Hey there! This is TOP episode 149: Remember What You Learn. Spaced Repetition
My name’s Ola I teach English since 2012 and I believe you can eliminate your language blockade. The secret word here is consistency. There are other secret words too. That is why I record this podcast’s episodes, and each comes with a little worksheet, a one-pager to help you digest and test what you’ve practised here. You can speak English with more confidence, slay that fear and enjoy fluent communication.
Visit my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Visit my shop at teacherola.com and enjoy your journey to fluency! Happy learning!
Hello hello! Thank you for showing up. Let me remind you that you can meet me live on Instagram every Thursday at 11 am I jump in live just for a quick chat, 20 minutes or so to discuss some language-related tips. Join me this Thursday at 11:00 live on Instagram! Watch previous Top Talks, they are uploaded on YouTube and Facebook so choose the place you fancy and have a listen. Don’t forget to leave a comment.
There’s a Worksheet dedicated to these sentences we’re gonna practice in a while so go grab it at teacherola.com/149 or find it in your inbox.
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If you’re interested in learning English with tv series click on the link below. Download a checklist that will tell if this is the right method for you. I am working on my Speak English with Netflix course, a programme focused on developing your speaking skill. Thank’s for your patience and let’s get back to the episode.
Let’s begin with a definition. What’s spaced repetition? It’s a powerful technique to boost your learning results. It’s a science-based, proven formula for memorizing new information for good. It involves fixed time intervals. It improves your brain’s ability to recall what you have studied. It makes new information, new skills sink in deeper so that you don’t lose that new knowledge. Those time intervals between your study sessions aren’t random. They are scientifically organised into the best combination to make your brain keep the information. Sounds good, huh? Our brains learn more effectively when we space out our learning over time.
It is very typical of learners to move on too fast. We wanna learn it all quickly, run through the class, and the material and start a new thing. We don’t revise our newfound knowledge enough, we don’t let it sink in and it’s not stable. So to speak. It’s not fixed, solid. Each layer of new information should be absorbed and then it needs time and on top of it needs revisions. Often, spaced, smartly spaced repetition. Then and only then will you keep new knowledge for good. Maybe even forever.
Let’s now talk about The Forgetting Curve. It helps us understand why we forget things we’ve learned so that we can take steps to prevent it.
The Forgetting Curve is a model that demonstrates how memories are lost over time.
Ebbinghaus who created the model experimented with his own ability to remember using a list of nonsense syllables, which he tried to recall after different lengths of time. It took him years of testing different time intervals but he made a number of crucial observations.
The most important one, the one I want you to remember is that the biggest drop in retention occurs soon after learning. Google The Forgetting Curve and see it. The day you learn something, be it grammar structure or vocabulary element, the day you absorb it, it is lost. Sadly.
However, we do have a solution. This knowledge makes us stronger because we can take action and reverse the process. Be smart about it. The ultimate solution is revision. Smart revision. Repetition which flattens the curve and reinforces learning.
There are other fascinating insights stemming from Ebbinghouse’s study hence I want to encourage you to further reading. Googling. Youtubing. Here, I want to focus on repetition as the number one booster for your memory. There are also nuances I’m not going into today, like storage strength and retrieval strength. Like, I am aware that what I’m presenting here today is simplified but that’s on purpose. Read more if you’re interested in brain and memory and all that cognitive processes.
Now you’re probably wondering what is the best distribution of those time intervals between revisions. How to space out your learning to maximize the effects? Here are the optimal intervals. Listen out.
The first repetition should occur after one day. Really fast. Don’t wait two days, three days, arguably you should not wait a week, do it the next day! The forgetting curve will jump up, and retain this piece of information longer.
The second repetition should happen after seven days. You can revise more often than that but this is just enough. In the meantime, you can learn other things and just plan it all out. Strategically.
The third repetition comes after 16 days. And the fourth repetition after 35 days, guys that’s over a month later. This is when your brain will most probably remember forever. Or, rather be able to access that piece of information easily.
1 day. 7 days. 16 days. 35 days. Plan your learning, plan your repetition. Repetition is learning. In the meantime, as I said, add new vocabulary, or new grammar. So that every day there is something to revise. Either thing you studied one day ago or 7 seven days ago or 16 days ago or 35 days ago. Of course, you don’t have o religiously stick to the intervals I gave you, you can be flexible and test it out.
There are applications that employ this knowledge. Like Anki to mention one. You don’t need to remember the time intervals, the app knows them and shows you the proper material to revise each day. You add new information, and that’s it. On the other hand, you can make your own flashcards and organise 4 boxes, super easy to do. For me, it would be easier the app really, because the internet distracts me. I would probably end up scrolling. When I revise some things in the evening, in bed, I don’t want to add any screen time. Well, choose what fits you best.
Boxes. They don’t have to be boxes. Envelopes or rubber bands that keep your flashcards in one place are enough. The number of boxes is not fixed either. You might wanna add more. Every new card you create lands in box 1. When you get a card right, it graduates to box 2. Box 2 is revised daily. Then it goes to box three where you keep words that are repeated weakly, after seven days. And so on and so forth. If you make an error or forget the word, the flashcard goes all the way back to Box 1
Here you have it. Spaced repetition is explained, now try it on for size and see if it works for you.
Now, let’s practice. Listen and repeat out loud. And hey, if you don’t understand the power of speaking out loud, tune in to episode 9, ok? Alright! Listen out:
It’s a powerful technique to boost your learning results.
It’s a science-based, proven formula for memorizing new information for good.
It improves your brain’s ability to recall what you have studied.
Those time intervals between your study sessions aren’t random.
It is very typical of learners to move on too fast.
We can take steps to prevent it.
It took him years of testing different time intervals but he made a number of crucial observations.
The ultimate solution is revision.
There are other fascinating insights stemming from Ebbinghouse’s study hence I want to encourage you to further reading.
The first repetition should occur after one day.
Try it on for size and see if it works for you.
Well done! Now, go to your inbox, get the worksheet and practice some more. If you aren’t a member of TOPeople download the worksheet from teacherola.com/149.
Could you do me a favour? If you find this episode useful, please tell your friends about my podcast, and share it with one person.
Thank for tuning in and I’ll see you next Wednesday! It’s gonna be about a song by Phil Collins. Happy learning. Take care! Stay fearless and say it out loud! Bye!