By: Pola Papadopoulou
Getting the hang of it I thought it was a good idea to give you another language learning site review, this time on a less known, at least to me, site called Memrise. It is a learning site that I came across when I was looking for ways to learn Swedish online and free in a way that didn’t get me bored after a while. Gamified learning here I come (again)!
Memrise Main Features
So let me give you the rundown on how the site works before getting into the pros and cons of using it. As with every site first thing you have to do is sign up. You log on to www.memrise.com and create your account fast and free. Once you do that, you will be redirected to your new dashboard where you can choose the kind of course that best suits you and your learning needs. You can start practicing any language you want as the courses are offered in a lot of them. What differentiates this site from the ones that I experienced so far is that all the courses provided are created by the community on Memrise. Therefore, you yourself can easily create a language course and make it available to other learners. After you choose your target language and the course your dashboard will appear more complete, but not entirely. There are options where you can complete your Memrise profile by following four steps; the first one, begin a course, is crossed out once you select your course; what follows is the optional uploading of a photo for your profile; following other learners on the Memrise community; and creating mems. While the first three steps are easy to process, the last one might need a bit of explaining. Memrise gives you the opportunity to create candy for your memory, to easily remember new concepts and words that you are learning during each session of the course. There are some steps to follow to do so and those are the following:
Step 1: Associationà when learning a new word, phrase or concept you make links to things that you already know. According to the site, you can ask yourself questions such as “what does this word sound like?”, “what does it make me think of?”, “what does it rhyme with?” and others.
Step 2: Imaginationà once you have an association you can turn it into an image that captures the word in your mind.
Step 3: Visualizationà try and visualize what you have imagined and tie this vivid image back to the word.
Step 4: Don’t forget! à creating a mem gives your memory a vivid hook to grasp onto, which boosts your speed of learning by up to five times. As you get to know the word better you will need to rely on the mem less. However, if you feel like you are forgetting it, you can go back to your mem and easily remember all the associations you made to it.
The above steps are presented to you as a tutorial before you produce your own mem. You can upload photos and pictures from your computer or you can simply draw some on your own.
Moving away from the completion of your profile and into the layout of your dashboard, there are other elements as well that make your learning more fun and organized. You have your pinned courses to help you remember what you have decided to learn, but you also have the option to create your own course by simply pressing “create” on your dashboard. In addition, you can instantly access the list of the people you are following as well as those following you; the items that you have learnt so far; and the points you have collected from your learning.
Since with Memrise learning is a game when you start with your first session you are given the option to plant new seeds. So once you press “plant” on your chosen course you can start your fun process of learning. Just above your courses there are two tabs; the first one is the dashboard and the second one is called learning preferences. By selecting the second tap you can choose your style of learning and set your learning/reviewing pace. Your learning can be custom, standard, advanced or super advanced and this has to do with the number of words that you learn in each session and the number of words you need to review after each session is over and after a few days have passed.
So, when you learn you have the option of planting new words. When it’s time for you to review your learning you press on “water”. I find this a very creative way to tell you that it’s time to review what you have learned and it only shows as an option after some days have passed from the completion of each session. Another option that you have is to “overwater” which allows you to practice at any time.
Now that I have given you an idea of how the site works it’s time for the advantages and disadvantages of using it. Starting with the pros I must say that the best thing about it is that it’s free. Need I say anything more?
Secondly, it is very easy to use thanks to its very straightforward and colorful layout. Everything on your dashboard is very well organized and you know exactly where to find what you need in case you have filled your profile with a lot of courses and feeling lost. With everything pinned on the dashboard it’s a piece of cake!
Another thing that I like about the site is that you learn by playing. You can plant and water your flowers (words) and you can remember all the items that you have learned in your own creative and illustrious way.
Furthermore, as with the previously presented language learning sites, Memrise too has its own mobile phone app that allows you to learn on the go, available both for Android and iOS.
Last but not least, allowing you to create your own language course makes it even more awesome. As long as you know what you are doing!
There are, of course, drawbacks to the site as well. First of all, it is a flashcard-based game and thus your learning does not reflect real-life learning. It does not provide you with the opportunity to practice speaking, extensive writing, listening and reading. I am not aware if this is what the site intends to do though, but I can tell you that what it focuses on now is memorizing vocabulary.
Moreover, and although I also included it in the advantages of the site, creating your own course can also result in not being very trustworthy. Anyone can do it and you might end up learning something completely different from what you expected.
Generally, I would say that Memrise is worth a try if you want to learn some few basic words and have some fun doing so. Moreover, it would be fun to create your own course and check out other members’ courses as this can actually give you an idea of how native speakers see their language and its learning. However, I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to learn a language and learn it fast as the words and phrases you are learning do not directly help you to communicate in that target language in real life situations. Once again I would love to read your thought and comments should you have any!
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