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March 16, 2012 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Growing seeds.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:32 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm afraid it's not really clear from the site what this is. The "about" section is written with a lot of jargon, and the home page just offers me links to languages I don't speak. What....IS this site about?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:36 AM on March 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

so, if you click on one of those languages you don't speak... it starts to teach you the language, with directions remaining in english, which I was unclear on as well.
posted by jrishel at 8:40 AM on March 16, 2012

Neat site, thanks!
posted by distressingly thick sheets at 8:43 AM on March 16, 2012

Pretty neat. It can tell when I knew the word but spelled it wrong and asks me follow up questions to fix my spelling.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:44 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Been using this for about a month now for German. Surprising as to how well it works on making vocab second nature, especially with one particularly difficult part of German for a native English speaker: gendered articles. It's not going to teach you the syntax, but for learning spelling/pronunciation/definition, it's pretty good.
posted by JauntyFedora at 8:46 AM on March 16, 2012

It took me a while to figure out what was going on here as well. I was, Where's the introduction in English? Then I figured, screw it, play the French one and the video should make it obvious. Then it started teaching me French, so I went back an picked a language I cared about and learned how to say dog!

This looks like a great resource and is yet another in the long line of things that piss me off for coming around too late to make a difference in my childhood!
posted by cjorgensen at 8:52 AM on March 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've always wanted to learn Spanish so this sounds like a nice tool to do that. Thanks, iamkimiam.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:53 AM on March 16, 2012

This looks pretty much exactly like the early stages of the last free online language learning site I used.

That one stopped being free once it had collected enough user-contributed courses. Just sayin'.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:01 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is a really useful tool for people who are enrolled in a second language class, or who are like me and took one years ago and have forgotten most of the vocab.
I really like the "extras" section down at the bottom, when they show you a word. It puts it in a sentence, and has other interesting things to help you remember.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:03 AM on March 16, 2012

This site is definitely stroking my polyglot ego, and I might just be ready to learn inevitably becoming the predominant world language. So far, I'm hugely enjoying the symbol learning exercises, although I realize there are thousands. I've always tried to picture what the pseudo-pictograms might represent and their magical animation thingies are bang on.

Convince me why it's a bad idea to drop it all and move to London to work for this company.
posted by obscurator at 9:03 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of the guys running Memrise is Ed Cooke, featured prominently in last year's novel, Moonwalking with Einstein. Here is his TED Talk on memory and learning.
posted by querty at 9:21 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

So now I can try and fala Portugues. Neat.
posted by adamvasco at 9:32 AM on March 16, 2012

My name is growabrain, and I support this message
posted by growabrain at 9:38 AM on March 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

I've made an account and am going to brush up on my French before starting to teach myself Mandarin (again)! It's great to find websites that do the job of great programs like Rosetta Stone without the price tag (if you're the type to, uh, actually pay for the program).

I like the idea that language is something that needs time and repetition in order to really grow in your brain (as opposed to just a bin of information), which is an idea that gets lost with other online resources.

(Side note: Long time reader, first time poster!)
posted by Eyeveex at 9:53 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is neat. And, unlike Khan Academy, doesn't require either Google or Facebook.
posted by DU at 10:02 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I guess I should re-learn French in case I ever need to live in Montreal.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:02 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with EmpressCallipygos. It's not at all obvious or intuitive on first glance what this site is about, and the FPP doesn't really provide a helpful description. Based on the comments here, I'm guessing it is a language-learning tool. That's cool and all, but it could have been made more obvious.
posted by asnider at 10:03 AM on March 16, 2012

Cute pictures as mneumonics for Chinese characters works sometimes, but kind of breaks down for characters that don't have any inherent meaning (like 子, which is appended to certain nouns for no reason at all) or characters with abstract grammatical and with no English equivalents (i.e., 个). Does anyone know how or if Memrise teaches grammar?

I've always tried to picture what the pseudo-pictograms might represent and their magical animation thingies are bang on.

Some of my favorites so far, after using Anki for a few months to build vocabulary:
猫 cat
电 electricity (a lightning bolt coming out of a cloud!)
动物 animal. The etymology of the many-legged radical on the far right is given as a "badger" or "a kind of mythical chinese unicorn" is a great site run by one guy that will break down the origins of different characters.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:10 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is great, thanks.

Chalk me up as another person who thinks that the site needs a better introduction, as it wasn't obvious to me that it's a language course until after I'd chosen a language, and it took me even longer to deduce that it's purely a vocabulary builder rather than an actual course. Hopefully later stages will include different tenses and conjugations of verbs, but there's no way of knowing without investing the time to get that far in the programme.

With that said, once I'd figured out what was going on I had fun playing with it, learned a handful of new words and plan to keep up with it for a least a couple of weeks to see where it goes. Vocabulary building has always been my stumbling block when learning languages -- thanks to a bad memory and worse attention span -- so an interactive toy that forces good memorisation technique could actually be ideal for me. Also, the little plants are cute.

Eyeveex: Welcome!
posted by metaBugs at 10:14 AM on March 16, 2012

This is super fun and awesome, even if I don't end up fluent in Chinese.
posted by DU at 10:17 AM on March 16, 2012

Seems they also have a (comparatively limited) selection of general knowledge quizzes and, randomly enough, wall charts nicked from the Guardian.
posted by Iridic at 10:17 AM on March 16, 2012

Wow, LOVE this - thanks. My German is about to get viel besser.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 10:33 AM on March 16, 2012

Twee as fsck, but might be useful to get me to practise French more.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:38 AM on March 16, 2012

Poking around it a bit longer got a lot of repetition; getting the same six/seven words several times in a row is not that helpfull...
posted by MartinWisse at 10:41 AM on March 16, 2012

You always have the option of either growing more words or planting more seeds. It seems maybe to recommend one or the other by making it the big green button, but the other option is below it.
posted by cmoj at 10:48 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've always wanted to be the kind of asshole who misuses Latin at inappropriate times, and this site has tons of Latin exercises!
This is good bonus!
posted by lekvar at 11:01 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is this all about mnemonics? Everything I looked at so far on there is. I know everyone says that’s the way to learn or remember things, but I find it just confuses the hell out of me.
posted by bongo_x at 11:05 AM on March 16, 2012

oops. Die Webseite ist geborkt.
posted by LMGM at 11:27 AM on March 16, 2012

Huh. Well I seem to have been wanting to learn French lately...
posted by egypturnash at 11:44 AM on March 16, 2012

Also I'm reading about how it works on their "about" page. It embodies everything you're learning as lots of little plants, and then uses the exact same mechanisms as Farmville to get you to come back regularly! You put time and energy into plants, then have a window during which to harvest them. If you don't harvest them in that window, you lose them, and have to re-plant them! This is a really nice skin on the spaced repetition everyone says makes stuff stick.
posted by egypturnash at 11:50 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's fun. I'm learning Italian, and this will be a great aid to my studies.

However, at least with the Italian, the 1000 words in the introductory course include some bizarre selections. I don't think that "secessionista--secessionist" needs to be in the core first thousand words I learn in Italian.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:27 PM on March 16, 2012

It's not entirely language:
posted by whorl at 3:00 PM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's interesting, but so much of the information presented on the site lacks context, doesn't establish expectations or framework, and so it's hard for me to become excited about it. In some cases, the site itself is broken - try clicking on German, for example.

The concept's interesting, but without more context and framing, I'm probably going to stick with more conventional means of education.
posted by FormlessOne at 4:08 PM on March 16, 2012

Well German errored out for me, and English has the wrong flag.
posted by pompomtom at 4:41 PM on March 16, 2012

so, if you click on one of those languages you don't speak...

Seems I can click on UnitedStatesean.
posted by mattoxic at 5:22 PM on March 16, 2012

I quite like this so far; and for other Spanish learners I can happily recommend LoMasTv. So entertaining and useful I actually have a paid subscription which is something I rarely do.
posted by moneyjane at 6:25 PM on March 16, 2012

I did a bunch from work and now I'm at home and all the Chinese characters are different! WTF!
posted by DU at 6:45 PM on March 16, 2012

sudo apt-get install ttf-arphic-bkai00mp ttf-arphic-bsmi00lp ttf-arphic-gbsn00lp ttf-arphic-gbsn00lp

posted by DU at 6:54 PM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is great. A lot of these Web 2.0-type language learning sites are just design, vague concept, and...nothing, but this seems to have a really interesting and fun method, as well as an actual critical mass of content.
posted by threeants at 8:55 PM on March 16, 2012

It's beta and so, yeah, it's not terribly surprising that lots of stuff needs fixing and/or explaining. I can't wait until the 'other' category fills out more. So far I'm learning about cheese and trees and the UK parliament. Ironically, I could care less right now about the languages.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:18 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh wow, just revisited and now there's loads more in the Other section! Hooray!
posted by iamkimiam at 3:45 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Got a little frustrated when it asked me to type the characters in Japanese.

I mean, what beginning student of Japanese would have their keyboard yet setup to -type- it?
posted by DisreputableDog at 1:19 PM on March 17, 2012

I mean, what beginning student of Japanese would have their keyboard yet setup to -type- it?

This was frustrating for me too, as I couldn't figure out what romanisation system that they were using, so I went to their Forums. Back in my WinXP days I did have to install a Japanese IME pack so my English keyboard can type kana, but according to one of the user instructions, if you have win7, all it takes is going to your Control Panel and turning the Japanese option on.

Hold on....

useful site for vocab building, thanks for the post! I'm revising my French and Japanese, and am crazy enough to add Mandarin. #jeneregretterien
posted by cendawanita at 9:23 PM on March 17, 2012

Just what I need. Am starting in Mandarin, and I find it infuriating that the words just don't stick. I can learn the crap out of a text, understand grammar, etc, but if I so much as blink, every tiny bit of vocabulary vanishes. Words in Chinese for me have zero adhesiveness. Good post!
posted by stonepharisee at 4:01 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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