More language learning strategies with Evernote

Judging by the large number of visits to last week’s post on More ways to learn language with Evernote, there is a lot of buzz about the many uses for this application that helps you to « remember everything ».  Evernote just won Best Mobile Startup at the Crunchies 2008 Awards.

Here are a few more tips to help you learn language online with Evernote.


I gave up bookmarking to my Firefox toolbar a long time ago and adopted Delicious.  The disadvantage of Delicious is that you can only save the link but not the content, which limits the capacity to search.  In Evernote you can add the content of a webpage to a note in Evernote  directly from your browser with two clicks, although to speed up searching it’s best to add tags.  My Evernote is full of tags to help me find language-learning tools (‘reading’, ‘writing’, ‘listening’, ‘speaking’, ‘vocabulary’, ‘pronunciation’ etc.)  For a better visual presentation of the page in Evernote, you can paste it as a screenshot into the note.  The Firefox plugin screengrab does this well.  You can also type your own notes into the bookmark to help you remember why you saved it.  There is one negative though – clipping websites into Evernote seems to be slower than bookmarking in Delicious, something that should improve in future releases.

evernote-readlaterBecome a better reader

The best way to increase your vocabulary in a foreign language is through reading.    The best way to increase your reading is to find material that you are really interested in.  Doing reading comprehension exercises based on articles or books that don’t interest you at all is a waste of time.  There is a huge amount of reading material on the Internet that matches our interest, but the problem is that the best articles usually turn up when we don’t have time to read them.  So we bookmark them, but never remember to go back to them.

I hardly ever have time to read valuable material the moment I find it, so I have created a « read later » tag in Evernote.  When I find an article that I would like to read, I save it using « read later » and then forget about it.    I then plan « reading time » into my week when I have a spare hour, type « read later » into the search, and all my articles are there waiting for me.  When I’ve finished reading I simply delete the tag.

evernote-chatRecord your social networking conversations

In the post How to improve your language outside the classroom we talked about using social networks for language-learning.  Sites like Ning Networks, EnglishForum and many others use Instant Messaging for live communication with your language-learning contacts.  IM or chat is very effective for language-learning, especially if you combine it with Evernote.  Copy and paste your IM chats into Evernote and make time later to study the conversation to revise the language that you learned from your language helper, and to see how you can improve and correct your own language.  In the desktop version of Evernote you can use the Edit/Spelling and Grammar tool to help you.

Using Evernote is as easy as writing all your notes on post-its and throwing them into a drawer.  Even when the drawer is overflowing with notes, you can still easily find the note you are looking for.  In addition to the text search and tags, you can also filter notes based on when they were created or modified, what kind of media they contain, or the tool you used to capture them (web, mobile, desktop, etc.).

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