Today I just want to share I site I use everyday and absolutely love: Memrise
(disclaimer: I do not work for Memrise or have any personal connections to Memrise. It’s just awesome)
What is Memrise?
Memrise is a site that uses mnemonics to help you memorize new things. Mnemonics are little tricks to help you connect a new idea to something you already know. For instance, to help someone remember vert, the French word for green, someone might use a picture of a verdant forest. In most cases this is foreign language vocabulary, but there are also biology and chemistry courses as well. In memrise, this mnemoics are user-generated with popular ones voted up.
How does Memrise Work?
Mnemonics help your brain create connections to the new idea, planting the idea in your short-term memory. Anchoring that idea into your long-term memory is the second part of Memrise’s magic: spaced repetition. Memrise reminds you of things you have already learned in progressively less frequent intervals, gradually fixing the new knowledge in your long-term memory. Ideas you remember well are repeated less frequently, those that you don’t are repeated until you remember them.
Does it Work?
In my experience it does. I have used Memrise to improve my Mandarin vocabular and learn Basic Spanish. After two months of practice, I now believe I have a solid Spanish base that I could survive and develop mastery in an immersion environment. With Mandarin, my pronunciation and reading ability has improved tremendously. I can now understand most of what I read.
Where Memrise fails is where quality user-generated content is missing. This is definitely the case for less well-known languages or the more advanced levels of familiar ones. However, as the service becomes more popular, this should become less of a problem.
Simply put, to memorize use Memrise!