Here’s a fantastic web site if you’re learning a language and need some help with vocabulary (or in the case of langauges with different scripts, flashcards). After selecting the language you’re learning, memrise.com helps you learn with a gardening metaphor – it teaches you new words as ‘seeds’. These ‘seeds’ are then ‘watered’ through you testing yourself via a mixture of multiple choice questions and user input. Once your ‘seeds’ are ‘watered’ enough to become ‘plants’, you’ll have to keep them blossoming by revisiting the site and redoing the tests to prove that you recognize the words/characters you’ve learned up until that point, as well as adding new ‘seeds’ to your garden. Leave your ‘plants’ alone too long and they’ll wilt.
From there, you can ‘harvest’ new ‘seeds’ (i.e. learn new words/characters) and add them to your garden. Gradually your garden grows in size, and you’ll have to keep all the plants watered by continually re-testing yourself.
This novel flashcard concept brings an element of gaming into your study, and also enables you to track your progress in a rather unique way. More importantly, the site has a community of people who can assist your learning by providing helpful mnemonics and aide-memoires if you’re having trouble committing certain words or characters to memory.
Learning Chinese characters is occasionally very interesting, but mostly an arduous process, and Memrise has really helped me expand my vocabulary. When you get something wrong, it brings up the information page on the character in question, complete with tips on how to remember it next time. It also keeps track of all the characters I’m having trouble remembering, and gives them a little more emphasis during testing. Most importantly, it forces you to reinforce your knowledge by testing yourself before your plants wilt and die.
Try it out for yourself at memrise.com!