Do we really learn more from printed books than on a screen?

In the light of recent research that seems to suggest that the memory is stimulated far more by printed text than if we read off of a computer screen, we wanted to present our opinions on the issue.

We believe that there are advantages and disadvantages to learning in both ways. What screen based learning gives us principally is access. It enables us to see and use an infinite amount of resources that would otherwise be difficult to find or too expensive to buy. The way we learn is evolving and we do seem to be using resources in a more superficial way. This may be due to the fast paced way with which information is shared nowadays, or just the fact that we need to collect information from a wider range of sources than in the past. On average people also wish to access information on their smartphones; this is because we are always on the go.

Having said that, it is well demonstrated that humans retain far more information when they read it from a printout. Perhaps our mind is made to process information with more ease in this way or it could be due to the value we place on the information we have at hand. We seem to trust information in books more than what find online and spend more time reviewing it. What many of these studies fail to mention is that there is more to the issue than simply learning from printed texts. We learn more from paper, but we learn far more from our own handwritten notes.

On our platform, all of the lessons are printable and the free resources are available in PDF.

To cover all of the bases on our language learning platform, all of our lessons are printable and can be used as many times as the learner wishes. We also encourage all learners to have a notebook and to organise their learning. You should focus on the content of the lessons, but also create your own objectives. A great way to advance is to use your mistakes as a “to do list”. When you make mistakes in real conversations, you should write down what you need to review. Using these notes, you can focus your attention on what you need to improve and thus, prioritise your learning.

On balance, a mixture of screen and print based learning is a safe option. It is important to be able to access information, but you also need to prioritise what you are trying to take in. You cannot learn everything and trying to memorise huge quantities of information from vocabulary lists is not an effective way to improve your language skills, this is why we need to learn from our own, handwritten notes. This way we will learn quicker, and also avoid wasting paper 🙂

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