No matter if you study, go to school or participate in a
foreign language course, a sophisticated learning method eases the acquisition of the
subject considerably. The learning program SuperMemo implements the theory of biologist Piotr A. Wozniak, which says that
any acquired piece of information affects synaptic connections in the brain.
These interconnections will be deleted after a certain period of time, and with them the memory. It is therefore important to make repetitions to stabilize the connections and to provide them with a protection from deleting.
Wozniak's model is based on the continuous repetition and also helps determine when repetitions should take place. The period of time between repetitions should accurately be chosen: short enough for the subject not to be forgotten and long enough for effective repetition and to prevent waste of time.
Another essential aspect of the model is to split the information into item of information that are as small as possible. Theses items will then be presented as question-answer pairs in SuperMemo. All items belonging to a certain subject form a database.
After selecting such a database SuperMemo starts its question-answer process. The question is presented on the screen and the answer displayed after pressing Enter. The user chooses a grade between one and five to say how closely he has remembered the answer. This rating is the basis for determining the frequency with which particular questions will be asked in future sessions. After the user has answered all questions, he will have another opportunity to repeat wrongly answered questions until all questions are answered correctly.
Naturally, SuperMemo develops its highest efficiency only then when it is used regularly and frequently. This is because the program computes new frequencies for every item basing on the entered rating. The success of learning can be measured by various statistics.
SuperMemo CD-ROMs include databases for learning several foreign languages. The German-English database for example includes about 3000 items and provides a good material for beginners. If basic English skills have already been acquired, databases for business, economics and technical English can be used.
The pronunciation is supported by various databases providing audio feedback. The question is presented in a written form, the wanted term can be read and heard. Audio Guide to Advanced English includes 85 items on individual vowels and consonants, whereas Audio Advanced English database includes nearly 40000 items. A soundcard is required to use the speech support. With some basic English, one is also able to learn Swedish, French, Spanish, Dutch and Esperanto with SuperMemo. All databases can be extended by the user and it is also possible to create one's own databases.
The SuperMemo World company offers a variety of other databases. The user can even sell his own database to SuperMemo World for further distribution. Currently most databases are only available in English or Polish - mainly because SuperMemo is not yet sufficiently known in Germany. This is an unfortunate fact as SuperMemo presents a good conception and implementation and the impact on learning success is considerable. This is probably the reason why, according to the authors, SuperMemo is currently the most frequently pirated program in Poland today