Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring and spaced-repetition systems

What do spring and spaced-repetition systems (SRS) have in common? They both seem to be in the air this month.

There's been a lot of buzz in the language-learning blogosphere about SRS lately. See Mastering Mandarin parts 1, 2, and 3, Ramses on Free Technology for Teachers, Tower of Confusion, Flashcard Aficionado, and The Linguist on Language.

After the jump, a few highlights.

For the uninitiated, here's a brief definition, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Spaced repetition is a learning technique in which increasing intervals of time are used between subsequent reviews, rather than studied frequently for a short time...
Although from last year, it's worth pointing out that All Japanese All the Time has a pretty in-depth series on how to make the best use of SRS.

The consensus appears to be that the big players in SRS software are SuperMemo, Mnemosyne, and Anki. Mastering Mandarin has a brief overview of these, Cunning Linguist has a slightly longer one, and Nihongo Pera Pera has one that's much more detailed. I'd fault them all for leaving out, f.k.a.

Everyone seems to love their SRS, but Steve Kaufman goes against the grain, arguing that SRS might not be the most efficient way to learn, at least in part because it lacks "resonance".

If you're interested in implementing an SRS system in a classroom, Ramses of Spanish Only has some useful ideas for you.


  1. Another one to consider is BYKI. I use it for Thai and love it.

    If you buy the full version, you can imput the phrases and words of your choice. Also, it remembers how you did last time, and you can drill with sound.

  2. Catherine
    I do enjoy BYKI and it works extraordinarily well for me but the one problem with that is that you really have to be diligent about going back and reviewing your lists. It's easy enough if you have say, less than 20, I just find it hard to remember to go back and review them. If byki combined it's comprehensive flashcard system with SRS then it would be more than perfect for me.