FoundationStone incorporates principles from the field of Educational Psychology. For a good introduction to these ideas, interested readers are refered to Media and Technology in Education: Theory and Practice. Thank you to Ken Spencer for making this material available on the Web. Any misconceptions here are mine.
FoundationStone is a tool to assist the user memorise information. When trying to memorise something, you are attempting to build a "hook" in your mind for attaching the information you wish to recall later. For most effective recall, remember the following points -
When presented with the Hebrew word, pause and try and recall what the translation is. You should be trying to recall not the spelling or other language details of the translation (syntax), but its concept (semantics). So for the Hebrew word "bayit" you should have in your mind's eye the image or concept of a "house or home". Doing this, you learn to think in the other language.
If you are unable to successfully recall the translation, pause and consider the translation, rather than just quickly reading it, pressing wrong and skipping to the next word. If you don't pause and consider, you will not be building up the association of the Hebrew word with its concept.
Don't spend too much time (perhaps 15 seconds maximum) racking your brains if you can't quite remember the translation. If you do, it will sap your motivation, and is less effective over the whole wordlist. There will always be some words that (for whatever reason) are very hard to recall.
Remember to practice going the other way, ie from your native language to Hebrew. Practise recalling the translation of Hebrew words will assist you reading or listening to a conversation, whereas practise recalling the Hebrew word will assist you speaking and writing. You will need to do both!
The application provides a feedback mechanism chiefly via the Statistics Panel's "Number Remaining In Selection". As you become familiar with the application, you will find other statistics items that give you feedback on the individual word, and the entire wordlist. Learn what these mean (ie read the "Application Windows" section of the Online Help), and use them to set goals for each session of learning. This way, you will not feel that the list is endless, you will see your progress and be more enthusiastic to continue.
Randomise the wordlist when you a slightly familiar with it. You should not be remembering a word by its position in the list - this won't help you read a book or understand a conversation. The velocity strategy handles randomisation automatically.
People typically remember -
10% of what they read;
20% of what they hear;
30% of what they see;
50% of what they see and hear;
70% of what they say as they talk;
90% of what they say as they do a thing.
This means that the more immersed you become in learning the language, the more efficient your study becomes.
In psychological terms by saying the response aloud or writing it down you are making an "overt" response, and by just thinking of it you are making a "covert" response. Studies have shown that there is not a lot of difference between the two in terms of being able to remember the material, and that "covert" responses can be more efficient (taking less time). For complex subject matters the "overt" has the advantage in terms of recall.
We recommend that you:
say out loud the word presented;
recollect the translation;
if wrong say out loud the correct translation.
Have distractions to a minimum. For example, studies show that background speech (people talking or singing in your own or a foreign language) interferes with the memory process. Instrumental or classical music is OK (actually beneficial because you will be less easily bored and stay learning longer).
Learning a language takes a lot of practice. Today, people do not have a lot of spare time - but even so there are many times in a day when you have a few moments to improve you language skills. If you are lucky enough (some say unlucky) to have a computer on your desk at work, you can install the application at home and work and use a floppy disk to take your wordlist between them. Twenty minutes in your lunchbreak everyday can improve your skill considerably. Or - use FoundationStone web on your cell phone.
Learning a language is not hard, and you shouldn't feel like you can't learn it. After all, you already know one - your native tongue.
Children learn much faster than adults, often at rates as high as 10 words per day. Here are some observations on why adults may find it harder, and what to do about it:
Adults find it harder to make mistakes. They feel embarrassment at getting a word wrong, and hence become unwilling to try. Don't be afraid of making mistakes, you will make them!
Children typically learn from everything - TV, radio, books, adults, games, play etc. Be like that - vary the ways you learn the language. See the Online Hebrew Tutorial for some other resources.
Have fun! If you enjoy something, you will spend more time doing it.
Finally, the Encyclopaedia Britannica says:
The degree of learning is found to be directly associated with the amount of practice. In a metaphoric sense, specific memory may be said to grow stronger and stronger as practice proceeds. Even after a task can be performed or recited perfectly, continued practice (sometimes called overlearning) increases the strength of the memory. The rate of forgetting is slower when the degree of learning is greater. If there were one universal prescription for resisting forgetting, it would be to learn to a very high level initially; results seem even better when learning trials are not bunched together. Practice trials may be given en masse in a single session or the same number of trials may be distributed in sessions held on different days. The interrupted schedule is far superior to massed practice in that the rate of forgetting that follows distributed practice is much slower. The laboratory evidence also confirms the belief that cramming for an examination may produce acceptable performance shortly afterwards, but that such massed study results in poor long-term retention. Information learned in widely distributed practice appears less susceptible to interference; memories established under distributed schedules also are less likely to produce proactive inhibition than are those learned in massed trials.