Memrise for Arabic
January 19, 2014
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
I am now a hard-core Memrise addict. It is all over for me, but stop reading here and you could be saved from a similar fate.
Still reading? Beware, compulsive types! If you try this website—which is free, making it even more deadly!—you may find yourself having trouble separating yourself from it for work and social obligations. And also taking out the trash, and eating, and perhaps even using the toilet.
I have so far been parked mostly in the Arabic section, drilling vocabulary for hours at a time, though there is content for many languages. I am personally more inclined to use Memrise for languages with unfamiliar writing systems than for familiar ones.
I’m not sure what percentage of the Memrise content is user-contributed. A lot, at least. Maybe all, though I do see the Memrise COO’s name on some material. As with user-contributed content across the web, some of this stuff is hit and miss. Therefore, I recommend you browse and be selective.
Below are some of the Arabic units I have been enjoying (all have audio, which I find essential to my learning progress and pleasure):
- How to Read Arabic
- 1–2750 Arabic Frequency & Audio
- 1500 Arabic Verbs (MSA) by Frequency
Once you pick out some good content, the Memrise system—which I feel really takes into account how human beings remember and forget and remember again—will help you learn what you have selected.
Here is an excerpt of their explanation of themselves: “We use mems to help you form vivid, sensory memories. We test you continuously, always making sure to give your brain just the right workout. We remind you of what you’ve learned at scientifically optimized times so your memories are always growing stronger, and never forgotten.”
Mems? What are mems? That required a quick Google to pull up the right page. They are, according to Memrise, “mnemonics and memory aids.”
The above-mentioned Arabic modules have changed my Arabic-learning life by giving me nonstop opportunities to read, hear, type, and muse over some of the most common Arabic words, thus helping me acquire real skills in this wholly unfamiliar writing system. I need to see to learn; being able to recognize Arabic quickly on a page is critical for me to acquire vocabulary and read actual grammar books.
As I said, I am extremely enthusiastic about this product for languages with different and difficult writing systems: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Hebrew, and so on. The Arabic section seems to have a very generous amount of high-quality content; the Hebrew is not nearly as well stocked, I have noticed.
There are definitely content errors, input errors, and technical glitches. Sometimes the glitches are quite frustrating. That is why I didn’t give this site a perfect score. And some of the user-contributed content just isn’t all that good.
Memrise can be enjoyed in both app and website form. The functionality is somewhat different, and both are cool. The app is more glitchy, but I prefer it for various reasons, one of which is that I like using a touch screen for vocabulary acquisition. My philosophy: less clicking is good. The app is available at no charge on iTunes.
Memrise offers many languages, so look around!