金曜日, 3月 25, 2005

Memorization Tools

Check Set
Originally uploaded by moglet.
    This red transparent sheet is quickly supplanting the ring of flashcards as the memorization device of choice among students in Japan. When I first started seeing students using them on the subway during exam time, I guessed that certain books have the answers written in red, rendering them invisible under the sheet. It's true that there are books like this: test prep books designed for a target audience known to be hardcore memorizers. But you can also use any book for your memorization needs with this "Check Set". Just highlight the information you want to memorize with the green pen. When you cover it with the red sheet, it will appear black. Once you've successfully memorized the item, you can go over it again with the white pen. It will erase the green pen mark, leaving barely a trace.
    Years ago when they first came out, I used to like the ring of flashcards, also a Japanese invention. They were an improvement on the separate flashcards used until then. However, after a certain point their usefulness decreases. A person who needs to learn the very basics of a language should use flashcards. But later, when things have started to make sense on their own, you're better off questioning and applying what you know, not just learning to passively recognize vast quantities of information.
    This "Check Set" seems to promote slightly more active learning, depending on how you use it. You could, for instance, use it to study grammar by turning any paragraph into a cloze exercise for yourself, blacking out particles and verb endings. Or just use it to review your wrong answers in a textbook until you feel like you know them well enough. I want to do this starting from the second book in the U-Can Kanji Kentei course. I will finish the assignment at the end of the first book today.
    I would be interested to know if the red transparency is used in other countries, or if other countries have other memory aids.