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Is there reliable data for the success rates of different methods of learning/reviewing vocabulary? I.e.:

  • no reviewing
  • audiobooks
  • hand-written flashcards
  • SRS flashcard apps
  • Goldlist method
  • Hi, welcome to Language Learning Stack Exchange. Vocabulary is a big part of language learning, so this is a very interesting question. However, could you edit your question to clarify what "vocal book" means? – AModHasNoName Sep 30 '16 at 9:25
  • @ChristopheStrobbe I think he's referring to an audiobook. – fi12 Sep 30 '16 at 12:10
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Your question can't be answered directly.

I've read some scientific articles about efficiency of learning. I've always looked for experimental results. Most common experiments are performed on remembering flash-cards. How can you compare number of flash-card recalled after 1 week with recalling of facts from listening an audio book?

In that way you are unlikely to see scientific article that compare performance of Pimsleur audio-lingual method with SRS method. Because you can't compare meters with kilograms in scientific way.


On the other hand Jeffrey Karpicke, AltheaBauernschmidt - Spaced Retrieval. Absolute Spacing Enhances Learning Regardless of Relative Spacing, 2011 research shows that massed learning (in single massive session) is far worse then spaced repetition, and that pattern of repetition has no any effect on learning. Their learners learned 25 Cherokee words and were asked for words after one week. With massed learning 25% of words were recalled, with spaced repetition 75%.

The larger the number of repetition and the larger the total learning period the better knowledge is retained in memory. Learning for one year you get better result than if you are learning for one month. Learning once a day you get better results than if you were practicing once a week.

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I guess there's no universal way for learning new words. Everyone is different: some people need to write down a word, other people need to hear the word etc. I have been learning foreign languages for years and here are some points one should keep in mind:

  • Flashcards can help to get lots of words into your heard in a short period of time, but they won't stay there for a long time, because they will be held in a short-term memory.
  • Obviously, it's better for everyone to learn new words in context (situation, song, part of quote etc.), because of stronger logical bindings in the mind.
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    While what you say is true (at least for flashcards that are used in a suboptimal way), it does not answer the question. The OP asked for reliable data rather than personal experience. – AModHasNoName Oct 14 '16 at 10:48
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    I also concern about your statement for flash-cards and short term memory. Flash cards are all about moving knowledge to long term memory and you state opposite. – gavenkoa Nov 13 '16 at 16:25
  • Christophe, I guess thus it's not the question of language learning field, but information memorization in a more common way. I always thought there can't be unviersal way to learn language, because of very different mental endowment of every person. I assume you can guess, what learning methods rock, but this suggestion would probably be based on some expectations and knowledge of how memory works for the majority of people.. – Dmitry Lovermann Feb 22 '17 at 13:34

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