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Dr Klaus Bung
68 Brantfell Road
Blackburn BB1-8DL

© 1972 and 2010 Klaus Bung

This article first posted on the web on: 2010-03-04

Last revised on: 2011-02-01: 3 workbook samples have been added. Note on use of IPA in the teaching of English and Franch has been added.

If you detect any mistakes or inadequacies or have suggestions for improvements, please e-mail us. We will always be grateful for such information.

Teachers tell you what to learn, IDYLL shows you how to learn it

Klaus Bung:

A simplified system
for learning and retaining vocabulary
(Basic Level DYLL)


Basic DYLL vs professional DYLL

DYLL Standard Layout

Urdu Vocabulary for English learners

Urdu numerals from 50 to 59 for English learners

Troublesome Urdu numerals for English learners

Using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in practising English pronunciation and spelling


Initial learning / Initial mastery

The DYLL Retention Algorithm (Revision Algorithm)

Theory of revisions

Revise as little as possible

Revise before you forget

Revision calendar

Revision diary


Cheat and shoot yourself in the foot

Patience and persistence:
Gradually homing in (focussing) on the details

Basic DYLL vs professional DYLL

This article describes one of the components of Dynamic Language Learning (Dr Bung) (aka DYLL, say "dill") presented in an extremely simplified form (Basic System). It more efficient than conventional learning methods but not by far as efficient as the professional version of DYLL (which will be published on the Web within the next two months).

It is easier to learn and to explain than the professional version, that's why we start with it.

It is important that you get familiar with the technique AND THE SPIRIT of the basic system first, and practise it for a while. When explaining the professional version, we will not repeat what we have stated here, because that would make the explanations of the professional version too cumbersome.

Therefore, even once the professional version of DYLL as been published, don't go there straight away. Become familiar and friendly with the basic system first. Spend at least two or three months with the basic system. Then learning the professional system will be easy and exciting for you, and you will know that it is worth your while making the effort.

DYLL Standard Layout

Write the words you want to learn into a notebook ("workbook") in the A6 format (fits into men's jacket pockets). Use the layout shown in the examples, one for words, the other for numerals.

Click on the images to make them larger.

Urdu Vocabulary for English learners

Sample handwritten workbook, Urdu words for English learners

Urdu numerals from 50 to 59 for English learners

Handwritten workbook, Urdu numerals from 50 to 58 for English learners

Troublesome Urdu numerals for English learners

Handwritten workbook, troublesome Urdu numerals for English learners


Using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in practising English pronunciation and spelling

The following remarks apply to all languages which have highly irregular (unpredictable) spelling, e.g. to English and French, but not to Italian, Spanish, or Arabic etc.

Students have to practise both spelling and pronunciation. Sound recordings (the RULA technique: description forthcoming on this site) can be used in combination with written IDYLL exercises to make sure that the student does not imagine wrong pronunciations while practising the written (conventional spelling) exercises. With computers it is, of course, technically easy and cheap to present sound and spelling at the same time. The student clicks on the written version of a word or sentence and can hear its correct pronunciation.

However, it is one of the strengths of the IDYLL METHOD that is also tries to provide the best possible solutions and compromises for students in less favourable circumstances, e.g. students without access to computers, students who prefer to work with paper and pencil, e.g. while travelling or on holidays, etc.

The IDYLL METHOD therefore recommends that all language students learn the few extra characters of the IPA which are needed for writing down the pronunciation of its words with sufficient clarity. This is also useful if a student wants to learn a language with a difficult script (e.g. the Arabic script and its derivatives in Urdu, Farsi, etc) and avoid learning the script or confirm the phonemic meaning of the script.

For a student learning English, each item in an exercise would look as follows:

1 native languiage

  target language (e.g. English) in correct spelling

  target language (e.g. English) in IPA

2 native languiage

  target language (e.g. English) in correct spelling

  target language (e.g. English) in IPA

The student can then practise the exercise writing only the IPA until he has mastered it. Then he practises the exercise writing only the standard spelling (orthography) until he has mastered it. Then he practises the whole exercise as it is written, namely IPA and orthography for each item in immedicate succession. Click on images to make the larger.

German student learning English

German-English workbook sample

German-English workbook sample

Urdu-speaking student learning English

Urdu-English workbook sample

Urdu-English workbook sample

Spanish student learning English

Spanish-English workbook sample

Spanish-English workbook sample


Get used to our terminology. In the examples, the native language is English and the target language is Urdu. Adjust these to your own circumstances, e.g. if your native language is Hindi and the language you are trying to learn is English.

We practise, almost always, translating from the native language into the target language. So you will find pairs of words: (native language, target language). Another term for "pair" is "item".

10 items make up an Exercise. Only very rarely, for very specific reasons, do we deviate from that measure. The exercises are numbered to make them easy to identify when they are due for revision.

We call the native word "question" and the target word "answer".

Sometimes other terms may be convenient. In our context, they mean more or less the same. Here is a list of them:

native language foreign language
your language the language you want to learn
source language target language
input output
stimulus response
question answer
Other useful terms:
pairs, items, model answer, mastery, initial learning , revision level, revision diary, workbook, "folded paper" (answer slip)

The correct answer, the one you are learning to give and the one which is written down in your workbook, is called "the model answer".

Initial learning / Initial mastery

"Initial mastery" is that achievement which leads to a retention time of 15 minutes. You have reached the level of initial mastery if you are able to answer a question correctly 15 minutes after having last heard or seen it.

Initial learning is that activity (procedure) which leads to initial mastery.

Practise each Exercise using the "simplified technique" of DYNAMIC LANGUAGE LEARNING. This simplified version is not the most effective but it is the easiest to learn and easiest to explain. The professional version will be published on the website within a month or two.

Fold an A5 sheet of paper so that it is no longer transparent. Cover Exercise 1 at the very top. The open end of the folded paper must point upwards. Slowly slide down the folded paper, until the first question (but not the answer) becomes visible. Guess (or remember) the answer and write your best bet on the folded paper. Slide the paper down to reveal the model answer.

If your answer was right, move down to the next item (the next question).

If your answer was wrong, cross out the wrong letters or the whole wrong word on your folded paper and copy the correct answer, concentrating on your mistake and trying to learn from it.

Do not cheat. Be strict with yourself. Even if one letter is wrong, that answer counts as wrong by the rules of this game (DYNAMIC LANGUAGE LEARNING). If the correct answer contained a "T" (retroflex sound) and you wrote a "t" (dental sound), that counts as a mistake.

Before starting the exercise again, fold the paper back so that your previous answers are no longer visible. Move the paper to the very top again and cover the whole exercise. Make sure you cannot see any of the items while you are moving the paper from the bottom of the exercise to the top of the exercise. In DYLL you never look at the answer, except immediately after having made a written guess and having committed yourself. If you do not follow that rule, you defeat the system, and its promises are no longer valid for you.

It is essential that you WRITE your answers and corrections. Just saying them or doing them mentally is not effective. If you want to be successful, follow the instructions to the letter.

Tackle one item after another until you reach the end of this exercise. If you managed to get through it without a single mistake, then, for this exercise, you have reached the first landing of learning, "Initial Mastery".

Initial mastery does not mean that you will remember the words tomorrow or next week, it just means that you have made a start. You are in first gear, and the engine might stall again any minute, unless you do something to prevent it. Or, to put it differently, you are in a helicopter. If you do not keep the propeller running, you will crash. In language learning you keep the propeller running by doing the prescribed revisions.

To use yet another analogy: When you have planted out seedlings, you have to water them daily so that they can become strong and resist the heat of the sun. Once they have become established plants or big trees, you can ignore them for a while.

Proof of mastery on any one day (be it in initial learning or revision) is "10 items correct in succession". Continue doing the whole exercise from beginning to end until you have "mastered" it, exactly as defined.

The DYLL Retention Algorithm (Revision Algorithm)

To ensure retention and to do it efficiently and without the frustration of never ending mistakes, you have to apply the DYLL Retention Algorithm. Here is a simplified version of it.

Theory of revisions

If you follow the DYLL revision instructions to the letter, your retention rate will be extremely high and you will make hardly any mistakes. Revision times will therefore be very short. It all depends on the timing.

As far as revisions are concerned, Dynamic Language Learning differs in two fundamental respects from the practices common in many schools:

Revise as little as possible

In school (and from conventional language teachers) you are given the silly advice: "Revise as often as possible", which is a recipe for failure and one of the reasons why so many adults (and children) fail to learn a foreign language and find language learning a painful experience.

The result of this advice is that people revise when it is "convenient", which it never is, They will therefore not revise often enough, or not at the correct times (which is the same). They will therefore forget what they have very temporarily learnt and blame themselves (rather than idiotic advice and a haphazard learning technique) for the failure, lose self-confidence and consider themselves, always wrongly, as untalented.

By contrast, Dynamic Language Learning tells you: "Revise as little as possible (but as much as necessary)."

That is much more realistic advice, and something that students like and can take seriously. DYLL actually forbids you to do unnecessary revisions. DYLL tells you exactly how many revisions do and when to do them (which is the same: by being given the times you are also given the frequency). Since this instruction is clear and reasonable, students are more likely to carry it out.

As a result, students will achieve 90% retention and minimise the amount of time invested in learning.

The corollary "Revise as often as necessary" is self-evident. DYLL tells you how often and when it is necessary to revise. These figures differ for every learner, every subject and every item (bit of subject matter; pair). They are dynamically established and adjusted on the basis of the student's correct or incorrect responses while he is learning.

Human memory has its own laws. They do NOT abide by what a teacher or a student thinks is "possible" or "convenient". DYLL recognises these laws and systematically exploits them to achieve its fantastic results.

Revise before you forget

In school we are told that we must revise because we have forgotten, i.e. we revise after we have forgotten.

As a result revisions take long and they are one great display of the pupils' incompetence. They prove, yet again, that we, the pupils are bad learner, have bad memories, have not learnt well in the first instance. They are one great and embarassing gala of failure. They are an unpleasant experience, and therefore fewer and fewer revisions will be done - a vicious circle.

By contrast, Dynamic Language Learning says: "Revise before you forget".

Result: Each revision takes very little time, confirms what a good learner you are, shows that the subject is easy, is fun, and motivates you to revise again - on time. This is positive feedback in the desirable sense of the term: The better you do during revisions, the more you enjoy your studies, initial learning as well as revisions. As a result of your success, you will consider yourself talented, and the more talented you consider yourself to be the more successful you will actually be.

That is in absolutely enormous benefit of the principle "Revise before you forget". The psychological theory underlying this principle, and how it can easily and cheaply be put into practice, has been summarised in Klaus Bung's 1982 paper "Dynamic Learning Algorithms".

Revision calendar

Revise the current exercise (and each exercise) at exactly specified intervals, as follows:

  • R0 = Initial Learning - Then wait 15 minutes.
  • R1 (Revision 1) -- Then wait 1 hour.
  • R2 -- Then wait till evening.
  • R3 : in the evening of the same day, immediately before going to bed. Then wait till next day.
  • R4 first thing the following day. Each revision will take only a minute or so, since you will make hardly any mistakes IF YOU FOLLOW THIS REVISION SCHEDULE. -- Then wait 2 days.
  • R5 -- Then wait 4 days.
  • R6 -- Then wait 1 week.
  • R7 -- Then wait 2 weeks.
  • R8 -- Then wait 1 month.
  • R9 -- Then wait 2 months.
  • R10 -- Then wait 4 months.
  • R11 -- Chain of artificial revisions (programmed revisions) ends here. Natural revisions and natural selection take over (see relevant chapter on "natural selection").

Revision diary

You will need a special diary to keep track of your revisions. This diary will turn out to be the best investment you have ever made.

On the appropriate date write the number of the exercise and the "revision level" (R1, R2, ...) in to your Revision Diary.

For example, if on 14 March 2011 Revision R9 of Exercise 3 is due, write into your diary: "X3:R9+1m".

This means that this is Revision 9, and the next revision must be entered 1 month later. Writing down the revision level and the distance of the next revision helps you to keep track when writing the entries into your diary.

Entries in the revision diary always look like this. Example: "Exercise 23" = X23




  • + 2d = plus 2 days
  • + 2w = plus 2 weeks
  • + 2m = plus 2 months

The revisions after 15 and 60 minutes and in the evening of the first day need not be written into the revision diary. Their timing is easy enough to remember. They count as extensions of R0 (Initial learning). That is the reason why the preceding list says "R0+1d", which leads to R4, even though there are 3 revisions between R0 and R4.

  • (R0 + 15 mins) (= Initial learning)
  • (R1 + 60 mins)
  • (R2: immediately before going to sleep same day)
  • (R3: first thing next morning)


Every revision follows exactly the same procedure: You do every item from top to bottom, in writing, until you have done 10 items in succession without the smallest mistake ("mastery") . Then you proceed to the next exercise.

handwritten revision diary page 1Click on the images to enlarge them. I now show you an example of an actual revision diary. This learner starts with Ex 1 on 1 January. He does a fresh exercise every other day. That means he add on average 5 items per day to his repertory, i.e. 1,780 items per year. It would not be impossible for him to double this, i.e. start a fresh exercise every day (1 exercise = 10 items per day = 3,650 items per year), or even more. His progress depends on how much time he invests.


handwritten revision diary page 2A full-time student will do much more.

If this full time student is staying in the target country (among the natives), it can be incredibly more.


handwritten revision diary page 3

I know an English student of Spanish using the IDYLL METHOD (R) studying Spanish full-time in Spain, and adding almost 100 words per day. He started as a beginner, spent 3 months in Spain and 1 more month back in England (to study the 6 set books) and then passed his Spanish GCE 'A' level exam - not with distinction, of course, but he passed.

For the sake of absolute clarity, I will now give the exact dates on which Exercise 1 will revised if started on 1 Jan 2011.


  • Sat, 1 Jan: X1:R0+1d
  • Sun, 2 Jan: X1:R4+2d
  • Tue, 4 Jan: X1:R5+4d
  • Sat, 8 Jan: X1:R6+1w
  • Sat, 15 Jan: X1:R7+2w
  • Sat, 29 Jan: X1:R8+1m
  • Mon, 28 Feb: X1:R9+2m
  • Thu, 28 Apr: X1:R10+4m
  • Sun, 28 Aug: X1:R11 # chain ends here

We make one-day adjustments when a revision is due (according to the IDYLL (R) formula) on a day which does not exist, e.g. 29 February or 31 April.


If you are short of time, the following rules apply:

  1. Revision is more important than learning new material. If you skip revisions in order to learn new material, you will remember neither the old nor the new material. You will always be on slippery ground. So you might as well learn a little (the old material), but actually know it and be able to use it, rather than knowing nothing. Most people, when they say they "know" something, mean that they have heard it once, not that they can reproduce, explain or perform it.
  2. The early revisions (R1, R2, R3 etc) are much more time-sensitive than the later revisions. Therefore if you delay R1 by 15 minutes (= 100%) you will make noticeably more mistakes (i.e. have forgotten more) than you will if you revise on time.

By contrast, a longer delay, e.g. two days, at R7 or R10 has less serious consequences. In the case of R7 a two-day delay is 29%, and in the case of R10 a two-day delay is 3%, whereas in case of R1 a delay of 15 minutes (i.e. revising after 30 minutes instead of after 15 minutes as prescribed) is 100%. The seriousness (in terms of forgetting) is equivalent to these percentages. A higher percentage of delay means a higher percentage of forgetting.

Therefore, if you have to postpone revisions because of shortage of time, delay the Revisions with high R-numbers (R11, R10, etc) rather than those with low R-numbers.

If you follow these instructions to the letter, your retention rate will be extremely high and you will make hardly any mistakes. Revision times will therefore be very short. It all depends on the timing. A 100% delay does more harm than a 30% delay.

Cheat and shoot yourself in the foot

Do not shoot yourself the foot. If you cheat (as defined by DYLL) you do.

It is essential that you do *** not *** look at the workbook exercises at any time except while doing a test/revision in writing and following all its rules. You and the system need to obtain a written and reliable record of all your mistakes after a specified interval so that the system can respond appropriately.

If (as you might do before an official exam) you look at an exercise five minutes before doing a prescribed written revision in order to get a better score during the revision/test, this is cheating, for you will mislead the system. The system will have no true information about your length of retention for each item, and it will therefore be unable to tell you correctly what to do next.

You will suffer as a result. Cheating bears in itself the seeds of your punishment: future failure. The theory behind this observation can be found on the Internet in the following paper: "Klaus Bung: Dynamic Learning Algorithms".

Reason: Let's assume there is an item which your memory has stored at a retention level of one day. This means that, if you test after two days (prescribed revision time), you will get that item wrong.

It is important that you actually make that mistake, in writing, because this will tell you and the system (in its professional version) that the revision intervals for this item have to be shortened. You therefore have to be grateful for this mistake, because it reveals an important truth with practical consequences. It has nothing to do with you being clever or otherwise but only with what to do next.

By contrast, if you try to improve your test results by looking at the exercise five minutes before doing it in writing, you will get that item right. The system, assuming that you followed the rules, that you did not cheat, sees the correct answer as evidence that this item was stored at the two-day retention level, as desired. It will therefore now increase the revision interval to four days, assuming that this item will, as a result of this revision, now move to the four-day retention level. Since this is the wrong decision by the system, the chances are that you will get this item wrong again next time around, and your results will get worse and worse as time goes by. More and more such not known items will accumulate. You will become as stupid as your mates.

The 90 per cent retention promised by DYLL will not be kept because you have not been using the system.

Therefore follow the rules to the letter. Do *** not *** use your intuition about the best thing to do. Your intuition, if it deviates from the DYLL rules, is bound to be wrong.

Follow the rules to the letter. Do all revisions in writing, at the prescribed times. Do not look at exercises at any other time. Also do not look at any item during a revision, except after you have written down an answer and marked it as right or wrong.

You must not even catch a glimpse of an item while sliding your folded paper up and down. Be very diligent about that.

Paradox: Try to expose your ignorance. Make your mistakes apparent since, if you do, they can be corrected. If you hide them, e.g. by cheating, they will fester undetected and spread like a cancer and lead to premature death, i.e. the collapse of learning, skill and knowledge.

Patience and persistence:
Gradually homing in (focussing) on the details

To learn certain words correctly can take a long time, even with DYLL, and you have to be prepared for this. This is in the nature of things, and there is nothing you can do about it except plod on patiently and follow the rules until, eventually, you remember every detail.

For example, there are such stinkers among the Hindi-Urdu numerals (say the number 25, or 50), where you do not only have to learn whether a certain element is "pac, pacc, pic, pan, van, caas", or "sat, satt" (in 87 sat-aasii, and 97 satt-aanvee) which, after a while, with the help of DYLL, you will pick up.

After a while, after many mistakes and many revisions, you will have figured out and remember that, for a certain numeral, "pan, van, caas" are *** not *** appropriate. This is definitely progress, even though you are still making, and recording, mistakes. Even wrong answers can be viewed as successes, if they are less wrong than previous answers.

You will now, and only now, have spare energy to concentrate on the question which of the remaining variants is correct for this numeral: "pac, pacc, pic". After a while, and more revisions, you will have cottoned on to the fact that "pic" is not correct for the numeral in question.

You are now poised for the final battle and your definitive victory: You have two learn whether the wanted variant is "pac" or "pacc", for only one of them is correct in this case, the other one is wrong. This can be very hard to learn, but to get there you had to move all the other learning points out of the way.

You have to expect this sort of thing and know that it is natural. It has nothing to do with your being stupid or the language being perverse and difficult. These are things which occur in any language and which can happen to any learner.

The answer is: Be prepared for it, smile, remain unemotional, follow the rules of DYLL and continue as long as it takes. The only question always is: what to do next. DYLL always has an answer for that question.

Your patience will wear out even the hardest language: constant dripping wears the stone.

There is a mythical mountain of black granite somewhere in the Indian ocean. It is square, 1 cubic mile above the water. Every 1,001 years a raven flies past the mountain and brushes it once with its wings. Even that mountain will eventually be worn down and disappear below the waves. Consider that, and how lucky you are. You do not need a "pic"-ed battle. Your task, even confronted with "pac" and "pacc", is so much easier.

Teachers tell you what to learn, IDYLL shows you how to learn it