Robertson Languages > Methodology > Spaced repetition: The power of doing a little, often

Spaced repetition: The power of doing a little, often

Jun 18 in Methodology, RLI365

Though it sounds like a lot, 24 hours can seem like a millisecond to many of us. Between sleeping, eating, working and watching the odd video on YouTube, there isn’t much time in the day for anything else, let alone a traditional language lesson.

The busy bees among you wanting to learn a new language would, after a long day at the office, probably prefer to go home – recline and relax on your favourite sofa rather than spend hours revising vocabulary and grammar in a classroom.

That’s why, here at RLI, we’ve got the solution for this common language-learning problem, and it’s called spaced repetition.

Through working with flashcards at regular intervals between lessons, our trainees are learning more in less time. Comparatively unknown to aspiring multilinguists, spaced repetition is celebrated for its ability to improve your brain’s ability to recall what you study.

In fact, in the eyes of psychologists and neuroscientists, it’s considered one of the most powerful learning techniques in the world.

Through our brand-new app, RLI365, our trainees have 24/7 access to flashcards via their mobile phone, desktop or tablet from anywhere in the world. On mobile devices, the app’s user-friendly functionality helps to keep language learners engaged while on the go, whether you’re waiting for the start of a meeting or commuting through London on the tube. Another benefit of the flashcards app is that learners can also use it offline on a flight.

A picture of a man looking at a screen, making the most of spaced repetition technology

The history of spaced repetition

During the late 1880s, psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus was the first to tackle and analyse the phenomenon of memory. The German-born scientist spent years of his life memorising lists of made-up syllables, all in the name of science and to learn more about how the mind work when it comes to memory.

Applying a meticulous approach to his research, Ebbinghous charted the rate at which memories decay over time in his most famous work – a graph called the Forgetting Curve.

In his analysis, he noted, “With any considerable number of repetitions, a suitable distribution of them over a space of time is decidedly more advantageous than the massing of them at a single time.”

Its workflows

The simplest way to introduce a spaced-repetition approach to your learning is by working with a flashcard system. For example, if you would like to learn the German phrases that help you to order a drink in a coffee shop, you simply write down the words and phrases on individual flashcards:

Flashcard 1: Etwas zu trinken?

Flashcard 2: Ja, bitte.

Flashcard 3: Kaffee oder Tee?

Next step is to decide on when and how often you will revise the cards. During the revision sessions, flashcards with phrases that you have already mastered can be revised less frequently in the future, whereas the cards you are struggling with can be returned to more frequently in the future.

The RLI way

Here at RLI, we understand that learning a new language is a lot like building a wall. By stacking your bricks too quickly, without allowing the mortar between each layer to settle, the wall loses its integrity. When our trainees first begin on their road to fluency in another language, we allow for time to ensure that the all-important “mental mortar” has time to dry.

RLI trainees will be able to access flashcards containing all the words and phrases covered within their language lessons. They can also access a database of over 150 million flashcard ‘sets’ on hundreds of different topics that fellow learners have created. So, for example, if an RLI trainee wanted to polish their past participle sentences, they could simply search for ready-made flashcards, games and tests. For visual learners the option to add images to their flashcards is also available.

If our trainees want to see how they’d perform in a ‘class test’ environment, the app can also accommodate them. Language learners can challenge themselves with different tests (e.g. written, matching, multiple choice, show images or true or false), depending on what works best for them.

All RLI learners have access to three additional language training apps, encompassing everything from pronunciation to grammar. To find out more about the apps click here.




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