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A lot of you come to me and tell me that you’re having trouble remembering what you’ve learned, which as humans, is normal.
So how do we combat our memory loss and make sure that we can hold onto to the words and grammar rules we want to in Italian?
If you took the free 31 Day Learn Italian Challenge, you read about a tool called Anki, a way to create and review flashcards on your computer.
What I failed to mention is the genius of that system, and it’s something that you can use even without technology.
Spaced repetition is a learning technique that has been studied since the 70s and has been shown to be highly effective.
Here’s the basic premise.
Let’s say you learn a new word in Italian on Monday: sensibile –> sensitive
Instead of learning it once or even just writing it down, you take it a step further and make a note to review that word tomorrow, on Tuesday, as well.
You review it on Tuesday.
You review it on Friday.
You review it again the following Tuesday.
Then you review it in two weeks, one month and two months.
You space out your reviewing so you the word is constantly being repeated to you.
This is the #1 error that most language learners make.
They commit to learning, keep bulldozing forward, and forget to stop and look back at what they’ve already learned.
Learning quickly doesn’t get you anywhere with a language if you can’t remember what you’ve learned.
The difficult bit of this is finding how much space between reviewing is best for you, which comes with trial and error.
This is the simplest framework for how it works, and you can add on other elements to make it even more effective.
Gabriel Wyner, author of Fluent Forever, uses Anki and puts in pictures that relate to the word he learned, example sentences with blanks, and the pronunciation.
You can do all of this without using a system like Anki, but Anki is more convenient because it spaces words out for you and you don’t have to keep track of when to review a word again.
Obviously with using Anki there is a technology learning curve, but if you take a couple of hours to master the system it will be incredibly valuable for you in the long run.
(Interested in learning more about Anki? Gabriel Wyner has a video on how to install it step-by-step here.)
What’s more, you always want to take it one step further and after learning the words and reviewing them, find ways to use them in real life.
Write them into stories you made up, use them in conversations with your tutors or with other students, and find other creative ways to help the language come alive.
Once you have it in conversation and emotion has a chance to connect with it, your memory latches on.
Try this for the next week with a list of 5-7 words and let me know how it goes!
Other flash card systems you could use:
Questions? Leave them below.