The story so far…
I spent some time thinking over the weekend about the ways in which I have used technology in my own learning over the years, particularly in regards to language learning. Here are a few things I could think of, with a few words on how well they worked for me as a learner.
- Flashcard applications, such as Memrise and Anki
Learning vocabulary is at the crux of language learning and I’ve yet to find out exactly how it is I remember words. I do, however, really like mnemonics and flashcards, but hate the laborious work of putting together a deck. For this reason, having ready-made decks on such sites really appeals to me!
- Online language course applications, like Duolingo
I think all my friends have heard about Duolingo by now. I tell everybody about it because I thoroughly enjoy it and I rank losing my 548 day streak as one of the worst things to happen to me in 2016. Though I’m not sure if it’s a design flaw, I like how the mobile version does not offer grammar explanations, as this forces me to call on my powers of induction to spot patterns and try to answer my own questions before seeking further help. I also like the integrated community features, where course contributors are often speedy in replying to questions about content.
- Asynchronous writing practice websites, such as Lang-8
Though I’ve fallen behind in practice, Lang-8 has always been a great source of writing practice for me and I’ve even used it to practice speaking by recording clips and uploading them via YouTube. The give-and-take aspect of the platform is a nice feature and you’ll soon spot who the genuine and interested contributors are. When offering help in English, I find it easier to articulate what I’m trying to explain in text form, so I appreciate the time I have to compose my reply.
- Messaging apps, like LINE and Facebook Messenger
Though not learning apps by any means, messaging software has been my main arena of learning informal lingo in Japanese. LINE is how I am connected to many of my Japanese-speaking friends, which offers semi-regular practice on the go! I also have a friend who likes to message me in Korean even though I stopped actively studying this language a few years ago. As such, I consider my Korean reading skills to still be in shape 😀
- Last, but not least, dictionaries!
Where would I be without my mobile dictionaries? On a frighteningly regular basis, I find myself fighting to find a English word, but can only come up with the Japanese. In these cases, I turn to the dictionary on my phone or iPod to find the word I’m looking for! More importantly, my Japanese dictionary has useful features like being able to input kanji manually when I stumble across character in the wild and the ability to save words as flashcards for later study.
Something I’m aiming to do in this course is find novel and interesting ways to use technology in and outside the classroom. For starters, I’ve decided to sign up to a MOOC (massive open online course) to experience first-hand what it’s like to be in a virtual classroom. For the next few weeks, I’ll be tackling beginner’s Norwegian! (disclaimer: I’ve been studying Norwegian on and off for about a year and a half, but let’s see how this turns out!)