Memrise Review

Memrise Review

Reviews
I've been using Memrise for a while, so I thought it about time to put together a quick review as there don't seem to be many memrise reviews available. Memrise is a spaced repetition system that aims to help you learn things. Whilst you can learn many things with Memrise, there's a particular focus on languages. Memrise is available in app form for Android and iOS, but also has a web version. Memrise is available for free, but in recent times has had a pro version for additional features that is virtually constantly on special offer. I've never felt the need to pay for these additional features. Memrise let's you make your own courses, or search for and follow one of the many others that other people have created. This, I would say, is one of the benefits of Memrise. There is a lar...
Playing with the Drops App

Playing with the Drops App

Blog
Having heard about the language drops app, I thought I'd give it a try. I'll save a full review for later, hence this being a blog post, but I'm initially impressed. This appears to be an SRS type learning system with a nicely designed app with nice little games/exercises. The free version limits you to 5 minutes play per 12 hours. Realistically this means that if you want to stick to some sort of schedule then you're going to end up doing 5 minutes per day. That's pretty minimal for my liking but I thought why not try it and see. There actually seems to be a version for each language in the store, which is great. That means I can do 5 minutes per language (by installing multiple apps). I've decided on this selection: Spanish - which I've been studying for two months. So far the word...
What is the Easiest Language to Learn?

What is the Easiest Language to Learn?

General
People learn languages for all sorts of reasons. It could that you have a specific purpose for learning a particular language, or it could just be that you want to learn one as a hobby. In the latter case you may decide that you want to start with a language spoken by a large number of people in order to maximise your gains, or you could simply decide that you want to learn the easiest language possible to start with. Defining how easy a language is to learn is, however, a difficult problem. First and foremost it depends on where you are coming from. An asian language, for example, is easier for a speaker of another asian language to learn. Because of that we need to set the base from which we're learning from. As you're reading this article in English, we're going to assume that you're...
5 Ways Not to Suck at Learning Languages

5 Ways Not to Suck at Learning Languages

General
You imagine yourself speaking another language fluently, laughing with the natives as you order another beer. You make a throwaway comment about how the beer is better than in your country. "Oh. I didn't know you weren't from here", says the barman, "You speak the language so well". "Thanks, it's not perfect but I try", you reply as you secretly make plans to sell all your grammar books on the internet that evening and use the funds to buy a t-shirt with the simple slogan "bilingual" on it. You've had a dream like that, right? And then you tried to learn a language and remembered that learning a language is a bit like running a couple of marathons backwards, back to back, in fluffy panda slippers. Unless you're just enjoying the shape of the various straight and squiggly lines on you...
Do you Really Understand 80% of a Language if you Learn 1000 Words?

Do you Really Understand 80% of a Language if you Learn 1000 Words?

General
I read this a lot, learn the most frequent 1000 words (or 2000, it depends on the source) and you understand 80% (or 90%, it depends on the source) of the language. It's a statement that is so deeply embedded in language learning that it appears everywhere: from Duolingo's old fluency percentage to Lingvist's pretty little graph. Even the good old BBC push this theory. But It's not about Words, it's about Meaning So let's start with examining the problem with this idea. Language is about communicating something. But if we consider it on a word level then we're highly restricted in what we can communicate. Say, for example, that I walked up to you and said: Water Now you might guess that I want water, right? In fact, the fact you guess that without thinking about it is very importan...
Taking the Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal

Taking the Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal

General
You've worked hard. U kunt wat Nederlands spreken. And you want a certificate to prove it. There are three possible official exams offered by DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs) in the Netherlands. The inburgering exam is the first exam and is on an A2 level.  This exam tends to be taken by those who need to inburger in order to meet the language requirements of the inburgering process (as it's the lowest level). The chances are that you're going to be looking at one of the two Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal. There's "Programma I" at approximately a B1 level and "Programma II" at approximately a B2 level. This article is going to focus on information about these exams, and my advice and experience of taking the Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal. The exam is broken into th
Language Drops

Language Drops

App Reviews
It's hard to imagine a more beautiful app for learning words in a foreign language than drops. From lovely gradient backgrounds, to intuitively designed exercises, the Language Drops App is what other apps should've been in terms of design. Despite it's undeniable good looks, it has its problems. The content, for example, consists of a single list of words that is divided into categories and translated into all of the 30 languages that Drops currently supports. That means that the amount of content is much smaller than some competitors (for example, Memrise). Whether you consider that a problem though, is a matter of personal decision - you could well take the opinion that by the time you've learnt all the words in Drops then you could start learning new words through reading books rath...
List of Free Dutch Language Learning Resources

List of Free Dutch Language Learning Resources

Language Specific
Learning Dutch doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many resources available for free. I thought it’d be useful to create a big list of the ones I use, used, or like, right here. Language Learning Websites Duolingo – In my opinion this is the number one free language learning site for learning Dutch. At the end of the course you can expect to be around about an A2 level in Reading/Writing (Listening and Speaking, unfortunately, much lower). Lingq – Ample opportunity to practice reading and translation. I have to say that this isn’t really a site I enjoy, I’d rather use Duolingo, but it might suit some people so I’m mentioning it here anyway oefenen.nl – a variety of online language lessons, resources, and videos. Best used in conjunction with other resources. Memrise 
Duolingo Crowns Update – Is it Simply About Money?

Duolingo Crowns Update – Is it Simply About Money?

General, Language News
I recently started to think about Duolingo Crowns and the crown levels. I'm a fan of Duolingo and recently started learning Japanese and Spanish with it. But it wasn't long before I heard that Duolingo would be changing their system to the Duolingo crown system. They'd been beta testing it. I'd read complaints on the forums and I crossed my fingers that they'd hold off release until my challenge was done. No such luck. In this article I want to take a look at what the update is, what Duolingo say it is, and what it might mean. In particular, I want to delve deeper into the potential commercial aspects of Duolingo and this update. Duolingo and Making Money The original idea behind Duolingo would be that it would be a sort of crowd sourced translation bureau. In return for teaching you...
Babbel Dutch Review [For Beginners]

Babbel Dutch Review [For Beginners]

Language Specific, Reviews
In my quest to learn Dutch I have paid for precisely two pieces of software. The first was memrise,  which is perfectly fine in it’s free version but I felt like supporting it. The second is Babbel. Babbel cost me around about £50 for the year. Babbel divides it’s course into lessons. For Dutch, Babbel has a limited amount of content. To be honest, this means that if I was signing up just for Babble Dutch then I could have got away with signing up for just 6 months. But that's one of the things that I didn't know at the time, but you do now! Babbel content is well organised and easy to understand. It also teaches you the grammar and basics as you go on. Babbel provides a more realistic learning environment than the likes of Duolingo, by which I mean that the things you are learning w