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Fight off the Forgetting Curve with Spaced Repetition Posted by on Oct 14, 2015 in CL-150, Language Learning, Language News, Product Recommendations, Reference/Usage Tips

You may already know the dire consequences of not reviewing what you learn.

One way to review knowledge is to put it into practice; however, when it comes to foreign languages, the people around you may not speak the language you’re learning. That leaves you with the burden of proactively keeping track of what you know and reviewing it on a regular basis. This is where Transparent Language Online* comes in.

Transparent Language Online’s Learned Vocab system does three things:

  • Remember which words and phrases you’ve studied
  • Keep track of their current status in your memory
  • Create opportunities for you to encounter words and phrases in need of review

Essentially, Transparent Language Online* keeps an accurate copy of your brain and contacts your actual brain when it’s time to review. When used properly, this system is incredibly powerful.

How does it work?

A word or phrase gets copied into your personal Learned Vocab repository when you’ve either studied it in a lesson or moved it there manually.learned items

Once in the repository, a learned word or phrase vacillates between two states:

  • Stale (it’s time to review)
  • Fresh (it’s not yet time to review)

(Full disclosure: you can put words or phrases you never want to review into a third state, “Archived”. An example of an Archived word might be something like the word for “hello”, which you may have learned in grade school and are in no danger of forgetting.)

So how does our software determine what’s Stale and what’s Fresh? How do we know what’s happening in your brain? It turns out applied science has come up with a pretty good solution for both guessing and manipulating somebody’s retention of a learned fact over time: spaced repetition.

You can read about the history and use of spaced repetition on Wikipedia, but here’s how Transparent Language Online* does it:

  1. While you study a word or phrase in your lessons, Transparent Language Online watches how many times you get it right versus wrong.
  2. When that word or phrase goes into your Learned Vocab repository, we consider it Fresh (because you just learned it).
  3. However, we designate a time at which that word or phrase will become Stale based on how many right versus wrong answers you gave while studying it.
  4. When that word or phrase becomes Stale, we alert you that it’s time to “Refresh”.
  5. Depending on how well you remembered the word or phrase, it becomes Fresh again for some appropriate period of time.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5.

If you remember everything perfectly, then the time things spend as Fresh increases exponentially. For instance, the first time you learn a word or phrase it might be Fresh for 1 day. Then, after your first refresh, it’s fresh for 3 days. Then 7 days. Then 30 days. Then 100 days. Etc. Eventually, we cap the amount of time something can remain Fresh. (If you feel you’ve learned it so well you’ll never forget it, you can mark it as Archived.)

How do I do this?

Start by learning some words and phrases by completing lessons in Transparent Language Online*. Once that happens, you’ll notice a graph populating in the Learned panel of your Home screen. That’s where you can see everything you’ve studied. Click View to get a more in-depth look (that’s also where you can Archive stuff).

stale image

When it’s time for you to review, a button in the panel that say Refresh will turn green, and a yellow banner above it will tell you how many words and phrases have become stale. All you have to do is click that Refresh button. It’ll take you to a simple flash card activity, and once you complete that activity it’ll let you know all your words and phrases have become Fresh again. It’s that easy!

Find a library near you that offers Transparent Language Online*. None close by? Print this info card and bring it to your local librarians to let them know you’re interested, or sign up for the free trial!

*For government users, the CL-150 also uses the Learned Words and Phrases refresh system so you can stay on top of your learned items as well.


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About the Author:Transparent Language

Transparent Language is a leading provider of best-practice language learning software for consumers, government agencies, educational institutions, and businesses. We want everyone to love learning language as much as we do, so we provide a large offering of free resources and social media communities to help you do just that!


  1. erica mae:

    i want to learn how to speak mandarin language becouse i need

  2. Robert F. Betz:

    I want to try out “transparent language German”

  3. petronella:

    want to learn portouguese and spanish

  4. zico:

    i want to learn french and Spanish. but i have been learning french for a very long time like six years now and i am not seeing any progress. but started learning Spanish some few months ago and i have seen a remarkable improvement.but i really want to learn all the two languages. please i need your help.

  5. john:

    How do I download the rapid rote app?

    • Transparent Language:

      @john Hi John! Do you already have access to the CL-150? The mobile app is not available for the public, but if you have a CL-150 account you can access it by logging in to the CL-150 and clicking “Smartphone Apps” on the left hand menu.

Leave a comment to john