This column appeared in the 6 May 2016 edition of Skerries News.
Brushing up a language? Preparing for the Driving Licence Theory Test? Going on holidays, and you’d like to know the names of the most important sites to impress your pals who are going with you? Or even a Junior or Leaving Cert student with a list as long as your arm, of things that you ought to memorise, pronto?
Whatever your reason, there are many ways to learn facts, words, or numbers.
My favourite online place for this, and one I’ve recommended to anyone who would listen for long enough, is Quizlet. It’s a recommendation that my son brought home from school, and then promptly ignored. (He’s doing the Junior Cert this year.)
Life-long learning is one of the things I firmly believe in, and so I’m in the process of learning Spanish. Vocabulary doesn’t stick as much as I seem to remember it doing, so a different approach to just writing words down and hoping for the best was needed. So I went to Quizlet.com and created an account for myself.
Quizlet makes it easy for you to enter sets of terms and definitions. Once you select a language, adding Umlauts in German or upside-down question marks in Spanish is as easy as one click.
There is an inbuilt voice facility, so you can actually listen to the words in a foreign language – as far as I can tell, the voices for English, Spanish and German are all quite acceptable.
And then you can learn in a number of ways. Flash cards are my favourite. If you feel you’d need to look at a card again, you can add an asterisk, and Quizlet will show you only the selected terms.
An excellent feature is the “Speller,” where Quizlet reads either the term or the definition and you have to type in the term. Could help with spelling tests, too, if you put in the actual word as the term, like “hieroglyph,” and then a clue, like “character of ancient Egyptian writing, h……..h,” as the definition. Works a treat for foreign languages, of course.
You can also amuse yourself while learning your vocab – play against yourself to see how fast you can match all terms and their definitions in “Scatter,” or (once you’ve mastered most of the learning) play Gravity, where you have to type the answers in order to save the planets from comets.
(Watch out for one of the next columns for tips on how to learn how to type.)
You don’t have to limit your learning to what you are willing to add yourself.
Quizlet has been around for a while, and so there are quite a number of sets available online. (When creating your sets, you can set them to “private,” “password protected” or “public”).
Search for “Skerries,” for instance, and see what you find! 🙂
Or search for “Junior Cert Science.” Obviously, if someone else put up the information, you might want to check if it’s correct. I saw a few good sets, however, that looked very reliable.
Well worth the time.
I’ve found that ten minutes with Quizlet every day is worth way more than twice that time staring at a list of words. Not that I’ve ever done that, to be quite honest, but I can’t imagine it having the same effect at all! Then again, I love using the computer and the internet for everything, and I get rather enthusiastic about these, so it might be no surprise that 3 out of 3 people in our household are now Quizlet users. Yes, our son has started using it actively, too – exams are coming closer!
My June column is going to be on the topic of introducing people who are new to technology to tablets (senior citizens, for instance). If you have any views on that, or experiences, please send them to me at Sabine@cccSkerries.com Thank you!
Freemium Premium–is the plus a plus?
When you sign up, the first thing you’ll be offered is to upgrade to Quizlet Plus, for $14.99 per year. That gets rid of the ads on the side of your Quizlet page, and also allows you to add pictures to your definitions, something I enjoy doing. Most importantly, it lets you use “Long-Term Learning,” something I love (yes, I did go for Quizlet Plus, but everything I’ve described above is available in the free version). Now I get an email every morning (you can select the time of your reminder), and one click later, I’m at the beginning of 20 flash cards, apparently randomly selected – but there is method behind the order in which Quizlet presents your study material. It’s based on the concept of spaced repetition – things that prove difficult are presented more often, those you know well will only pop up rarely (but still enough to make sure you don’t forget them altogether). For me, this along is worth the $14.99 annually; being able to add images and record your own voice might be an extra plus for teachers, trainers, coaches and others who would like to create study sets for use in groups.
By the way, apart from being a paying customer, I have no connection with Quizlet– I just happen to think it’s a great (free) tool that might help others, too.