Working memory issues and SSiW

Hello, I’ve just started SSiW and this is my first post :slight_smile:

I’m dyslexic and my working memory is really bad (bottom 5th percentile of adults). In daily life I rely on taking and reading notes to help support my memory.

I’ve done session 1 twice all the way through, but started to struggle towards the end both times. With session 2, I’m part way through but struggling to recall quite a few of the beginning bits of sentences from session 1. Overall I’d say I’m getting around 5-10 totally right answers in 10 minutes of the harder stuff from session 1 and the beginning of session 2.

I was wondering if anyone had any tips, other than just to do the course as standard?

Thanks very much


Hi Aimee, and welcome to the forum! I’m tagging @aran for you as he is the best one to advise you. But I also want to say that you can do the lessons in whatever way works best for you. You don’t have to do the whole thing in one go - if ten minute chunks work better for you, that’s fine. And you can use the pause button as much as you need to, if you find that helpful. The standard advice is not to repeat the lessons many times before moving on, but I know that changes for lower working memory, so I’m sure Aran will be along to advise.

We’re a friendly bunch here, happy to help with questions and support, so stop by anytime! :slight_smile:


If you search on “working memory” using the magnifying glass icon at the top right of the screen, you’ll find quite a few threads where this problem and some suggested solutions have been discussed.

But very briefly, if your brain gets too tired towards the end, do the challenge in two 15 minute sessions, or even 3 x ten minutes.

You may find that you need to repeat the lessons more than once. I certainly do! But don’t keep doing the same lesson. So don’t do: 1,1,1,1,2,2,2,2,3,3,3,3. Instead, push on for one or two more challenges, then go back and repeat them in sequence, for example: 1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,6,7,8,9,10.


Thanks very much Anna, for the warm welcome :slight_smile:

At the moment I’m doing the first 10 minutes (until I get so I feel I can’t take things IN or respond), then next time the first 20 minutes, then a full run through. I’m definitely using the pause button generously on new material!


Thanks Margaret - I was searching for dyslexia before and didn’t find anything related so thanks for the heads up :slight_smile:

I’ll have a go at continuing forward and see how I get on.


Hello Aimee, welcome to the Forum!

I’m sure you’ll find useful tips doing the search as @margarethall suggested and @aran will be able to add more.

However, since I score very low on working memory tests (I don’t really know percentile, but I always get “below the average”) I can tell what worked for me.

  1. I took very seriously the general tip “don’t worry if you’re not able to say the whole sentence in Welsh. Just say something!”.

  2. I always used pause button as much as I felt I needed (in order to process whatever I remembered of the English sentence and say something in Welsh).

  3. At the end of some challenges I felt as if I had learnt nothing - especially those featuring a lot of long sentences, of which I only remember the beginning, the end or (rarely) only the middle part.
    But I carried on with next challenge anyway. A lot of sentences will be presented again and you’ll have more chances to practice them more (and find out you usually remember more than you expected).

Note: many of the tips I found on previous thread suggest repeating lessons (more than it’s usually advisable with this method). But in my case that doesn’t work, because repeating challenges is boring, so I can’t keep my attention focused, I get nervous and frustrated and it’s even worse!!! But that might work fine for you, so I’d say just try a few different ways: one of the great things of this method is it’s very flexible and you can always find a way to make it work well with you.

  1. At the end of the Level, I realized I had actually learnt a lot - anyway. But I thought it would also be nice to be able to learn long sentences! Since there’s no way I can remember them, I made a full transcription of Challenge 25 - the one you’re supposed to revisit from time to time, because it’s pretty much a summary of all the structures you’ve learnt.
    So when I repeat that lesson, from time to time, I look at the English sentence I’m supposed to repeat, and now can get it all right.
    I would not suggest doing this the first time you do a challenge, because trying to read at the same time was a complete disaster and I remembered nothing at all, the next day.

But most of all I would say… just relax and enjoy it, even if you just say one word! :wink:


Thanks so much for all of your advice, Gisella, that all makes sense :slight_smile:


I’m only on level 1, challenge 7, but I find I can do 15 minutes at a time, then need to get up and walk around the room, or just do something else for a few minutes, then do the next 15 minutes. My brain wanders, and I can’t take in all the lesson all at once, especially the first time. I try and only leave it a few minutes, often just to make a coffee, but that break seems to make me able to concentrate on the second half more than I would otherwise. I have also found, over the last 5 weeks, that I can do more until I need a break - my brain is improving !

Shame my tongue can’t do the same. I am sure it has lost weight, and developed a nice waist line, with all the gymnastics it is doing with the unfamiliar ( to a native English speaker ) sounds I am trying, but still feels knotted and tired after a lesson !


Hi Aimee,

I’d agree with most of the other suggestions, especially breaking down the session/lesson/challenge into smaller chunks (I’d go as low as 5 minutes, even).

But the other thing is just not worrying about remembering everything.
That is definitely not the way SSiW works.

You will remember what you will remember, and don’t worry about the rest.
Chances are, you will remember more and more as you go along, but there is absolutely no need to actively try to remember. In fact actively trying to remember will probably be counter-productive.

Just carry on keeping on (or is it keep on carrying on? :wink: ), and don’t repeat lessons.
By the end of the series, you will wonder why you found the early lessons so difficult!


The key thing here is that it sounds as though you’re doing pretty well, Aimee!

It is definitely much tougher with a weaker working memory - so be kind to yourself - struggling towards the end of a lesson is normal even for people with strong working memories…:slight_smile:

I think it would be interesting for you to go up to challenge 5 without repeating any of the challenges more than twice, and then see how revisiting challenge 1 feels… :slight_smile:

1 Like

Hi Aimee, I’ve got a very poor working memory as well, although I’ve never been formally tested I know it’s poor compared to most people, and always has been. I’ve worked my way through all the lessons on this site, and worked to the ‘if you can do 80/90% of the challenges in each lesson’ move on rule, rather than worried about how many times I listened to each one. The best advice I can offer is to accept that you may have to repeat them many more times that the average person, and don’t feel bad about it, you will get results!


Ah, Raf. Now you have the Celtic knot!


Thanks Mike, that really helps :slight_smile:

Great, thanks Aran, I’ll give that a go.

1 Like

Thanks, I’m going to go with the trying not to repeat too many times before moving on, coming back after doing a block of 5, which seems manageable.


Thank you for this gisella-albertini it’s very helpful.
Does anyone have a working link for working memory test please? :thinking:

1 Like

Glad it helped!
I couldn’t find the old tests any more, but found this under a video about working memory:


And some games,:

That don’t give you a score but help getting a clearer idea. For example turns out I’m pretty good with images and sound (including sentences but just as sequences of pure sounds, no meanings attached!) But really bad with numbers and words!

I guess the more we understand how we work, the easier it gets to figure out tricks to learn more easily!

Which maybe partially explains why I enjoyed SSiW more than others with bad working memory I happened to talk to.

1 Like

Thank you so much gisella-albertini. I will take a look later. It does help to understand more about ourselves and how we learn.
You are always so helpful, lovely girl :innocent:


As this is a topic that pops up regularly and as the weather and lockdown prevented me doing any outdoor videos recently, I’ve made a video with some tips on how to succeed with Say Something In… when you have a poor working memory. I demonstrate the Not Waiting For Aran To Finish Speaking method and also show how I improve over a couple of repetitions. I’ve actually used Say Something in Spanish for the demos because my Welsh is too fluent now to use SSiW, but it’s the principle that matters not the specific language used. Here’s the link…


Thank you margarethall. I haven’t been doing much recently but do remember your excellent videos from before.
I will take a look :blush: