The Benefits of Intensive Learning and Spaced Repetition for Language Education


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 23, 2023

3 min read


The Benefits of Intensive Learning and Spaced Repetition for Language Education

When it comes to language education, there has always been a debate about the effectiveness of intensive learning projects versus slow ones. Should students immerse themselves in an intensive language program for a shorter period of time or opt for a more extended schedule? Surprisingly, research suggests that intensive language education programs yield better results.

One of the main points that support this finding is the concept of spacing in learning. Spacing refers to the timing and distribution of learning sessions. It has been found that spacing makes learning harder, but this added complexity can actually benefit the learning process. However, the benefits of spacing are not constant and can change over time. Initially, massed/blocked/review techniques may be more effective, but as the learner progresses, spaced/interleaved/retrieved presentation becomes more beneficial.

Interestingly, the spacing of individual items is independent of the overall classroom intensiveness. This means that even in intensive programs, individual vocabulary and grammar items can still be effectively spaced out. Therefore, the efficiency gains of an extensive schedule are not as pronounced.

Motivation also plays a role in the effectiveness of intensive language classes. It has been observed that intensive classes tend to be more motivating or attract more motivated students. This motivation can contribute to better learning outcomes.

Another factor to consider is the timing of tests. The spacing effect suggests that while massed presentations may initially be more effective, their advantage tends to fade over time. If the tests in language learning studies were not delayed enough, it is possible that the benefits of spaced repetition were not fully observed. This highlights the importance of incorporating periodic review after an intensive learning project to ensure long-term retention.

Based on these findings, it is clear that both intensive and spaced learning have their merits. Intensive bursts of learning can provide a solid foundation and help learners reach a semi-conversational level quickly. However, this should be followed by periodic review and maintenance to reinforce the learned material.

Now that we understand the benefits of intensive learning and spaced repetition, here are three actionable pieces of advice for language learners:

  • 1. Consider incorporating intensive language immersion bursts into your learning routine. These bursts can help you make significant progress in a shorter period of time.
  • 2. After completing an intensive learning project, make sure to schedule regular review sessions. This will help reinforce the material and prevent forgetting.
  • 3. Find ways to stay motivated throughout your language learning journey. Joining intensive classes or finding a language exchange partner can provide the necessary motivation to keep you engaged and committed to your goals.

In conclusion, the debate between intensive and slow learning projects in language education has been resolved, with research favoring the effectiveness of intensive programs. However, it is important to note that the benefits of spaced repetition and periodic review should not be overlooked. By combining intensive bursts of learning with regular review sessions, language learners can achieve optimal results and maintain their language skills in the long run.

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