I am in the midst of studying the Japanese language when I chanced upon a mobile app Quizlet a few days ago. It is a very beautifully designed learning app that enchants me the moment I started using it. This app is very useful for language learning and its primary strength lies in the various features of vocabulary compilation and testing. Quizlet is probably not a new app and it should be around for quite a while now, but it’s apparent that the Quizlet team has not let up their effort to enhance their app over time.
Quizlet enables user to set up an account and create vocabulary lists soon after. The main feature of the app uses flash cards as the primary learning tool. For my personal use, I usually place the English word on one side of the online flash card, with the same word in kanji, Hiragana/Katakana and romaji on the other side. For instance, while the word “book” is featured on one side, “本/ほん/hon” will be indicated on the other side.
Once you have finished compiling your vocabulary list (note: there seems to have very high word limit which is great, as I have a set which goes as high as 41 words), you can start to test yourself once you have familiarised yourself with the words in all its forms and variations. There are three features on the app which you are able to use:
- Flashcard: This is the typical online equivalent of the hardcopy flash cards language users often use in their language learning.
- Learn: This “Learn” feature provides you with the content on one side of the card and you are supposed to figure out the word on the other side. For my Japanese learning, “本/ほん/hon” will be shown while I have to type its corresponding word “book” to get this correct. The app has a tracking device on this feature such that it will re-test you if you get the word right. Of course, all humans err, so if users happen to mistype, they can always click on the “I mistype” button, and the app will disregard the mistake. The test completes in intervals within the sets, so users is able to rest or even leave the app. When they return, they are able to choose to continue the test, so just start all over by tabbing on the “restart” option.
- “Match”: This “match” feature allows users to match one side of the flash card with the other with numerous flash cards shown to the users simultaneously. Users then match the flash card as and when they find a match. For those who like a greater challenge, a timing is always provided at the point of completion, so users are always able to improve themselves. After all, competing with ourselves is much better than competing with others, right?
A few days after using the app, I begin to wonder if there is a desktop version, so I searched online and found it! I realise that the desktop version contains a much more comprehensive set of features than the mobile app version!
On top of the three features as mentioned above, below are the primary features available on the desktop version:
- Speller: This “speller” feature reads out a word and users are to type in the correct word. Users are free to play the pronunciation of the words again and again. Should users type in the wrong word, the system will reveal the answers, repeating the word slowly with a strikethrough over the wrong letters, while inserting the missed letters – highlighted and underlined for greater visual emphasis.
- Test: This “test” feature is an overall test on how proficient users are with the use of these words. It comes in four sections:
i. Fill in the blanks
ii. Matching questions
iii. Multiple Choice Questions
iv. True / False questions
The number of questions that are answered correctly and the respective percentages will be shown upon the completion of the test. Should users fail to answer some questions correctly, they have the option of starting all over again or just testing themselves the questions they had gotten wrong. By default, the test contains a maximum of 20 questions but users are able to select to test themselves all the questions in the set should they decide to do so. Users are also able to remove any specific testing component.
- Scatter: This “scatter” feature is the equivalent of the “Match” feature for the app version. However, the spatial distance is greater for the desktop or laptop version so the learning experience is – to me- much better. Once again, a time is given upon completion of the test for users to do better next time.
- Space race: This is not an original creation when it comes to word games but it’s probably the first or among the first when it comes to learning tools. Users are asked to type the corresponding words as their counterparts in another language floats across the screen, and the words speed up as the users “level up”. When users type the right word for the tested words, the latter disappear and pints are scored. The game will stop once all the lives are used up (Lives are lost when words successfully floats across the screen when users failed to key in the correct answers).
Besides the learning tools, there is also the results collation page whereby users are given a preview on how many times they got certain words wrong per vocabulary list (where they are able to “star” these items together to study later), group these words together (yes, even alphabetically), create folders for all the various vocabulary lists, share their vocabulary lists with online users, search for other relevant vocabulary lists (only if other users have placed their lists as “viewable by everyone”), and many more functions that I have yet to explore.
One of the most impressive Quizlet features I have come across for the desktop version is the capability of the system to print out a PDF version of the word list after users have completed compiling and editing the lists. The layout is very professional and looks very impressive! Please have a look below for a preview:
I will highly recommend Quizlet to anyone who is interested in learning a foreign language.
Have fun using Quizlet!
Patrick Tay is an English Language and Life Skills Training Specialist who is based in Singapore. He has been teaching communication studies and international issues in polytechnics and writes regularly on various issues of interest in education, media, business and international affairs at patricktay.wordpress.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.