How to Memorize Chinese Faster With Spaced Repetition
It's frustrating to spend so much time learning tons of vocabulary, but not be able to recall a word when you need it.
But don't let that demotivate you. Spaced repetition is a technique that is proven effective in the field of memory science that will cut your study time in half!
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- What is spaced repetition
- How does spaced repetition works
- Why spaced repetition is effective
- Tips to learn Chinese faster with spaced repetition
What is spaced repetition?
Spaced Repetition System (SRS) is a study technique where you review the content at gradually longer intervals. This spacing effect helps you store lots of information in your long-term memory efficiently.
For example, the most difficult words to remember will show up more often, while the ones you've already mastered won't be seen as much.
You can think of it as smart flashcards.
How does spaced repetition works?
The short answer is:
- Show question
- Reveal answer
- Rate your confidence
- SRS schedule next interval optimally
- Repeat daily
The brain is more likely to remember information if it's introduced in small doses.
Unlike cramming, spaced repetition takes advantage of this by presenting words at optimized intervals based on how the human memory works.
You might be wondering "how does it decide when I should review a flashcard"?
The answer is by hacking something called the forgetting curve!
In the 19th century, a German psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus noticed that when you learn something, your memory retention declines like this:
Combatting the forgetting curve
If you recall something just before it's about to be forgotten, the curve will decay slower each time. That's why over time, you can wait months or even years before your next review.
Active recall is when you actively stimulate your memory for a piece of information. It's not the same as going back to reading your notes or choosing an answer from a list of choices.
The effort to retrieve words from your memory is what works best.
- For Chinese vocabulary — use a confidence-based approach. Rate yourself without cheating.
- For Chinese characters — use a corrective feedback approach. Let the software grade you. It is the same as in our app!
Why spaced repetition is effective?
We learned that spaced repetition is highly effective because it deliberately hacks the way your brain works.
But that's not all. It offers many other benefits which you are about to find out.
Retention rate of 90-95%
You can expect a memory retention rate far superior to any other method.
In a four-month period, practising for 30 minutes a day, you can expect to learn and retain 3600 flashcards with 90 to 95 percent accuracy. Gabriel Wyner, Author of Fluent Forver
Improve study motivation
It can be hard to stay motivated, especially when the reward of learning Chinese is a long journey. Spaced repetition helps with that.
It improves motivation by:
- Shortening study sessions
- Increasing the flow state
- Minimizing cognitive workload
- Automating the study planning
When you are in a flow state, things come naturally; the task is not too easy or excessively challenging. Your motivation will stay high because of this!
Focus on your weaknesses
Instead of manually tracking your difficult words, SRS automatically focuses on them until they are mastered and then moves onto the next one!
Forecast study time
A key ingredient to improving study motivation is to establish a plan. Spaced repetition can help you estimate how long it will take you to study and set realistic goals like taking the HSK test.
We compiled an approximation of daily new flashcards and daily reviews from thousands of study sessions from our app. This is what you can expect:
|New cards / day||New cards / month||Reviews / day|
Tips to learn Chinese faster with spaced repetition
Now that you know everything about spaced repetition, let's see how you can use it to speed up your Chinese learning with theses few simple tips.
1. Study Chinese every day
It's important to not skip too many days. As it will make your flashcards pile up and become hard to manage later on.
2. Learn fewer words
If you are overwhelmed with how many reviews you need to do each day, just add fewer new cards to your deck. The burden will naturally ease.
3. Use study reminders
Studies show that it takes 2 months to form a habit. Setting up a daily notification in your calendar is a great way to stick to your routine. If you are using Hanpath, make sure to turn on the study reminders.
4. Pair it with other activities
Despite how enthusiastically I am sharing this system with you, it is not a learning method. You still need to learn and practice words in context.
It works best when using along with:
- Example sentences
- Conversational practices
- Chinese movies & tv shows
With memory retention of up to 95%, spaced repetition is by far the most effective way to memorize your Chinese vocabulary.
Make it a habit to review your flashcards using SRS every day and you’ll see noticeable results sooner than you might imagine.
If you are looking for an SRS app to study Chinese faster, give it a try to Hanpath.