Scientific Studies about Learning

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A collection of scientifically tested ideas that can help us study foreign languages better.

Write things by hand

The practice of handwriting helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development. Also, adults studying new symbols, such as Chinese characters, might enhance recognition by writing the characters by hand.

Watch videos using subtitles

You can improve your second-language perceptual speech learning by watching a video with subtitles when the subtitles are in the same language as the video, often denoted L2. Native-language or L1 subtitles may create lexical interference that reduces speech perception while improving comprehension, at least when a bilingual speaker uses an alphabetic writing system to learn an accented form of the L2, but foreign-language subtitles assist speech perception by indicating which words (and hence sounds) are being spoken when the learner is proficient with the orthography. To improve listening comprehension by matching textually presented meanings to aural word forms, learners may use L1 subtitles, which some studies suggest are more effective than L2 subtitles for comprehension. The efficacy of L1 and L2 subtitles for comprehension seems to equalize or reverse as the learner becomes more proficient at their target language. Both L1 and L2 subtitles are consistently demonstrated as superior to watching videos without subtitles, for both listening comprehension and speech perception.

Exercise during learning

Simultaneous physical activity positively influences the memorization of new vocabulary, a result that goes hand in hand with plasticity changes as evidenced in an enhanced N400 amplitude compared to the control group.

Do high impact running right before learning

Learning performance was assessed directly after high impact anaerobic sprints, low impact aerobic running, or a period of rest in 27 healthy subjects in a randomized cross-over design. What was found was that vocabulary learning was 20 percent faster after intense physical exercise as compared to the other two conditions.