This saying is really old … old enough to be one of those Latin phrases that’s engraved into stone somewhere in the sprawl of the former empire: Repetitio mater studiorum est. Repetition is the mother of all learning.

We love this phrase at Brainscape, because maximizing repetitions is one of the cornerstones of the cognitive science behind our spaced repetition system. What’s really cool is that scientists are still finding compelling research that back up this folk truth with hard data.

When it comes to effective learning, it's not just about repetition—it's about smart repetition. Good spaced repetition involves learning information at just the right intervals. Ideally, you would repeat more difficult concepts more often than easier concepts; the better you know something, the less often it would be repeated. It's this repeated exposure that helps you retain information a lot more effectively.

Spaced repetition to help learning by repetition

[Learn more about how spaced repetition works.]

Repetition is critical for learning languages too

Often times, old(er) people will say, “I’m too old to learn a new language. Isn’t my brain closed off to learning new things anyways?” These people are wrong; you can learn a new language at any age.

It's all about involving the right retrieval practice, so that you're repeating concepts in the right intervals and driven by your own pace. Adults can even be better at learning a second language than a child is, because we're able to learn more deliberately.

Repetition is the mother of all learning

So don’t tell yourself that you can’t learn a new language, and don’t blame it on your old brain. You can, and science keeps finding evidence saying that your brain can too.

Just remember that repetition is crucial for learning new languages (as well as anything else), and systems like Confidence Based Repetition (the theory underlying Brainscape’s adaptive digital flashcards) make learning new languages easier and faster than ever before.