Breaking my learning habits for the better

I’ve been using Babbel for a few years now to learn Spanish and I find it a very well structured learning experience. Having completed lessons you are then prompted to review those items soon after and then again in the near future. If you correctly review items they are then presented for review periodically.

I had got into a routine where I liked to clear my review items down to zero before doing any new lessons but a recent update to the app forced me into a change of habit. A bit like arriving at the supermarket to find they’ve rearranged the isles my first reaction was “why have they done this?”.

For a little while it felt like I could never clear my review list and move on to a lesson. Every time I opened the app there were more items to review. In the past the review list was only updated once a day.

But just like being forced into taking a bit more time to look around the supermarket I’m now finding that this altered way of approaching my learning is having a positive effect and I currently feel more productive than ever.

I’m taking the opportunity to complete a lesson at a different time of day than I had previously done or tackle the newly added review items that are presented to me.

I think we can take a few things away from this update.

Learning creators

If you are someone who creates learning experiences look at the habits people have formed and see if a change can actually help your learners. This is hard as people may seem to have formed good habits. It was certainly the case for me. I was very consistent in my Spanish reviews and lessons but it turns out that maybe this consistency wasn’t the most productive way of learning.

Learners

It’s not generally in people’s nature to force themselves into a change, especially one that seems to be difficult at first. But rather than wait for someone else to change your learning habits I’d encourage you to try something new. Maybe you like to read new material, try watching a video or  listen to a podcast. If like me you use an app to learn a language, or other subject, try engaging this activity in a new way. I’ve downloaded some children’s books written in Spanish to give me something different to work with.

Overall keep it fresh and fun. Learning new things can be frustrating but ultimately it is hugely satisfying and getting stuck in a rut is a sure fire way of sapping your enthusiasm.

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