Language Goals April 2019

It’s been over a week and I still haven’t posted about my new goals… But there’s a reason for it. I just don’t really know about my goals at the moment. I have too much stress in my life and can’t really focus or enjoy language learning. Most of the time I just want to do nothing or something relaxing. That’s why I also didn’t do much last month:

Language Goals March 2019 – Results

Japanese

  • Review N4/N3 vocabulary/kanji (Memrise)
  • Review kanji (Anki, Heisig)
  • Reading practice (Watanoc N4 articles)
  • Listening practice (Peppa Pig, old N4 tests)

I did some reviewing of vocabulary and kanji on Memrise. But after the whole Memrise drama I lost more and more motivation to use the app. On March 23rd I broke my streak (which was at almost 2 years) on purpose. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. After that I could never go back to using Memrise regularly.

I continued my review of the Heisig kanji but didn’t achieve as much as I wanted. I think I was around 1000 cards at the end of the month.

I didn’t really read anything. But at least I had some listening practice. And I actually did a lot of quizzes, which wasn’t even my goal. But it was nice doing them here and there. The JPdrills website helps me a lot with it.

Overall I studied for 32 hours in March, so 1 hour per day.

jpstudytime-2019-3

Spanish

  • Finish the current learning novel (A2)
  • Start a new learning novel (A2)
  • Duolingo stories (Set 2)
  • Duolingo reviews
  • Watch Youtube videos

Nope, nope, nope… I think I read one Duolingo story and I watched maybe 3-4 youtube videos. I also do one Duolingo review every day but I dislike the service more and more so I don’t want to waste too much time on it.

Arabic

  • Practice the script

Nope………

Language Goals April 2019

I need to get rid of my stress first before I can make better goals. Until then I will not do much.

Japanese

  • Review N4/N3 vocabulary/kanji (Memrise)
  • Review kanji (Anki, Heisig)
  • Quizzes grammar/kanji/vocab (JPDrills)

I will continue the things that worked more or less in March.

Spanish

  • Finish the current learning novel (A2)
  • Duolingo reviews

Maybe I can finally finish my novel…?

 

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Language Goals March 2019

February was another busy month for me. But at least I could do a bit more than in January!

Language Goals February 2019 – Results

Japanese

  • N3 vocabulary (Memrise, 700 new cards)
  • Kanji review (Memrise, Heisig deck)
  • Reading practice (Watanoc N4 articles) ()
  • Listening practice

I completed the vocabulary goal, although I should actually rephrase the goal: finish the current N3 vocabulary deck. In the end it wasn’t 700 cards but only 571 because I ignored a whole bunch of cards (partly cards I tried to learn before). Why? Many of the cards had mistakes and I couldn’t correct them. There were also some duplicate cards and some that I didn’t find useful.

I also reviewed kanji, but not on Memrise. The problem was that I had forgotten so many of the Heisig stories and reviewing cards in random oder was just pointless. Since Memrise announced to remove community courses from the app I decided to switch to Anki and just re-start the whole Heisig deck. I’m already about 350 cards in, it’s going much faster this time because I already learned everything before. Definitely the better approach to reviewing this deck.

I read a few articles on Watanoc, but again not that many… but I’d say I achieved the goal at least partly. The listening goal was much better, especially in the first half of the month. I also tried starting grammar but it was too much for me so I didn’t continue it.

Overall I studied for 37 hours in February, that’s about 1.3 hours per day.

jpstudytime-2019-2

Language Goals March 2019

I decided to not take the JLPT N3 this year. This opens so many possibilities for my language learning! I really miss my other languages, I guess I just can’t study one language only for an extended period of time. So from March on I’ll be back with learning several languages at the same time.

Japanese

  • Review N4/N3 vocabulary/kanji (Memrise)
  • Review kanji (Anki, Heisig)
  • Reading practice (Watanoc N4 articles)
  • Listening practice (Peppa Pig, old N4 tests)

I will take it very slowly with Japanese in March. My main goal will be reviewing all my N4/N3 decks on Memrise before they get moved to the new site. After this I will uninstall the Memrise app and start learning new decks on Anki.

I will also continue working through the Heisig deck. I won’t set a specific goal because I really don’t know how fast it’s possible for me to progress… so the goal is just to do as much as possible.

And as always I will continue with the reading practice and listening practice.

Spanish

  • Finish the current learning novel (A2)
  • Start a new learning novel (A2)
  • Duolingo stories (Set 2)
  • Duolingo reviews
  • Watch Youtube videos

I decided that Spanish will be my secondary language for a while. And my main study focus will be reading. In February I already picked up the learning novel I started… ages ago, and I really enjoy reading it. Before my strategy was to understand everything 100% which meant looking up a lot of words. But this was quite annoying so I didn’t read a lot. Now my goal is to just read the novel and only look something up if I feel I really need to understand the word for this part. So I just want to get as much input as possible. And I can always go back later to read it in more detail.

After I finish the current novel I want to start a new one. At the time of writing this post I have 14 learning novels for Spanish, so there’s a lot to read!

I will also look at the Duolingo stories again and try to finish all in the second set. And do some Duolingo reviews but I won’t put a lot of time into this because at this point I think that Duolingo can’t help me much anymore. Besides the reading I want to watch youtube videos to practice my listening comprehension and to learn a few new things.

Arabic

  • Practice the script

Arabic is on my list of languages I want to learn in the future. At the moment I want to focus on my main languages (Japanese, Spanish, French) so I don’t really want to start it now, but I think it’s a good time to start practicing the script. I took a course in Arabic in 2016 so I already know how to read and write, but it’s been a while so I have to review and practice a lot. I will take this very slowly, I don’t really have a set goal for this.

 

I decided to not take the JLPT N3 this year

My goal was to take the JLPT N3 this year and I had already made a rough study plan for it. At the beginning of the year I also decided I would focus on only Japanese for a while because I wouldn’t have much time for other languages. But all of this didn’t make me happy. So I finally decided to not take the JLPT N3 this year. It wasn’t an easy decision. But now that it’s done, I feel so much happier.

There are several reasons for this decision:

I don’t have enough time to study enough for the N3. My life has been and will continue to be very busy the whole year. I’m already behind my learning plan and I know I won’t be able to catch up. I’d have to sacrifice everything else I do in my free time and I’m definitely not up for that.

I don’t want to get stressed out. Technically I could wait with the decision and when the registration phase comes (in August) I could still decide if I want to register. But then I’d already be stressed before August and I might actually register. Last year in September (= after I registered for the N4) I realized I hadn’t learned enough for the test yet, so I started putting a lot of time into studying. Every day I studied for 2-3 hours and it was like hell during the last few weeks. I don’t want to repeat this.

I want a satisfying result. Some people use the test to push themselves to study more. I’m not this type of learner. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed about my N4 results. I prefer to take a test when I know that I’m well prepared. Since I have the choice when to take the test, I will make this choice and just do it later.

I was thinking that I could do the test as a “test run” this year and then take it again next year, independent from this year’s result. But I know that if I sign up I would just push myself to study and then I will just be stressed. Taking this test is always very stressful, be it the weeks before when preparing for it or on the actual test day. And I don’t want this.

I feel so much better knowing that I don’t have to take this test this year. I feel like I have so many possibilities with my language learning now. I don’t have to just learn for the JLPT, I can also do different things with Japanese (like reading manga) or with my other languages (which I miss a lot!). So overall I think this is the right decision.

Goodbye Memrise, I’m leaving

What happened?

On February 20, 2019, many Memrise users received an email from Memrise’s CEO Ed Cooke, informing us about important changes to the service: The community-created courses would be removed from the Memrise website and app, and moved to a sister website called “Decks” in mid-March.

The forum announcement was immediately filled with angry users, mostly Memrise Pro customers. Many of us (including myself) are paying for the pro subscription to have offline access to the community courses in the app. By removing the community courses, Memrise is removing the reason why many people even pay for the subscription.

Memrise promised a follow-up and published a blog post on February 21st. This blog post made it clear that Memrise would hold on to their decision and was not interested in discussing it.

The decision in more detail: how Memrise treats its customers

It’s understandable that companies sometimes have to change things. They have to make money or they might not be able to provide their service anymore. But the way this whole thing was handled by Memrise is really disgusting.

The reason for the removal

The most disgusting part is how they justify their decision in their blog:

Since focusing on our own language courses, we’ve grown twenty times over, and a very small proportion of learning on our mobile apps now happens on community-made courses.

And later in the post:

As some of you have commented, we did come to this decision after a careful analysis of how and where community-created content is being learned, which is overwhelmingly online.

In November or December 2017, Memrise removed the ability to search for community courses in the app. There were a few topics about this in their forum, but no Memrise employee replied to them and there was also no announcement. They just silently removed the search ability.

It was still possible to search for community courses on the web and after joining them there, they also appeared in the app. But not every app user knew about this. And new app users wouldn’t even know that community courses exist. Of course fewer users use community courses in the app if they are hidden and harder to access. This means Memrise created this situation (=fewer people using community courses on the app) themselves and now they’re using it to justify the complete removal from the app.

The bad communication

There was one Memrise employee in the forum announcement who answered some questions but most of them were already answered somewhere else. Many other people had many other questions but most of this was ignored. After publishing the blog post, there were almost no more answers given in the announcement. This just makes it more clear that Memrise is not interested in discussing this with its users and won’t change their decision.

The main problem with Decks

Memrise immediately announced that Decks will get a mobile-friendly website. But they would not develop an app for it. This means there will be no offline mode for community courses anymore. But many people need this offline mode because they use the app in places without internet (or instable internet) or because their data plan is very limited. Many people have expressed their concerns in the announcement about the lack of an app, but Memrise keeps saying “but we will develop a mobile-friendly website!”

How about refunds?

Everyone who only uses community courses and only uses the app has no more reason to pay for the pro membership anymore. Did Memrise offer refunds in such cases? No, they decided to stay silent and keep collecting money even though they will remove a substantial part of their service. Even worse, they waited with the announcement until the people who signed up with a discounted offer during Christmas/New Years would have their accounts for more than 30 days so they couldn’t just use the 30 days money back garantuee.

Memrise states in their Terms of Use that they don’t refund money after 30 days and that refunds don’t apply to renewals. They probably also have enough legal wording there to be able to refuse refunds in the current case. One person also pointed out that Memrise changed their Terms of Use without notifying the users and without including the date of the change, on the day before they announced the removal of the community courses, which might make it even easier for them to refuse refunds. Still, if Memrise has any decency, they should refund people who are heavily affected by the removal of the community courses from the app.

Many people sent their refund request to the customer support, but what I got back so far was just a template message saying they need time looking into my case and that they will get back to me after March 18th. This is very unsatisfying, but I’m still hoping to get back the rest of my money for my annual subscription (which continues another 7 months after they remove the courses!).

The future of Decks

Honestly, I don’t have any hopes for Decks. Memrise made it pretty clear that they don’t have enough interest and resources to improve Decks.

There will be no app for Decks. They said in their initial announcement that there would be no app. And even after many people expressed their concerns they didn’t say that they would think about it. No, they just keep saying how great the mobile-friendly site will be.

There will be no offline mode for Decks. Obviously, since there is no app, there also won’t be an offline mode. And even if they do make an app, I doubt there will be an offline feature. Why? 1) They said Decks will be free to use and it doesn’t make sense to offer a free offline mode for Decks while people have to pay for it for Memrise. 2) They still have really bad problems with downloading community courses in the app even now. For most of the courses I try to download I get error messages. They would have to put a high amount of work into it, but they don’t have the resources for it.

They don’t have a high priority to advertise Decks. When someone asked if Memrise will publicize Decks on the website and app, the Memrise employee said:

We’re discussing this kind of linking between Memrise and Decks at the moment.  For the launch it won’t be there since we’re focused on making sure Decks works well, but we know that community courses fill a gap for more advanced users that Memrise doesn’t. There will be a simple linking between Memrise and Decks at launch (in the footer and about page).

Who ever looks at the footer or the about page? I doubt there will be any more linking or advertisement in the future. It looks to me like they want to just focus on their new Memrise product, making people aware of Decks doesn’t seem to fit into this.

They want to focus on the new, casual learners. It’s obvious with the removal of the community courses from their main product, just leaving very low level official courses, which are also heavily geared towards touristy situations. I guess in the end you can make much more money off people who are new to languages or only want to learn a bit for the next trip, even though there are already tons of apps for this type of learner. More advanced learners? They’re not that important because there are fewer of them, which also means less money. I don’t think Decks will see many improvements after the initial launch, especially because it’s a free service that doesn’t bring them any money (unless they plaster it with ads).

They just do what they want. Memrise removed the search ability for community courses on the app without even saying anything and they are now removing these courses completely from the app without any discussion. I really wouldn’t be surprised if they shut down the Decks service in a few months or years without much of a prior warning. Reason: Not many users are using Decks… Hmm I wonder why, oh wait, it’s because it doesn’t have an app and they’re not promoting it within the Memrise website and app.

What I’m going to do in the future

I loved Memrise, it was perfect for my learning. But I have no use for their own courses and I need an app with offline mode. So I decided to leave Memrise. And obviously this also means that I’m cancelling my pro subscription.

I already experimented a bit with Anki and while it’s quite different to what I’m used to with Memrise, I also see a lot of good things about it. For example I really like how customizable it is. And I can use the “note” field for additional information or mems.

I might also try other apps but honestly, I don’t want to pay subscription fees for another app anymore, hoping that they will provide the service I paid for. So I will probably just stick with Anki since it’s free for Android.

For anyone who wants to switch from Memrise to Anki, there exists an Anki add-on that let’s you transfer your courses into Anki, including pictures, audio and mems. Apparently it even transfers your progress from Memrise. It didn’t really work for me but others have successfully done it.

Since I had troubles transferring the courses with the add-on and don’t want to waste my energy fixing it, I decided to start over on Anki. In the future I plan to make my own decks anyway, so I guess it’s a good time to switch now.

Update March 15, 2019:

Memrise announced a decks mobile app. Until this is released, community courses won’t be removed from the normal Memrise app. An offline mode will be available for the Decks up if you’re subscribed to Memrise. I guess the high number of complaints but especially the many people canceling their pro membership made them reconsider.

Will this change anything for me? Not much. Some people are really happy about this development and I’m happy for them. But personally, I’ve just had enough of this. In the last 1-2 years I’ve had enough moments with big companies doing whatever they want and I’m so, so tired of it. The new design that Memrise plans to roll out to everyone in the future is also something I don’t like.

Now that they will have a mobile app with offline mode I can’t ask for a refund anymore (they probably got a lot of emails asking for a refund). So my plan will be to continue reviewing my Japanese courses (N5 vocab/kanji, N4 vocab/kanji, N3 vocab, Genki II) over the next 7 months until my subscription is over. I will definitely not renew my subscription.

I won’t start any new courses on Memrise though. And I won’t review my other language courses there anymore but move them to Anki. While Anki is different, I got used to it and there are many things I like more about the program compared to Memrise. After the 7 months are over I will delete my Memrise/Decks app and do everything on Anki only. I feel I have more freedom there and less stress with decisions that affect my learning like removing features or making new distracting designs.

Language Goals February 2019

January was a very busy month for me. I had so much to do that I could barely study and even when I had an hour in the evening, I was often just too tired for language learning. I knew about it in advance and didn’t set many goals, but in the end it was so bad that I barely made any of my goals:

Language Goals January 2019 – Results

Japanese

  • N3 vocabulary (Memrise, 800 new cards)
  • Reading practice (Watanoc N4 articles)
  • Listening practice

I was hoping I could do 800 new cards in Memrise, but the goal was way too high. I did 464 new cards (current number of cards: 1665), so a little more than half of the original goal. For a very busy month I think that’s still fine though.

I read a few articles, but definitely not enough to say I reached the goal. I can’t seem to get into reading at the moment. I did some listening practice though. I discovered Peppa Pig in Japanese and I love watching it because I understand almost everything without much effort, so it’s perfect even after a stressful day. And the Japanese version is very cute.

Overall I studied for 28.5 hours in January. I expected a lot less actually, but this is still almost 1 hour per day!

jpstudytime-2019-1

I didn’t study for my other languages in January. But I did 1-2 French lessons per day on Duolingo to keep reviewing my French a bit.

Language Goals February 2019

February might be a bit less stressful but I’m not sure. Anyway, I will continue with low level goals for another month because I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. The goals will be almost the same as in January and also Japanese only:

Japanese

  • N3 vocabulary (Memrise, 700 new cards)
  • Kanji review (Memrise, Heisig deck)
  • Reading practice (Watanoc N4 articles)
  • Listening practice

There are 700 cards left in the deck I use at the moment (Nihongo Sou Matome N3) and I want to finish it in February. I neglected reviewing kanji in the last 1-2 months so that’s also something I want to start doing again.

Then as before I want to read a bit and also practice listening a lot to get more confident in both sections and before I move on to N3 material.