Babbel’s educational approach advises spending 15 minutes a day learning a new language, a surprisingly short time compared to the time university students are expected to spend studying another language in their spare time (around 90 minutes). Now, how is it that Babbel’s classmates manage to learn new languages despite spending less time than I spent learning to conjugate Spanish verbs in high school? To find out, I sat down with Karoline Schnur, a linguist at Babbel, who explained why you only need 15-minute lessons a day to master a new language.
The Babbel approach
Karoline began by clarifying the basic principles of Babbel’s approach to learning: “ When a student reads a lot of information, it is almost impossible for them to absorb all of it . This is what is known as information overload or cognitive overload ”. Thus, less relevant information is discarded and, therefore, never gets stored in our long-term memory. This strategy is ideal in our daily lives, but not so much for language learning.
“To store something in long-term memory, you have to make connections and repeat it. Repetition is a fundamental part of learning a new language , ” Karoline continued.
Fortunately, the Babbel app was designed with the limitations of human memory in mind. The 15-minute lessons correspond to the principle of “fragmentation” in psychology: our brains work best when they absorb about seven new things at a time. For Babbel, a good way to take advantage of the time would be to repeat 10 elements for about 5 minutes, and then do a new lesson, which lasts about 15 minutes. And ready! It’s that simple, you will have completed the necessary learning minutes per day ” .
Our tips and tricks for learning languages
- Learn on the go
- Find the learning method that best suits your needs
- Build confidence through practice
- Create daily learning habits
A scientific approach that works
Having grasped some of the science behind Babbel’s approach, it was time to see how the app reinforces this approach. According to Karoline, “The review has been incorporated into the lessons through different exercises and contexts, so that the student can make these connections.” It is possible that in beginner courses you will come across a certain vocabulary and that later you will have to repeat it in more elaborate dialogues and not just in obvious contexts.
Due to the great importance of repeating what you have learned, the Babbel application has a review system designed solely to repeat the information and anchor it in your long-term memory .