The website is appealing to the eye, has a lot of courses and users. There is a free (!) iOS / Android version which synchronizes with / through your Memrise web account.
I get no money for recommending it, I just find it to be a very nicely polished alternative to Anki. I know that the latter is more flexible, but for the most cases Memrise is just good enough.
Plus, the rankings bring in a whole new dimension by gamification of the learning / repeating process. I just can't sit there watching other people grow and getting more points than I have!
They even send you an email remembering you that you have some new items to "water", as they call it.
I have tried Anki, one of the spaced repetition programs he mentions. There are lots of different decks available. Browse some here:
edit: Oh and this is a dupe:
Also, just because it is dupe doesn't mean it is valueless. Far too few people are aware of spaced repetition as a principle to even begin using it.
For example, Khan Academy have some form of spaced repetition, but it is incomplete. If people knows more about the idea, they would be more likely to implement a full system.
>Also, just because it is dupe doesn't mean it is valueless.
Of course, but at some point dupes get to be annoying. I'm not saying it is breaking the rules (is there even a rule for that here?), just pointing it out. The last time gwern posted this it got a lot of attention.
As far as language learning goes, you also need to realise that no amount of SRS'd words is going to make you a natural, fluent speaker, so don't fall into the trap of spending all your study time reviewing.
Maybe this would work for you.
Your reply did make me take another crack at it and I got it to work. The script if anyone is interested: http://pastebin.com/pC9VTzjv. It does do some specific-to-me things to close apps I usually have open that did not want to minimise.
The iOS app is the sole source of income for Damien, who develops, hosts and supports the entire Anki ecosystem for free. At some point a few years ago, Anki was taking up so much of his time that he had to decide whether to quit his job or stop developing it. He chose to quit his job and make a paid iOS app.
I think £17.50 is a reasonable price for such a complex app. Many people who own it use it for over an hour a day. If you think of it as less than ten cups of coffee, and consider that you would pay much more for a textbook, I think it's a good value investment for the educational return you get.
If you really really cannot afford £17.50, you could always join the beta program next time there's a call for testers on the user group, or you can use the web version on your phone.
With regards to how you arrive at the $200 figure: for you, Anki is competing against "$1000+ for with traditional modes of learning", and so you feel it's worth up to $200. Well, it's also possible to frame it the opposite way, because for me Anki is competing against traditional (free) libraries and a $1 stack of flashcards, in which case it seems way overpriced to me. So I don't think that's a compelling argument either way.
Could yourself and Damien not make an equal amount of money from the iOS port by having a cheaper app and making up for it in volume? I appreciate support costs do not scale trivially in a case like that, but is that something you've thought about or explored? If the price is a gesture against the app store's 'race to the bottom', then that's admirable, but this just seems like too far – especially considering the audience for your app (in my opinion).
With regards to:
> If you really really cannot afford £17.50 ...
That could be fine for me, reading your comment, but not for most of the people priced out of the app. I personally just switched to a lower priced app, like this one: http://apps.chbeer.de/ivocabulary/ (full unlock is £3, and it has a very fine legacy having been derived from the ProVoc codebase, I believe)
Regardless, whether it's intended that way or not (and I suspect not), it feels like I'm being punished for using an Apple product because the price of your iOS app is so different from every other platform, and that isn't a nice feeling.
We discussed the complexity issue with existing Anki users and they don't fid it complex - but people who aren't already using Anki do. By setting the price higher, volume of sales is sacrificed in preference of selling to people who understand what they are buying.
If people want to buy the cheaper app, that's OK. Some of them are great apps (nowhere near Anki imho, but I'm biased :). We hope that people who derive real value from using Anki every day will understand that the price is a way for them to support the whole Anki ecosystem.
Sure, you're comparing the price to free on desktop, but I suspect you're also somewhat comparing it to typical app store prices. We've been educated that software for our mobile devices costs a nominal fee.
In either case, it isn't nice as an individual to be singled out as a target for extra cash because of the platform you run on. Just because I use an iPhone doesn't mean I have more money than my peers (and in fact probably means I have less!). Even if that were true on aggregate, I still find it unpleasant, simply because there will be many exceptions.
Assuming the iPhone is yours, sure it does; at least, more money than a student who can't afford £17 for a learning tool. The iPhone itself is an asset that is worth money.
It is absolutely wonderful. I recommend downloading a shared deck and using it to get into the habit, then building your own. There are better and worse ways of using it but it's been a real help to me in learning Chinese.
It won't let you draw connections between concepts, because the information is presented in bite sized chunks in a way that each concept is considered independently, not parts of a whole. I've found that I learn things much better when I see how they are interconnected and AFAIK this is supported by research.
For this reason, if you're considering using spaced rep for university courses I recommend that you write your own flashcards, not use somebody else's. The process of converting the knowledge in the course into appropriate flashcard sized pieces is a pretty handy way of learning the information itself.
There are so many language pairs you support. What sources (dictionaries) do you use for translations? Wiktionary?
Since each word might translate differently in different contexts, do you also select the most appropriate translation to display? It would be interesting to discuss about the most optimal methods for that. Google Translate often gets this wrong. (I am working on NLP/AI for language learning myself although we will mostly use it for conversations at first.) I believe many people here can give interesting perspectives on this hard problem (semantic disambiguation for translation).
For the inline translations I use the Google Translate API, which is surprisingly good for words and short phrases. Unfortunately the API doesn't provide multiple translations, even though they show them on their own web site. Grrr.
Users are encouraged to edit translations before learning them, and I often think it would be awesome to crowd source appropriate translations for given contexts using this data. I'm getting ahead of myself though, I'd need orders of magnitude more active users and development time for that to work.
When you have a lot of users, providing static translation for individual words with single meaning should also save you money in the long run, as Google Translate API charges you for all translations the user activates.
It made me wish for an alternative open bilingual dictionary project which is structured and machine readable.
Thing is, line-height helps with the same issue (but without the weird colors), so if they'd fix that, the funky colors aren't as useful anymore.
But I guess we gotta save the trees from those printing their web pages or something.
Whatever one may prefer, I see they offer a plugin, which is a better way to use this tech, not by random sites forcing it on us.
If it's super-tight, why did loosening it not seem to help? http://www.gwern.net/AB%20testing#line-height
> Whatever one may prefer, I see they offer a plugin, which is a better way to use this tech, not by random sites forcing it on us.
Is it better? That seems like the sort of claim that should be tested...
Even as an aesthetic novelty, it's a fairly pleasant one, or at least unobjectionable since it's fairly muted. Gwern's articles can be quite hard to read, being a wall of text, and their structure tends to be much more spread-out than your typical introduction, body, conclusion - articles tend to have several 'chapters'.
Collaboration is easy, which was something I really wanted to see in this space...building knowledge together (like in a class or small team context).
Personally it's helped me retain some Go language concepts as I learn.
You know, you can just copy the title of the linked article (which was spelled correctly). It's less work than typing, and the chance of misspelling words is dramatically reduced.
I don't like articles where I need to bring up the browser dev tools just so I can read it.
Resizing the window takes just over two seconds to redraw, rather than being instantaneous. And when that affects the width of the text, it doesn't recolour them, so you get a bad mess. And using it on an article this long causes Firefox to have on its account explicit allocations of 214 MB, rather than the 20MB that I would consider to be slightly excessive but permissible.
Oh, I hate that thing.
Better solutions include:
Using a more optimal column width. 50-60 characters per line is a commonly suggested range for most media.
Using a more optimal leading (line-height). "Set solid" type (ex. 12px/12px) is almost always a bad idea, particularly so in a long block of text. Depending on the type, media, etc, ratios in the range of 1.2-1.8 are a good starting point for improving readability.
> Using a more optimal leading (line-height).
(And the people responsible for the BeeLine Reader website know this! Even maximized, their body copy is split into two columns each about fifty characters wide.)
I didn't find narrower versions to perform well: http://www.gwern.net/AB%20testing#max-width-redux
Ignore my 487 unread emails. I need to clean that out...
Basically the human mind can only hold limited amounts of information at a time in short-term memory. If we contemplate what's on our short-term memory, the probability of it being stored in our long-term memory is much higher.
It's like reading blogs one after another. Later on we have difficulty recalling what was on the previous blogs that we have read (of course there are exceptions, for the geniuses out there).