Sometimes, the tried and true study methods really are the best ways to learn.  One of the those studying tools is flashcards.  Flashcards have helped me learn vocabulary (in both English and Spanish), practice simple math calculations, and memorize information.  I can use them by myself or with a classmate/friend.  The only problem with flashcards is the lengthy time it takes to make them.

Quizlet solves that problem.  Quizlet is a free website the allows users to create electronic flashcards and share them (if they want) with anyone. This means that a flashcards deck only needs to be created once, by one person.  How does it save time?  A teacher can create flashcards for the entire class provide the link to all the students.  One student can a deck for the entire study group with only the amount of time that it takes to make one deck.  You can even have each group member contribute to creating the flashcards deck (and it’s typed – no handwriting issues!).  A flashcards deck can be downloaded an infinite number of times—for free.  Additionally, if the document is already electronic, the user can copy and paste the information onto their electronic flashcards which can save some time.

However, it’s not just the sharing with group members that is helpful—it’s the ability to “publish” the flashcards deck so anyone can download and use the deck.  For instance, anyone who has studied French, Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, or nearly any major language, has heard of the the 501 Verbs book for that language.  Each book contains the conjugations (and meanings) of 501 verbs.  How long do you think it would take you to make a flashcards deck for 501 infinitive verbs and their translated meanings?  Hours.  But with Quizlet, only one person has to invest the time to make the deck.  And let me tell you, it’s already been done.  You can go download a flashcards deck for the Spanish 501 verbs, right now.  In fact, I embedded one in the post.

Creating the electronic flashcards is easy.  In fact, you can even start creating flashcards before you even make an account with Quizlet.  Click the “create” button and you’ll be taken to a screen where you just need to fill in the information.  Name the flashcards set, pick the subject, decide who is allowed to view and/or edit the cards, and then input the data.  You can fill in the cards simply by typing and hitting the tab button (fingers don’t even need to leave the keyboard!) or by copying and pasting information.  Want pictures?  Just click the “add images” selection.  Have all the data in an Excel or other database file?  You can import it.

The Quizlet Dashboard keeps track of all the flashcards decks you’ve ever looked at.  So don’t worry if you saw this really cool deck but you can’t remember the title of it or the username of the person who uploaded it.  Quizlet’s got your back.  You can even link your account with (or create an account using) Facebook.  How can that help you?  Let’s say you’re classmate and you are friends on Facebook and both of you use Quizlet but you have no idea that each other use it.  Quizlet will tell you “hey, your friend just viewed this deck” or “your friend just made this deck”.  You won’t even need to remember to send the link to your classmate…Facebook and Quizlet will do it for you.  Or, you can create a deck and publish an announcement to Facebook and all your friends can click on the link and use the deck.  Again, Facebook and Quizlet, doing the work for you.

But wait!  There’s more!  Quizlet has an iPhone app.  You can download the electronic flashcards to your iPhone and take them wherever you go to study.  You can study on the commuter train or bus, while waiting in line, or waiting at an appointment, etc. Now I know you don’t want to use every minute to study, but the important thing isn’t so much where and when you can study, but that you have options.  You don’t have to invest hours into making the flashcards, worry about losing a card when you’re using them, or sit at the computer to study.  Don’t have an iPhone?  No worries – the mobile website works well on any device.

I’ve embedded a flashcards deck of Spanish 501 infinitive verbs and their English translations.  You can also see it on Quizlet’s website.

Quizlet also goes beyond just flashcards.  They have six different ways you can use the data to study.  So now you really have no excuse…go study!

Judgement Day: MTTC Exams

The new semester began last Tuesday.  I am looking forward to some of the projects and readings this semester.  A bit intense, but not as much as the previous semester.  I have enough  reading and writing in both languages to keep my busy.  Freelance work too.

So here is how it all went down:

6am – Crawl out of bed.  Notice the sun is not up yet.  This is a depressing start.

7am – Arrive at Hart Middle School.  English exam up first.

7:15am – Find classroom. Two pieces of ID checked, signature, and a thumbprint to prove I’m me.

8am – “You may begin now”

8:20am – Nearly fall asleep at desk.  This is going to be a long day.  Take a min to rest, then continued with renewed alertness.

10:34am – 100 multiple choice questions mostly centered on writing, some on literature and I’m done.  Freezing and starving, I head out to lunch.

10:45am – Arrive at Panera.  Broccoli and cheddar soup, hot chocolate.  Mmm

11:15am – iPad studying the history and culture of Spain.

12:45pm – Head back to Hart.  Not looking forward to this Spanish exam.

1pm – Two pieces of ID checked (again), signature (again), and a thumbprint to prove I’m me (again).

1:05pm – Notice I know a few people from school – go over to chat about classes.  Overhear that many people are taking this test for the second or third time.  Say it’s rare for someone to pass on their first try.  I hear it has nearly nothing to do with Spanish language and all about minor cultural details that are not taught in any Spanish program.  I get discouraged, head to my desk.  Begin to freeze.

1:45pm – “You may begin now” (again).  Taped recording won’t start.  Confusion lasts a minute, then it’s on.  I have trouble hearing words in the passages and am not entirely sure I’m answering the questions correctly.

2:05pm – Commence multiple choice section.  Very confused – I didn’t know I had to memorize the dictionary, what are these words?

3pm – Very frustrated.  I have never learned this stuff about foreign language standards, which period did Person X write in, or which countries Spanish is an official language (apparently it is not in Belize).

3:15pm – Begin to doubt 3/4 of the Spanish department at the local high school could pass this test.  So random and obscure facts that are not needed to teach intro to Spanish.  Recall hearing that most schools in MI won’t let you teach in your minor – not qualified enough.  Very frustrated I’m torturing myself for nothing.

4pm – Realize my neck is not sore for sitting here for hours taking a test, instead, I’ve got a migraine.  Great.  Just peachy.

5:12pm – Done.  Spent nearly 7 hours (not including breaks) on testing today.  Way too cold, head throbs way too much, and blood sugar is dropping fast.

5:30pm – Startbucks.  Venti hot chocolate, no whip, slice of banana bread.  Munch in car while waiting for the hot chocolate to melt the ice chunks in my blood.

5:45pm – Home.  Frustrated and angry that I don’t believe I passed the Spanish exam, but happy I think I passed the English.  Homework will have to wait, I am exhausted.

Here’s to hoping I’m an insanely good player of eeny-meany-miney- mo with a side of educated guess.  Will know my scores on February 4.

Sleep, homework all day Sunday, then its time for more class on Monday.