Cats and Dogs - a blog for English learners

Occasional tips and tricks to help you learn more than the useless phrase "it's raining cats and dogs", brought to you by Craig Meulen, an English teacher in Germany. (Blog discontinued.)

October 14, 2008

Learning new words

One of my all-time top tips has to be the wonderful software program "Phase 6", which can help you learn your new vocabulary.

I met the programmer at a trade fair in Berlin several years ago and started to use his software myself to improve my German vocabulary. Then it was very simple. Now he has made a lot of improvements:
- better graphic design
- vocabulary sets from leading publishing houses, such as Cornelsen
- you can link in pictures and sounds

How does the software work? Well, it is like the old system with little cards and a tray to hold all the little cards. You write a new English word, with the German word on the other side. Then you put it in the tray. After a couple of days you look at the word again and try to remember what it means. In total, you need to do this 5 times. If you remember the word 5 times then the word is in your memory and you won't forget it again.

But the computer can organize these cards in a special way. So after the first time, it waits a few days then shows you the card again. After this it waits a whole week. Then two weeks. And so on. The time until each 'phase' gets longer, which helps your brain to remember the words for a long time.

You can read about it in German at:

or in English at:

And here is a story about a bus ride in Poland – this is the reason why the programmer wrote his program!!


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