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I'm building a language learning app for children in 9th to 12th grade and am collecting the metrics I'll need to test its effectiveness.

I'm going to be doing another round of beta testing at local schools, and so far my plan is:

  • There are 36 weeks in a school year. There seem to be around 10-15 chapters in a textbook on average (a few textbooks I've seen). This means it takes around 2 to 3 weeks per chapter.

  • In my first beta test I covered around 75 words in 2 hours. After the beta, they were able to recall about 15 words, or 20%. The retention curve shows about 45% of words will be retained after 2 hours. I think I inundated the poor souls with too many words.

  • Narrow the scope of a beta test to the equivalent amount of grammar / words taught in a chapter

My question is: About how many words are typically taught in 1 chapter of a foreign language textbook?

If only 30-40 are taught over 2 weeks for a chapter, that's 10 school days, so 40/10 = 4 words per day, giving them much more time to study/remember a fraction of the words.

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    Two thoughts: 1) I'm not sure that "words per time" is necessarily the best way to measure progress/learning load. Hopefully you're taking other concepts (pronunciation, grammar, etc) into account, too. 2) How do you define words? Are "cat" and "cats" two words or one? Are "eat", "eaten", "eating", "eats" four words or one? – Flimzy Jun 26 '17 at 10:18
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    @Flimzy I'm just trying to find quantifiable metrics to compare my app to other products, but also simply gauge my product as a learning tool. – Growler Jun 26 '17 at 17:31
  • It really depends on the source and target languages, as well as other factors. I have seen chapters with 50+ words when the languages, words and word formations are very similar. On the other end, when different writing systems are used (say, Chinese characters), inflections are important and the languages themselves belong to different families, then the focus may lie on other things than gloss retention. It also depends on what is the focus of the course (spoken/written, ...) and chapter (dialogue, numbers, fruits...) is, also if officiall word lists exist (e.g. language tests). Et cetera. – Kess Vargavind Jul 12 at 2:15

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