The spaced repetition system

Hello to you English speaker who wants to learn French!
Do you know the spaced repetition system ? (I wrote about this topic in a previous article Learning by repetition)

You are certainly frustrated by the difficulty of remembering certain words or vocabulary of the French language, as is the case for me for the English language. I share with you techniques to learn French faster.

One of these techniques is the spaced repetition system.


Memory is probably one of the most fundamental aspects of learning a foreign language.

To absorb a lot of information in a short time, it's better to work with your brain than against it. It is possible to learn only 5 to 7 new information at once.

To avoid unnecessary overload, our brain constantly forgets information it does not consider important. If you spent an hour learning a long list of vocabulary, you will have forgotten more than half after a few hours and almost all after a few days. If the information I learn is not important immediately or in the near future, my brain will quickly forget it.

Fortunately, this forgetting is not irremediable and it is possible to make our brain understand that a given word is very important information, yes my guy call me a coffee chair in Turkish is vital information! One of the ways to achieve this is the regular repetition and spacing in time, which make forgetting more and more slowly. The more information (ex : vocabulary) we know, the more time between each repetition will grow, this is what the spaced repetition system offers.


The spaced repetition system is a learning technique for learning a language faster and more efficiently.

The technique is simple: more frequently review what you know the least. This allows you to learn a lot of information in a limited time.

This is a storage method based on regular revisions, more or less spaced: the more the element to be learned (ex : vocabulary) is anchored in our memory, the more the revisions can be distant from each other. It assumes that information must be reviewed regularly to be anchored in our memory.

The ideal time to review is when we are about to forget.

  • To revise too early does not have a positive impact since the information is still new
  • Review late also because we have forgotten and we must relearn

This moment is difficult to predict, and is different for each person and for each memorized information. All words can not be learned with the same degree of ease. For example, as French, it is easy to learn that "exercice" is exercise in English, and more difficult to learn that "pelle" is shovel. Everyone does not have the same memory facilities: maybe some will remember faster than others that shovel means "pelle".

When you memorize information for the first time, you are likely to forget it very quickly.


Leitner System

We can materialize this technique by the use of small cards that we put in three (or more) boxes (box 1, box 2, box 3), we can replace the cards by small pieces of paper and boxes by envelopes. The envelopes have a practical aspect, they do not take up space in the backpack, so you can easily get them where you want (in public transport, ride, on the terrace of a café). On the front of the card there is a question about the information to learn and on the back the answer to this question. If you want to work in French, you can write the word in English on the front and its translation in French on the back, or vice versa, depending on the order in which you prefer to learn (from English to French or from French to English).

This may be :

-a grammar rule
-a conjugation rul
-a spelling rule

The most difficult information to remember is in box 1.
The information I remember best in box 2.
The ones I remember the better in the box 3.

The operation is as follows: if I manage to memorize the information of a card of the box 1, I put the card in the box 2, if I manage to memorize the information of a card of the box 2, I put the card in box 3. If I can not memorize information from box 1 I leave it in this box, but if I can not memorize information from boxes 2 and 3 I put it in the box 1.

Box 1 is to be consulted every day, box 2 every two days and box 3 every three days.

In the end, the goal is, of course, to put all the cards in the last box and keep them there. After several repetitions more and more spaced, the information eventually pass into the long-term memory and it is then possible to stay very long without reviewing.


It is a very powerful technique, because adapted to the functioning of our brain.

In a computer, just click on the right file to see the right information. In the brain, it is more complicated, what is learned is not stored in a specific place but is divided in several parts of the brain.

Regularly reviewing information helps strengthen the connections between neurons and makes it easier to emerge.

In fact, one "exercise to his brain".

We retain more easily information that we meet often. The system of the spaced repetition makes it possible to reinforce the long-term memory, to pass the information that I want to memorize from the short term memory to the long term memory. A bit like running: doing a single sprint does not make it more enduring, while running slower but more regularly improves the breath.

The spaced repetition works over a long period (several weeks, several months), it is not a learning technique to put in place on the short term (2-3 days, 1 week).


That's it English speakers who want to learn French !

I'm starting to use this method today. I will share with you what I think about it.

I suggest you to use this method to learn or improve your French, and share in the comments what you think about it.

See you soon in a new article Smile

Share the article :

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *