Angelic Paranoia

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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars July wrap-up
Monday 31st July 2017 9:41 pm

This month I've been using Duolingo, Memrise and Lingvist to re-learn French.

I'm level 9 in Memrise French 1. I'm level 5 in Lingvist, where I know 418 words. Between the three of them those are the only useful stats I can find.

Duolingo is probably the one people know best, on the basis that I've seen various people talk about it and not the others. It gamifies the whole thing, which some people love and I can't stand. This is partly because it's been a big thing at work for ages and partly because I perversely want to not do what it wants me to. So it'll get all excited that I have a 6 day streak, I'll purposely break it. And I really dislike that if you get too many things wrong you can't do any more.

I dislike that it has so many screens and button presses in comparison to the others. When you've got an answer right the other two carry on to the next one, this one requires you to press to say that you want to carry on. Although it also doesn't let you go back. It does tell you in advance what you're going to learn and allow you to test out of it.

When I started it it would teach me some words, then do some things to help me learn them. Then it would teach me some words and test me on some others. Now it just goes straight to the testing. Which just seems bizarre to me.

I also take exception to it giving me a picture of a pair of trousers and telling me the French for trousers is pantalons, which I already knew, and then telling me that an alternative translation is pants. Er, no it's not. And one I had today where the English translation was "Letters, which ones" and I got it wrong because I translated it into proper English.

It also has a thing where you can speak the answer on certain screens. Which is fine an good, and as it says you need to learn to speak French. However, there are two problems with this:
1. It's asking me to speak English
2. It doesn't understand what I say in English

Memrise is the one I hated at the start. It was teaching me really basic stuff I already knew (like please and thank you) and I couldn't understand how it was all structured. I still find the structure a bit unintuitive, but I like that each session it starts with a review of the previous one before introducing new words. And I like that it has different ways of reminding me of the new words before I'm asked to type them.

The biggest problem with it is that I find some of it simple and then keep getting it wrong because I don't read it all carefully enough. So tonight, for example, it was teaching me fish (poisson) which I already knew, but it thinks I don't know it at all because I kept selecting poison as the French for fish.

So far it has just been words, not sentences (I'm sorry is the closest it's come). It's possible it's coming - I did start with French 1 after all, but I do feel a bit like I'm not learning anything useful.

Lingvist is the most restricted, but it acknowledges that it's only there to teach words and that it only has a few (European) languages. But I love the stats it gives you. It tells you how many screens you've done that session, how many you got right, how many new words you learnt. For every word you've seen it tells you how many times you saw it. When you learn a verb it gives you the verb tables.

It's much better than the other two at learning what I knew. If I keep getting something wrong it will show it to me more often, if I get it right, then it doesn't bother.

None of them are ever going to be as good as learning in a classroom with a teacher. In my first year of learning French, when I was 11, I knew a lot of parts of the body because we used to play Simon Says. Although after that year parts of the body never really came up and I forgot most of them.

I don't really know if I'm getting anywhere with any of them, but I have only been doing it for a month, which comes to about 9 hours in total (3 in each app). Which is nothing really, considering I last did French over 15 years ago.

Having said that, I have enjoyed it, in varying amounts and I will carry on, although not necessarily with all three apps. So I'm going to give it 7/10 for the experience.


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