SRS For Memorizing Vocabulary

SRS For Memorizing Vocabulary

SRS is an acronym for “Spaced Repetition System” and is a technique of memorizing information which is based on the action of our brain. Exposure to information that is being learned should be repeated several times for it to be remembered well. When initially learning a word in foreign language you should repeat reviewing it more often, but later you can repeat it less and less. You should repeat a word at the moment when the word is is close to being forgotten and time to this moment increasing with every repetition of the word.

This kind of repeating of words is used in some flashcards systems. You have flashcards with the native language word on one side and the target language word on the other and you use boxes for these flashcards. When you remember the word it is placed in the box to be repeated a day later. The next time it is repeated a week later and after that time a month later. So you repeat known word less and less.

An SRS is ideal to use in computer applications. This type of system can be more advanced than flashcards. An SRS application remembers how much do you remember the word and makes its appear for review in a proper, calculated day. So you don’t have to repeat too many words in one day. Everything is planned by the system with consideration as to how your brain learns new information. For example if you have several thousands of words in the system and these have been systematically entered, there should be only about one hundred words to repeat in one day. Other words will be waiting for the right time to be displayed, i.e. when the word is probably close to being forgotten.

Maybe the most popular application for SRS is Anki. This application is free and gives you the ability to use it on smartphones, so you can review your words every available moment. There are some other systems based on SRS like FullRecall, Mnemosyne or OpenCards. One of the most famous systems was created in Poland – it is called “Supermemo”.

You could say that the school system is something like an SRS. You have material presented in one class; you have homework to do for the next class and a week later it is possible that your teacher will organize a test. After that, the next repetition may be required at the end of the semester. But who works in school so systematically?

  1. Quizlet is another great application for repeating new words. After you are a beginner learner, I recommend that you look for definitions in your new language instead of your native language, so that your brain doesn’t have to keep switching back and forth between languages.

    • Lotokot said:

      I didn’t know Quizlet. I’m intermediate learner of English and I have problems with using definitions instead of translations words. Definitions are too complex for me. Maybe in the future I will try use them. I understand that using definitions allow me to immerse into the language.

      • Your writing skills are much better than intermediate! I think that you’re understanding a lot of definitions from context, since you’re spending a lot of time immersed in English content. I find that when students use translated words in their writing, it often makes no sense. When writing in MS Word, you can “right-click” any word that you type, and you can get a list of synonyms. That will help you decide if you’ve chosen the correct word.

      • Lotokot said:

        My English is a bit worse than you see in my posts. I use Lang-8 to correct my posts before publishing. This is my idea of blogging. But on the whole the language you see is mine. When I use translations instead of definitions my understanding of the words appears instantly. When I use definitions I must to think quite long to understand the word. It is difficult when I try to repeat many words. But I try to use definitions from time to time. Maybe in the future I will switch to definitions. Unfortunately I don’t have MS Word and there are no such function with synonyms in Open Office I use.

  2. I think this may have some value for my physics students also. We use words such as “momentum” that are also common terms in English, but in physics they have a very specific meaning. Thank you for the post and the links!

    • Lotokot said:

      Yes, SRS can be used for any large amount of therms to memorize, so it can be used in physics. Learning languages is the most popular use of SRS but the only one.

  3. Reblogged this on The Afrikaans Challenge and commented:
    I used Anki for learning Japanese once. Did not really enjoy it. But I’m happy this blog goes more into detail with what can be done. I’m happy with the software I use at the moment, particularly because I want to be able to use it together with MS Excel and therefore be able to print out vocabulary lists and exchange it with friends in a format they can use. I’m not happy to use stuff on my mobile, simply because it’s rather fiddly and I sit at my PC for most of the day anyway. But I know others may think different about this. So here’s a reblog. :-)

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