Online Software for Learning Languages is a very interesting website for learning languages, created by Greg Detre and Ed Cooke, mnemonist and author of Remember, Remember.

The website is still beta, but looks like it has a lot of potential. I’ve been going through the Mandarin characters section. The software shows a character with suggestions for mnemonics. Anyone can add a new mnemonic or edit an existing one.

The screenshot below doesn’t do it justice — you have to try the software to get the full effect. Example

The website is great and I highly recommend it. The blog is also very well written.

Here are some features I hope they add as the site develops:

  • vote up or down the mnemonics that people submit
  • add other users as friends
  • post scores to Facebook
  • compete with other users — see more about their scores if you are connected on the website

The software is free at the moment, so there is no excuse not to sign up! Check it out at My profile on the site is here.


  • Interesting site. The Mandarin section looks very similar to Heisig and Richardson’s “Remember the Hanzi”, focusing on character meaning, but without providing mnemonics for the pronunciation.

    While I think that mnemonics are useful for foreign language learning, I’m not a big fan of the idea of word lists or vocabulary/characters in isolation. I used the Heisig book for a short time but found it far too boring to try to just work through lists of characters. I imagine the same would happen working with this software (perhaps they plan to add stories, articles, etc that will put the characters into context later?). I much prefer reading real content and occasionally making mnemonics for some of the new words I come across. For Mandarin, I do think it’s helpful to start with some mnemonics that will help one to recognize common elements and radicals.

    I’ll be sure to check out the site a bit more and see how it develops in the future. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • Thanks for sharing this link! When I studied chinese I tried to make mnemonics of my own, but to be able to share them with others is a really cool idea!

  • Hi Ed,
    Very good to meet you today and thank you for directing me to your website. Wow! I will have to spend a few hours here digesting it all. And, it can only do me good….

    Good Luck and well done so far!!