How to fight against the forgetting curve, when learning a foreign language

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During my  experience as a teacher, I have often been seeing students with great difficulty in learning new words, new grammar rules, various and unavoidable  exceptions. When there are similarities between the target language and one’s mother tongue, it may be easier to store a new word, except in case of false friends. But when there is no similarity between both  languages , it becomes necessary to have strategies and  to learn some rules.
First you need to know that learning and information storing  are long processes. When we store a new word,  we have to deal with a feature of the human brain: the forgetting curve.
In fact, what we store begins to disintegrate very quickly within a few hours from learning, as stressed  by the following graph.

220px-ForgettingCurveITA

 

The forgetting curve is therefore unavoidable,  but we can fight against it. 

Hermann Ebbinghaus, the first scholars of the phenomenon  identified ways to overcome the problem; among these the most effective is known as SRS, Spaced Repetition System (repetition system at intervals).

So, when we learn a language, it is not sufficient to memorize words or grammar rules. It becomes crucial to repeat this knowledge again and again  over time and this in order to prevent early forgetfulness .

I always suggest to my students to repeat regularly the information they store, whether grammatical rules, lists of new vocabulary, idioms, etc.

When you seriously study a language, you have to regularly spend time to this activity. It is not necessary to spend hours. You just need to be regular and repeat  the studied concepts. Even 30 minutes a day, every day,may be enough to be successful and be gradually able to juggle in the target language.

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