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A new spaced repetition app

16 Aug

Benny Lewis at Fluent in Three Months announces a new spaced repetition app for language learning, MosaLingua. I am a big fan of spaced repetition for memory improvement and I use Anki and Memrise everyday.

Unfortunately, MosaLingua is not available yet in my target languages so I am unable to provide a review, but if you are trying to learn English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, or Portuguese you should check it out.

Language learning: Vocabulary more important than grammar

24 Jul

Polyglot Steve Kaufmann makes this important point:

The importance of a large vocabulary in your target language can’t be overstated. Some are convinced we can converse quite comfortably with just a few hundred words. There are lots of articles on the topic. I don’t agree. You can communicate with a few words, but you can’t say much and you understand even less, and that means a very limited form of communication.

My views have been formed through my own experience of learning 15 languages. I constantly find my lack of words to be the greatest obstacle to enjoying the language more. Why? Because the words I am missing prevent me from understanding things that I hear, read and want to understand. With enough vocabulary and comprehension comes confidence; the confidence that I can defend myself in the language. With this confidence to sustain me, the speaking part develops naturally as I have more and more opportunity to speak.

I get apoplectic when people say that we should de-emphasize memory in education. Language learning is exhibit A in the case for the continuing importance of memory. Fortunately, memorization of vocabulary is made much easier by the availability of tools like Anki and Memrise.

Check out Kaufmann’s YouTube channel here.

 

 

Preventing loss of detailed memory

5 May

A paper published in the journal Learning & Memory

Episodic memories undergo qualitative changes with time, but little is known about how different aspects of memory are affected. Different types of information in a memory, such as perceptual detail, and central themes, may be lost at different rates. In patients with medial temporal lobe damage, memory for perceptual details is severely impaired, while memory for central details is relatively spared. Given the sensitivity of memory to loss of details, the present study sought to investigate factors that mediate the forgetting of different types of information from naturalistic episodic memories in young healthy adults. The study investigated (1) time-dependent loss of “central” and “peripheral” details from episodic memories, (2) the effectiveness of cuing with reminders to reinstate memory details, and (3) the role of retrieval in preventing forgetting. Over the course of 7 d, memory for naturalistic events (film clips) underwent a time-dependent loss of peripheral details, while memory for central details (the core or gist of events) showed significantly less loss. Giving brief reminders of the clips just before retrieval reinstated memory for peripheral details, suggesting that loss of details is not always permanent, and may reflect both a storage and retrieval deficit. Furthermore, retrieving a memory shortly after it was encoded prevented loss of both central and peripheral details, thereby promoting retention over time. We consider the implications of these results for behavioral and neurobiological models of retention and forgetting.

I have underlined the take away message. In other words, short term retrieval practice aids long term memory.

 

How to practice effectively

24 Mar

(Hat tip to BoingBoing)

A blog about the science of learning

12 Dec

The blog at The Learning Scientists is well worth following. Here is their self description:

We are cognitive psychological scientists interested in research on education. Our main research focus is on the science of learning. (Hence, “The Learning Scientists”!)

Our Vision is to make scientific research on learning more accessible to students, teachers, and other educators.

We aim to :

Motivate students to study
Increase the use of effective study and teaching strategies that are backed by research
Decrease negative views of testing
This is not a product or a sales pitch – just science!

Here is their video about spaced practice:

Spaced repetition at the Quantified Self

21 Sep

The most important technique for improving your learning and memory is spaced repetition. Here is a link to a series of videos about  spaced repetition at The Quantified Self.

Zoom in trick for Anki

13 Nov

Anki is a popular space repetition program. I use it every day. I have it on my smart phone and on my computer. Recently, however, when I switched to the Surface Pro, I discovered that the text on Anki was very small and hard to read.

But I just discovered a trick that solves the problem.

images

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