Transparent Language Blog

Why Language Learners Should Prioritize Declarative Memory Posted by on Mar 25, 2013 in For Learners, Learning + Usage Tips

One of the things that differentiate Transparent Language from many of our competitors is the method we employ to teach adult language learners a new language.

We are firm believers in the declarative method. To oversimplify, your brain learns things using two complimentary systems: declarative memory (facts) and procedural memory (skills). For languages, the declarative memory stores words and phrases, which requires conscious effort and repeated exposure. The procedural memory stores skills, which can be internalized by working with the language frequently.

When it comes to faster language acquisition, we believe in declarative first.

We know that language is more than vocabulary. But the more vocabulary you know, the easier everything else gets. In fact, studies have shown that, of all the factors contributing to language proficiency, vocabulary size is by far the single most significant factor, accounting for anywhere from 50% to 70% of proficiency gains depending on the language and the skill being studied.

vocabulary depth

That’s why we prioritize declarative learning, or building a robust, reliable pool of vocabulary. If you don’t know the word for “hospital”, knowing how to conjugate “to need” (a function of procedural memory) will not by itself get you to the nearest clinic in an emergency.  Saying nothing but “hospital”, on the other hand, probably will.  It may not result in Shakespearean-level eloquence, but language is, first and foremost, about communicating your wants, needs, and intentions.  And once you do know how to conjugate “to need”, you’ll be able to pair it with “help”, “doctor”, “directions”, “chocolate”, and all those other great bits of vocabulary you’ve amassed in your reservoir.

Our CEO Michael Quinlan discusses our “declarative first” methodology further:

Want to know more about how we leverage the declarative method in our platforms and language training programs? Download the white paper and the free implementation guide.



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About the Author: Lorien

Lorien Green is the Inbound Marketing Manager for Transparent Language, Inc. She took French and Spanish in college, but is now interested in German after discovering the designer board game scene in Germany.


  1. Maarten Hoogesteger:

    I have been in Mongolia for 3 years now, and I am very poor in learning the language. I am aged 65, so maybe my “language” brain is no longer active (like a few other bodily functions). However I am working every day with Mongolians and one or two of them make an effort to tell me their words and phrases, which helps. I find I learn nouns much quicker and more perminantly than verbs and much more than adjectives. The language I have learn is Body Language and I becoming quite adept at that. Unfortunately even your organisation has not dared to tackle the Mongolian Language, what a pity

    • Transparent Language:

      @Maarten Hoogesteger Hi Maarten,

      Thanks for your comment. In many situations body language is equally as important (if not more!) as spoken language, so you’ve done yourself a favor in observing it and committing it to memory.

      As for Mongolian, we are proud to providing materials for more than 100 languages to varying degrees, but we are always interested in supporting under-resourced languages. Though we cannot undertake new languages on our own, we have launched the 7000 Languages Project to bring our technology to the world’s “other” 7,000 languages by partnering with language experts who provide their content. By teaming up, we can leverage our platforms and their language knowledge to create learning materials for the languages like Mongolian that are less commonly spoken but certainly not less important. You can read more about the project here:

      If you’re interested, or know of an organization who might be interested, in working with us on this project, please contact us using the channels given on that page!

  2. Rafael Gerardo Magaña Santos:

    I have always found very appealing to learn languages as a hobby.
    My native one, is Spanish.
    Ever since I started receiving a daily example of the use of a new word, my German has improved substantially, without the need of a teacher,as well as new expressions and words in French.
    In few words, I personally think that Transparent Language,is a very, very useful tool in either learning and or improving the learning of any language.
    I feel more confident now with German and French, than I did 2 years ago, when I could not practice my other languages with almost anybody.

  3. Maurice:

    My greatest desire is to learn to speak Spanish fluently I know a lot of words but when your making a sentence or speaking the words change and sometimes the meaning changes also. This is my problem not to just know the vocabulary but to put the vocabulary in sentences correctly so I am understood. Do you think transparent language could help me? I am a willing learner

    • Prof. Eduardo:

      @Maurice Puedo ayudarte a conocer mejor el espaňol y expresarte como un poeta.

  4. sunshine:

    I love receiving transparent every day. do you think you could provide phonetic transliteration for Arabic Russian and Hebrew so I can also see not just hear the vocabulary. I speak German and French but I receive transparent equally in those languages to discover new vocabulary or brush up. it’s a great tool for on the go people like myself and I find myself reflecting on that one word all day and months later. i highly recommend it to young people who spend countless hours surfing the internet for entertainment rather than learning. I believe learning a language is a start for building world peace. Xie xie

    • Transparent Language:

      @sunshine Hi Sunshine! I’m so glad you enjoy our Word of the Day service. We’re currently reviewing all of the content and making some major improvements, so stay tuned for that update in the coming months. Unfortunately we aren’t adding transliteration this time around, but we do provide it for all 3 of those languages in our products. If you’re looking to build your vocabulary in Arabic, Russian, and Hebrew, check out the free trial of Transparent Language Online:

  5. Anthony Dolce:

    I live in St. Louis and we have the largest Bosnian population outside of BiH. I have a background in Latin,Greek, Russian, French, Spanish and some Italian. I’ve learned Bosnian using BYKI, just vocabulary. I’ve been at it 10 years and going to Bosnian places and just jumping into the language and culture. I have a great rapport and am loved because I cared enough to learn their language for fun. SEE:

  6. Thomas Stanley:

    WEBMASTER: Under “Stay Connected!” you write the mispelled word “Recieve.” Correct to Receive.

    • Transparent Language:

      @Thomas Stanley Fixed that ugly mistake! Thanks for the heads up. 🙂

  7. Inger Myklebust:

    Hallo there! I am interested in learning more Brazilian Português, I already have a basic level but need to learn more about verbs and adverbial sentences. Do you have some interesting courses for me. I have higher education, but have passed 60 years. Greetings Inger Myklebust


    I am 66 years old and retired official.
    some how I lost the opportunity of learning Hindi language when I was young.
    since quite long may be year after year there is a feeling inside me I have learn this language.
    Though I am postgraduate in commerce with Law and MBA from a very reputed institute IRMA.
    There is a desire to learn Hindi, but never made serious effort.
    guide me in this regard.

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