Linguatorium Lexis:
What's Under the Hood
Blog
February 13, 2019
Brody Dingel
Chief Operating Officer, Linguatorium
With hundreds of thousands of words available for study, learning a second language can be a daunting task. With the right tool, however, learning words can be easy – and even fun. Second language vocabulary acquisition research has plenty to say about the right (and the wrong) ways of learning vocabulary, and what it says is actually pretty intuitive.

If you've ever tried cramming a full unit into one study session the night before an exam, you know that it doesn't work. Sure, perhaps you retain the words in your short-term memory (the area in the brain for storing information temporarily; typically holds just 7±2 items at a time) in order to ace the exam, but how much of that material sticks with you in the long term? Not much. That's because this method of study doesn't translate to long-term learning gains. However, that can all change by studying with Linguatorium Lexis.

What's special about Lexis? It uses a learning technique called spaced repetition to ensure that your students retain their vocabulary knowledge in the long term. This technique operates on the assumption that the best time to practice a word is actually immediately before you're about to forget it. In other words, it's best to study a word, wait for a period of time, and then re-introduce the word to your study session right before you'd otherwise forget it entirely.

In order to estimate precisely when a student is about to forget a word, Lexis uses what's called a "forgetting curve." As shown below, this curve estimates the time scale for gradually forgetting a word, and this time scale grows longer after each successful retrieval of the word. So, each time the student gets the word right in their study session, the longer until they need to practice it again...until it's stored in their long-term memory.
Image: Wikipedia
Doing all of this 'under the hood' means that you never have to worry about making sure your students get the right kind of practice. As long as students practice for the recommended 10 minutes each day, research shows that they'll have significant learning gains – in the long term. So, no more cramming the night before a test. Instead, get your students started with Lexis!

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