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Greek in 16 Weeks?

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I want to share a free, extremely fun and very easy way to build your knowledge online: Memrise. This is a ‘Spaced Repetition System’ – presenting flashcards at intervals designed to help you absorb material efficiently.

The beauty of the website is the community element to learning. Anyone can build and share a course across the Memrise network.

What can you learn?

I first heard about this website through Benny Lewis’s Fluent in 3 Months. I’ve started using it to build my Greek vocabulary, but Memrise is not just limited to Greek – there is a wide variety of topics such as:

  • English Monarchs, Prime Ministers, etc.
  • Actors and Actresses pre-1960
  • Java and CSS
  • Courses based on various high school curriculums
  • And of course, many many languages, including ‘language hacking’ courses.

If you’ve got a history exam, a pub quiz, or a weekend trip to Serbia coming up, there is a course for you. Some courses contain audio, helpful for language learners perfecting their pronunciation.

Seeds, seedlings, flowers… how courses are organised

Memrise uses a seed and flower analogy. Typically courses have multiple levels, which may require unlocking for progression. Levels usually are made up of no more than 25 words/facts – think of these as seeds.

First, you plant the seeds in your short-term memory. During this stage you’ll be tested frequently on the seedlings. You can create visual aids – taking advantage of links to google image search.

Once seedlings are ready to be harvested (transferred to your long-term memory garden), you’ll be prompted with written tests. The frequency of repetition decreases as you continue to correctly ‘water’ these plants.

Memrise will take care of all of this for you – all you need to do is follow the courses.

How do I get the most out of it?

If you don’t log in, the seedlings start to wilt, and you’ll have a bigger watering job on your next login. For maximum effectiveness, you should aim to log in at least once every 24 hours. I’ve been getting into work early to use Memrise, and use it on lunch breaks too.

I’d suggest you water the ‘flowers’ you’ve already planted first. If you start multiple courses, the water function will test all material within that theme. For example, all of my Greek courses will be reviewed together. Once you’ve watered everything, you can plant more.

Can I build my own course?

Absolutely. And, if it’s for personal use, you can keep it unpublished. I think this is a great way of collecting information that is of personal interest to you. I’ve started a food-specific list of Greek vocabulary which I will add to as I learn. Maybe I’ve also got another one to collect swear words…

Is there an app?

Not yet! Memrise is run by a start-up company that are constantly developing and expanding the tool. They’ve promised that mobile apps are in the pipeline, and not too far off…

Earning points and following other learners

Much like Twitter and Facebook, you can follow other learners, and have other learners follow you. As you earn points for correct responses, you’ll climb the leaderboard rankings. This is the perfect way to create some healthy competition between friends learning the same skills.

After two weeks I’ve scored 40,000 points… now I just need to work out a way to convert these to air miles…