Updated: Sep 6, 2019
This post is sponsored by Memrise but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
Today I want to take a break from some of the longer, heavy hitting posts that I’ve been writing lately to talk about something that’s near and dear to my heart: learning. Specifically, learning a language.
Over the years, I’ve picked up the basics of several languages in a number of different ways. I’ve taken classes, spent time around people who spoke the language, listened to music and watched shows in other languages, and tested out a number of apps. In all of this experimenting and all of the languages I’ve dabbled in, one app has risen to the top as my favorite way to learn a language: Memrise.
In my experience, Memrise is not only fun and easy to use, but it also helps me learn more quickly. Yes, learning a language takes time, effort, and commitment, and until we can download new information into our brains, that isn’t going to change. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make learning more efficient. (Stay tuned until the end because I have a deal for you!)
In just a minute, I’ll dive into how to learn a language more quickly with Memrise, but first, this wouldn’t be true Life By Grit post if I didn’t talk about my Why.
Why learn a language?
1. It’s good for your brain
Anything that regularly challenges you through learning and problem solving is good for your brain. Learning a language is no exception.
As you know, taking care of myself is one of my highest priorities. It’s the number one thing you can do for yourself if you want to be more productive. Learning a language falls right beside meditation in the box of things that I do because they’re good for my brain.
Learning a language has been linked to slowed cognitive decline with aging, increased creativity, and quite literally make parts of your brain bigger! (Source)
2. It turns my phone into a tool for good
So often, we villainize technology. Many people view spending time on your phone as a negative thing—but it doesn’t have to be!
Technology is a tool. It is what you make it. If you load your phone with social media apps, games, and endless news feeds, then yes, that screen will waste a lot of your time.
But if you instead fill it with apps that improve your life, like Memrise, your phone becomes a tool for good. When you habitually reach for your phone in dull moments, rather than opening social media, you can use those moments to create tangible positive changes in your life. When you’re using your phone for good, you turn your screen time into something you can be proud of, rather than feeling ashamed when you get that weekly screen time notification.
3. It’s fun!
I know that for many of us, our primary exposure to learning a new language was through classes in school, and it likely wasn’t all that pleasant. Between trying to speak in front of the class, endless tests, quizzes, and flashcards, and the stress of knowing someone is grading you, many people assume they don’t like learning a language.
But when you’re learning a language that fascinates you, and you’re doing it on your own terms, learning a language can genuinely be enjoyable. It’s almost like a puzzle, especially if the language you chose uses an unfamiliar alphabet. And when you start picking up phrases and hearing them in real life (which happens very quickly with Memrise!), it gives you a little jolt of happiness that lasts all day.
4. It expands your worldview
This is probably my biggest reason for learning a language.
Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Spotify knows that I’m into kpop (well, BTS). This has translated into a general interest in learning about the language and culture of Korea. Learning Korean helps me understand songs and videos, and the first time I read a tweet written in Korean, I felt so accomplished.
We live in an increasingly interconnected world. We have easy access to media from around the globe and there is a ton of great stuff out there. Learning a language helps you to explore this vast world with even more depth, making life richer and even more fun and fulfilling. And, really, isn’t that we’re here for?
And many more…
These are my primary reasons for learning a language, but there are dozens of other reasons why someone might want to learn a language. It could help you get a job, communicate with your future in-laws, or strengthen a friendship. But whatever your reasons for choosing to learn a language, it seems safe to assume that you’d like to learn quickly.
How to Learn a Language More Quickly With Memrise
Think of your previous experiences with learning a language. They probably involved flashcards, attempting to translate on the spot in front of the class, a lot of Googling, and endless, boring repetition.
Memrise has none of those things. (Well, sometimes I Google things, but it’s out of curiosity, not necessity.)
To give you an idea of what it’s really like to use Memrise and how Memrise can help you learn a language more quickly, here are my favorite features on the app:
Rather than having you endlessly repeat the same sets of words, which is a waste of time if you already know some of them, Memrise keeps track of which words you struggle with.
You can then focus on just those words via “difficult words” where you explore the word or phrase in multiple different ways so you can focus on really learning, understanding, and remembering it. You’ll spell the word with and without help, hear it said, and seen it written. This process helps you better remember the difficult words without wasting time repeating the things that you learned weeks ago.
Learn with Locals
Rather than hearing one lady read everything in a monotonous voice, Memrise has videos of real, native speakers of the language. This allows you to see someone speak the phrases that you’re learning in a context that makes sense and in the way that they’d sound when used in real life.
This feature has been so helpful in my language learning journey because so often, languages being spoken in real life by real speakers sound nothing like that monotonous lady or your high school teacher. Not only that, but the phrases are spoken by multiple locals, giving you the opportunity to hear how different people pronounce each word. All of this results in both a better understanding of the language and faster learning.
Memrise makes it fun
Learning a new language won’t always be easy. No matter how you approach it, there will always be moments of frustration and times when you have to push yourself to keep going. But there are ways to make it easier.
One of the best ways to help yourself stick to a goal that you’re working towards is to make it fun. When you’re having fun, you’ll be more willing to keep practicing and put more time and effort into the task, meaning you see results faster. Memrise makes learning a language enjoyable in a number of ways.
Don’t break the streak!
If you’ve read my post about gamification, you’ll know that this is a strategy that a lot of apps use to keep you coming back. Memrise keeps track of how many days in a row that you complete your daily learning goal. And depending on just how quickly you want to learn, you can adjust that goal from just a couple minutes each day all the way up to a solid 45 minute learning session.
Somehow, I didn’t notice this feature until recently, but it blew my mind the moment I found it. The explore feature on Memrise lets you hold your camera up to an object, and Memrise will tell you the word for that object in the language you’re learning. You can also take photos of these objects and add them to your library. It’s almost like a scavenger hunt!
Exploring is exactly as cool as it sounds, and every time I use it, I end up running around my apartment learning the names for things. This is just another way that Memrise makes it enjoyable to learn a language, helping you learn faster.
Useful words and phrases
For some reason, many, many language learning techniques start you off with sentences like, “The dog is under the table,” which is fine, I guess, but not a particularly useful sentence in real life.
Memrise, on the other hand, started with phrases like, “Let’s go!” “it’s delicious,” “how do you get there?” and “do you have Wi-Fi?” all of which are useful phrases that people actually use regularly in conversation.
Rather than knowing useless phrases, the Korean knowledge that I’ve picked up has actually proven useful. I can’t listen to a song or watch a video in Korean without hearing a phrase that I know because Memrise teaches you words that people actually use.
All of this, again, makes it so much more enjoyable to learn a language. If I wasn’t finding my new knowledge useful, I’d have little incentive to keep going back and learning more. Instead, I use (and strengthen) my knowledge of Korean on a regular basis which makes me want to keep learning.
If you’re itching to start learning a language (or make faster progress with your current language learning endeavor), Memrise is offering a 50% discount on an annual subscription from now until September 16th, and you’ll be entered to win one of 101 free upgrades to a lifetime Memrise subscription!
(That’s “bye” in Korean.)