Build your vocabulary with SuperMemo

Krzysztof Biedalak, Piotr Wozniak, Spotlight, October 1996, Poland

This article written by co-founders of SuperMemo World appeared in Spotlight in October 1996

Have you ever heard of SuperMemo? If not ... you have got a gap in your knowledge of tools for learning. SuperMemo is a knowledge machine that lets you remember things almost without fail.

As an avid reader of Spotlight, you are probably eager to get a better command of English. That’s where SuperMemo comes in. Here’s how it works. Imagine you have heard a new word - for example: morganatic. If you want to make sure you remember morganatic you will probably have to repeat it a few times. Nothing gets to your memory and stays there for ever without practice. If you do not use the word, or do not repeat it in some way ... it is gone! The question is how often the repetitions should take place. You probably would answer: "if I do not refresh it in a week, the word is no longer there". You are right. Most of us, need a repetition within a week to stand a 90% chance to recall a word or phrase. But is a single repetition all that you need? Nope. So how about the second repetition? Should it come again in a week or can you afford a month-long break? There is no simple answer to the question.

With a personal computer and SuperMemo, you do not have to think about anything but the material you want to learn. You put full focus on the knowledge and zero focus on your private memory management.

It is all as simple as this: (1) turn on the computer, (2) click the SuperMemo icon on the screen, and (3) press the Learn button. Now just answer the questions on your screen and grade yourself (by pressing buttons Pass, Fail, etc.). The grading lets the program know how often to bring particular words back to your memory and tracks the record of how well you have remembered them.

In a month or two, SuperMemo will understand your memory better than you yourself do. This will let it schedule repetitions for you with accuracy that no other force on earth can beat. If you grasp the general idea, you will soon be banging grades and repeating in mind thousands of newly memorized words and phrases. All you have to do is to ask your computer-literate friends how to obtain a copy of the program, and how to set your first steps. All you need to know about SuperMemo can be learned within an hour!!!

We are keen users of SuperMemo ourselves. In 1991 we set up a company called SuperMemo World. The company devotes all its resources to popularizing SuperMemo and developing new versions of the program. Believe it or not, by the end of 1996 we will have distributed 100,000 copies of SuperMemo [1,000,000 by 1999] and the number of freeware copies in use may be several times that! The method that was invented in 1985 and implemented as a computer program in 1987, has stayed virtually unknown until 1992 when the program received a series of awards at some prestigious software competitions in Poland and abroad.

Do you want to get great scores on FCE, TOEFL and GRE tests? Lots of people use SuperMemo for the purpose! We can point to people who have memorized 30,000 words and phrases in a single year! Naturally, those are the sturdiest and most dogged guys around. But the figures produced even by ordinary lazybones are still stunning. There are hundreds of little and big databases available for use with SuperMemo (a database is a collection of questions and answers used in the process of learning). Recently, you can also enhance the learning process by sound, live video, animation and much more. The newest versions of SuperMemo provides you not only with the SuperMemo method, but also with the whole package of modern software tools that you will find useful in the process of learning.

OK, folks. Time to get down to serious business with English. Get yourself a copy of SuperMemo on your desk and ... Right on!


Best way to learn English is to use it a lot and combine it with SuperMemo (#5874)
(claudia, Germany, Wed, Jul 18, 2001 5:46 AM)
What do you think are the best methods for success in learning English?
Probably the fastest way to success is to combine heavy use of the language with a memory backup in the form of SuperMemo. As soon as you are out of the basic level, you can start using English intensely in the fields that you need most (e.g. reading, writing, speeches, etc.). For example, if you need conversation skills, choose a couple of friends that can speak English and stop using your native language. Use English. Each time you are lost for words, consult it with your friends or with a dictionary, choose the best word or phrase you needed, and put it to SuperMemo. This effort is bound to be clumsy in the beginning, but with time you will fill out all gaps and you will become a fluent speaker. Remember, scrupulously put all doubts, words, phrases and grammar rules to SuperMemo to be sure you never stumble against a given problem again. See also: They write at length about learning English and also about employing SuperMemo for the purpose

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