Posted in Guides, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Getting the most out of Memrise

I have been using Memrise pretty much since I started studying Korean and while I don’t use it religiously, I still consider myself a somewhat regular user.
I know that Memrise is often connected with the idea of simply memorizing, which some are for, some are against, and others just don’t really care. I have already talked about my thoughts on memorizing here so I won’t be talking about any of the pros and cons today.
However, I do want to talk about how to actually get the most of using the Memrise App or Website.
I assume that you all know about Memrise but in case you don’t, it’s a basically a flashcard App/Website with both premade and user-made sets, that uses spaced repetition to get the best results out of the time you spend on it.

  1. Create your own sets.
    Memrise comes with a ton of already made sets for different languages and topics, made by Memrise themselves, as well as access to all of the other users’ sets. Naturally, it is very tempting to simply pick a course or set and get started immediately.
    However, by making your own set you, first of all, make sure that the words you enter, are words that you actually need learn right now. That’s why you’ve come across them in your studies in the first place, right?
    Secondly, by sitting down and looking up each word on your own, and then writing them down along with their meaning, you will already get a pretty good foundation to continue building on. The words will attach to your brain in a completely different way than when you simply see a new word and its meaning.
  2. Use the Meme option to add a sample sentence.
    Memrise has a Meme option for each added word. You can add a picture, an actual meme or my favorite, add a picture with a sample sentence on it. That way you will keep the context no matter if you are learning a new word, an expression or a new grammar point.
    You can make your own sample sentence or if you want to make sure that there are no mistakes in it, then simply copy the sentence where your first came across that word or expression.
  3. Set goals for the streak.
    Memrise has a streak system, and you can set goals for each set. That way to can create a goal of how much you wish to practice every day, no matter how much or how little time you have available each day.
    The streak itself does nothing for your learning, however, it adds some accountability as well as a game-like aspect to studying. It gives you a visual overlook of your studies and I personally find that even though I don’t really think about it on a daily basis, I do find myself slightly upset by the thought of missing a day, when my streak is over 10 days.
  4. Don’t use your hints.
    Depending on whether you have a standard or a pro membership, you might have ‘Hints’ available when you are practicing your sets, and my advice is to simply ignore them completely. The thing is, that if you use your hints to guess a word, it doesn’t get marked as a wrong answer even if you use hints to guess every single part of the words. And that means that the word will show up less and less during reviewing when you actually need it to appear more often instead since you obviously didn’t remember it on your own. Also, when the words get marked (mistakenly I might add) as correct, then the words won’t be added to ‘Difficult words’. I’ll talk more about that further down!
  5. Don’t spend too long on figuring out the answer.
    Sometimes all you need is a little time to think, however, I recommend that you don’t spend too long figuring out the answer. I usually tell myself that if I was having a conversation right now and wanted to use that specific word, would I be thinking about it for this long, or would I have skipped it and reformed my sentence by now to keep the conversation going. If I would have skipped it in a conversation then it’s time to skip it during the review as well. This will automatically mark it as wrong and it’ll start appearing more often for practice so that you will be able to recall it faster in the future.
  6. Difficult words are your friend.
    Memrise has a special set called ‘Difficult words’ under each created set. While it sometimes seems like a failure to have any words in that set, it truly is your best friend. Whenever you get a word wrong or skip it, they all end up in that set where you get the chance to practice those words a bit more than the other words. If your goal is to be able to actually use all of these words without hesitation, then don’t feel bad about your difficult set. Just give them the extra love that they need.
  7. Don’t study words without context.
    Avoid studying words from a random list without any context. Many words have several meanings and it’s SO HARD to unlearn something again, no matter how wrong it might be. The context itself will also help you remember whatever you are learning.
    Also, I don’t see any reason to learn from such a list. I mean, I already find tons of unknown words while reading and studying, so why not just work on those words, that you have actually met in a proper context?
  8. Avoid set where words are in alphabetical order.
    If you do decide to practice sets that are premade or words that are based on a random list, at least avoid sets that are made in alphabetical order. Seriously. Just don’t. The words will be introduced in the order they have been added which means that you might get 10 words in a row that all starts with 인 and it. will. mess. with. your. brain.
    Every single word will blend together and so will the meanings of each word. It is the absolute worst thing you can do.

 

I hope you guys find this helpful and feel free to add your own tips for Memrise in the comments. I think we all need the help we can get, haha!

Posted in books, Guides, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Reading books in foreign languages

When it comes to learning a language there are tons of ways to improve your skills. My best tip is definitely to read a lot in your target language since it can improve your skills in so many different ways, but I’ll save that for another blog post and stick to the actual topic of this post for now! While I recommend reading about a variety of subjects in a variety of forms, I personally find reading books to be the most helpful and interesting.
However, jumping into reading books in a foreign language isn’t always that easy. Unless you already have some fairly decent skills or a ton of patience (or stubbornness perhaps?), then you will most likely struggle a lot when you first try it out.
I know so many people who have gotten discouraged and filled with frustrations while trying to read books, that they no longer want to even try.
As a book lover I really find it sad whenever people around me fail to find joy in their books, and especially when the struggles are caused by the language and not the book itself.
I read my first book in Korean a little over a year ago and I’m currently working my way through my 7th book, so I thought I would give you guys a few tips on book reading in foreign languages!

  1. Choose a book that isn’t completely new to you. It can be a book that you have already read, a fairy tale you remember from your childhood or maybe a book version of your favorite movie. This way you will find it a lot easier to fill in the missing gaps – because you will have random gaps here and there. I also don’t recommend reading books that you already know by heart. If you do that then you risk getting bored too fast and you might stop paying attention to the actual book while reading it.
    It’s all about balance.
  2. Choose a book with novels or short stories, or a long book with short chapters. Short chapters gives you the feeling of getting somewhere. If you read 3 pages from a 10 paged chapter then you will feel the progress asap, but if you on the other hand read 3 pages from a 50 paged chapter, then you will feel like you have gotten just about nowhere. You effort remains the same but those 3 pages will feel a lot more valuable in short stories or chapters.
  3. Look up every unknown word in the first chapter. The first chapter is usually some sort of introduction to the characters and the overall story, which means that all the most important words for that specific book will show up over and over again in the first chapter. If you keep looking them up until you remember them, then you will find it a lot easier to work through the rest of the book. Of course you can look up all the unknown words throughout the entire book,but my personal experiences tells me that this method usually becomes too overwhelming. Personally I prefer looking up all the unknown words during the first chapter, and after that I only look up words if I suddenly find myself feeling lost after reading a full page or of I see a certain word being used again and again.
  4. Make an actual effort. Don’t keep the book in your bag and only bring it out when you have to wait for someone or when you smartphone battery dies. Make an actual effort to read the book. Decide on an adjustable goal every day and make sure to bring out that book in order to accomplish it- even when you aren’t bored to death!
  5. Try reading books in both digital and paper format. I have always preferred paper books as I enjoy the feeling of putting in a bookmark and then being able to see how much I have read as well as the feeling of actually turning the pages. Also I used to get really tired from reading digital books and bad headaches were pretty normal too. These days it seems to be getting better, but I definitely still enjoy paper books over digital books. It might make a big difference to you too.
  6. Try out pretty books. This might sound really stupid, but I personally enjoy books with pretty pictures. Especially drawn or painted pictures. It feels sort of like a check point whenever I get to one of the pictures, and I feel almost just as excited to reach those as I do when I reach a new chapter. I collect the Indigo books and I definitely recommend them if you want to enjoy pretty pictures while reading great stories

I’m currently reading 빨강머리 앤.

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I hope you found this post useful!