How does CM compare to Brainscape?

Not sure if we’re allowed to talk about other programs, but I see other programs being discussed.

I recently got to know Brainscape. Their Spanish language collection is specially curated (done by so called experts, not just left to users) - though there aren’t many expertly curated languages there. But the spanish one looks pretty good too.

Does anyone have any experience with it?

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Just looked at Brainscape it looks nicely laid out but I think you could get the same and better with Anki and it would be free too.

I think the main advantage of clozemaster is that you’re not just learning a word without the context of the sentence. The words also build up by difficulty.

Currently for me the only thing that beats clozemaster is lingq. Actually beat really is the wrong word in fact they are very complimentary, and have different uses, but lingq is far more comprehensive (and more expensive too).

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Thanks for the input! How do you mean more comprehensive? Anything we might add/improve on Clozemaster?

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I don’t with that one specifically, but I have a problem with flashcards as a learning method beyond the introductory level. It’s the same problem that I have with DopeyLingo, though the smugness of that site generates an extra level of dislike there. (To be clear, I don’t dislike flashcards, just Duolingo. I think that flashcards can have their uses, but IMHO there’s a structural problem with them.)

It’s the fact that most flashcards have the translation into your native language. That means that it is ALWAYS sucking you back to your mother tongue, and “all translation all the time” is not the way to become competent in a language. You need to break the link. This is the thing that I really like about Clozemaster; with listening exercises, with translation hidden, I can spend an hour not seeing or hearing a word of English - unless I’m unsure of the meaning, in which case translation is only a click away.

Of course that only works for intermediate to advanced learners who have at least a working vocabulary that they can extrapolate from. In the earlier days, when the student knows barely any words, a flashcard method can be helpful. (On Clozemaster the equivalent would be the multiple choice option.) HOWEVER… I’ve yet to see a flashcard tool which has, out of the box, what I suspect would be the most effective method; that is, images of the word, rather than the word in English.

Some of the earlier lessons on DopeyLingo used to do that; you would have a photo of a woman, and the word that you would have to select from the multiple choice list would be “una donna”, or “une femme”, or whatever. No. English. NOOOO. English. With questions like that the student’s brain associates the word with an IMAGE of a woman, or a road, or a bridge, or whatever. The problem is that these questions were a distinct minority. Most of the questions were the standard DuoLingo schtick of Target Language → English, English → Target language. Yes, let’s drag everything back to English so that when you’re in a bar in Seville (some time in 2024, if we’re lucky) your brain is still groping for the translations of what you want to say. (I recently took a look at the early lessons on DopeyLingo out of curiosity. The photos of people have been replaced by androgynous scribble drawings. I’m sure that’s a great improvement. Not.) I’m not saying that there should be NO option to go to English (or other native language) if you really need to and just don’t “get” the question, just that IMHO it’s better to stay as far from the native language as possible.

Brainscape does seem to allow you to create graphical or video flashcards for your own use but it would take a really, really long time to put together a significant number of decks. I have yet to see any product / service on the market which uses the graphical / video / audio approach with expansive, pre-built, curated decks. (Which is understandable, as composing such a course would be a LOT of work, and would require a lot of media.) If I were to find one I’d certainly consider adding it to my arsenal, but I don’t think it exists as of now.

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I am enthusiastic about discussing other programs and websites. I think using multiple tools often yields the best results with language learning, but I also think that Clozemaster compares favorably to all the other tools out there.

I’ve looked at Brainscape briefly, but honestly it doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe I would like it if I actually gave it a chance, but to me it seems just like a glorified flashcard system. It is often compared to Anki, another program which I think is pretty good as flashcards go, but which doesn’t appeal to me for the same reason.

Like Anki, Brainscape is designed broadly to help memorization across the board, and it encompasses all sorts of different learning. It is not specialized in language learning, and if anything, it seems slightly less language-oriented than Anki. Also, unlike Anki, it is not free and open source.

If there is any other tool that I would compare to Clozemaster, it’s Lingvist. Lingvist is really slick, and I think the courses they do offer tend to be higher-quality than Clozemaster, but they only offer five languages from English, and they don’t go nearly as far into the languages (some go farther than others, the newest one, Portuguese, is shortest but the others take you farther, but still not as far as Clozemaster.)

Also I think even comparing Lingvist to Clozemaster, I’ve seen more improvements to Clozemaster over time than I have to Lingvist, which has been spinning their wheels with unnecessary and confusing UI changes while not putting energy into stuff that matters.

Given how most commercial sites are run, I wouldn’t trust Brainscape to do a good job. That sounds cynical, but I’ve seen Duolingo and Lingvist managed in ways I don’t like, just like every mainstream social media site these days…constant UI changes but not enough focus on the core goal of learning.

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It would be really phenomenal if CM added the ability to link an image (through pasted URL or Google Image search or something) to a word and/or sentence.
I’ve gone through creating specialized Anki decks for language learning that capitalize on images and it’s a really fantastic way to assist with learning: both having the images and being able to choose them.
I wonder what it would take to get the devs to add images as a feature…

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@aonphleacs - yes, totally agree about pictures. Busuu is really good in that respect tho I still find I’m spending most of my time here now. Happy learning to you!

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So, this might require a lot of manual work, but this gave me an idea that might actually be nearly as effective and super easy to implement:

What do you think about the idea of adding a quick link to a google image search in the target language, along with the links to dictionaries and other supplemental tools?

I often use google image search as it is sometimes the quickest and deepest way to capture the connotation of a word. It can be useful both for material objects and abstract concepts. It’s particularly helpful for nouns but I’ve sometimes found it helpful for verbs and occasionally other words too.

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Good idea! This has been added :slight_smile:

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Just noticed that now, that’s a great addition!

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Many thanks indeed for giving us yet another goodie!

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@mike I don’t think it’s a matter of improving Clozemaster to compete with Lingq, as was said they are complementary, or at any rate completely different. In Lingq one encounters the language not in individual sentences but stories and articles etc, and these are read by native speakers. Listening is a big part of the language acquisition philosophy at Lingq. As is building your own links to words or phrases you’ve encountered in other readings on the site, or simply using the reader to plough through a difficult text using one-touch definitions, and etc.

I use both Lingq and Clozemaster, pay for both, find them both excellent.

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@Plovdiv agreed! We don’t plan on competing with Lingq. We just plan on eventually doing what they aim to do, but better :slight_smile:

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So then here’s an idea, the ability to import a short excerpt (not just one sentence, maybe a short story or article) and have 1 cloze assigned per sentence, with the ability we have now to edit and change the close. In fact I already do this by making my own cloze collection, but I’m sure there’s a way to implement this as a CM feature. Rather than seeing only one sentence at a time we could work through one paragraph at a time, making sense of the text.

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