It’s incredibly frustrating when you grasp for a word or phrase in your target language but it’s just out of reach. Your teacher won’t help, your classmates look blank, and you’re slowly getting more red in the face as your mind struggles to find those elusive words.

Don’t worry though – it’s good for you! Researchers at the National Institute of Education of Singapore found that struggling to learn new information leads to better recall later. Traditionally teachers will guide students and support them in their learning. The learning paradox shows that when this support is taken away, students may not be able to come up with the correct solution, but have learned more in the process.

The apparent struggles of the floundering group have what Kapur calls a “hidden efficacy”: they lead people to understand the deep structure of problems, not simply their correct solutions. When these students encounter a new problem of the same type on a test, they’re able to transfer the knowledge they’ve gathered more effectively than those who were the passive recipients of someone else’s expertise. (Source: Time)

So what does this mean for language learners? Well, perhaps next time you’re cursing your teacher for setting you some difficult homework, consider the longer term benefits – they’re probably doing it to help you become more comfortable with your target language.