Learning is a life-long journey. What makes people panic is probably "I don't remember what I've learned!" In this article, we'd like to share three scientifically- proven ways to help you retain what you've learned longer.


The Difference Between Short-term Memory and Long-term Memory

Short-term memory is a memory that stays with you for an hour or two, or maybe just for the current day at most. For example, when you first hear a phone number, you can probably remember it for a few seconds. But can you remember it after a week? Probably not. It's because your short-term memory hasn't successfully converted it to long-term memory. To convert short-term memory to long-term memory, you'll need to meet some conditions.

1) Use Your Senses to Help Your Brain Reinforce Memory

You probably won't remember what you ate a couple of days ago at home, but you probably still remember when you went to a Michelin-star restaurant with your loved one on Valentine's last year. The night at the French restaurant, you enjoyed the wellington steak and that glass of wine, you listened to beautiful jazz music and your loved-one looked so beautiful that you couldn't take your eyes off her. All the flavours, tastes, smells, sights, sounds, emotions help lead to long-term memory.

When it comes to language learning, you can use the same strategies to reinforce your memory. Visually read the text, aurally listen to native speakers, and dictate to improve your writing ability. But if your language learning goal is to be able to speak a language fluently, be sure to read aloud. Only when your muscle gets used to speaking a foreign language, will you be able to speak fluently.

At Glossika, we make use of these same concepts. When using Glossika, select the full practice mode to get typing, dictation, repeat and recording practice. Or you can focus on just hands-free audio by using listening only mode.

2) Re-Study vs. Retrieval-Practice Effect

A lot of people think that if you re-study a piece of information several times, it will eventually become long-term memory, but is that so? Psychology researchers Henry L. Roediger III and Jeffrey D. Karpicke who specialize in human learning and memory, conducted an experiment at Washington University to test it. The research reveals that "retrieve" works better than "re-study" in terms of memory consolidation. How did they come this conclusion?

The researchers gathered a big group of students, and divided them into three small groups. All the students were required to read two different articles.

  • Group 1: Read the articles four times in twenty minutes
  • Group 2: Read the articles three times in fifteen minutes, and did retrieval practice for five minutes ー writing down what could be remembered on paper.
  • Group 3: Read the articles once, and did retrieval practice three times.

After finishing all the required steps, researchers tested how much the students could remember. And undoubtedly, the students from Group 1 got the most significant performance – the result of short-term memory.

After a week, researchers tested the students again and this time, the students from Group 3 remembered the articles the most – the result of long-term memory.

And some follow-up research reveals that if you feel challenged and find it difficult to retrieve, even if retrieving successfully, the memory will solidify more.

💡 You can find more details in their research article published in Psychological Science in 2006: Test-Enhanced Learning - Taking Memory Tests Improves Long-Term Retention.

On Glossika, you can also do retrieval practice. There are five new sentences in each training session practiced via spaced repetition. Whenever a sentence shows up, it's for you to practice retrieval, whether that's typing practice, recording practice, or dictation practice. Some people might find it too challenging and give up easily, but only the ones who are completely dedicated to the training will eventually succeed.

Source: Glossika

💡 Read more: Check out how we optimize your review

3) Theory of Desirable Difficulty

Theory of Desirable Difficulty was first introduced by Professor Robert A. Bjork in 1992. He pointed out that memory will be more consolidated if what you learn is a bit challenging for you. For example, if you can run 5 kilometers easily, you won't enhance your performance if you keep running the same distance at the same speed every day.

On Glossika, we personalize your learning content by giving you "n+1". This means that we evaluate your current level and always give you something a little bit harder for you to practice. Take English for example, if you've already mastered a sentence structure like "I ate dinner yesterday", next time you'll probably get additional adjuncts in the sentences such as "I ate dinner with my classmates yesterday" (with a person) or "I ate dinner at a Thai restaurant yesterday" (location).

Learning is a process and life-long journey of trial and error. Find out what works best for you and keep optimizing it. Lastly, if you haven't tried out Glossika yet, you can sign up an account for free and get instant unlimited access for 7 days.

You may also like:

  1. Relationship Between the Brain, Memory, and Language Learning
  2. Advantages of Deliberate Practice over Random Practice
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