By Jonty Yamisha
Forgetting your language lessons can be extremely frustrating. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just look over all your language learning resources and commit them to memory? This may seem strange, but forgetting is part of the learning process. But the best language learning programs out there take advantage of Spaced Repetition Systems (SRS) to take advantage of your brain’s natural desire to forget so you reach fluency fast!
In the 19th Century, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus studied memory by memorizing random syllables. Not the best way to spend your time, but he learned that there was a pattern in how we forget information. And, more importantly, what you can do to remember what you study.
It turns out our memories work on a curve, something Ebbinghaus called “The Forgetting Curve.” Imagine that you learn something new on Day 1. The next day, you’ve already begun to slowly forget it. By Day 7, you remember less than 20% of what you studied on the first day. That’s a dramatic difference. Brains. They make learning a language harder on us.
Memory is complex. But we know that our brains are efficient. They’re designed to retain information that will help us survive. So, memories attached to certain emotional events stand out better in our minds than, say, a list of vocabulary words. Works great for survival, not so great if you want to learn a new language.
It turns out that there’s something you can do to offset “The Forgetting Curve.” And the best time to revisit the previous material is when you start to forget it. You also want to space those intervals out over time, revisiting material further and further apart. If you study on Day 1, for instance, then review on Day 3. That will bounce the curve back so you’ll remember the information a little longer. Then, as time goes on, you space those sessions out.
Spaced Repetition Systems reintroduce information to you based on the forgetting curve. You review lessons based on an algorithm, seeing older lessons further and further out.
Strangely enough, you learn better when you start to forget your lessons. Spaced repetition uses that to your advantage, prompting you to review your lessons right before you forget. The result is that you remember previous materials better over time. As time goes on, you’ll revisit lessons less and less often, depending whether or not you’re having trouble remembering the material.
In theory, you could sit down and create notecards and use spaced repetition to help you remember. But that’s a lot of work. And it’s not the most effective. Plus, no one has time for that. Luckily, there’s a better option: one of the best language learning programs there instead. These apps are well-aware of the forgetting curve. That’s why they deploy spaced repetition to help you remember.
Essentially, top-performing language learning programs design their lessons around introducing new content to you at spaced intervals. Without that, you’d lose around 90% of what you learned within a month of your first lesson. That’s why reviewing is key for successful language learning.
But it goes beyond that…
Effective spaced repetition systems help you remember WITHOUT memorizing or boring drilling. You learn a lesson, then revisit it throughout your language learning journey until you’re confident that you know it. After that, you’ll only ever see those topics occasionally. Instead, you’ll spend most of your time and focus on learning and remembering new or difficult content. That’s a way better use of your time.
If you’re looking for one the best language learning platforms out there that rely on spaced repepetition to help guide users to fluency, you need to check out OptiLingo. Our app uses Intelligent Scheduling to determine WHEN you’re ABOUT to forget a lesson. Using an algorithm, the app gathers information about you as you study and reintroduces prior lessons at the best time.
OptiLingo takes the guesswork out of trying to figure out when you need to review lessons. And that means no more memorizing, no more drilling, no more boring, frustrating attempts to force your language lessons into your brain. Instead, the system handles all the scheduling for you. All you have to do is use the app. Yes. It really is that simple.