Foreign Languages Fields of Study
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About Foreign Languages on Brainscape
How to Learn a Language Fast
We all wish we could just push "the easy button" and pour foreign language concepts directly into our brain. But the fact is, if you want to learn a language faster than just the natural way someone might "pick it up", then it is going to take some hard work.
We've put together a list of 5 key requirements for learning a foreign language:
- Motivation. If you don't have a solid goal, there's no way you will end up sticking with your learning plan. Whether your objective is family, travel, work, or school, you have to really want it.
- A Native-Speaking Conversation Partner. This could be a friend, a teacher, a tutor, or a co-worker. It's important to be able to begin applying your new conversational skills immediately, even if you only know how to say "Hello" and "How are You?".
- A Good Instructional Book(s). While learning a language "on the street" has some cool appeal to it, a true autodidactic learner will seek out the best written resources depending on their existing speaking level and their preferred dialect to learn.
- Ear-Eye Training Activities. It's critical to find good activities that combine listening with follow-along reading. e.g. Find a good audiobook in French and then buy the written version of that same book so that you can read along. Or watch a documentary in French about a familiar topic, with the closed-captioning turned on (also in French). These activities are particularly helpful when it is a movie or book that you already know well, so that you can figure out certain phrases’ meanings by their familiar context. This sheer volume of spoken words — heard alongside their written counterparts — will help you “refine your ear” and better absorb new words in the future.
- A Digital Study Tool. Finally, to complement your readings and real-world activities, you need a great adaptive learning activity that solidifies all the foreign language vocabulary, verb conjugations, and grammatical formations that you are encountering. There are many great apps out there, but one of them is clearly the best . . .
The Best Language App
Brainscape's adaptive web and mobile flashcards platform provides the perfect complement to the above language learning strategies. Our marketplace contains study materials for dozens of languages, created by top students and professors around the word and, in a few cases, by expert publishers working directly with Brainscape.
Brainscape's foreign language flashcards are neatly divided into Subjects and Decks that correspond to the ways that a learner might need to study them. Our adaptive learning engine makes it easy to review your vocab, verbs, phrases, and grammar in exactly the pattern your brain needs, for maximum memory retention. And most of the flashcards have audio accompaniments as well!
How Brainscape Builds Your Foreign Language Skills
Brainscape helps you practice languages more efficiently than other apps, by using our unique Confidence-Based Repetition (CBR) technology. This combines three key mental activities into one optimized stream of learning.
First, Brainscape asks you to think of each word, sentence, or concept in your head and then manually reveal it. This process of Active Recall is significantly more effective than simply recognizing the correct answer from among a series of multiple choices, as it forces your brain to truly work to retrieve it -- just like you would in the real world.
Second, Brainscape asks you to rate your confidence in how well you knew each answer, on a scale of 1-5. This act of self-reflection -- or Metacognition -- deepens the memory trace by forming neuron connections in a different part of your brain.
Finally, Brainscape uses each individual flashcard's confidence rating to determine precisely how often to repeat it. This customized version of Spaced Repetition ensures that you are reviewing each flashcard within the best interval of time for your brain's maximum memory absorption.
Taken together, these characteristics make Brainscape's online, iPhone, and Android-based flashcards app the most effective and efficient way to study exactly what you need to study, right when you want it.
Rosetta Stone vs DuoLingo vs Brainscape
People often ask how Brainscape's language learning solutions stack up to companies like Rosetta Stone and DuoLingo, which are exclusively focused on foreign languages. The answer is that Brainscape is unique in different ways, depending on which tool you're comparing us against.
Rosetta Stone is primarily a recognition-based learning tool. Nearly all the exercises are some form of multiple choice, where you are simply matching the correct phrase or image with the cue that you are given. This deprives Rosetta Stone users of the benefits of Active Recall, in which users could have otherwise been forced to recall concepts "from scratch" (without a prompt) just like they would in the real world.
While Rosetta Stone does have some cool open-ended features like voice recognition training, those are not quite as convenient for an app when you are in a quiet bus, library, or coffee shop!
DuoLingo is similarly focused on a lot of multiple choice exercises, although they do have some activities that require you to type in the correct word. Yet DuoLingo is more geared toward "fun" than necessarily being an effective learning tool. Your aim is for points and badges, and the types of phrases you're learning are not always the most useful conversational phrases for the real world. Also in DuoLingo, once you have finished a lesson, it is marked as "completed", and those questions never pop up again (even if you may have quickly forgotten those concepts a few days later).
Brainscape is different in that it is purely focused on Active Recall and learning effectiveness, for the serious (rather than just "casual") learner. It may not have all the beautiful expensive images that Rosetta Stone has, and it may not be as fun as DuoLingo is, but we guarantee that it will help you learn your language faster and remember it for longer.
Perhaps the best part about Brainscape is that you can customize the curriculum to your own needs. So even if you find existing Brainscape flashcards that are mostly aligned to your currently skill level, you can still continue to add your own vocabulary words (e.g. for slang you picked up on the street) in order to make your training suite more complete.
Overall, we are extremely confident that you will love your Brainscape learning experience, and we hope that you get started FREE today!