Suggestion: Systematic Repetition of Lessons

I’ve been looking for a language platform that helps me organize my lessons and apply spaced repetition principles to the lessons themselves. I think LinkQ shows the most potential for making this possible.

The issue I face is that I’m constantly adding new content that sparks my interest (articles, lessons, podcasts, etc.) and I lose track of those lessons I’ve already studied and want to study again. Perhaps I just lack discipline but, in practice, I only review old content once or twice before I forget about it. Ideally, I would study a lesson, learn the words on day one, then return to that lesson day 3, 6, 9, etc.

The function I dream of would have a read/playlist, which automatically reintroduces past lessons based on a spaced repetition algorithm. Maybe the LingQ system which tracks vocabulary (with 1-4 plus known levels) could be applied to lessons themselves. Just as with vocabulary, you could have a lesson “Due for Review (SRS).”

This might be a long-term suggestion but i would be over the moon if you guys implemented it.

In the meantime, would it be possible for LinkQ to track the number of times or last date that I’ve viewed or listened to a lesson? If I could sort my lessons by this data, I could introduce a little more rigorous repetition for myself.

I love what you all are doing. Keep it up!


I’m sorry, but I don’t think this would be as effective as you think. It’s totally fine to repeat or revisit lessons if that’s what you want to do, but an algorithm based spaced repetition is simply not necessary.

Good! That’s not an issue, that’s the actual thing you’re supposed to do! If you keep engaging with content, there is no reason to systematically repeat lessons. The whole “Due For Review” thing is useless in my experience. I think LingQ does it because that’s what people expect to see in a language learning tool, but spaced repetition with flash card / words out of context has been proven to be the least effective way of acquiring vocabulary. Your idea would technically put the words “in context” but it’s still would not be effective enough to be worth it in my opinion.


I absolutely agree with @t_harangi. Spaced repetition is a good algorithm for learning arbitrary material by heart . A language is a different beast altogether. You are not learning lessons or texts, you’r learning words in context. It’s the words themselves and their environment that should reoccur and they will do so naturally if you keep reading texts in the language, it doesn’t matter if you never find the same lesson again.
Allow yourself to be surprised by the language, do move from one interesting piece of content to another and you’ll learn the language while you enjoy yourself. It’s a win-win situation if ever there was one

No need to be sorry @t_harangi, I appreciate the discussion. I would agree with you if I was only trying to learn to read a language. There is little point in revisiting a written passage once you’ve comprehended it. However, I find that repetition of listening and ways of saying things within a familiar context are really essential listening and speaking habits.

Reading is wonderful because you can take the time to recognize a word in an unfamilar passage and grow in your recognition. However, if you’re struggling to understand spoken language at speed, hearing the same unrecognized phrase in another unfamiliar context, or reading a transcript is not guaranteed to help you recognize it the next time. I think this is especially true for languages like Chinese which lean on context to understand the spoken word. In addition, the separation between spoken acquisition and written acquisition is a little wider for Chinese because the characters don’t evoke the phonetics directly. I find my French listening and speaking ability increase the more I read, even if I am not doing much listening, but I do not find that this is the case with Chinese.

I understand your dismissal of spaced repetition too @ftornay (though spaced repetition actually has its uses for learning characters and tonal patterns that aren’t “arbitrary”). I’m not looking to memorize lessons but instead to get repeated exposure to hearing phrases in a familiar context, so that I will recognize them more readily the next time I hear them in a similar context. Without this type of practice I don’t find that I progress in my listening and am not able to use those phrases (which I know would understand if they were written) when I speak. The systematic spacing keeps the content fresh in my mind so that the phrases have more of a chance of relating to the new content I’m encountering or producing.

I guess the alternative would be to only listen to those things I will comprehend 99% of (with reading this is usually the case because you can take the time to think about or look up stray words) and progressing incrementally, but that would not be very interesting. I’d rather get familiar with things that interest and challenge me and repeat them until I recognize them in all the additional contexts I encounter them in.

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Bookmark lessons in time directories

They will probably not apply what you suggested, but you can emulate that. I did something similar, I used a notebook and I wrote the name of the lessons I was going to review, in which days, how many times I was going to review, etc…

For listening, I have a list of audios in priority order that I listen to, and I keep a log of which audios I listen to each day. Also, if I listen to the audios on LingQ, LingQ keeps a count of how many times I listen to each audio.

For reading, I find spaced repetition helpful for increasing my reading speed and fluency. The first time I read something, I usually have to lookup words and figure out the meaning, so my reading speed is slower. When I re-read the same material later, I am usually able to read it faster and more fluently (without pasuses). It is very helpful to increase your reading speed – it enables you to read more material and make faster progress.

In my experience, spaced repetition (even out of context) is very effective at memorizing vocabulary say if you’re studying for a test or learning kanji. But if you’re trying to learn a whole language then the number of words you have to know is just so big, that eventually it will take to long to finish your daily goal.

I would not call it the the least effective way of acquiring vocabulary. I mean it’s more effective than the way they teach vocabulary at schools. It works, you just can’t do it if you’re planning to learn 20, 30, 40 thousand words.
There’s a actually a video where steve tries a spaced repetition system called the gold list and he talks about this.

I think that the concept of spaced repetition is fantastic, and it has been shown to work in the psychology literature over and again. The problem for me, though, is that I find memorizing lists of words or expressions incredibly boring. Really, I tried more than once and I just can’t get myself motivated to do it. Anyway, the reason why I mention this is because I often think that reading books is a kind of more intelligent spaced repetition system. Here is why:

  1. The most important/common words keep coming up again and again. Note that this gives you a kind of word importance ranking that is absent in traditional spaced repetition. If a word a doesn’t show up more than once in two or three books then, well, it probably wasn’t that important to begin with.
  2. The timing of the repetition is also determined by its frequency, which is in contrast with traditional spaced repetition where the times are determined by previous memory studies or your own adjustment of the algorithm
  3. The words you are trying to memorize come with a lot of context. In other words, if you are doing single words in spaced repetition you are probably doing it wrong, and even if you are doing it using expressions you are probably not doing a great job since the meaning of a given word will change across different expressions.

So, maybe I am just rationalizing the fact that I just can’t stand memorizing lists of words while I just can’t get enough of good books, but to me books are kind of a “natural, self-contained, and self-calibrated spaced repetition” device.