It is certainly possible to build a course like this, but frequency-based. I’ve built a number of courses and although I certainly don’t have all the answers or know all the tricks there is a method I follow to create a course. One of the chief problems with the way Memrise works is that if you build your course with a target number of words per level, say 25 (as we do here), then once they are set you cannot just stick a word in where it ‘belongs’ without messing up the scheme. Maybe that’s not that critical. Also, with some of the frequency lists I’ve seen they seem to be based on movies, TV shows, other sources? and so, where do you get the initial list? I’m actually doing a French frequency-based course now to try out if I like it, but the 1st Level alone has 100 words, which I find daunting as it feels like your progress is slow and it’s a lot to bite off, so I like my learning “chunks” to be smaller.
But, if you’re considering building such a course, just realize how much work you’re signing up for before you get started. I would encourage you to create a test course to see how much time it takes to develop a single Level just as an experiment. Here’s how I’d do it:
Create the course, add the columns you want get them in the order you need them. Be sure to include the foreign key mappings (sadly, Memrise does not provide Greek!). Here is the string of keyboard characters I use:
;ςερτυθιοπ ασδφγηξκλ ζχψωβνμ άέήίόύώϊΐϋΰ
Create a few levels to get started.
Using Excel I would create a list of words (you can refer to https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3-ATVs8f9pIOWlIMHZOT2F2OFk)
When you create the list, and before you import anything make sure you’re accommodating the articles, parts of speech, any Alts you want to have. For example, looking at this list and imagine my columns are (in this order) Greek, English, Part of Speech, Gender, Context Example:
χαμηλώνω [tab] to lower [tab] verb [tab][tab] Το μαγαζί χαμηλώνει τις τιμές για τις εκπτώσεις.
η δαγκωνιά, η δαγκανιά [tab] bite, nibble [tab] noun [tab] f. [tab] Πάρε μια δαγκωνιά ροδάκινο.
ιδιωματικός [tab] idiomatic [tab] adjective [tab] Είναι δυνατόν να καταλάβει κανείς εύκολα την καταγωγή κάποιου από την ιδιωματική προφορά του.
A few comments about what you see here:
- [tab] represents the tab characters that appear when you copy from your spreadsheet, this is the easiest way I can think of to do it when you paste the list into the “bulk add” form in Memrise.
- If you want to automatically include Alts as I have done for “η δαγκωνιά, η δαγκανιά” above, then that is a single string which would have to be edited once you import to Memrise. So, once these 3 entries are in, you have to edit “η δαγκωνιά, η δαγκανιά” so that the word that ‘shows’ is “η δαγκωνιά” and the three Alts are: _δαγκωνιά, η δαγκανιά, _δαγκανιά. The underscore character allows the Alt as a valid answer but suppresses the display of it.
- Same approach to Alts for English column, so that once imported the main entry has to be edited so that bite is primary, and you create nibble as an Alt. This is very important because you want either answer to be valid and if you put them both together it would always appear as one string “bite, nibble” and as such in some testing situations won’t appear as you want it.
- The 2 tabs together simply specify that a column is being skipped, i.e. in the case of a verb the Gender column remains empty.
- Go to forvo.com and join up! This will allow you to find each word, and download the .mp3 pronunciation so you can import it to Memrise. There is apparently another way by creating some kind of link directly to Forvo, but I did not like this method and had trouble making it work. That would also create a dependency between Memrise and Forvo, that depending on the performance of each system may slow things down. So I choose to get the word, download it and upload it to Memrise.
- When you create a course, it creates a database for you, this can be confusing because I’ve never been able to use another database, but often when you import Memrise may find that word in another database (how, I don’t know) and use it, so I try to make sure my entries are unique. Ex: putting in “η δαγκωνιά, η δαγκανιά” is certainly likely to be unique, but putting in just “δαγκωνιά” may not be. So, after you import a list it is good to do all of the required editing and make sure you have all of your entries correct. This sounds more arduous than it really is, but it is time consuming. Generally my experience is that it takes about 1 hour to do a Level and if, like our course, it has 200 Levels, that’s a lot of time.
This is pretty much how I do it. There may be other approaches, but this has worked for me. The more you learn about course creation, the more you’ll appreciate and understand what makes some courses work better than others. For a course to be useful, it has to be well-crafted IMHO.
Finally, you need to find someone, like @spdl79 who will help find all the bugs and errors, because they will exist. He has been a tremendous contributor to this particular course and it would not be as good as it is without him. I’m pretty meticulous, but as a software person you already understand that I’ve made plenty of mistakes that may have taken me a lot more time to find without help.