Using Spaced Repetition is one of the best ways to learn Spanish fast.
Let me explain why…
Spanish, sometimes, is like your place in a public parking lot:
If you don’t use it, you lose it.
Spaced repetition could be defined as the opposite of spending the night before an exam drinking coffee and memorizing large amounts of information.
In fact, just a few weeks after the Spanish test—even if you passed it—you’re more likely to remember the number of cups of coffee it took to get you through that night of studying than you are to remember the content of what you studied.
Surely it has happened to you before.
Think of one of those nights of intensive study and try to remember as much as you can about the subject you studied that night.
Do you have a gap in your memory?
In reality, what has happened is that all the information you studied during that night of anxiety and caffeine—although it was still in your head the next day—was stored in your short-term memory.
And, with the passing of days, it became more and more inaccessible to you in a conscious way.
This is where the spaced repetition method comes into play.
It’s a learning technique that is based on continuously reviewing information at increasingly longer intervals, so that you have time to forget it between one session and the next.
The History Of Spaced Repetition
The pioneer of this method was the German philosopher and psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus, who through his famous forgetting curve demonstrated the importance of spaced review in the process of learning new knowledge.
In other words, if you spend 10 consecutive hours consuming comprehensible input in Spanish and you learn new Spanish words…
You will have much less chance of remembering them in the long term than if you don’t review them consistently over the long term.
The study of Spanish fits perfectly into this method.
That’s because in the learning process it is constantly necessary to remember words rather than the understanding or rationalization of complex concepts, as it happens in other areas of learning, such as mathematics or physics.
Using spaced repetition is simple.
Let’s say you consume a piece of content in Spanish.
And then you write down 10 words that you didn’t know.
Now instead of only studying those words for a week straight…
You will spread out how you study.
Maybe you review them once on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Then the next week you review them on Tuesday and Thursday.
The key is to continue to review the words over a long period of time.
I like using tools like Anki to help me do this.
Below is a video where I talk about the best way that I’ve found to retain Spanish words using tools like Anki:
Long story short, you should divide what you need to study into individual blocks of information and schedule study sessions that include certain blocks over time, as a review.
Several things will happen when using this method:
For starters, in each session you will find it easier to remember the information you are studying, since it will be more and more entrenched in your long-term memory.
In turn, this new information that you are learning will be combined with other blocks of information that already exist in your long-term memory, so that you can form relationships between what you already know and what you are learning.
The latter is fundamental in the study of Spanish, since it will make it easier for you to understand the language more and more intuitively.
In practice, the intervals between revision sessions will depend, above all, on the complexity of what you are studying and your learning capacity; and the most difficult thing will be, in the end, planning your study in the medium term, and staying constant.
Spaced repetition is a sure way to retain what you learn over time.
It is extremely effective in helping you retain Spanish words.
This will help you stop feeling that each new word pushes an old one and that your mind is a book with a kind of Excel file with the limited boxes.
Remember: your mind is really like a Word file, with no word limit.