I was first introduce to Memrise at #ililc4 in a really intriguing session by Dominic Traynor, who I'd gone to listen to as a result of the fact that he uses PE to teach Spanish. I wasn't expecting the main nugget that I took away to be something which would really support my students in a structured academic way.
Memrise is, in its very simplest way, a great independent learning tool to support students with practising new language. You can search for courses which have already been made (including full AS spec vocab) or you can create your own containing the precise language that you want your classes to be working on. It takes no time at all to type it in, press tab for the translation then press save. Personally this, at the moment, is the route that I'm taking as I want my students to be working on fairly precise things.
Memrise then cycles between introducing new language and testing the language that's been introduced. My students find it massively addicting- especially as they soon realise that the more they practise the more confident they feel in sessions. Even my top groups are discovering that the language I want them to be using in their Controlled Assessments is all packaged up ready to practise within their Memrise course. Feel free to have a look at http://www.memrise.com/course/401042/local-area-challenge/
One of the elements that I put a lot of emphasis on in sessions is HOW we learn new language. Not how we learn chunks of language, because that's something that we try to avoid at all costs. One of the main skills we practise is thinking of stories to associate with new words. Memrise offers this function as well- students are rewarded with points towards their learning leaderboards for creating "Memes"- ways of remembering the words whcih can then be shared with others.
It's the leaderboard function, split into week, month and all time, which really captivates many of my learners- and in particular those in the lower groups. We have monthly prizes in school for the top 3 per course, and I've been startled how, at the end of both September and October, I've been pestered on the first day of the month to print out the leaderboards which I display in my classroom.
Real positives I've discovered
- Parents are fascinated. I've even had a few sign up to their own accounts and join in, thus causing a massive sense of determination to beat their mum (on the leaderboard, not physically!). So I've started sending a bit.ly shortened web address for the courses home on newsletters.
- It's a great Flipping tool- students arrive confident with the language that we're then going to be using. Some of my older students are also going back and using the new entry course (we're stage not age), whilst some of my new students are also going away and working on some of the more advanced courses.
- I sent the link to my Principal, whose sons are in year 7. She got addicted. Which gave me massive power to force my groups to do more- because if the Principal's beating the students then surely they need to work harder!
- Some of my students have started creating their own courses and sharing the link- mainly EAL students wanting to celebrate their own language. Brilliant says I, let's celebrate them!
- Maths have started creating their own Memrise courses- a massively unexpected bonus, but the kids who are in the lowest Maths group in the school are completely hooked, leading to massive repetition of the learning and a strengthening of their understanding. Bonza, says I. Have a look- http://www.memrise.com/course/453989/times-table-legends/
- I'm aware that they're in the process of recording audio and video material to go with 1000s of Target Language words across a variety of languages- big bonus there (although there are already a mass of sound files which pop up as options when you are creating a course.
So the long and short of it is, engagement with the tool (and the app) have been fantastic (including some students, not even those who are traditionally your determined / want to do more type) are asking me to create / tweak courses to allow them to concentrate on specific elements to further their learning. Aye aye, says I. It really is well worth a try to see if it sparks in your school.