announced, its main topic seemed to be cooking, not real interest for me. Coming back a few months later, I read the subtitle "The simple path to cook like a pro, learning anything and living the good life" and it was a must-have since I am struggling with learning everyday since 2 years now.

As a whole, 5 parts: Meta, Domestic, Wild, Scientist and Professional, each one focusing on a specific set of topics:

  • META is about learning

  • DOM: skills and recipe at use for the everyday cook

  • WILD: simply put: trick on how to survive or "live quite a cozy life while in the middle of nowhere and with next to nothing"

  • SCI: the science behind cooking and how to use it to get better

  • PRO: a few more recipe and tricks with more advanced skills

Most important for me is META, gives the basics and tricks for learning (but the other parts are also worth reading. And cooking).

Many tricks are explained but I was struck by this graph:

(From The 4-hour Chef, Tim FERRISS).

It explained many problems I had with learning and the wall phenomenon I too often get stuck with.

The explanation goes along this way: let's say you want to be "fluent" (meaning being able to discuss some topics for 5/10 minutes without being stuck or sounding like a child in disarray), in 8 months, the various phases you go through are the following:

  • Encounter: everything is new, so basically, what you learn, you use fast

  • Peak of set phrases: OK, you understand and can you some sentences and you are starting to learn how to structure everything but then

  • Paralysis by analysis (the WALL for me): you realize you know nothing and that the path is long in front of you

  • Depression and going out: you find a way to structure your learning, see your progress (and stick to that) and find learning material you are interested in (learning with a purpose)

  • Slowly incorporating all the grammar things you saw on top of the peak

  • Strong progress ahead

The X axis gives you a time-scale for the different phases. So if you want to learn in less or more than 8 months, you have to taylor the graph accordingly. Using the other tricks in his book, he went from learning Japanese in 1 year, to Chinese in 6 months, German in 3 months and Spanish in 8 weeks. I am no judge of his true fluency but he seemed pretty good at Japanese and German. 

Still worth a try.

If you have a few bucks to spend, want some learning tricks and want to learn how to cook, the book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle format: http://www.amazon.com/The-4-Hour-Chef-Learning-Anything/dp/0547884591