As a computer programmer, it is not surprising that I visualize language learning as a complex dynamic system. I seek labels and patterns to pin down some of language’s behavior to simplify my model, while understanding it is constantly changing and can not be controlled with a simple set of rules. It is my own yearning for a framework that will encapsulate both my current knowledge and future learning about language that mires me in a bog of complexity. I am constantly adding to my knowledgebase. I need to consolidate, organize, and conceptualize what I have absorbed while solidifying it into usable vocabulary, grammar, and sentences.
The problem is that the more I add to the system, the more complex it becomes. I am putting in too much input without cataloging, so when I need to retrieve information, I am digging in a big disorganized mess. Moreover, some of what I am learning has no organizational structure because it is an entirely new concept.
One analogy that comes to mind is computer games. You can start with something simple, like the ping pong game with two paddles and a ball. A more complex game is pac man, who moves through a maze eating. Later games increase their complexity, so that you can have characters wandering through landscapes, carrying many items, and able to perform several tasks. The more elements, rules, and interactions in a game, the more complex the system.
As I continually add to my language learning, I fear I won’t be able to keep track of all these items.