Studies reveal it's more than just a matter of memory. A look at what the science of recall can teach us.
A FEW YEARS AGO, Captain Emmanuel Joseph decided to learn Arabic before his deployment to Iraq. “At first it was easy,” he told me. At his base in the U.S., he explains, “we had native speakers teaching us basic things like greetings; imperatives like stop, go, walk; and some numbers and nouns. It was very much survival-level.” In Iraq, Joseph (not his real name) continued trying to learn Arabic with Al-Kitaab, the main textbook used by American universities and the military. But he struggled.
“I was forgetting more than I was learning,” he said. “With every chapter in the textbook came a hundred more vocabulary words. The language and the culture were accessible, but I also had a job to do. So I didn’t—and couldn’t—spend all my time studying.” Joseph cast about online for help and came across LinguaStep, an online Arabic-language program that quizzes a user in vocabulary and adapts to a user’s specific rate of learning.
For the rest of the story: http://www.salon.com/2012/10/27/whats_the_secret_to_learning_a_second_lanuage/