My office is almost always messy; a fact that irritates my wife and leads my feet to small sharp objects from time to time. Every so often I attempt to clean it a little bit but following Christmas this year I am finally able to take advantage of the piles of junk and use my disorderly ways to boost my French vocabulary.
What can I say, I’m an opportunist!
Having junk everywhere means that I can now use my brand new FlashSticks notes to make my office even messier.
FlashSticks are – quite simply – sticky flashcards that you can post all over things in your home, office, school or, well, anywhere really. I’m sure they’re not the first people to realize that sticking word tags on everything is a decent way to improve your language skills, but they do appear to be the first ones to literally use custom Post-It notes.
FlashSticks are, like I said before, an incredibly simple method for advancing your foreign language vocabulary. You simply peel the word you’re looking for off of the pad and stick it on whatever it represents.
As you go about your life, wandering about your home you passively encounter words as you wander your typical route between the computer, the fridge and the keurig.
Or maybe that’s just me.
But through my thoroughly domestic travels I can now immerse myself in a magical realm of flashcards conveniently placed throughout my house.
For those of you who follow any of my other recent posts I’ve mentioned a couple times over the past two weeks now that my goal for 2015 is to learn 100 French words per month – a rather humble goal, I think, but one I intend to supplement with FlashSticks.
Furthermore – and this is pretty cool – FlashSticks are color coded according to gender; pink for feminine, blue for masculine, yellow for neuter and green for non-applicable words.
You may call that sexist, but it’s a horribly efficient and easily remembered system that works. Especially for native English speakers like me who have a hard time learning and remembering genders in a foreign language.
You can see this illustrated in the image below.
What is included?
I was gifted the French Beginner Box Set, a great big box with 600 French words of an introductory level difficulty, and I’ve honestly barely begun to scratch the surface of its contents.
Not only does it include hundreds of words, all assembled in a convenient booklet arranged by subject, but Flashsticks also includes something akin to stickerbooks in which you place the notes in their respective spots after you’re done (actively) learning with them.
It’s a nice way of keeping track of which words you’ve mastered – and lets face it, eventually sticky notes tend to lose their stick, and using them for their intended purpose begins to become more and more difficult. This is a great way to keep your collection preserved past its original use.
It’s a simple package, and it’s a simple product. The only real hassle being cleaning up fallen sticky notes from the floor because you stuck them to a weird surface. And if there are shortcomings with the stickiness – they’re the fault of Post-It, not FlashSticks.
There’s an app for that
So big sticky flashcards are all well and good you say, but couldn’t I just make my own? Write a word down on a Post-It note and voila?
Sure, and that’s actually not a bad idea – though it would be a lot of work – especially if you wanted to make 600 of them.
However, and you know how much I love this stuff, FlashSticks has an app, something your homegrown notes probably will not! The app accesses the camera on your phone or tablet. All you have to do is hover your device over the card in question and just like a QR scanner it will read the card and offer you a super quick video with a fantastically high quality audio recording of your word.
The ability to hear the words you’re learning spoken by fluent speakers is really invaluable and it’s something many other flashcard apps and programs do not always come with.
Oh, and it’s totally free – albeit it does no good if you don’t purchase the notes themselves first.
It’s kind of hard to argue with something as elegantly simple as flashcards with glue so my biggest complaints are mostly in regards to the stickiness of the notes. Again, not really an awful lot FlashSticks can do about this, so you just need to be careful and try not to stomp fallen notes into the ground too much.
As always – and I hope it goes without saying by now – you can’t learn a language in its entirety using FlashSticks, obviously. You need to diversify your learning strategies as much as possible and realize that this product is a supplement to other methods, not a replacement.
I’m not a huge fan of the phonetic (pronunciation) style and would personally prefer it if it were written using IPA.(Though I understand it’s not fair to expect the general population to read IPA) I think the used style could be confusing and lead to inaccurate pronunciations with languages that differ drastically from English – especially anything tonal. However an easy work-around for this problem is to use the app if you’re uncertain of a particular pronunciation. It only takes a second and you get to hear it from a native.
All in all a forgivable shortcoming.
FlashSticks are currently available in French, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, German, Portuguese, English and British Sign Language. It is likely that more languages could be added in the future.
The Sticks are available in three levels, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced, and vary slightly in their offerings. For example French is available both in 200 word packs for $7.65 (€ 6.35, £4.99) as well as a Beginner’s Starter Set, a much larger box of 600 words that includes the booklets. The starter set runs around $46 (€38.31, £29.99).
Many languages are only offered in the 200 word packs.
The mobile app is available for both Android and iOS devices and is completely free with the purchase of FlashSticks.
I would absolutely recommend FlashSticks as a superb addition to your language learning toolkit.
The price is not too extreme, the value high and the product can be used almost anywhere you can find a semi-flat surface!
In addition, FlashSticks seem to me as though they could make an excellent tool for use in language classrooms looking to add a splash of color to the walls and decor, and are absolutely suitable for all ages and proficiency levels.
You can check out FlashSticks here on their website.
Have you used FlashSticks before? What are your thoughts?
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