Improving your Vocabulary with the Memrise App (iPhone)

One of the biggest struggles when learning French was remembering where to place the accents and learning idioms/euphemisms. Luckily I found the Memrise app, which has drastically improved my French vocabulary! How does it work?

Memrise uses mnemonics and other memory strategies to help create associations between the English language and the French word you are trying to learn. In turn, your likelihood of remembering the word increases.

For example:

memrise4 memrise1

Various Memrise users will post different strategies on how they learned a specific word. Memrise has courses in almost one hundred languages of all levels. I even learned the Russian alphabet just for fun!

To ensure that the new knowledge you gain sticks in your memory, the app shows a flower in the top right corner of each word. If you have practiced a word enough time, then the seed will grow into a pink flower (see picture below).

Memrise also has other strategies to review vocabulary such as typing out the translation and multiple choice questions.

memrise3 memrise2

I would highly recommend Memrise for more difficult languages that are not similar to English such as Mandarin. Because of Memrise, I was able to remember at least 20 different characters and how to write them.

The only drawback of Memrise is that it is not as effective at teaching grammar. Ideally you would use Memrise to learn vocabulary and then you would use another app such as Duolingo or FluentU to learn grammar.

Speaking and Writing in French with the HelloTalk app (iPhone)

One of the major issues I face as an aspiring French learner in Southern California is the simple fact that there are hardly any French speakers anywhere! Southern California is diverse, but the main demographics in Los Angeles according to the 2005-09 American Community Survey are:

Luckily technology provides numerous options to find French speakers, but sometimes they are not the most cost-effective. Using websites like meetup.com to find other French speakers result in limited options depending on the area you’re in. Many of the meetups require payment per session (ex: $30) which can be difficult for students in school. Another option to learn French is hiring a private French tutor and using Skype to interact. Many of the French tutors are highly qualified but their rates average around $25-$45 per hour. This is challenging as well especially for beginners who have a limited background.

That is why I was overjoyed when I found the app HelloTalk! HelloTalk is an innovative app that matches speakers from different countries with each other. For example, if I am a native English speaker that is aiming to learn French, then it will partner me up with native French speakers that want to learn English. And this all free too!

hellotalk3

Here is a screenshot from my iPhone showing how you can find numerous speaking partners online. FR and EN identify what languages the person speaks, so French and English respectively. The bars next to the language identify the level of their speaking abilities. The higher the levels, the more proficient they are at that language.

Once you have chosen the person you want to speak with, then you can send them a text message! After they have responded and started conversing with you, then you can invite them to become a Language Partner. If they accept, then you can take advantage of the other functions that HelloTalk has.

hellotalk2.

For example, if you are typing French, they can make corrections to the grammar and punctuation. I also do this when they speak in English. That way you can see what grammar concepts you need to work on. HelloTalk can even translate a sentence from English to whatever language you prefer. You can also record your voice using the microphone button so the person can critique your speaking skills.

In all, HelloTalk is a free way to talk to with native speakers from all over the world! It also allows you to learn slang words and the culture of other countries, which some other language apps cannot provide. If you are interested in improving your speaking skills, this is the app for you!