Two quick Memrise tips to boost vocabulary learning

These are two simple tips I discovered while using Memrise to learn Korean vocabulary, which I think make learning a language with Memrise more effective:

  1. Mistype things on purpose. Yes, you read that right. See, Memrise is driven by an algorithm. This algorithm works on a principle of spaced repetition – if you input the word correctly you will see it less often, if you make a mistake you will see it again sooner. It is a good algorithm for minimizing effort and maximizing retention, but, as such things go, it simplifies the reality quite a bit.
    (This tip presumes you already know how to type Korean. In the case you don’t here is a series of post about setting up Korean keyboard and learning how to type Korean faster)
    Typing the world correctly doesn’t always mean you knew it with 100% certainty.

    Sometimes, I find I accidentally guess the word. Other times, another word I reviewed recently sparks my memory. But even though I guessed it correctly, I just don’t feel that I really knew the word. And sure enough, often when the word comes up later, I am clueless.

    Trust your gut feeling. If you feel like you don’t really know the word even though you recalled it this time, make a purposeful mistake while typing.Memrise tips for language learning example Korean

    I got into habit of just hitting an extra ㄴ when I’m too uncertain about a Korean word. I still do try to type the word as correctly as possible so that I get the practice and so that Memrise can do the comparison for me:
    Memrise corrects incorrectly typed vocabulary

    By making this deliberate mistake you are tricking the program to show you the word sooner. Consider it one of the Memrise cheats.

    How to learn Korean

  2. Add collocations and idioms to your courses. Everyone agrees making your own course is the best way to get the most out of Memrise (or any other spaced repetition program you use). Just like everyone agrees that adding a word in context is a lot better than learning the word in isolation. Following this advice I diligently added sample sentences too, for every word I added.
    But very soon I found this to be way overwhelming.

    Expectedly, a whole sentence takes a lot longer to type. It also makes it a lot easier to make a typo. One little mistake and you find yourself typing the same long sentence over and over again until you convince the algorithm that you really do know it and it was an honest mistake. In addition, translating the whole sentence correctly is especially difficult for Korean. “I have a friend.” could be 친구 있어요. 친구가 있습니다. 저는 친구 있어요. 저는 친구가 있어요. 친구 있다. etc. Even though you may know all of these sentences, you either have to give yourself clues which exact sentence the program is expecting, or resolve to guesswork.

    I finally solved this problem by adding collocations instead of whole sentences.

    Collocations are word combinations that are used often and sound natural to native speakers. For example, in English words “big” and “large” have basically the same meaning. Yet “big trouble” sounds right while “large trouble” doesn’t. Similarly, “big decision” sounds natural, while “large decision” doesn’t. Same happens in Korean language too.

    Then there are idioms. Unlike with collocations, where making a mistake such as saying “large trouble” will still allow the native speaker to understand what you mean even if they cringe a bit, with idioms it is impossible to know their meaning without learning them directly.

    For example, “at large” has nothing to do with size or being big, and all to do with being free, but there is no way to know this just by knowing the meaning of the word large.

    In conclusion, by inputting idioms and collocations, you get the benefit of a context when learning the new word without the added trouble of struggling with whole sentences.

    For Korean, I use Naver’s dictionary idiom list which is on the bottom of every page for the English translation:
    Korean naver dictionary example of idioms and collocations for MemriseThis is an example of some of the collocations that Naver dictionary gives for Korean word 준비. For each Korean word I usually select two or three collocations max so as not to overwhelm myself when time to review comes.

I hope these two quick Memrise tips will speed up your vocabulary learning and make it more effective.

Are you using Memrise to learn Korean vocabulary? What are you favorite Memrise tips?


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4 thoughts on “Two quick Memrise tips to boost vocabulary learning

  1. Do you create your courses yourself as to make them more in line with your needs or do you use courses made by others that are in line with textbooks you use or that are in line with your goals?

    If you make your own courses, are they public and would you care to share a link or two?

    Great tips by the way. I do agree that making a mistake now and then does help you in the long stretch to ensure you know the word.

    • I started with a premade course 1000 Most Common Words in Korean. But after I finished it I realized there was a small percentage of words I simply couldn’t remember even after months of practice. For example 원하다, 바라다, 싶다 all have very similar definitions in that course so neither could I guess which one of the three the course wanted me to type nor did I have a clue in which instances to use each word.

      That’s when I gave away with premade courses and started making my own. I take time to find usage differences and add collocations too. Usually I do this for more abstract words.

      All my courses are private, sorry. They are just too much tailored to my own style of studying. But I wholeheartedly recommend you make your own.

      Here is a very detailed step by step process of how I extract Korean vocabulary from text and add it to Memrise.The example is given using K-pop lyrics but from step 3 it’s the exact same process no matter which type of text it is.

  2. I come across your website by accident. I read you broken heart story and I feel sad for you despite the posting was in 2014. I hope you are doing well now. I see that you give pointers on how to learn Korean language. I will bookmark your webiste since it provides tips to learn the language. I hope you can accept my frienship.

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