SSi Forum

New Working Memory test?


#1

Okay, so it seems that the previous URLs posted for working memory tests no longer work.
Got any new ones?

I have memory/mind issues including SDAM and Aphantasia. If someone reads out a list of 10 digits in English I can only recall the first 4. I hear the other words, just they disappear into a kind of “blind spot”.

I have done very well at text based Duolingo but when I tried SSIW for the first time a few years ago it felt like an almost physical punch to the face and my confidence was completely wiped out. I had not expected that at all. It was horrible, not just uncomfortable but horrible. I thought I had made progress before, but I now knew I had wasted all the time I had spent on the language. I completely gave up any hope of learning it.

So … I’m back here. More to see if I can use it as a challenge to improve my memory. Learning the language still seems impossible, but I am interested in knowing why.

I believe one clue to my issues is that when I can see a sentence written down, the page itself is holding all the words, not my mind, and my eyes don’t read from left to right, they jump into the middle of the sentence and work out the structure first. I can’t do that with audio. (If I had the ability to visualise I could, but I have aphantasia)


#2

I sympathise. I took me three attempts over a period of several years to get anywhere with SSiW. It was only because I kept meeting people who had very quickly become fluent with the method that I even bothered coming back.

To be honest, I don’t know whether I could learn a language from scratch using the SSiW method because I have a terrible working memory. I also have bad memories of failing miserably at mental arithmetic tests as a child due to not being able to hold the question in my mind long enough to answer it. SSiW was triggering those feelings of failure which was why I gave up on it during my first attempts. It just made me miserable and ending up in tears was not helpful.

I actually started learning Welsh long before SSiW even existed, so I knew a lot of stuff in theory, but my problem was that I couldn’t organise my thoughts and get the words out of my mouth fast enough to have a conversation. Seeing people being so successful using a method that didn’t work for me at all was frustrating, but eventually I found a way to get through the SSiW challenges and though I had to repeat each one multiple times, it did help me break through to something resembling fluency.

The thing that worked for me was to start speaking as soon as Aran had completed the first phrase. If I waited until the end of the sentence, I would probably be unable to repeat it in English, let alone say it in another language! Then I just kept talking over Aran’s sentence rather than waiting for the gap. Somehow I was still able to take in the English words and, by only having to remember a small chunk at a time, I could get through the challenge.

I don’t know whether anyone else with a poor working memory has any other tips, but I did discover one interesting thing – my working memory did improve a little with all the practice.


#3

Thanks Margaret, what did you mean by the “first phrase” vs “end of the sentence” ?

I see when similar people have expressed reservations here before about working memory that Aran would ask them to take a working memory test online. But all the ones linked have gone away since.


#4

If we look at one of the sentences in Challenge 1, the complete sentence is: “I am trying to practise speaking Welsh.” By the first phrase I mean start speaking as soon as you have heard, “I am trying…” and respond with “Dw i’n trio…” then you’ll hear, “…to practise…” and you’ll say “…ymarfer…” and so on.

This means when you get to the longer sentences like, “I am going to try to speak welsh, but I can’t remember how,” you’ve got a technique to break it into chunks. This was the only way I could get started, but other people may have other tips. You will also need to repeat the challenges more than once, even though Aran says that shouldn’t be necessary.

This video might also help.


#5

Yeah, I’m afraid it’s hard to find online tests that never disappear… we’re probably going to have to try and build our own at some point, but that’s about time/money…

In the meantime, I think Margaret’s advice here is excellent - I’d also recommend being kind to yourself and counting any phrase with more than 4 or 5 words as a pure bonus - if you can say the first couple of words, pat on the back and move on (listening carefully to the models)…


#6

Oh!!! I had no idea that those folks were models! Nice! :laughing:

When I tried in the past I attempted lesson 1 and 2 multiple times but it just became to painful to even try. I rarely could get to the end of a lesson without shutting it down in horror. I felt like I had accidently picked Greek instead of the language I had been learning for years already. That’s why I completely gave up all forms of learning Welsh.

I had tried returning to SSIW a few times without luck, but that was years ago.
But maybe this time is it.

Margaret, I thought the idea was that you were supposed to do each unit multiple times?
Thanks for the video, I didn’t originally see it because I read the messages that came through to my email.


#7

If you’re able, Aran now says to carry straight through the challenges because the repetition is built in, but for people like us with poor working memories, repeating the challenges multiple times is necessary.

It might also help to do the challenges in small chunks of 10 minutes rather than the full 25-35 minutes at once. But basically try different approaches and don’t worry if you feel you are going more slowly than other learners.


#8

I find that I have often forgotten the ends of long sentences. This is generally something like ‘… last Friday night’. When it happens I just finish the sentence with something similar that I make up. I’m working on the principle that if I know what I’m saying in Welsh it’s good practice anyway and hearing the correct phrase later reinforces that.


#9

I finally made time to do the 1st challenge again. It’s probably been at least a year.
I did it first thing in the morning to ensure I would be the freshest. (ha)

It’s so odd … I consider myself “not a beginner” because I have completed Duolingo several times over … and yet this first challenge for absolute beginners seems like another language, using words and grammar forms I never encountered before.

I think it’s because SSIW jumps straight into multiple different kinds of tenses and several different patterns of constructing sentences. In the first beginners’ challenge!

The lesson took 1.5 hours as I was pausing constantly and sometimes rewinding a few seconds.

I feel I must note:

  • Often I would quickly forget what the English phrase was. With my aphantasia I have no way of “seeing” it in my mind, or mentally “replaying” the audio. I needed to rewind.
  • I can repeat any noise I hear
  • If I’m asked to use that noise again, I’m an absolutely blank unless I understand how it is spelled and how it works

I dunno maybe my brain is set to understand Welsh only in text.

But yes, the reason I am here is to push my rapidly decaying brain!
Even though the instructions say to go immediately on to Challenge 2 after you finish Challenge 1, I’d better leave it until tomorrow. Now I know it takes 1.5 hours I can try to plan for that.


#10

So with the pausing (and the rewinding) did you get any of the phrases right before you heard the Welsh? :slight_smile:


#11

My approach was not to wait until the end of the English sentence before starting to speak in Welsh. I’d start speaking and keep one ear on Aran for what was coming next. That meant I talked over Aran - sorry Aran! :rofl:


#12

Yes, with the pausing and rewinding, I got most of the sentences correct.
I was a bit perplexed by the variety of sentence structures/tenses etc which seemed a lot for a first lesson ostensibly for beginners. I understood a bit of it because of my other welsh studies. Seemed like I wasn’t really supposed to understand how the noises fit into the structure of a sentence.

Didn’t realise that the new course is not free past the 1st lesson, so today I “continued” by going to the 1st lesson of the “old course” and wow, it seemed so much more logical and methodical, sticking to one basic sentence structure. I felt like it was much easier to understand what was going on.


#13

I am typing this over a message that uses words like Markdown, HTML etc all a foreign language I am afraid. I am interested in what Margaret said. I also can not hold more than one phrase at a time in my head, so I also talk through Aran in hopes of getting it translated before I forget the beginning. I have taken myself through to lesson 19, then decided to start again with the teams guidance, so now I do both - along with Welsh lessons in class before the lock down and now on Skype, and Duolingo ! Hopefully something will stick eventually. If not… Well you find some nice people on the way - there, and back, and there AGAIN!
Re memory. I always said I would never miss my memory when I got old, because I never had one in the first place!! Now I am old, and it’s true!!


#14

Ann, dych chi’n gwneud yn iawn!

Diolch am the reassurance! :slight_smile: