Spaced Repetition – Language Learner’s Best Friend

There are many ways you can make your way to fluency easier. Be it language hacks or creating a routine that works for you, taking advantage of various learning tools is a great way to make learning easier for yourself. But even with all of those tricks, there are a few things no one learning a new language can escape. From conjugation endings to vocabulary, speaking a new language requires a lot of memorisation. And, in order to make memorising easier for yourself, you should definitely be focusing on spaced repetition in your language learning process.

In this article, you’ll find out what spaced repetition is and how you can best use it to remember your target language.

Spaced repetition – what is it?

Spaced repetition, in the easiest terms, is a learning technique. And it is one of the best ways to make sure you really remember all of those new words you’re supposed to be learning for your target language. The idea behind spaced repetition is pretty much in its name – you should leave some time between revision sessions to let the new information “settle” into your brain and make it easier to retrieve when needed.

But there is more to this technique than going over your word lists every week.

Put more emphasis on what you don’t know

Another key element in using spaced repetition for language learning is that you should dedicate more time to revisiting material you’re not absolutely comfortable with.

Let’s say you have a list of 200 new words you’d like to memorise in your target language. However, you already happen to know 50 of them by heart and can more-or-less remember another 25. So, it doesn’t make much sense to spend as much time on revising those 75 words since that would simply take up your precious time. So, instead, you should quickly look over the 50 words and set them aside. Then, dedicate a little time to memorising the other 25 you think you know and add them to the previous 50.

And then you’re free to go over the remaining 125 words, learn them properly, and revise. Once you feel equally confident in knowing those words, you can add the other 75 back to the list just to make sure you’ve got them all but you’ve spent more time on learning the new words. Spending more time on revising new information means helps your brain to make more connections to it, making the info easier to remember later on.

Increasing intervals

Another way this technique differs from simply reading your word list over and over again is that you space your repetition according to your needs.

Since it’s harder for your brain to retrieve information received only recently, you should dedicate time to revising new words more frequently at the beginning. So, let’s take the previous example. You’ve just learned 125 new words, have another 25 that you’re more familiar with, and 50 that you knew beforehand.

To make the best use of spaced repetition, you should go over the 125 new words at a shorter interval than the other ones. So, let’s say, that for three days you go over the 125 words once a day. Then you take a short break (of about 2 days) and then revise them once again. Then you leave another break (this time longer), revise the 125 words and add the 25 you’re more-or-less sure of. You keep revising at an increasingly longer interval until you feel completely confident in knowing all of the words.

And just like that, you’ve dedicated more time to revising the information you’re not that familiar with (yet) but also gone over other material to lock it into place.

Conclusion – Space your repetition at an increasing interval and emphasise new information for best results

The secret behind spaced repetition is essentially using the way your brain normally works to help you memorise new information better. In order to maximise your results, you should dedicate more time to acquiring new information and revising it at a constantly increasing interval. Keep using spaced repetition until you feel confident you’ve memorised everything you wanted. And even when you’ve achieved that, it’s a good idea to occasionally revisit the info to make sure you remember everything correctly.