A study was just released today with the intriguing headline “Less Pain for Learning Gain: Research Offers a Strategy to Increase Learning With Less Effort.”

Sounds great, right? And potentially useful, too, right?

However, I’m not sure I really understand its application to the classroom, and I’d appreciate your help in either confirming what I think it says, or helping me with a new interpretation.

If I understand it correctly (and I might very well not)the experiment related to helping people learn the difference between two tones. The people who were “drilled and killed” didn’t really learn the difference. On the other hand, the people who were “drilled and killed” for the same amount of time, combined with an equal amount of time doing an unrelated puzzle while just hearing one of the tones at the same time, showed “significant learning gains.”

The article says the study has potential for “people studying a second language.”


Are they saying that just having exposure to the second language you’re learning will help you improve your proficiency in it? If that’s the case, is this just another example of research showing us something we have all known for years?

Or is there something else I’m missing?