When joined the Junior Middle school in a small town in west-south China in 1993, I met my first English book. Yes, it looks exactly like this:

Then, the terrible 6 years of Chinese-style-English-learning started. For normal kids in poor regions of China, the only way to learn a new language is to REMEMBER IT. For the vocabulary, I remembered all of them by writing them in the draft paper again and again. For the phonogram, I remembered all of them by writing them in the draft paper again and again. For the grammar, I remembered all of them by —- Wait a minute. Why did I need to remember the grammar? Because the English examination will test them. That’s the only purpose of learning English, not to read foreign stories or know the world, but to get a higher examination score.

For the six years of middle school, I spent more than 60 per cent of my hard work time on English (by hardly remembering phonograms and grammar) and still got inferior results: I couldn’t read a long English story, couldn’t recognize a lot of common English words, and couldn’t even write a decent article. All I learned was just some basic English words and some useless grammar.

Only when I went to the University and started to read a 300-page English-Reading-and-Understanding book. Yes, still for the examination, but at least no need to recite those stupid grammar or phonograms. I finally noticed that I could improve my English by just reading books.

The time zips by. I got my Kindle (yes, that electric paper device) in August 2011 (when I was 31 years old) and finished reading my long-desired but first long English story “Jurassic Park”. Since then, I started to read a lot of English books: “The Lost World”, “The Wild Wheel”, “The Swiss Family Robinson”, and all of the best “A Song of Ice and Fire”. I feel happy when reading English books, and my English skills improve as well. Happy learning, that’s the result of reading books.

So my conclusion is: if you want to learn English well, don’t try to remember those boring grammar, just read books, a lot of books.

Doesn’t this sound familiar? Yes, it sounds just like “The Bitter Lesson“, or the Scaling Law for machine learning. A Large Language Model doesn’t need to learn the grammar or go to school. It only needs to read a lot of books and articles (training on a large amount of corpus).

The LLM learns like a human, and I think I can also learn from it: reading a lot is already enough for learning.