two weeks with viaverbi
viaverbi is different than most vocabulary coach applications. The major distinction is that viaverbi recognizes the effect of time on the learning process. This means that the advantage will appear by and by. If you want to get a picture of viaverbi s function quickly, you are invited to accompany Vicky on her first 14 days with viaverbi!
Vicky is a german girl an just reached the 6th grade. With german as her native language, she has had her trouble with the english vocabulary. Now she has to learn latin as well and therefore she decides to take advantage of viaverbi.
For a start, she creates a new unit and calls it "Unit 1". She sets up "Deutsch" as her native language and "English" as the language to learn.
Then she clicks on the "Items" tab to begin the data entry. She enters a total of 17 words and notes that the main window immediately shows the number 17 in a grey and a blue bullet. This tells her that all 17 words are due for a test.
Hence Vicky clicks on the "Test" button and leaves the values in the next dialog unchanged.
All test and training sessions in viaverbi are executed in full screen mode to avoid distraction.
Vicky is surprised that she herself has to judge the answers as correct or incorrect. This may not be obvious now, but will turn out to be essential as multiple definitions and additions like endings or declensions come into play. viaverbi grants the option to activate an automatic rating, but this makes sense only for vocabulary that call for clear-cut and simple-structured answers.
Because she herself has entered the data, the first test is pretty easy and Vicky completes it without any error! So for the rest of the day she can do something completely different...
The second day starts with a little surprise: when Vicky starts her Mac, viaverbi is launched automatically and displays a blue bullet with a "17" in the dock icon.
Again, this number tells Vicky, that 17 items are due for testing. So she clicks the viaverbi icon and starts the test. She passes the test with no mistake and since viaverbi increases the time intervals between tests exponentially, the next test for each item will not be due before three days. So Vicky would have a day off...
...had it not been for latin! The integration of a second language requires a bit of organisation. No problem in viaverbi, units may be arranged in nested groups. Vicky's lessons look like this:
Only the top level objects show the numbers of total items in dark gray and due items in dark blue. The subordinate items use light gray or light blue respectively to make clear that their values are included in the parent group. The overall number of items results from the addition of the dark gray items.
Of course Vicky has entered some latin vocabulary yesterday and of course she passed the test. The complete unit is tested again on day four, but this time she makes two mistakes.
These two items fall back onto level 1 and will be testet again the next day! All other items will be due in three days.
This day both english and latin vocabulary are due for testing. When viaverbi launches (remember: it usually autolaunches at system startup), a blue "19" to the lower right of the dock icon shows the total number of due items. The main window provides more detailled information: 17 words in english and 2 words in latin have to be tested.
It s up to Vicky if she clicks a single unit or a group in the main window to test just that section. All items of the selected section are taken into account, however items are not tested unless they are due!
She decides to select no section, so all vocabulary is included. viaverbi processes one language after the other, however the items of each language appear in random order.
day 6, day 7
These two days Vicky visits her grandparents and doesn't have access to her Mac. As for vocabulary, she does nothing this weekend.
By now, Vicky is almost accustomed to viaverbi calling attention after system startup. Today however, the number is on a red bullet. This means that at least one item is overdue and a test should be started as soon as possible. The weekend has caused the items which were due on day 6 and not tested on day 7 to be overdue on day 8, because the items have been on a low learning level and the test interval should be very short then; at higher levels, viaverbi will be more tolerant. If the gap between the due date and the current date becomes too big, you can reset all overdue items to level 1 and restart the whole learning process for these words.
viaverbi begins to be very efficient! Of all 25 words entered by Vicky last week, only four must be tested today. Not only is it quite convenient that the other vocabluray is left aside for now. Beyond it, this is a feature of the learning method, because the increasing time spans between the tests make sure that the tests will have a lasting effect and your vocabulary will find its way into your long-term memory.
Of course, day 9 brings some new words too. Vicky adds 15 items to her existing English unit.
Browsing through the application preferences window, besides default values for tests and an automatic backup feature, Vicky finds a way to customize fonts and colors in fullscreen sessions. There are six themes to choose from. Not much, but more could be distracting.
Today, there are only 16 items due: one old item that has been reset to level 1 once and the 15 new items of yesterday. That leaves Vicky some time to import the english vocabulary from last year. A friend of hers has worked with a windows vocabulary coach earlier and managed to export the data and e-mail it to Vicky. In the dialog "Import..." she can assign fields of the CSV-file to the viaverbi unit s fields.
Vicky doesn't want to turn on viaverbi mode for this unit, after all she learned that stuff last year. But she wants to freshen her knowledge and so she starts the training. Since it is hardly possible to recall some 2000 words in one session, Vicky sets the limit to 80 items. She chooses the brush-up test and constrains to vocabulary not displayed for 90 days. She can leave this settings for the next couple of weeks or months and take a training whenever she feels like doing so. There will be no item trained twice before 90 days from now.
The training itself is basically a slideshow. Each word is presented in the native language first and then in the language to be trained. If you entered any hints, they will be displayed too. You can navigate by mouse click or play automatically at an adjustable speed.
There are only five items due on day 11, all of which have been rated incorrect in a previous test. This test really doesn't take a lot of time, but the effect is amazing. It is unlikely that Vicky ever forgets these five words.
With the imorted data from last year, Vicky has a reasonable treasury of words stored in viaverbi. Now she can use viaverbi not only for training and testing, moreover she can use it as a dictionary.
Ten latin words and two english ones are no big deal for Vicky. The 19 new items definitely cause more trouble. She makes four mistakes in the first test and as she cannot believe that, she takes a look at the statistics and the session window.
Today luck is not on Vicky's side. In addition to the 19 latins of yesterday most of the entries of the first day (which are now on level 4) and of the 9th day (now on level 3) are due. They sum up to 49 items.
It is saturday, so Vicky can manage that. She could as well test only a part of the due items, for example only one unit. Any item she skips today will still be due tomorrow. If not overdue, in which case the items would be processed with priority.
Vicky is happy, only 5 words - the mistakes of yesterday - due this sunday. Before using viaverbi, she has spent more time learning vocabulary, because she inevitably included the words she already knew. On the other hand she doesn't have the feeling that difficult words would be neglected. The reset-to-level-1 feature ensures, that a difficult word is tested daily.
The protocol section of the unit window visualizes just that: the way a word takes to your long term memory. Should you ever click the wrong button in a test session, you can correct the level for that particular item manually.
where to go from here
When used over a longer period, the number of items tested each day will level off according to the number of new items and the rate of incorrect answers. There will rarely be much more items due than you enter in an average week. Usually they are much less.