As with trying to learn anything, language learning obviously takes time and practice, but many people, myself included, have limited time to dedicate to a language learning practice. With limited time available, optimizing the effectiveness of any dedicated practice is going to be beneficial.

With that in mind, I am interested to know if there are any studies on whether it is more effective to learn languages by doing a little practice every day, or by doing 1 or 2 longer study sessions a week? Perhaps somewhat of a combination with very short refreshers throughout the week and one dedicated session?

The benefits I could see with an everyday practice are less time between sessions to forget what you have learned. However, with only a little time each session you don't have as long to really repeat or solidify that vocabulary or grammar rule you were working on before you're done for the day. With longer sessions I'd imagine you'd be able to really get a good a grasp on whatever you are learning for the day through the extended dedicated practice.

In summary, which is better: fewer, longer study sessions, or more frequent, but shorter study sessions?

Any existing studies to support either option, or prove that neither is better than they other are appreciated.

  • What do you mean by "a bit"? Language is like music, the more you practice, the better you get. That said, too much (new stuff) at a time can swamp you. The point is to enjoy it even if there are parts you have to memorize or repeat over and over to internalize them. So, the best thing is often but don't tire yourself. Only you can know when you've had enough. And by the way, every person is different in terms of learning a language.
    – Lambie
    Feb 17 at 16:16
  • @Lambie I understand the more you practice, the better you will get but if you have say a set amount of time a week you can practice, is there any evidence to suggest that its better to split that time evenly throughout the week over having one or two long sessions? For example, say someone has 3.5 hours they can dedicate to their language learning a week and they can A) study 0.5 hours every day, or B) have two 1.75 hour long sessions occur during the week, is one option better over the other, or is it strictly the hours put in that matter?
    – gabbo1092
    Feb 17 at 17:41
  • I think it depends on the individual as everyone has a different learning style. I would do one hour a day and a half hour on the fourth day. A pause of one or two days is good as it rests the brain. One tip is this: If you learn a phrase on one day, repeat it the next then repeat it two days after that, it might stick better in your memory.
    – Lambie
    Feb 17 at 19:23
  • I can tell you this too. I taught a total immersion course (8 hours a day) and by the end of the day, everyone wanted to kill everyone else. :) But, it can be useful in very limited cases.
    – Lambie
    Feb 17 at 19:24
  • I think the motivation of the "every day" is to make the habit formation easier. Maybe it's not more effective but it's probably more realistic for most people to manage to make a habit of doing a short amount of some thing every day (or nearly every day), than to try to make a habit of doing a longer task only once per week. So, 15 minutes per day is an extreme example, but if you can do 15 minutes per day every day for a "long enough period", then the idea is that it will have become a habit at that point, just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
    – Brandin
    Mar 23 at 9:43


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