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The most frustrating part of learning Chinese (or any language) is that we really have few ways of telling how we am progressing. Test and quizzes are great, but I am in it for the long haul. I don't want to memorize just for test. Also, aside from the frequent "不错" from my Chinese friends, getting regular feedback on my progress was non existent. Sure my teachers are awesome, but outside the classroom...retention and recognition is a major problem(and I live in China).
In comes Memrise, a tracking and feedback tool of sorts. Before using Memrise, retention and recognition was really a lot of work. Teacher introduces new word...we repeat twice...learn a bit of grammar...repeat word/phrase once more then "下课了“... class over. If you attend class in China, there is good chance that this process includes about 20-30 characters/words a day. Five days a week. Feel me?
We all have our favorite "办法” methods for learning, but I am a computer geek through and through so I prefer using computer-based tools. With that in mind, instead of creating 3x5 cards I decided to upload/input words from the day's lessons and spend about 30 mins reviewing the new words each day. Great.. right?!! But what about previous lessons? I think this is where Memrise sets itself apart from other tools... its unique method for generating reminders to study old words as well as new words.
That being said, I think there are three missing feature/benefits in the system. First, it doesn't allow to much flexibility with definitions. As we all know, some words are open to interpretation. Second, sample phrases are not included, so to really understand how to use new and old words, you will need to supplement your vocabulary study with another tool. And finally, its not truly mobile. Sure you can access using the web using your mobile device, but in this case a supplementary offline tool would be a great addition. As of this writing, updates for these missing features/benefits are in the works.
Overall, using this tool, I believe I am off to a good start with my new year's goals - resolutions (i hate using "resolution" but it is what it is). If you are curious..here they are...
1. 2500 characters learned by Dec 15th 2012..(about 600 to date)
2. 10 min daily chinese conversation.
3. 1 idiom per month
4. 1 chinese song before the new year
I am using Memrise almost everyday now; usually spending about hour each session. Still not quite sure how it works(just glad it does), but I think I have found a system/tool for retaining new and old words. If you are looking to track progress for the new year, using this tool can be a good way to start.
Are you using Memrise to learn? What do you think of it? Or what other tools do you like?
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