Writing Out the Words You Learn

Since I type my French notes, for this blog, most of the time, I realize that I am having to work a little harder with my memorization tools (Anki, Quizlet, Duolingo). I do keep a paper tablet on my study desk, and make a point of spelling out difficult words, like those with unusual accent marks. I’ll also make a point to doodle a mnemonic once in a while, when I feel my mind disengage from whatever language task I am performing.

An interesting article to read on the subject:


In three experiments during 2014, psychologists Pam A. Mueller at Princeton and Daniel Oppenheimer at UCLA arranged for students to listen to talks on a variety of topics including algorithms and bats, while taking notes either via keyboard or pen and paper. The 67 students were tested immediately afterward and then again a week later, after being given an opportunity to review their notes.

Those who wrote out their notes longhand took down fewer words, but appeared to think more intensely about the material as they wrote, and digested what they heard more thoroughly, the researchers reported in Psychological Science. “All of that effort helps you learn,” said Dr. Oppenheimer.

There is another tool that I use to solidify my learning sessions, and that is to perform a Quizlet flashcard review in the morning, with an evening test using the “Learn” function found on the website. It forces you to type out your answer, and it often reveals that I am forgetting the article gender (and need to create a mnemonic), or have other grammatical mistakes. I’ll show you some of my training sessions, and share with you some of my Quizlet decks, over the next several days. Maybe you’ll be inspired to adopt my method.


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