Should we Cram when Learning a Language: Cramming Vs Understanding

Language Learning

Let’s look whether cramming is better than learning. There may be times in your life when you need to learn a lot of information in a short period of time. When we were at school, many of us probably despised foreign language lessons. What was the reason? Every week we were given a list of vocabulary words to learn and then we were tested. Many sleepless evenings were spent going over the word lists over and over again… There were definitely a few words we couldn’t remember. How is it possible to memorize a lot of information in such a short period of time?

Is Cramming Effective

Many people would probably answer “yes” to this question. But in fact the answer is: “no, cramming is not effective for learning a langauge”. We’ve all had the experience of staying up late before an exam in order to retain as much information as possible before taking the test. But how much of that do you remember now that you are older?

Cramming can be effective if you have an exam or short-term study task the next day. If it’s a test or exam that you need to memorize in a short period of time, then rote learning will save you. However, if you want to memorize what you have learned for a long time, this method is not very effective.

For example, memorizing words by means of flashcards and interval repetition is a great example of a more effective learning technique.

Repetition of information over a period of time has been proven to be one of the most effective methods of learning. The best way to acquire and retain information is to spread learning over a period of time. 

You study something today, then come back in two days to evaluate what you have learned. Then you come back in another four days and go through it all over again, with a fresh mind. Cramming, on the other hand, is a one-time event. You put a ton of material into your head, take a test, and then quickly forget everything you learned.

On the other hand, when you take notes, you actually strengthen the synapses in your brain. Synapses are the “little pathways” that connect neurons to each other in your brain. As a result, the more times you study material, the deeper the connection and the better your memory.

But what if you urgently need to understand something fast?

Men are arguing whether cramming is better than understanding

An Example of a Cramming Schedule

We don’t offer a complicated study tactic. So, you should just read the list for a while, then cover the translations with the palm of your hand and take the test. 

Consider the following scenario: you go on a business trip, and you need to learn some basic greetings and survival phrases to make it through the rest of your trip in another country. In all likelihood, time is not on your side. Your only option is to cram.

Here’s an example of what a cramming strategy might look like in this situation.

  • Before going to bed, take some time to learn the most important phrases for your stay in another country.
  • To improve your language skills, spend more time with people who can communicate with you in the right language. You can find an online teacher or simply ask a friend to practice with you, if you have one.
  • To make progress, increase the amount of time you already spend on language lessons.

Cramming has another disadvantage – it often requires you to sacrifice sleep, which is not good if you want to study well. Cramming can give you quick results in a short period of time,  but it’s the tactic that won’t allow you to remember the information for long. If you find yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to cram, here are some tips to help you succeed.

  • Choose the lessons that are most relevant to your goal. Concentrate only on what you need and skip the other classes.
  • Give preference to classes that are appropriate for your level rather than more challenging ones. If you’re teaching under tight time constraints, completing courses at your level will be most effective. If you find later that you still have time left, you can devote it to more difficult lessons.
  • Increase the intervals between word repetitions.

Remember that we do not advocate rote learning as the most effective approach to language learning. The most important factor in developing proficiency is repetition. 

An example of cramming schedule

Is It Possible Not To Cram Vocabulary Words

Of course it’s possible! Memorizing individual facts is meaningless and boring. A student who crams may get good grades, but they cannot understand what they have learned and will not be able to repeat it later. Often students only find out about these gaps when they take tests that require a lot of knowledge and quick thinking skills. 

In order for the new information to stick in the student’s brain, they must study it on their own. Then connections will be made between the new information and the knowledge they already have. New information is easier to remember if examples are used that help one understand the general by pointing out its characteristics. 

A man says it's possible not to cram a langauge

How not to Cram Vocabulary Words

Conduct discussions, experiments, and field trips during class time. Moreover, explore different sources of new words and practice them in different ways. This makes the connection between old and new information clear and encourages students to learn more. A good way for students of any age to learn something new is to make sense of what they are learning in the early stages and make an effort to learn the new information on their own. 

This is where a system of gamified exercises to learn words (and expand your vocabulary in general) can help you with – the one that is used in the Langavia Personal Dictionary app. You choose the words you need to learn on your own. Then an innovative algorithm teaches you those words in a game-like way, without overloading your memory and stressing you out.

This system of learning is more practical, because the student remembers new information natively, not by forcing himself. Because of this, the information is reinforced better and then the student understands how to use it in everyday life.

People show how not to cram vocabulary words

FAQ

How can I read and remember without forgetting?
Here are some ways that will help you remember more and forget less as the several researches * have shown:

- Drinking coffee and keeping a diet can help you strengthen your memory.
- Meditation calms the mind and helps you remember information.
- Taking vitamins improves long-term memory.
- Using flashcards can help your brain memorize information better and natively. Especially if your vocabulary app has a gamified smart system of trainings and repetition.
- Going to a gym can help you form stronger memories.
- Getting enough sleep will help you to avoid the negative effect on your memory.
How not to forget the words I learned before?
You should understand that if you only practice learning words in your application, these words will disappear from your head in the short term. Therefore, in order to successfully retain the words in your vocabulary, you should also practice them in live conversation and while writing notes or small stories. By combining these methods, you will be able not to forget the words you learned before.

* Here are some of these researches: 

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Langavia Team

We help people to learn new languages and expand their vocabulary effectively.

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How can I read and remember without forgetting?
Here are some ways that will help you remember more and forget less as the several researches * have shown:

- Drinking coffee and keeping a diet can help you strengthen your memory.
- Meditation calms the mind and helps you remember information.
- Taking vitamins improves long-term memory.
- Using flashcards can help your brain memorize information better and natively. Especially if your vocabulary app has a gamified smart system of trainings and repetition.
- Going to a gym can help you form stronger memories.
- Getting enough sleep will help you to avoid the negative effect on your memory.
How not to forget the words I learned before?
You should understand that if you only practice learning words in your application, these words will disappear from your head in the short term. Therefore, in order to successfully retain the words in your vocabulary, you should also practice them in live conversation and while writing notes or small stories. By combining these methods, you will be able not to forget the words you learned before.