December 6, 2013 @ 10:57 am | Filed under: Apps, Foreign Languages
A peek at the new “Cat Spanish” app from Memrise. We’ve only just begun playing with it. Will report back later when we’ve worked with it for a while (mainly Rose; she’s the one learning Spanish), but it’s safe to say it’s a hit so far. Conversational phrases with amusing kitty photos: you have us at hello.
This is Huck’s current favorite read-aloud. I grabbed it from the library on impulse a couple of weeks ago—we’re short on fall color here, and the cover appealed to me, but I didn’t expect it to grab the three-year-old’s attention. Shows what I know. The kid is smitten. He thinks it’s called “All Dem Leaves.”
The bold images on the cover are a good foretaste of what’s inside. We’ve spent many happy moments poring over these bright leaves, matching their shapes to their names. Turns out we have a lot of sweet gum trees on our street—almost the only sparks of autumnal foliage we see here. (Mind: we’re not complaining. 70-degree weather and soaring blue skies. I’m content to satisfy my fall-color longings with children’s books.)
Rilla’s a fan of the book too—it ties in quite serendipitously to the fun we’ve been having with the Trees of England course over at Memrise. (By golly, I know my horse chestnut from my blackthorn now.)
Most of you probably live in places where the gold and scarlet has been stripped from the branches by now, in late November. (Jiminy crickets, it’s late November. I’m quaking.) This recommendation may come a bit late; we’ll all be in Holly and Ivy mode soon. But if you’re not ready to let go of autumn, you might enjoy a ramble through these colorful woods.
“How I Learned a Language in 22 Hours” — Joshua Foer describes how he used Memrise.com to learn Lingala, an African trade language, in 22 total hours of study (over a three-month period). Memrise uses visual memory techniques and modern computer gaming incentives to make such a feat possible.
If five million people can be convinced to log into Zynga’s Facebook game Farmville each day to water a virtual garden and literally watch the grass grow on their computer screens, surely, Ed believes, there must be a way to co-opt those same neural circuits that reward mindless gaming to make learning more addictive and enjoyable. That’s the great ambition of Memrise, and it points towards a future where we’re constantly learning in tiny chunks of our downtime.
Naturally, I leapt straight from that article to the Memrise website and, two days later, am happily up to my eyeballs in German vocabulary. The kids and I are working our way through a course on the trees of England. (I always wondered what yew and rowan looked like.) Highly, highly, highly recommended.