At the ongoing Google I/O 2017 conference, the winners of the Google Play Awards were announced. Chosen from 2.8 million apps, 12 apps emerged victorious. Out of the 12 categories for the Google Play Awards, the Best App was awarded to Memrise, a language learning app. Memrise has over 10 million downloads on Google Play Store, and engages users in learning new languages through different games, chatbots and native speaker videos.
Personally, when it comes to learning a foreign language through the use of technology, Duolingo and Google Translate have been my go-to sources. Memrise never occurred to me as I’ve never been too keen on finding ways to learn a new language, and only used the aforementioned apps for fun or when required. Memrise, as an app has a very colorful and bright UI and its animations prove to show that the app is trying to make language learning as fun as possible. The theme of Memrise is space, and the different levels are portrayed as one’s journey of diving into space. I decided to pick two languages to learn – French and Korean.
French, the most popular and loved language globally probably tops everyone’s list of languages to learn. The learning starts with the basics of words being pronounced along with their spelling and literal meanings. Memrise will throw a couple of words in the beginning which will keep shuffling until you’ve mastered them. On hearing the words and their pronunciations, there will be games where one has to choose the correct word pronounced, the correct meaning and the correct spelling as well. The games also include spelling out the word. There are videos as well of native speakers pronouncing the words and you have to choose the correct answer.
While it may seem difficult at first, the interesting part was how the guessing games are repeated often in different forms. Even if you answer the questions correctly, the games are repeated in jumbled order, which actually makes your learning habitual and that way the new words and phrases get stuck to your head. French language did not seem very tough at the beginning, especially because the script is written in English, so the learning was quick.
The reason of picking Korean was because the script has its own alphabets and would obviously require rigorous training. Learning Korean was honestly very tough, but Memrise has its own way of making it as simple and easy as possible. Memrise starts with the basic single alphabets and mono syllable pronunciations. What I liked about trying to learn Korean through Memrise was how all the three things come into play, the Korean language script, the pronunciation, and the English translations as well. The guessing games involve choosing the correct word and pronunciation in both English and Korean. This way you learn how to speak Korean and learn the alphabets at the same time. ALSO READ: Google I/O 2017: Google Play Awards winners announced, Memrise crowned the best app
One disappointing factor was the chatbots, which are only available on the paid version. Memrise provides a small trial with the chatbots where you can test your new language skills. The chatbots not only act as someone you can practice with but also teaches you new words. Chatbots would surely be a fun experience and only through conversation would one be able to actually practice their language skills. ALSO READ: Google I/O 2017: Key takeaways from day two of Google’s annual developer conference
When compare to Duolingo, Memrise stands out as a very friendly and simple way to learn new languages by engaging the user. Duolingo, on the other hand, appears a little tough and has an advanced manner of teaching a new language. The different levels do not seem to wait enough for the person to catch up. Google Translate, as helpful and exciting as it may be, unfortunately still lacks in translating correctly. That way you usually end up learning the wrong words. I’m no one to comment on Memrise receiving the Best App award, but as a language learning app, it surely does top the list. After even a brief fifteen-minute usage of the app, one will surely be able to say quoi de neuf? (What’s up) or allons-y! (Let’s Go) next time they see a Frenchman. ALSO READ: Google Translate now uses Neural Machine Translation system for better translation