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How do you make sure you don't forget what you're learning?

So far, I've been pretty good about remembering the stuff I've learned in the Russian lessons, but it's starting to get more complex, and I fear I'll become forgetful of some things, but have no idea what I can do to help me remember it better.

What do you do to make sure you don't forget what you're learning?

Ideas I've thought of

  • Take notes

  • Practice more (I already practice 3 times a day for 10-20 minutes each time), and re-read the tips/notes of each lesson every day, twice a day.

  • Practice speaking with my Russian friends, and have them help make corrections.

November 10, 2015



Spaced repetition. That's also what Duolingo tries to do with the decaying lessons etc but there's also specialised software like Anki... Or you can just use old-fashioned hand-written flashcards (I learn best while writing, typing doesn't really affect my memory that much)

Try to recall the knowledge and whenever you succeed, you increase the interval until it's due again. But if you can't recall something, you move it back to the shortest interval length. That way, it's much less time-consuming than reviewing everything everyday and you'll also have a better idea what concept you already have a really good grasp on - if you get something right immediately after not reviewing it for half a year, you're usually safe.


I'm also a big fan of Anki. I learn about 60 new cards in Anki every day, depending on the day I might have more new words or new grammar structures. Like this I don't have to worry about forgetting anything. I find that I don't have to put grammar structures I learn on Duolingo into Anki, because I can just repeat it in Duo when the lesson fades. New words from duo go into my Anki deck though.


What works for me:

  • Repetition, repetition, repetition...
  • Practice daily, even if you only practice a little.
  • Writing out new words/phrases by hand (I find that this helps a lot!)
  • Immersion: watch movies, play video games, listing to podcasts or radio, et cetera.
  • If possible: speak with natives (this is by far the best exercise).
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition...


I would love to speak with natives more, but I don't have the vocabulary or skills to properly speak with any natives yet :(.

At what point throughout the duolingo course do you think someone would be able to speak with a native at? I've got Russian friends, but usually I end up resorting to a translator, and hoping my corrections of the already bad translations are understandable.


In my experience: even completing the skill tree and getting to level 25 isn't enough to have steady conversations with natives. It took me a lot of extra learning to get there with German and Spanish, and I'm still not there by far in French.

Immersion really is the key: learn to swim in your target language by having it around you as much as possible.


Are you fluent in German and Spanish? Did you pay anything to learn those languages?


I wouldn't say I'm fluent in Spanish, because it still takes a lot of effort for me to have a conversation in this language. Reading books is now finally something I can do.

But my German is a lot better. I was in Stuttgart last month and had long conversations with locals; they quickly picked up that I am not from their country, but I have no trouble at all speaking their language, so you might say I'm (close to) fluent in German.

And no, I didn't pay for lessons. I did buy books to read, but I read a lot anyway. I do however have a premium account on busuu.com, which comes at about € 70,- per year.


When I started to learn Russian, I downloaded an App that begins with words and short phrases like here on Duolingo. For example, (obviously I started to learn the alphabet in the App) I memorized the alphabet in one day, and later I continued with words like один, люди, я, я и ты, он и она, мужчина, женщина, ребёнок, моя семья, etc., and I wrote them down.

Every day I played the audio and I stayed repeating. After that, I memorized short sentences and questions with these words and others: семья не маленькая, семья большая, вы из Европе?, моя семья не большая and so on. Afterwards, I included new words into these same words. Obviously one has to learn grammar and to listen to.

После трёх месяцев, я мог немного говорить по-русски. А сейчас у меня есть некоторые друзей, которые говорят на русском со мной.

So, FrankKool has said it. Repetition, new words and short phrases, repetition, try to speak with natives, make mistakes, repetition, new phrases and so on every day with the same words. Think in that language all day. Also you have to love the language! :-)


I fully agree on the last one: unless it's a big promotion waiting for you once you've mastered a new language, the only way to learn a new language is to love it completely.

I'm a lazy person, so I'm not gonna dedicate one hour a day for the next two years unless it's something that makes my life more interesting. :P Languages are beautiful, and learning a new one is a reward in itself.


I did a lot of Memrise when I was starting out (I'm making this course based on duo http://www.memrise.com/course/378212/duolingo-russian-full-audio/ but I started with Learn Basic Russian and the top 500 words).

Audio courses like Michel Thomas and Pimsleur are helpful too. They work spaced repetition in naturally, and keep bringing up phrases just as you're about to forget them. The MT course says it's ok, and even good, to let yourself forget, because when you recall it effortlessly, it's in your long-term memory.

A lot of people swear by Assimil as well but I was never a convert. I do think it's good to read a little something every day. Bliu Bliu is free and they start you off with very short sentences/paragraphs at first. You click on the words once you know them and they keep giving you lessons where you will know most, but not all, words, so you keep gaining words naturally. They let you on for 5 minutes a day without paying, which is plenty.


Step 1: I forget it (this is involuntary)

Step 2: I realise I have forgotten it

Step 3: I try to remember it again.

Seems to work.


I do that dance too.


Actually one of the more illuminating things I have read is 'learning is the act of trying to smuggle information past your short term memory into long term memory'

Now if only I could remember where I read it....


I just practice a whole lot. I'm not at a point where I can have proper conversations in Russian, other than pointing out that there's a bird in the tree. So I just practice as much as possible. I try to do practice lessons more than I do new lessons.


Immagen what kind of conversation you could have in english, if you only knew the words you learned with duolingo.^^


I'm not even to that point yet haha! If I read "There's a bird in that tree", I could probably understand it, but I would have no idea how to say it myself.


Well what are you learning Russian for? I mean i do duolingo to get faster at the keybord. I do not really learn with duolingo. I guess reading and talking could help. Books for children are perfect. They learn the language as well and it also gives you a feeling for the culture of a country.

And you will always forget things. But trust your brain. It usually deletes things you do not need.

good luck and sorry for the spelling =)

Oh and Andventuretime has a nice Russian dubbing. You can find it without problems on youtube.


I'm practicing a few times a day, and slowed down my new lessons when I can't do the practice with relatively little trouble. Some people rush through and end up doing fine on the new stuff, but not reinforcing the old stuff enough.

Learn Russian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.