As learning languages becomes growingly popular, an increasing number of people are looking for convenient ways to practice their target language, and find time in their busy schedules to learn.
Thanks to advances in technology, and mobile applications, learning is becoming more and more accessible. With people being able to squeeze in 5-10 minutes every day.
Today we are looking at the learning app Quizlet, and how it performs as an education app in regard to learning a new language.
What Is Quizlet?
Quizlet is an online flashcard program.
The American company was founded in 2005, by Andrew Sutherland. It then proceeded to go live in 2007, and has created a variety of tools and decks to help users learn and revise a variety of topics.
The initial motivation for developing Quizlet was Sutherland's desire to make a memorisation tool to help him in his French class.
Since it's early days, Quizlet has developed a mass of users, reaching one million users in just three years. As well as developing additional learning modes, turning Quizlet into more than just a simple flashcard software.
Quizlet has many features to offer its users, many of which help the apps' software tailor learning to each individual. Helping them get the most out of their practice.
These features include;
Premade And Custom Decks
As with many flashcard apps, Quizlet allows its users the option of using premade decks, or they can create their own.
The developers have given users a significant amount of freedom, as they can customise their deck from scratch, or they can edit the existing decks. This means that each deck is completely customisable to the individual's needs.
On top of this, users can preview the cards in each deck. So, they can easily figure out which deck is best suited to where they are at with their learning. Creating a simple, and efficient way for learners to get on with their work!
When creating a new deck, it is also possible to add a lot of detail too, the premium membership lets users create highlighted text, change the appearance (e.g., bold or italics) and include pictures/graphics.
Tying into the ability to create personalised flashcard decks, Quizlet also has the feature to scan documents.
The scanning feature is designed to streamline the creation process. When a document is scanned, the software picks out the individual words and the creator can select which words they want to make up the card.
While it is still slightly time-consuming to tap the individual words, it does speed up the process a lot! Especially if users already have the notes on their target language ready.
The developers of Quizlet have also added in different learning modes, as well as the flashcard option!
Learn: This mode lets users go through the flashcards within the deck. It includes a few different types of card built from the other modes.
Before users begin their 'learn' session, they are shown a screen which contains all the cards, their translation and a text-to-speak sound recording. So, they can have a quick glance over before diving into the activity!
Write: When users select this mode, Quizlet will give them a word, phrase or sentence to translate. Either into the target language, or from the target language.
By including a mode which focuses on writing, users can practice their spelling ability (which is especially important for languages which have special characters that alter the way a word is read/spoken!).
Match: This particular mode can be quite fun, and the developers have even added a social aspect.
The 'match' mode is quite literally a matching game. Users have to pair the words with their translation, the catch is that it is timed!
Every correct answer gets removed from the board, and every incorrect answer adds a second onto the final time. At the end, users are then met with a leaderboard showing how they compare to others on that particular deck.
Test: The test feature is very similar to the learn mode.
Users can customise the settings with things like how many questions it will have, whether it gets graded straight away etc. At the end of it, the app produces a percentage to indicate how their performance was.
The score remains present until the next test is taken, so users can watch as they improve, and the score goes up!
While the app as a whole works with spaced repetition (a proven learning method, where new information is repeated with increasing intervals) Quizlet manages to bring an element of fun back into the method. Creating an app that manages to combat the dullness of seeing the same words over and over.
Personalised 'Study Paths'
Users with a premium membership has the ability to access Quizlet's personalised study paths'.
When opening the 'learn' mode on a new deck, the app will prompt the user to set up a study plan by asking a couple of questions (such as what they want to achieve; revision, learning some, or learning it all).
From there, Quizlet will organise the cards in the deck into a sequence which will help users meet their goal.
It seems like a very helpful feature, however, after the initial set-up it seems to disappear. It would be great to see the developers introduce a tab where users can check where they are at with their study paths. Rather than it being a solely 'behind the scenes' feature.
When users open up the 'learn' mode with any particular deck, they can track their progress!
This screen will show their progress as a percentage, how many cards they have seen, how many cards they haven't seen, as well as how many of the cards they have mastered.
By having this information accessible, Quizlet shows users how well they are doing and which words or phrases they need to practice a bit more.
Quizlet also offers its premium members the opportunity to download their decks and flashcards, to learn offline. Many users will find this an incredibly helpful feature, as not everyone has access to Wi-Fi regularly.
Offline learning is great as it opens up more possibilities for people with manic schedules! Someone who may not have time to sit in a language class for an hour or two a week can now learn on the bus into work, or on their lunch break!
Advantages And Disadvantages
Learning a language with Quizlet's different 'modes' hosts a multitude of benefits.
For example, each flashcard has a text-to-speech function which allows users to hear how a word or phrase would be spoken. This applies to both premade and custom sets, so users don't miss out if they need custom material.
The feature which sets Quizlet's text-to-speech apart, though, is that it allows users to select what language the study material is in. In turn, this means that the software adds in the right pronunciation, something many text-to-speech apps struggle with!
Another thing which Quizlet does better than many other flashcard apps, is they created a variety of 'game' modes. By doing this, the developers have made learning with spaced repetition much more engaging. As well as catering to people who may not necessarily enjoy learning solely through flashcards.
Quizlet's leaderboard is also great, especially for anyone with a competitive steak! The 'match' game shows people words in their study set, and if a person wants to come top of the leaderboard, then they need to know their stuff!
This is very similar to Duolingo's social and competitive features, and that has proven incredibly popular over the years. It would be great to see the developers create a leaderboard or social aspect for each of the modes, whether it is comparing test scores or seeing who got the most correct answers during a 'learn' session.
Anyone looking to learn a language with Quizlet's premium membership can benefit from its low prices (discussed in more depth later on!) Quizlet's affordable premium memberships are great, as it makes learning much more accessible to the public.
But, as with all great things, Quizlet does have some disadvantages when it comes to learning languages.
The biggest one being that there is little to no structure. When going on the Quizlet website and selecting a language, users are met with a wide array of topics.
In French, for example, these range from current events, to science and technology, to past participles, and so many more.
For a new learner, this can be incredibly overwhelming, and lead to them learning a lot of vocabulary without any idea of how to actually use it in conversation.
Having a 'basics' flashcard deck which covers things like grammar and sentence structure would be a great addition from the developers. Giving users a large vocabulary without giving them the knowledge on how to actually use it just seems redundant.
Quizlet also offers little to no pronunciation opportunities. While this is a limitation of flashcards as a whole, the developers have put in the effort of adding a writing and spelling mode, so adding in a speaking game mode as well would complete the learning experience.
As it stands, unless users make a conscious effort to read each card out loud they won't be getting any speaking practice. Which is incredibly important when trying to achieve fluency in a target language.
Lastly, when learning flashcards, Quizlet only offers three categories;
- Not Seen: This covers all the flashcards users have yet to come across.
- Familiar: This is all the cards which users have got correct a handful of times, but may also have got incorrectly as well.
- Known Well: For all the cards users know perfectly and have 'mastered'.
On top of this, the flashcard 'game' only lets users say if they knew a word, or didn't.
While only having three categories, and two options, isn't necessarily going to impact a person's learning, it does feel like a shortcoming compared to other apps, such as AnkiApp, which offer additional categories which cover 'sort of' knowing a word. Allowing users to honestly categorise their ability, instead of trying to decide if they knew it well enough to swipe one way or the other.
How Much Does Quizlet Cost?
Compared to many other learning apps (especially ones dedicated to language learning!) Quizlet is surprisingly affordable. With many of its features being available without purchasing a premium membership, many users may even find they never have the need to bother spending money to learn.
The current cost of a premium membership in May 2021, is just £41.99 annually for Quizlet Plus. And £29.99 annually for Quizlet Go.
Quizlet Go lets users learn ad free, and also download decks for offline learning. However, if users want access to all the premium content then Quizlet Plus is the plan for them!
Other Apps To Learn Languages With:
For anyone looking for a bit more structure in their learning, as well as the opportunity to practice pronunciation and grammar, these dedicated learning apps may be worth a trial!
Duolingo: A free gamified way to learn over 30 languages. With users earning XP and gems with each session completed, and competing with friends and strangers alike for a spot on the leaderboard.
Duolingo is great for anyone wanting to really understand the grammar of their target language, as well as work through a structured course which starts with the basics.
Babbel: Smaller than Duolingo, but packed with content. Babbel offers a variety of languages, with reading, writing and listening activities designed to help its users achieve fluency.
Many users of Babbel also benefit from having access to different podcasts in their target languages (though these are not yet available for all the languages they offer).
Busuu: Busuu is a smaller language app, and similarly to Babbel, is packed with content. With a variety of exercises and activities, as well as a large community.
Busuu's community is one of its defining features, users can connect with natives who can offer tips and tricks on their spelling and pronunciation. Allowing users to learn the different nuances of their target languages.
As an app for learning languages, Quizlet has a lot to offer. With a wide range of premade cards in 5 different languages, and the option for users to make their own, the app can easily offer the majority of what users need.
Though it does have its limitations, if people wanting to learn a language combined Quizlet with a dedicated language app, such as the three mentioned above, they can get a complete and comprehensive understanding of their target Language App.