What are repetitions for?
If you want to learn with SuperMemo, it is helpful to know the most important assumption behind the method, which is: any knowledge will be forgotten if it is not regularly revised. This principle also applies to knowledge that we are not even aware of.
The names of the objects around us (car, apple, sun) or activities (eating, sitting) we had to learn as children were not given to us from the very beginning of our lives. We had to learn all these words, their sounds and meanings. Due to the fact that we use them practically every day, we refresh the traces of memory in our brains. On the other hand, knowledge that we do not use on a daily basis becomes blurred. Do you recall immediately the abbreviated multiplication formulas, or the names of all the rivers in Europe which you probably learnt in primary school? It would certainly take a while, if you could recall them at all.
It is the same with learning foreign languages: if you do not use previously learned words or constructions in practice (i.e. when speaking, writing, reading or listening), you will sooner or later forget them. A great way to maintain a rich vocabulary and fluency in language is to be in the country where it is spoken and use it on a daily basis. For obvious reasons, for most of us it is not possible in the long run, especially if we are learning more than one foreign language. So we have to look for other ways. A good idea for maintaining daily contact with the language is a computer program or mobile app, which forces us to refresh words in our memory through the appropriate rhythm of repetitions. The SuperMemo multiplatform is a tool that will tell you when and how to repeat the absorbed material. SuperMemo will tell you how to learn so that your learning brings the expected results. The effectiveness of the method has been confirmed by thousands of satisfied students who have been taking SuperMemo courses since the 1980s.
When and how to repeat
During their research on memory and forgetfulness, the creators of SuperMemo noticed that, in order for remembering to be effective, the answer to the question when and how to repeat lies in the precise point in time that we choose to repeat. It is important not to refresh our knowledge too early, because we will be repeating what we already know, wasting our time and processing capacity unnecessarily. We also cannot sit down for revision too late and still have access to the knowledge that we want to consolidate. With SuperMemo you will know when and how to repeat material, because the special algorithm used to create SuperMemo will calculate the right moment based on your previous progress. Therefore, when you enter SuperMemo again, the program first gives you repetitions of material that needs to be refreshed. You don’t have to decide when and what to repeat – the application will take care of that. So, you can see that the answer to the question of how to learn with SuperMemo is quite simple – use the algorithm’s prompts and be systematic, then the Intelligent Replay System will bring the desired results.
It is important not only to identify the best moments to repeat material, but also to know how to repeat it. It is important to repeat it actively . Many of us read articles or watch movies in foreign languages. These are great ways to develop a passive acquaintance. However, effective communication requires more. We know about this at SuperMemo. So, how are you to learn to find the right words or structures in your head? How can you master the active knowledge of the language, i.e. gain the ability to independently create a statement or written text?
The question-answer (or Q&A) exercises most frequently used in SuperMemo courses refresh the active knowledge of the language in your mind, as they force you to actively invent the answer.
Where should I enter my answer? – how to learn SuperMemo
A significant number of the tasks in SuperMemo courses are based on the “Question-answer” exercises we just mentioned, in which you have to provide a translation of the word or sentence displayed. When you first come across the method, you may be surprised by the lack of space to enter the answer. But that’s deliberate – this is how we want to encourage you to give your answer orally ! In this way, we are telling you not when to repeat, but how. Oral answers have many advantages:
- First of all, you speak a foreign language straight away and this is the most important skill you want to learn.
- Moreover, you practice in casual conditions, where you can allow yourself to repeat a new word many times without embarrassment that someone will hear your pronunciation, which may still be far from perfect.
- Answering verbally takes much less than writing an answer, which saves you time.
The exercises for giving oral answers are found primarily in the vocabulary training series Extreme and PowerWords. You can also use STT speech recognition in the mobile application. What else can you expect from us? How can you learn with SuperMemo? Look for the answers in the next paragraph.
How to learn with SuperMemo Extreme courses and others
When designing the Extreme vocabulary courses, we assumed that they would be used to quickly learn new words and to refresh previously known ones. Let us start with the second goal: when and how to repeat familiar but slightly forgotten words?
We focused on actively using words that we used to know but have “evaporated” somewhere because it takes less effort than learning new vocabulary. Often it is enough to do the exercise once to transfer the word to long-term memory, and subsequent repetitions will only help consolidate the knowledge.
When learning new vocabulary, the memorising process is a bit more complicated, because we have to re-encode the new information in our mind. We assumed that for this purpose it would be best to go through the exercise, while getting acquainted with additional elements of the entry: its definition, translation, synonyms, collocations and example sentences. In this way, the first contact with the exercise is treated as learning, during which we learn a new item . Only subsequent passes are treated as proper repetitions.
Why doesn’t the system grade me?
How can we make learning progress if SuperMemo does not grade us? Our courses provide all the tools for the user to be able to assess their own progress. How do you know how to evaluate yourself? Well, in SuperMemo we assumed that after learning the correct solution (this appears after clicking the “Check answer” button), everyone is able to judge to what extent their own answer was consistent with the pattern. You need to decide what grade to give yourself by comparing your own answer with the pattern . It is only important that your assessment is fair, because it depends on when and how you repeat the ensuing parts of the material.
In SuperMemo applications you can choose from three ratings: “I know”, “Almost” and “I don’t know”. If your answer coincides 100% with the answer given by the program and you managed to answer right away, without hesitation, please rate your knowledge with “ I know “. If you are unsure of the answer or your answer was close to the correct one, rate yourself as “ Almost “. If you gave a very different, or no answer, please rate your knowledge with “ I don’t know “. Based on the assessment, the SuperMemo program will set a repetition for each exercise on the day when the information is close to being forgotten – in line with the assumptions of the method.
Self-assessment is primarily used in Q&A exercises. In other types of tasks, where you choose one of the options provided, the program suggests the right solution. Again, you can change the grade if you think your wrong answer was the result of a mistake in choosing, or an irrelevant typo.
How can you learn with SuperMemo and achieve satisfactory results? Remember that the method is based on an intelligent repetition system. The algorithm tells you when and how to repeat specific parts of the material, so try to follow the prompts you receive from the application. Regularity is the key to success, so once you get to know your individual rhythm of repetition, try to stick to it and you will notice the initial results quickly.