Remembering lessons

Hi everyone.

Just one question. Is it important to be able to remember word by word the most recent lesson studied? Or can I just not worry about that and focus solely on meaning?

I’m learning spanish and sometimes I struggle to remember all the words of the story I had studied the day before. Does this matter?

Thank you for your help, always appreciated.

“remember word by word” - do you mean to be able to retell the story from memory, or just understand it and hopefully be able to use all (or most) of the words in speech/writing?

Hi Adalberto,

Take a look at this thread, When Should You Move On To A New Assignment? - Language F.... If you want more clarification, ask for it on that thread.

I never worry about what I do not understand, words that I forget, etc. Things will eventually become clearer, and the words will eventually stick. I keep moving on. Repeated listening is effective as long as you are motivated to do it and find it a challenge. Once you are no longer able to do it, move on to something new. The brain likes repetition but the brain also likes novelty.

I prefer to work on the same four or five words per week, so this way I can effectively learn a new language in two to three life times. But that’s just me, we’re all different…

I like to take a spaced repetition approach to reviewing lessons. I’ll listen to and read a lesson till I understand it all, then I’ll just listen. If I can understand the whole lesson without having to read, then I’ve completed the lesson. If not, I go back and listen and read again, and then I’ll just listen again until I understand the whole lesson.

That doesn’t mean that I remember the exact meaning of each individual word or that I can even remember any of the new words after the lesson - just that I have understand them in context, and that is enough.

The next day I’ll listen to the text again to see if I still understand the whole lesson, and if so, that’s enough. If not, I go back and listen and read again. The next time I listen after that is 3 days later, then 7 days, then 2 weeks, etc. If at any point I’ve forgotten the meaning of some words, I go back and read and listen.

Now obviously I don’t always do this that exactly and sometimes I get lazy and don’t feel like reading again, but when I have done this faithfully I’ve always seen the best results in my acquisition and passive to active transfer of new vocab.

David, you are a patient and disciplined man. The great thing about language learning is that it is a personal journey. We choose our own route and our own pace.

I am always moving on, even if I do not understand all in a content item. Some parts , especially when I listen, and even when I read, I am just not able to clearly understand, and some words I just cannot remember, but I just move on. I know that these things will come in their own good time. I am happy with incertitude, it is a part of learning, to me.

I do review old content some time, but on a totally random basis, when I feel like it.

I’m with David. Spaced repetition has produced great results for me too, although I totally understand Steve’s point - the most important part is to enjoy the learning. And if you’re bored with the lesson, it won’t do you any favour. : )

I listen to a lesson a few times, without the transcript, then I read the text, create linqs and listen again, then I grab the important sentences and enter them in my Anki SRS deck. And of course I dowload the audio to my mp3 player and listen to it a few times during the day. I read the text a few times more then I try to learn the flashcards and then I just archive the lesson. But I don’t delete the audio from my mp3 player so it sits there for a few days/weeks and I listen to it occasionally. Next! :slight_smile: Comprehension, enjoyment, progress. :smiley:

I’d like to be able to work like David, but my reality is more like Steve’s. I constantly look for new things. It’s only when I’m in my “I ought to be more disciplined” mode/mood that I review old lessons or work in detail on an article.

I’ll quite readily admit that I don’t always follow my own advice and that I very often get bored with certain material quickly or am simply hungry for more - in fact, that’s why I had such a high activity score last month, because I couldn’t get my hands on enough new content in Chinese, even if I only understood 10% of it:)

But even now when I go back and listen to that stuff it still seems familiar, even though I only listened to it a few times and haven’t gone back to it for a month.

By the way Steve, I love the analogy comparing language learning to ‘walking through a fog’, and the Chinese one I’m walking through right now is quite dense, but slowly dissipating…

I just realized that I failed to mention that I’ve been using this method specifically to learn Chinese, as it just doesn’t seem to want to ‘stick’ as easily as other languages.

I usually only have to listen to a lesson once in any Germanic language, and two or three times in any Romance language (and even Estonian, which is Finno-Ugric, wasn’t this bad) for it to become firmly rooted in my brain, obviously because I’ve studied a number of each.

Does anyone else have this problem with exotic languages?

I stuck my nose into Chinese and I didn’t have this problem. Perhaps I will, when I start learning Chinese in hardcore mode (hopefully in a year). :smiley:

I try to find 5-10 sentences of a lesson or short text with new words or structures/pattern.
Then I cut those sentences out of the audio with Audacity (free audio software).
I put the sentence audio plus the text of the sentence in my SRS “Anki” (free SRS software).
Within Anki, I learn in two directions: (1) hear the audio and try to understand the meaning, (2) read the text and try to speak it correctly (+ try to understand the meaning).
As Anki presents the stuff that I don’t know more often, everything will go into my brain in a few weeks or months. But you must use Anki as a daily routine!


I don’t know whether Japanese should be considered an exotic language for me or not since I speak Chinese. However, I am finding it very difficult to remember Japanese pronunciations. The problem is that each kanji can have several readings. In fact the same kanji meaning the same thing can also have different pronunciations. For example 国 meaning country is pronounced as [kuni] when used alone. However, in the compound word 英国 meaning the UK, 国 is pronounced as [koku], whereas in 中国 meaning China it’s pronounced as [goku], i.e. the [k] has become [g]. So when you look at a word like 韓国 (Korea), you would have to scratch your head and wonder whether it should be [koku] or [goku]. Similarly the kanji 大 can pronounced as [dai] or [tai]. I can’t tell you the number of words I stare at the kanji 大 and wonder how it should be pronounced, even for words that I have learned numerous times before. There are also a large number of homonyms. After a while, all the words seem to sound the same. The bottomline is that I am constantly learning the same words again and again. Sigh…

@hpp23: Could you do the same if you were to import those sentences into LingQ? (I’m asking this question because I’m not exactly gifted in the technical field.) You would be in charge of your own pace and could still follow a daily routine if you were so inclined.
The beauty (one of the beauties, rather) of LingQ for me is the independence it offers.

Importing these sentences of course is possible. But in fact you have them already in form of a dialogue/lesson/text.

I understand that you don’t want to use other programs besides LingQ.

The problem is that LingQ doesn’t offer Vocabulary items with audio, and the flashcard system is rather simple.

I like the Spaced Repetition System (SRS) approach with audio sentences, because I don’t have to think what to repeat - the SRS takes care what my brain needs and what not (because I know it well). Besides these SRS/Anki sessions I read and listen to the whole lesson very often, sometimes I write them to (in Chinese very important).

Putting sound on our Flash Cards, enabling the easy export of lists from LingQ to other systems like Anki, are all on our todo list. Right now our focus is on increasing interaction amongst members and trying to increase membership. Enhancements to our learning functions are a lesser priority right now.

On the other hand, I saved 88 LingQs yesterday, over 400 in the last week, and have almost 28,000 saved LingQs in Russian (leaving aside Portuguese, my minor). I think I would overwhelm any SRS system. My Flash Card review tends to me either random ,for vocab review, since I pick the words up in the texts that I read, highlighted in yellow, or else it is targetted, for the concentrated review of specific issues, like cases in Russian right now.

However, everyone has their own path, and SRS systems are popular and we have had requests for sound on the Flash Cards and we will eventually get to these things.

To David and Cantotango, language learning is a task of sisyphus. But the fog does apparently lift, and in my experience, it happens mysteriously without us noticing. It does not seem to me that the things we deliberately study are the ones that necessarily become patterns in our brains. The brain decides what is going to stick. We just have to keep enjoying the language, without getting frustrated.

what a long series of responses! Thank you for all your suggestions!


I haven’t studied any Japanese, but I wonder if there is any pattern for voiced/unvoiced consonant in the situation you’re describing (or anything related to something called VOT (voice onset time); basically, the difference between d and t or g and k is the moment your vocal cords start moving). Look at what come before [koku] and [goku], and see if one only occur in some particular cases.

@ sigma_20xx

I once asked in a forum whether any rules exist for those sound changes. The answer I got was no. Someone directed me to a Japanese Wikipedia article which I couldn’t read. All I remember is that the article was very long. I’d think that even such rules exist they would be very complex.