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Flash cards and pomodoro

How do we concretely ensure that time is on our side when it comes to our learning goals? How can we take advantage of these links that are formed without our thinking about them, and of the principle of reactivation which allows our knowledge to become part of our long-term memory? Here are 2 techniques: . The flashcards (or flashcards). It is a technique for learning all kinds of vocabulary words (especially for foreign languages), formulas or concepts. . The Pomodoro Technique, which is a learning planning method

1. Flash cards

The principle of flash cards is very simple: information on the back of a card, information on the front. The principle is to easily and regularly reactivate the associative link that unites two types of information: – a question and its answer; – an image and the word that designates it; – a word and its translation into another language; – a mathematical definition and its formula, graph or diagram; – a writer and his birth and death dates; – a painter and the reproduction of one of his major works, etc.

How to make flashcards?

The best flashcards are the ones you made yourself

There are many paid flashcard games on the market (especially in the field of learning foreign languages). However, I tend to consider that the best flashcards are the ones you made yourself. For people with a kinesthetic tendency or dominant pedagogical profile, this also stimulates their own skills: handling, touching, being active and involved in the process.

So you take content that you want to make your own, and you make a whole series of cards: information on the front and the associated information or information on the back.

Are you more “auditory”? Write words and phrases on your cards. Are you more “visual”? Give preference to images, diagrams, photos or graphics.


Let’s say you’re tackling a chapter in your math class. You can choose to make question/answer cards: what is the definition of such a notion? What successive steps must be taken to solve this type of problem? What theorems can be used to prove such a thing? What is the formula for this or that? Etc.

Writing your cards stimulates your kinesthetic memory, partly because you are “writing down” your answers, but also because you are putting yourself in the active position of researching the most relevant questions to ask based on your content.

Memory boost

The flashcard technique therefore promotes memory in the sense that it helps to strengthen the associative link between two pieces of information. But it has another advantage: it facilitates the process of reactivating information, because once your cards are made, you can reuse them in various ways:

– you can revise them whenever you want and in multiple places (in public transport, for ten minutes between two lessons, in the evening before you go to sleep, etc.);

-you can plan to revise with several people (you mix the cards made by each other and each draws in turn to try to answer the questions…);

-you can also test yourself regularly (take five cards at random and check if you have memorized the answers correctly before consulting the answer on the back…), etc.

Memorize a large amount of information, especially by heart

This technique therefore remains excellent when it comes to memorizing a large amount of information, especially by heart (in chemistry, in the context of the medical examination, in languages, etc.).

However, it finds multiple uses in all disciplines, because it is rare that a course does not devote part of its content to the assimilation of a certain amount of basic knowledge on a subject, a period or an issue.

On the other hand, it is not a process that leads you to improve your understanding of content. To do this, other types of revision sheets are preferable to carry out.

Here is a summary of the flashcard technique by Jean-François MICHEL


Flashcards applications / software

Here is a list of applications, flashcard software that can help you: you have everything here: – – (application in English) (freeware) (free app)…

2. The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is a learning planning method that was invented by Francesco Cirillo at the end of the 1980s. It is a four-step strategy that allows, in addition to exploiting this propensity that the brain to continue to make connections between information during breaks, to promote motivation to work by planning one’s objectives:

Phase 1: plan your work sequence

This is an essential step that forces you to ask yourself the following question: what are my objectives? What courses do you want to work on? What exercises do you plan to be able to do again? What assignment are you going to complete? What exam are you going to revise? Etc.

You can do this planning work on the year, on the semester, on the week, on a review period and/or simply on a specific work time (for example, an evening or a sequence of work planned during the week -end). This planning stage can be very beneficial for some students: if you like to anticipate and organize yourself, it will require you to put this skill that you already have at the service of your schoolwork.

However, some students are very resistant to this organizational work, which has the effect of stressing them out. For those, it is advisable to take things as they come, so as not to focus on an objective which one doubts of being able to achieve, or to lock oneself in a framework which will only have the effect of get them to want out.

If you recognize yourself, you can go directly to phase 2, or even consider other methods of getting to work that do not have the particularity of inducing a feeling of urgency or the search for a particular performance.

Phase 2: break down your objectives into intermediate tasks that can be completed in 25 minutes

You have now decided to get to work. And you have at least an hour in front of you. It is then a question of determining several tasks to be carried out which you project will take you approximately 25 minutes: redo an exercise, develop a review sheet from specific course content, write an essay paragraph, proofread and correct a writing, build the first draft of the plan of a dissertation, etc.

Choose and list your different tasks according to the time you have.

Phase 3: Alternate Pomodori and 5-minute breaks

Now is the time to get a timer. For the record, know that pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian. Originally, the timer Cirillo used when he was developing his technique was shaped like a tomato.

So you set your timer for 25 minutes and position it in front of you. And here we go for your first work sequence. A simple glance at the timer allows you to take stock of your remaining time.

One of two things, either this technique boosts your productivity (you have to stay focused on your task for the 25 minutes of your sequence), or it generates a feeling of anxiety that rather disturbs your concentration.

Be that as it may, you can also use this very structured structuring of your personal working time to “depend” on the objectives set at the start of the session and on this time which passes and which imposes itself on you.

Once the 25-minute sequence has come to an end, whether or not you have finished the planned task, you take a break. This should allow you to truly move on (during this time, your brain continues its associations without conscious intention on your part), but it should not cause you to permanently interrupt your work sequence.

What types of activity are well suited for this type of break? Do some stretching, prepare yourself a tea or coffee, eat some fruit, check your emails or your Facebook page… These different things, you will do them without guilt since you are on a break and they are therefore an integral part of your strategy. of learning.

Whatever you do, take a look at your next task first. Knowing what to expect next will make it easier for you to get back to work. The 5 minutes have passed?

You can move on to the task and your next 25 minutes. It doesn’t matter if you completed the previous task (which can be frustrating), since your brain, by continuing its work of spontaneous linking, will lead you to have a much clearer idea when you come back to it later. .

Phase 4: take the time to take stock

You have now made three, four, or even five successive pomodori. It’s time to take stock. What tasks did you complete? What goals have you achieved? What work do you have left to do? What misunderstandings are still relevant?

This time is very important. You take stock of what has been done and what remains to be done. So you can start thinking about planning your next work sequence. And you can count on your brain to keep “working for you” in the meantime. You have identified your shortcomings, what you still have to do and the questions still pending. Your mind therefore remains awake, ready to make a new link with anything that can bring you answers, solutions or new ideas on the subject.

Source and text: Helen Weber

Helen Weber is a clinical psychologist and doctor in sociology. Currently Hélène Weber works for an engineering school to set up a support system for first-year students to help them adapt to the requirements of higher education.
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