Interleaved learning, or learning without pressure

Interleaved learning is an approach to learning that departs from the traditional block or focused approach to learning. Interleaved learning and the research behind it, is based on the idea that if we should not focus on learning or mastering one skill or set of information, such as a limited group of words in a foreign language.  Instead , we should move on to other skills and bits of information, and then come back to the first group of skills or information later.

Research shows that, in the short term, the block learner does better. In the long run, the interleaved learner retains more. See some interesting examples. 

Here are a couple of videos on this and how this relates to learning languages at LingQ.


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7 comments on “Interleaved learning, or learning without pressure

Tim McLernon

Hi Steve,

How do you think interleaving applies to learning multiple languages at once? Instead of “block” learning one language at a time, could we interleave languages? It seems to be the same principle.

Tim McLernon

I have to use French, Turkish and Romanian in some way every day, due to work/family, etc. I block-learned Turkish during the 90-day challenge and it made a noticeable difference. But since I use them both every day, maybe I will interleave Turkish and Romanian for 90-days and see what happens 🙂

One thing I notice is that if I read something in French, my strongest 2nd language, it seems to make it easier to read the other 2 when I go back to them. I don’t sense any interference at all.


am chinese,i see your video on youtube about how to learn foreign languages.I want to relearn my English,could you introduce somebody who want to learn Chinese,and help me to learn English.^o^

Stera Gutnick

Hi Steve,
I have been a teacher of Hebrew language for grades 4 and 5 in Melbourne Australia for the past two years. I was thrown into the deepend literally-no mentoring ,no training to teach a second language , lousy materials which I refuse to use…All I have been left with is my imagination ,gut feeling .,creativity and passion.What a journey it has been as you can well imagine!I have found your talks amazingly helpful and for this I thank you.
I have 2 questions for you Steve :
1)Where can I find the English version of’ ‘who is she’ and “eating out’ so I could perhaps transpose them to Hebrew?
2) Would it be more beneficial for the students to memorize short conversations at this point (through drama ,puppets , songs etc) rather than going through the ‘trauma’ of getting them to create their own sentences? The students only have 2 lessons a week of Hebrew language learning, and homework is not a goer …
Thankyou kindly. I so look forward to your response, to ease my inner turmoil as to what should be my goals for my students.
Mrs Stera Gutnick

    Hi Stera,

    I am a proponent of learning through understanding, first of all. If these students improve their ability to understand they will gradually gain the confidence to speak. I would focus on reading and listening and enjoying the language as much as they can. Even if they speak English in class, as long as their understanding improves, they will feel a sense of achievement. When to start speaking should be up to them.
    As for Who is She, of course you can find the individual episodes at LingQ, and I will send you the full text when I find it. If you translate it, I would greatly appreciate if you would send it to me to add to our Hebrew library at LingQ.


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