Hey guys, what's up, this is Ari in Beijing, and today we're gonna be talking about how to remember everything you've ever learned via the magic of spaced repetition.
And no, that's no exaggeration, it's entirely possible and in this video I'm going to show you exactly how!
So I don't think I've ever talked about this before, but in my spare time, in addition to making these silly videos, I actually teach Chinese, no surprise there.
Now one of the biggest problems I find with my students is vocabulary retention, right? So, they'll cram some vocabulary or grammar one week, but a few more weeks go by and they've seemingly completely forgotten everything they learned.
And this probably describes how you've learned things in school as well, right?
Now why is this?
Well it turns out that unless you are actually using the vocabulary that you learn, the brain simply says, "Hey, I don't need this vocabulary anymore given that I haven't heard it in a while, let me throw it in the trash."
And that actually makes sense, right?
So, the brain has evolved over billions of years to be as efficient as possible, and why is your brain going to waste memory cells on stuff you're not actually using?
However, it turns out there's actually a scientifically proven way to hack the way the brain forgets to ensure that you can remember whatever you want forever. Right?
So way back in 1885, the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus found out numerous studies that have since been verified many times over about the forgetting curve, which is that the brain forgets things in an exponential way.
So, as time goes on, you lose memories faster and faster.
But, here's a cool thing, once you are given a reminder of the material after a little bit of time, the curve kind of restarts and starts to get flatter.
Meaning that after your first reminder it's going to take you longer to forget the material.
And repeat this several times over and over and the curves keep getting flatter, and at some point they basically become completely flat and enter your memory permanently.
Now, the magic of this process is that it's extremely time efficient.
So, whereas the first and second review might need to be next to each other by only a couple of days, your fourth and fifth review are separated by like two months.
So rather than spending all that time cramming the night before a test only to forget the material in a week, you could instead spread that exact same time over several months and yet remember that material for far longer.
So you might be thinking this is great and all but these charts seem really complicated! How the heck do I do this?
Well that's exactly what we have computers for!
So my longtime subscribers will know that I talk a lot about Anki on this show, which is a free program that implements precisely this spaced repetition system.
But there's other software too, right, like Memrise, which is a web-based platform that has lots of premade courses that unlike most textbooks, are based around the principles of spaced repetition.
And one other thing I think is worth mentioning is that spaced repetition, as good as it is, is actually just an imitation of the natural language learning process.
So, for example you're a native speaker of English you probably know the meaning of the word "jacuzzi" despite not having heard it in a long time, most likely. You may have heard it a bunch of times one summer vacation and now you don't need to hear it that often for the meaning to be reinforced.
So, eventually once you get into the advanced phases of language learning, learning by osmosis from native level media or conversation, that is effectively your spaced repetition, and you no longer need programs like Anki or Memrise.
So let me know in the comments how you've used spaced repetition to reach your own language learning goals!
And thanks everyone for watching and if you liked this video please subscribe 'cuz I've got more like this and I'll see you next week!