Have you ever felt disappointed because you studied so much for that test, but got a bad grade?
As a language learner, how many times have you felt that you understood the lesson, but later found out that you were using that new word or grammar point incorrectly?
We blame it on the teacher or complain that there wasn’t enough time for the test. Language learners will say that the language is too difficult, that they are not good with the language, or that they have terrible memory. We have all heard this, right?
However, what we should do instead is question if we know how to learn.
So how can we make sure that we learn?
Understanding Is Not the Same as Learning
We all have experienced this at one point or another: You leave a class feeling great because you understood it so well. Then later you realize that you don’t know how to solve the practice problems.
Maybe you left your Portuguese lesson feeling that you had learned so much, but later could not use that new structure in a conversation.
Studying does not necessarily translate into learning. Understanding something does not mean that you have mastered it. This is a learning trap that we should avoid.
Recall: A Simple Technique to Learn More
Psychologist Jeffrey Karpicke’s research has strongly suggested that reading and rereading your study material may not be as effective for learning as you think.
In one study, a group of students had to learn a certain subject by reading and rereading the material.
Another group had to learn the same thing, but in a different way. Their instructions were to read the material, close the book, and then recall the most important points. Feeling unsure about it? Read again, close the book again, and explain what you understand.
Students who used the recall technique had significantly better results when tested on the subject matter when compared to the reading only group.
Recalling information, that is, retrieving it from you memory, is an active way of learning. The recall technique helps to test if you have really learned the subject. If you cannot repeat it or cannot explain it to someone else, then you have not learned it yet.
Moreover, recalling helps you retain that knowledge.
If you are interested in learning more about learning, I recommend the course Learning How to Learn, by University of California, Diego. It is a free course delivered though Coursera. I am very much enjoying it.
Use Recall to Learn Portuguese Easier
Use recall to foster your Portuguese learning.
You can repeat your teacher’s explanation in your own words and ask for feedback.
If learning by yourself with a book, you can explain the topic out loud to yourself.
Then test your understanding by applying your new words and grammar points in real-life practice with your Portuguese instructor.
It is also helpful to combine recall with spaced repetition, a learning technique that incorporates increasing intervals of time between subsequent reviews of previously learned material.
For example, say that a few days ago you learned how to give advice and make requests in Portuguese. After a few days, recall the learned material again and review it as needed.
Regular Practice Is the Key
This is why having a regular Portuguese practice with a trained instructor makes so much difference in your learning. A good instructor will help you use recall and spaced repetition without you even realizing it. A good lesson plan takes care of that for you. Additionally, regular meetings with an instructor ensure that you get the practice you need to improve your language skills.
Imagine how wonderful it would be to speak Portuguese comfortably and confidently. You can do it. Book a Trial Lesson with the Street Smart Brazil team today. Your Portuguese will thank you.