I was reading an article in The Guardian by Joshua Foer saying that once he needed to learn Lingala, the language of an ethnic group in the Republic of Congo but his problem was that there were few resources to learn that particular language and that he didn’t have much time to do it.
The answer is on a new site/app called Memrise a place where you can learn any subject you want in a short time and very effectively.
The secret is to create a “mem”, or special memory, for each word you need to learn. Each mem will help you retain a concept that will stay in your head over time. Mems are great to learn vocabulary but not the intricacies of a language, like grammar. However, just learning words is a good jumpstart to later get fully into the language.
The idea behind it is not only memorize a word, but to have fun, to play with words and concepts. Instead of spending hours wasting time playing silly games, you can use the same amount of time to learn a new language. It is also a great way to keep your mind active, very much like exercising your brain.
The concept of “mems” is not new, actually is ancient, but what is new is the app online that will help you reach your goal. Memrise, will test you to see how well you are you doing and won’t let you forget things easily.
I thought it was a great idea to learn Amharic using Memrise, so I gave it a try and got hooked!
I started playing with words, images and sounds, and really the ideas got stuck in my head. For a mem to work it has to be special in some way, have some attraction, be funny, different, hard to forget.
The thing however is that the more people get involved, the better. The more mems are created and shared, the more we will learn.
Here is where YOU enter the picture. Memrise is a community effort, so I invite you to participate in this amazing project.
How? It’s easy.
Memrise is free. Create an account and start to play with words. You can add vocabulary, sounds, or images, or even create your own language course.
I’m interested in Amharic, of course, so please take a look and see how you can contribute while you play.
One thing that will be extremely useful is for native Amharic speakers to record words and add them to the Memrise database.
So far Memrise has been created for English speakers, but you can create mems for you in other languages.
I created some funny simple mems. Participate and create your own, and of course, have fun!
Ed Cooke (Memrise founder) video on TED
Joshua Foer video on TED
Free Memrise iPhone App
How I learned a language in 22 hours The Guardian
Memrise wants to turn learning into a ‘recreational sport’ The Guardian