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A Web app tailors language learning to your ability, and turns the experience into a game.
A world memory champion and a neuroscientist have joined forces to create a language-learning website called Memrise, which combines mnemonic tricks with a game to help users learn quickly and efficiently. Its carefully paced learning structure and competitive points system, the app’s developers believe, make their site more effective than other language-learning tools.
Memrise makes learning a game with virtual gardens that users must tend. As they do, they also earn points and thereby fight their way up a community-wide leaderboard.
Mandarin Chinese and English are the only languages that have been rolled out yet, but others including French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Arabic can be used in beta form. The app was recently featured at this year’s Boston Techstars event, which presented startups that were chosen to receive investment.
The premise is that each word or phrase is a seed for users to plant in their gardens. A new word is planted when a user is exposed to it. Once planted, the seed sprouts in a few hours and must be harvested—that is, the user is tested, typically by having to type out words or choose characters, depending on the language. With each success, a plant is moved to a greenhouse, where it will thrive or wilt depending on how well the user tends it by practicing with the word.