This effective science-back study technique could help you learn a new language.

Hey there! Let’s make a guess: you probably took foreign language studies in high school as part of your school curriculum, right? And after four year of high school French lessons, perhaps the only French statement you remember accurately is “Comment t’apples?” No offense. This is not your fault at all if you’ve forgotten 95 percent of your Français already — you probably didn’t use the best learning method.

Related media: The Most Powerful Way To Remember What You Study

Hello! Hola! Halo!

In fact, being multilingual comes along with a host of mental health benefits — it also helps you become better at decision making, improve your personality, and even impact your perception of color and time. Like seriously! However, being fluent in a whole new language isn’t an easy stunt to pull off; and the way you go about it could be the key to your success and fluency.

According to research, the spaced repetition method is the best way to pull off that stunt. Its basically a study technique that places increased intervals of time before reviewing the information you’re trying to learn. It was the idea of the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus; he’s famously known for pioneering the ways to measure learning and our ability of memory — the so-called concept of the learning curve. That’s all Ebbinghaus.

In his groundbreaking 1885 study ‘Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology,’ he revolutionized our understanding of learning by introducing the “forgetting curve.” After performing a series of memory tests on himself, he realized that he had suddenly forgotten some of it in just a space of 20 minutes. This laid the foundation for the spaced repetition method.

Repeat After Me

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In a 2013 study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, it notes how spaced repetition was used to store information of participants’ long-term memory in a matter of minutes, whereas rapid repetition didn’t do much. Rapid repetition is the perfect-storm setup for falling victim to Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve.

Here’s how to practice with spaced repetition:

  1. Create flashcards of your new vocabulary words, either digitally or by hand.
  2. Review your cards once a day.
  3. Every time you get a card wrong, put it in a section for cards you need to review frequently.
  4. When you get a card right, put it in a section for cards you need to review less frequently.
  5. You can even score each card for how well you remembered it, and place it on a scale from 0 (review later) to 5 (review further later).
  6. Follow your schedule and adjust as needed.

What Language Should I Learn?

According to Quartz reporter Nikhil Sonnad, he suggests using the software Anki to store and keep track of your cards — just not to create them. Instead, create the cards yourself by adding context clues that are relevant to you. With that in check, you’re good to go. What language do you plan on learning? Français? Español? Português? Esperanto? We’d learn Mandarin. Whatever language you learn, do well to give us a shoutout in your tweets.

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Jun 29, 2019.


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