Thoughts for serious language learners
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Me and Piotr Wozniak

Graphical portrait of Piotr Wozniak

Illustration by Steven Wilson

No, the man on the left is not Charlie Sheen. It is Piotr Wozniak, inventor of the SuperMemo method, who, after years of relative obscurity, recently became the subject of an extensive article in Wired Magazine.

The article has inspired me to write a short, personal essay about the man behind SuperMemo and how I see him after many years of e-mail correspondence:

The list of Piotr’s optimizations (or, if you prefer, eccentricities) is very long indeed. Even though he lives in Poland, he will speak only English to anyone who can understand it, including his Polish wife and closest friends. At university, he would shock his professors by refusing to speak Polish during oral examinations. His SuperMemo collection contains hundreds of thousands of items and he spends many hours a day reviewing them. His day is divided into “time slots” (SuperMemo, creativity, sports, etc.) to which he sticks religiously.

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