Do you remember cramming for exams, believing it was the best strategy to get you through? And do you remember forgetting almost everything shortly after the exam? Let’s say this strategy can be effective to pass a test but doesn’t help with long-term memory. Spaced repetition is not something that’s taught in schools and yet, it’s one of the most powerful learning techniques.
What is Spaced Repetition?
Spaced repetition might not have the immediacy of cramming but the information we learn from it can last a lifetime and tends to be effectively retained.
We can slow down the process of forgetting by recalling the information periodically at specific time intervals. This is what we call the spacing effect and it means that we are better able to recall information and concepts if we learn them in multiple, spread-out sessions.
Does that mean I have to keep repeating the information I want to learn for the rest of my life? Not exactly. Luckily the time between the review sessions extends over time so you don’t need to go over the information that often.
Using Spaced Repetition In Your Language Learning
The key is to be consistent. Easier said than done, right? Let’s say you set a goal for yourself – to learn at least 20 minutes every day. That’s good for the start. Now let’s take a look at how exactly you’re going to achieve it.
- Make Learning a Part of Your Daily Routine
Ok, so you want to learn for 20 minutes a day. Let’s be even more specific! Don’t try to just fit it in whenever you have free time. Instead, make concrete plans. You can study before you go to bed or on your way to work (assuming you don’t drive). This will help you to stick to your schedule.
- Keep Track Of What You’ve Learned
To make your learning as effective as possible, it’s important to know what you’ve already learned. One of the most used methods is creating flashcards. There are several flashcards apps that enable you to do that. With DuoCards you can easily make your own flashcards. Furthermore, there’s a specific algorithm that keeps track of what you’ve learned so you don’t have to!
- Give Yourself Enough Time To Learn
If you want to learn a language properly, you need to be patient and give yourself time. Language learning can be compared to any other learning process. Just think of how long it takes to learn to play a musical instrument or to play basketball on a certain level. It’s called the “spaced” repetition, after all, so give yourself some space and don’t rush it.
- Recall What You’ve Learned
For a self-learner, it might be tempting to always want to study something new. The learning process becomes more interesting and fun with new vocabulary and concepts. But remember, that you should go back to what you’ve already learned from time to time, so you don’t forget it.
- Increase The Intervals
An important part of long-term learning is spacing out the intervals between learning sessions. If you study a specific topic, it’s necessary to repeat it but it’s also good to know when is the best time for revision. Some people believe that there’s an ideal length of time between sessions on a certain topic. If you study on your own, it’s enough to keep in mind, that the time between the first and second repetition should be shorter than the time between the second and third and so on.