Repetition in language learning

25 September, 2017

I have always been of the view that there is no such thing as a “standard” or “best” way to learn a language, given that it all depends on your learning style, and the stage of proficiency that you are at now. That being said, I’ve been wondering about the general effectiveness of repetition in language learning and how it has been working for you guys (if you subscribe to it). And if not, why.

Personally, I’m not fond of repetition, given that repetition equates to rote learning and boredom to me, and the last thing I want to do is to be bored when pursuing my hobbies. This is also why I’ve never gone back to revising my notes, as I see absolutely no point in looking at dictionary-equivalent entries on my notebook and expecting that I can learn something and retain it for the long term. To me, it’s the process of note-taking that is important, not what is being written in the end.

The only type of repetition I do on a regular basis is to re-watch videos and re-listen to audio clips. I find it helpful to listen to a clip several times in a sitting and even so, I don’t quite see it as being “repetitive” as I’m always looking to do something different each time I listen.

1st listen: to understand as much as possible

2nd listen: to catch particular phrases

3rd listen:  pay attention to intonation, as well as check if understanding has increased (after checking out the difficult words/phrases)

Once I’m done with a clip or video, I won’t go back to it again. In the same vein, I won’t re-read an article that I finished. I may not know if I can fully understand the whole article, or if I managed to learn (and internalise) all the new vocabulary that I had picked up. But I rather ascertain that by moving on to another related article, instead of re-reading the original one.

Interested to what everyone has to say to repetition 🙂 Do you find it helpful? or not?

Leave a comment please! 😀


    1. I totally agree with the point that the pocess of note-taking is more important than revising the notes. For me I recognize this from my study where I often write a summary of the course material and maybe read through it once or twice. The actual learning happens while writing the summary and digesting the material in such a way that you can write it down conscise and clear.

      1. The actual learning happens while writing the summary and digesting the material in such a way that you can write it down conscise and clear. –> totally agree!

    1. For me as a Spanish teacher who learns other languages on the side, I think repetition is crucial. The key is repetition in a interesting, engaging way. Of course you would be bored with the same thing over and over again, but reviewing the same material in an interesting way is better. Reading in the target language is super important too; your getting repetitions your just seeing the words used in a different light.
      I just find it to be hard to self teach when you sometimes need a good teacher to give you the interesting repetitions that you can’t give yourself. Just food for thought! P.S. You motivate me to keep learning Korean! Thank You!

      1. Thanks Sherome! What will you recommend to do for reviewing the same material (lets say an article)? Wondering how best to incorporate it into the learning routine.

    1. Have you ever considered not taking any notes and jus looking stuff up and consuming it? All you did is copy the crap out of naver right? Why don’t you just not copy anything and just look up whatever you need to understand it or just copy paste and save it on the computer on a notepad or whatever file so that you spend more time reading than writing something. I personally don’t believe worrying is a wonderful way to rmemeber. I specifically remember resenting handwriting stuff in shop like when it was unnecessary. If you omit the copying step you have more time to actually read. You’d read way more. I believe that seeing the words being used in different situations is way more helpful than copying the dictionary for actually remembering the words… I am advocating for spending more time on reading instead of doing this writing nonsense which is just a crutch you’ve been brainwashed and conditioned to believe to actually serve a purpose when it really doesn’t especiallycompared to reading a lot

      1. ….instead of doing this writing nonsense which is just a crutch you’ve been brainwashed and conditioned to believe to actually serve a purpose when it really doesn’t especially compared to reading a lot –> actually I did wonder about this. If i’m too fixated on writing down what I learn. Let me think about it. worth a post. (:

        Have a good weekend!

        1. For me I have a big vocabulary for Japanese. One of the things I did was look up words from Japanese novels that I didn’t know and then for some of them o made anki cards which is actually can nebvery effortless and efficient with programs like capture2text and rikaisama. I’ve read 140 boooks at this books and in the beginning I literally looked up everything I didn’t know and made anki cards. I must have done this for the first 50 books for sure and nowadays I have a stockpile of pictures of pages with words I don’t know that I sometimes go through and generate anki cards. If I did what you did with writing the stuff out in a noteboook it would take so much longer and I wouldn’t have remembered much of it since I’m not being tested on it like I did on anki. Also I probably would’ve stopped a few books in because it’s so annoying and time and energy consuming and very difficult to know if I’m actually retaining stuff/wasting my time

          1. I’m not advocating for the use of anki because you will come across words time and time again if you read a lot. You could consider just collecting the words/sentences in some program (simplenote, notepad, notepad++, anki (collect onyl and not do any reviews) just to satisfy your “writing itch.”

    1. I like using Anki, it has helped me remember so many words. When I was taking Japanese it was hard to remember all the vocab for the 漢字検定 tests. But now with Anki I have been able to learn almost 2000 korean words in less than a year. So it seems to be very effective to me. Another thing that helps me remember is to teach or explain grammar to someone else. If i can successfully explain it then I know that i really understand it.

    1. Maybe the gold list method will work for you? It’s less time consuming than what you’re currently writing

    1. Hi,
      I think each person in learning a foreign language, needs to revising rules and materials already studied, yes (it’s boring sometimes I agree ) but in the meantime , comes in handy to read what we usually love reading in our native language to make study time more engaging and amusing according our way of being. Reading Korean books of every genre revitalizes the own motivation, and it’s helpful to enrich naturally our vocabulary in Korean. I love these books here :

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