Irrespective of where it is we call home, irrespective of our background, our education, our experience and knowledge, all of us are looking to learn something new. The more productive that new skill is, the better. Say, you want to learn Chinese, because your company is thinking of expanding its operations there, or you're just genuinely interested in the culture. Perhaps you're looking for a math refresh, or simply want to reinvigorate your vocabulary or prepare for the SAT's. Trouble is, it's darn hard. It's also quite expensive sometimes, not to mention time-consuming and even boring at times. This has given rise to crowd-sourced projects that employ different methodologies to deliver content to you for free and in a compelling format. Memrise, the app which we'll be reviewing for you today, does exactly that.
At its core, Memrise employs a mnemonic approach to teaching you different topics, like languages, geography, math, or even standardized tests. There's a lot of repetition involved, and visual cues try to help you better commit new knowledge to your memory. This really is a key component of Memrise's method, as old knowledge is constantly being pushed to the forefront of your attention, so content from older lessons will keep reappearing to ensure that you aren't just going through the motions, and are actually retaining information as you go on.
There's no laborious setup phase with Memrise -- you just log in and pick your course. The app itself contains just language courses, but you can access a ton more through Memrise's website, which is accessible through the app. The courses themselves are community-generated, which allows for a massive variety of topics. Anyway, once you add a course on Memrise's website, a reboot of the app is all you need for it to appear on your mobile. Each course is comprised by a finite number of stages, so to speak, and it's usually best for you to start from the beginning. These usually contain bite-sized bits of a language, for example, that you learn through repetition and something along the lines of poll-taking. Completing stages awards you the 'plants' you have supposedly grown in your memory, which really tells you more about the developer's gamification effort than anything else. Indeed, the fun element is a big part of what makes Memrise rather addictive, and that's undeniably a very major part of effective learning. Like it or not, only by revisiting a subject constantly does one actually learn.
But there are downsides to the crowd-sourced model, and those show in some courses which aren't as well made. Due to the open nature of course creation, it's not at all surprising that while the content is varied, the overall level of quality is also lower. This isn't to say that there aren't great courses, though -- some authors take the time to include audio (for example, words' pronunciation) and even animated GIFs in their courses as to better aid visual recognition. That was pretty helpful when we started learning Chinese, which looks completely alien to us.
Of course, relying solely on Memrise to learn is almost never a smart strategy. In our experience, Memrise's true value is in its feasibility for on-the-go learning, when complementing a wider effort. There's no schedule (that you can't ignore) -- it's entirely up to you. That can be a bad thing for some, but for others the experience is liberating, as they get to learn and practice on their own pace. In conclusion, if the topic of self-improvement at all strikes a chord with you, then you should at the very least see what Memrise has to offer. The effort will be more than rewarding in the longer term -- after all, flinging angry fowl never helped nobody.
Great variety in topics
Mnemonic learning approach helps with retaining new information
There are audio pronunciation files in some courses
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