Spaced repetition has been around a long time. I first started using it seriously around 1992. It is transformative in its ability to help ordinary people achieve extraordinary results. In fact, it formed one of the three foundations of my work getting “gifted kids” results for ordinary or sub-ordinary students. The principle is a simple one; dispense with cramming and space your reviews out scientifically so that the fewest reviews achieve the best possible long term retention. You may have seen things written such as your spaces should progress along the lines of 1 day, 1 week, 1 month between reviews. I wish that were correct. I know of no normal individual who can make gaps increasing so rapidly work for them but the idea of progressively longer gaps between reviews is sound in principle. I suspect such bad examples of good things are written by those who study a subject without practicing it.
Anyhow, there is something far better, which we have been delivering to clients for a long time now – it’s called an Optimum or Optimised Review Cycle. It’s based on the principle of spaced repetition (with spacing,that works, of course) but customised by language being learned, by language component and tailored to the individual user. Optimum / Optimised Review Cycles is what the Total Fluency App delivers. I wouldn’t leave home without one.
As an interesting aside educators are fond of saying that we are all different. Obviously true in one way and false in another. But there is this idea of a “vision in use” – that is fancy corporate speak for what people do does not always match what they say or think they believe. A good example would be educators say we are all different then shove students through a remarkably similar production line process which produces highly disparate results. One of the other foundations of our success with students of varying ability is that we accept that people really are different to some extent, so we change WHAT they do in order to produce remarkably UNIFORM results – excellence. Anyone who follows our programme is going to get an A* and the difference in input will amount to some having to put in 20% of the usual time and the unlucky few having to put in 30% of the usual time. Spaced repetition is a blunt instrument (same for everyone) and Optimised Review Cycles are a sharp instrument capable of conferring on students a powerful ability to excel no matter the starting point.
If I may use a military analogy, spaced repetition is like a cannon ball shot from a canon. It can be very effective if aimed correctly, but it only ever does one thing. It is no way adaptive and thus extremely limited. Compare that, old technology with a heat seeking missile. You can start the missile in almost any direction, It may be chasing something fast or slow, the object being chased may be varying both its speed and direction. The principle of the heat seeking missile is that it is adaptive and will change its behaviour to meet a specific target. That is how Optimised Review Cycles work. And they are as advanced compared to spaced repetition as a heat seeking missile is to a cannon ball.
If I may quote one more advertising slogan (I trust you didn’t miss the previous one) – incorporate Optimised Review Cycles into your language learning. Why? Because you’re worth it.