Category Archives: tech

A Great App for Memorizing Vocabulary: Anki

If you’re one of the many people trying to learn a new language, you know how difficult it is to remember a bunch of vocabulary words. There are tons of different apps and methods out there for learning new vocabulary, but the most useful and practical memorization tool I’ve ever used is Anki.

What is Anki?

Anki is a powerful flashcard app designed to help you memorize just about anything. It can be used to make flashcards for learning a language, memorizing terms for a science test, or remembering mathematical formulae. Anki is packed with features and options that can be optimized to fit any preference or study schedule.

There are tons of different apps and methods out there for learning new vocabulary, but the most useful and practical memorization tool I’ve ever used is Anki.

One of Anki’s best features is that it can be synchronized across devices. With apps available for any computer or mobile device, you can start studying flash cards on your computer at home and pick up right where you left off any time you have a few spare minutes throughout the day with your phone. This article is not meant to be a full walkthrough of Anki’s capabilities, but you can visit Anki’s website to read about more details and amazing features.

How Anki Works

Anki is designed to help you memorize terms by spaced repetition. Each time Anki shows you a flashcard, it asks you how difficult it was. The easier the card was to remember, the longer Anki will wait to show you the card again in the future. The more difficult the card was to remember, the sooner Anki will bring it up for review again.

the Anki flashcard difficulty scale
The easier a card is to remember, the longer Anki will wait to review it again. The more difficult a card is to remember, the sooner Anki will review it again.

You can change Anki’s settings to review cards more or less often if you like, but the default settings have always worked great in my experience. If you forget a term, you can always tell Anki to review it again when it asks how difficult it was. You can always count on Anki to review each card again eventually, so you don’t have to worry about scheduling reviews or forgetting terms that you learned in the past.

But I already use Quizlet!

Already made a bunch of flashcards on Quizlet? Quizlet is great too, but it doesn’t have all the options and features that Anki has. If you want to switch from Quizlet to Anki or use your flashcards on both, you can easily move flashcards to Anki without making them all over again. Simply export flashcard decks from Quizlet and import them to a new Anki deck!

Exporting a deck from Quizlet and importing the file to Anki.
Export flashcards from Quizlet (left), and import them to make a new deck in Anki (right).

How I Use Quizlet for Vocabulary

I like to keep things simple, so I put all of my vocabulary flashcards in one big deck for each language. As I study and come across new words and phrases that I want to remember, I add them to the deck. Since Anki reviews cards by spaced repetition, not by topic or deck, it doesn’t matter if you have one deck or twenty. All the cards that need to be reviewed each day are due on that day, no matter what deck they are in or how you prefer to categorize them.

A tactic I employ to ensure thorough memorization of vocabulary is creating two versions of each card. For example, when I add flashcards to my Korean deck, I create an English-Korean card and a Korean-English card. Sometimes I can easily remember the English translation of a Korean word, but I struggle to remember the Korean translation of an English word. By creating two versions of each flashcard, I ensure that I can more easily bring to mind each word that I learn in either language.

Since both versions of each flashcard are already in the same big deck, Anki will review each word both ways each time it comes up. However, if you wish to keep both versions of a card together in a deck, you must create them back-to-back and use the default “Show new cards in order added” option rather than the “Show new cards in random order” option. Otherwise, the two cards will be randomly shuffled into the deck and will likely end up being reviewed separately days or weeks apart from each other. Don’t forget to sync your account when you add new cards or finish a study session!

Finally, try not to skip a review day with Anki. If you have a few small decks, catching up the next day might be easy, but when you have multiple decks and hundreds or thousands of flashcards, missing a day can really cause things to pile up! If you find that you have too many flashcards to review in one day, you can change the “Maximum reviews/day” setting in the “Reviews” tab of the options menu.

Download Anki


As you’ll see for yourself, Anki is a powerful app with tons of great options and features. There is so much more that could be said about Anki, but exploring all of its options and features would take us far beyond the scope of this post. I hope you’ll find Anki as helpful as I have on your own educational journey. Do you use Anki or any other study apps? Share your own tips and tricks in the comments!

a laptop on a desk

What to Consider When Buying a Computer

Buying a new computer is a big and expensive decision. There’s a lot of research to do and many factors and specifications to consider. I recently bought a new laptop that I’m quite happy with, but it was quite the job to choose the right one. In this article I’ll discuss the details that affected my decision and the important things to keep in mind when selecting a new computer.

Portability

Most of use end up doing a lot of computing on the go these days. We need to be able to do our work at home, at school, or anywhere else we go to get things done. If extreme portability is a big deal to you, you may want to consider a small laptop with an 11- or 13-inch display, or even a tablet. These days even small laptops and tablets are available with some powerful specifications. Just keep in mind that choosing high portability might mean compromising on things like screen size and durability. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that can handle CPU-intensive software, you may have to sacrifice some portability.

Durability

Depending on where you find yourself using your laptop, durability might be crucial. If you teach young kids or have some of your own, you might need a fairly rugged laptop, or else a good protective case or sleeve for it. Keep in mind that the most durable laptops are not generally the most sleek or portable.

Battery Life

Battery life can be a tricky and fickle thing to manage. Thankfully we usually have plenty of places to plug in, but some of us need a device that will last all day, so we don’t have to carry a charger around everywhere. If you are in the latter camp, you may have to compromise on other specifications like screen resolution, size, and processing power or else adjust settings to minimize battery usage. Some people also like to purchase an extra battery or two in case they run out of juice with nowhere to recharge.

Hard Drive

There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to the hard drive. First you need an idea of how much memory you need on your device. If you need to store a lot of files and data directly on your device, you may need a few hundred gigabytes or more. If you can keep most of your files in cloud storage and only keep what you currently need on your device’s hard drive, then you can likely get by with a small hard drive and save yourself a sizable sum.

The second thing to keep in mind with the hard drive is the type of hard drive you want. Computers used to use hard disk drives (HDDs), but now the computing world is moving toward solid-state drives (SSDs), which are much faster but also more expensive. There are also hybrid drives (SSHDs) that try to combine the two to offer quick access to frequently used files on a small portion of SSD memory while also providing plenty of storage capacity with a large portion of HDD memory at a lower price than an SSD of the same size. An SSHD can be a good compromise to save some money if you only use a few of the same applications most of the time, but to really future-proof your laptop and get the best performance out of it for years to come, an SSD is the best choice.

RAM

RAM (random-access memory) is where your computer temporarily stores the information for apps and programs you are currently using or will likely use in the near future. The more RAM, the more things your computer can handle at once. For a good all-around experience, 8GBs of RAM should be plenty. If you only do basic tasks like browsing the web and using common office applications, you could even save some money and do just fine with 4GBs of RAM. However, 8GBs of RAM is probably a preferable minimum if you want to future-proof your device and multi-task more effectively. Keep in mind that having more RAM than you will actually use does not boost your computer’s performance. Unused RAM is wasted money. Unless you’re getting into gaming and other RAM-heavy operations, you probably won’t need more than 8GBs of RAM.

Processor

The processor is the brain of your computer and has a lot to do with your computer’s speed and power. For most average computer users, an affordable processor like an Intel Core i3 is plenty. Unless you’re into gaming, editing videos, 3D animation, or some other kind of CPU-intensive work, you really don’t need to spend a lot of money on a more powerful processor. If you do need a little more processing power than a Core i3 offers, then moving up to a Core i5 might be worth considering. The two big companies in the realm of processors are Intel and AMD. For basic computing needs, you can’t really go wrong with an Intel Core or comparable AMD Ryzen processor.

Ports

It’s important to consider all the things you might need to plug in to your computer before you buy one. You’ll of course need to be able to plug in some USB peripherals and memory devices, so it’s best to have at least one USB 3.0 port. There is also a trend moving toward the use of USB-C. To future-proof your laptop and ensure you are able to connect to the latest USB-C devices and peripherals without having to buy additional dongles and adapters, it is wise to make sure your device has at least one USB-C port. With the USB-C trend, many manufacturers are starting to leave out other ports like the standard headphone jack on their devices as well.

If you often connect to another screen or projector for presenting slides and videos, it’s also a good idea to have a full-size HDMI port. Be aware that there are several sizes of HDMI cables and ports. Unless you have specific reasons or devices in mind for wanting a smaller HDMI port, make sure you’re looking for a full-size (type A) HDMI port.

If you take a lot of pictures or videos on a camera, you might also consider looking for an SD card port. With most other media and software available for download from websites and app stores these days, you likely won’t need a CD/DVD drive anymore. If you really need one, you may have to sacrifice some other ports and portability. Otherwise, you could always consider getting an external CD/DVD drive.

Depending on what you need, you might not be able to find the perfect computer with every single port you would like. Carefully consider the ports you need the most and remember you can always find an adapter or two for the rest.

Connectivity

For the most part, you’ll probably be using Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. However, if you travel frequently to places without Wi-Fi, you may want to look for a device with a SIM card slot so you can stay connected even without Wi-Fi. It’s also good to have a device with Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth allows you to connect many devices like mouses, keyboards, and speakers wirelessly. You can also use Bluetooth to tether your device to your phone or tablet to borrow its network connection when Wi-Fi is unavailable.

Keyboard

The smaller the device you are looking for, the more limited the keyboard is likely to be. Small devices will not have room for things like a separate number pad. Some small devices may even have cramped keyboards that are not as comfortable to type on. If you do much typing, you should at least get a laptop with a normal keyboard size and layout. The look, feel, and sound of a keyboard are things you can adjust to, but a cramped keyboard is plain uncomfortable and could also be bad for your hands.

Trackpad

Like the keyboard, the look and feel of the trackpad is largely a matter of personal preference. Most standard trackpads will get the job done fine, but if you’re picky about your track pad experience, you might have to spend more money for a laptop with a glass trackpad. If a fancy trackpad isn’t a big deal to you or you plan on using a mouse most of the time anyway, you can save some time and money by not worrying about the trackpad too much.

Display

The display is one of the most important things to consider when buying a laptop because it’s what you’ll be looking at most of the time. For basic computing tasks, you shouldn’t need a ridiculously expensive display. Most laptop computers come with practical displays that will suit your basic needs. Unless you plan on editing photos and videos, watching lots of movies, or playing video games, you shouldn’t need a high-end display. Higher-resolution displays drain your battery faster, so unless you have a real need for such a power-hungry screen, you’re better off saving your money or at least turning down the resolution settings until you have a real use for it.

The size of the display is also very important to consider. If portability is a top priority, then you might want a smaller screen, which could also help with battery life. If you like having multiple apps and windows open for multitasking, you may prefer to have a larger screen. Large 15- or 17-inch laptops can be a bit bulky and precarious, so you might consider compromising with a more reasonable 14-inch screen. Some people also find it useful to invest in a second portable monitor.

The final thing to consider regarding the display is whether or not you want a touchscreen. Touchscreens might be a bit more expensive, but they open up a variety of possibilities and allow you to rely less on a trackpad or mouse. Before deciding on a touchscreen, you should also consider what kind of peripherals you might want to use with it. If you like to use styluses or pens, be sure that they are compatible with your device.

Configuration

Laptops are no longer limited to the standard clamshell configuration. Screens can now be flipped, folded, and rotated in all directions on certain laptops and 2-in-1 devices. For basic tasks, such flexibility might not be necessary, and you can save some money by getting a standard laptop. If you want the power of a full-sized laptop and the flexibility and interactivity of a tablet, you might consider getting a foldable 2-in-1 or a detachable.

Price

As I’ve already hinted at, for basic computing needs, you shouldn’t have to spend a ton of money for a decent laptop. Understand what you really need and decide what things you are willing to compromise on. Also remember that in seeking to save money, there are some levels you still might not want to stoop to. There are plenty of great and competitive manufacturers out there who make practical laptops at affordable prices. However, it’s still important to do your research and stay away from brands and companies you’ve never heard of or who offer deals that seem too good to be true.

Many people buy overpowered computers with specs they don’t use because they don’t understand how little computing power they actually need for the simple tasks they do. Others buy a fancy computer for the “wow factor” or a brand name they like without understanding what they are actually paying for. This problem seems particularly true of Mac users for some reason. Many people spend around $1,000 dollars on a basic MacBook Air when they could get a better-suited and more flexible PC for much less. While others overpay for more computer than they need, Apple fans seem uniquely eager overspend in return for less than they could be getting. That’s not to say that Apple doesn’t make some great computers. They definitely do, but it’s important to be aware of what you’re getting and consider how important looks and brand names are to you.

Operating System / Ecosystem

Apple

If you are a diehard Apple fan and/or have more money than you know what to do with, then the Apple ecosystem is a fantastic option. Many people love the seamless connection between all their Apple devices. Another benefit of Apple is that, since they make their own devices and their own operating system, their devices are extremely well optimized to make the best and most efficient use of their hardware possible.

The Apple ecosystem has a lot to offer, but it can also be very restrictive. Apple doesn’t play nicely with others, so many Apple products are only compatible with other Apple products. Those who invest in Apple devices often become trapped in the Apple ecosystem because they don’t want to buy another device that wouldn’t be compatible with their other Apple devices or lose money by switching to a different operating system that would render all their Apple peripherals useless paperweights.

In addition to the risk of being trapped in the expensive and restrictive Apple ecosystem, it’s also important to remember that customer service and repair options are limited. Apple is very picky about who can repair their devices and order the necessary parts to do so. Any attempt to repair or modify an Apple device on your own or through an unauthorized technician voids your warranty. There are also many horror stories about Apple repair technicians declaring devices unrepairable or too expensive to be worth repairing, leaving customers out hundreds or thousands of dollars, when in fact the issue could have been fixed. These problems are actually how businesses like iFixit and Rossman Repair Group make quite a bit of their income. Apple offers some impressive tech, but you really have to be willing to pay for it and play by their rules.

Another thing to keep in mind if you’re considering Apple is that you will need a lot of adapters and dongles. Apple is famous for their minimalist approach to things, which makes their devices look sleek and futuristic but also severely limits your port options, forcing you to buy adapters and dongles for anything that doesn’t have a USB-C plug.

Google

Google’s Chrome OS is a good option for basic computing needs. Chromebooks are some of the cheapest and most portable devices available. There are also higher-end models such as the Pixelbook available if you’re willing to pay. A benefit of Chrome OS is that, like the Apple ecosystem, it connects your other Google devices smoothly within the Google ecosystem, while allowing you some flexibility regarding what kind of device you want. Plenty of manufacturers besides Google make Chromebooks with a variety of specifications to choose from.

The downside to Google is that, also like Apple, it is still restrictive. Chrome OS is not as fully featured as other operating systems and limits you to what is available on the Google Play Store. For basic office and browsing tasks, the Play Store should have all you need, but if you’re looking for more freedom and flexibility, then the Google ecosystem might not be for you.

Windows

Windows is a solid operating system. It’s available on all kinds of different devices by lots of different manufacturers. It’s also very popular, well-maintained, and well-documented, which makes help and support easy to come by. Since it’s so popular, there are nearly infinite applications available for just about anything you want to do.

One big reason many people preferred Apple over Windows was that Apple devices could connect so seamlessly for applications like iMessages, but now the same functionality and more is available on Windows as well through the Your Phone app and apps by other manufacturers for their Windows devices such as the Dell Mobile Connect app.

While Microsoft offers plenty of its own paid apps and features, there are plenty of other free alternatives. Choosing a Windows device does not entrap you in a Microsoft ecosystem. Windows is a great choice for a combination of stability and standardization combined with the freedom to customize and explore without overpaying or being trapped within one company’s restrictive ecosystem.

Linux

If you are familiar with Linux, then you are probably tech-savvy enough that I don’t need to explain it to you. For those of you who haven’t used it before, Linux might present a challenge and come with a steep learning curve.

Technically, Linux is not an operating system but a kernel upon which many operating systems are based. All of these free and open source operating systems are referred to as Linux operating systems because they are all based on the Linux kernel. Even Chrome OS and Android are Linux-based operating systems.

One of the greatest things about Linux is that it is free. There are tons of Linux operating systems—called distributions or “distros” for short—to choose from. You can choose one and install it for free, or you can even make your own if you really know what you’re doing. Because it is open source, it is always growing and improving and has plenty of support and documentation available from a worldwide community of users and developers. Linux is extremely powerful and presents nearly limitless possibilities, but it is also difficult to get into and master.

Because Linux is so technical and not as mainstream as other operating systems, fewer popular apps and games are available for Linux, although many developers are already beginning to address these limitations. There are plenty of free alternative apps available for Linux though, and you can still do most of the same things you would on other operating systems if you know what you’re doing. However, as mentioned before, there is quite a learning curve, and you might have to give up some of the popular apps you’re used to using on Apple or Windows devices until more mainstream users and developers embrace Linux.


Thanks for reading this article! I hope you found it helpful. Please feel free to share your own computer preferences, ideas, and advice below! If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing and following the Grammarai Warrior Facebook page for updates.

a smartphone next to an open notebook

How Texting Affects Literacy and Grammar

With all the advancements in communication in the last few decades, texting has become a commonplace form of communication. Because of the quick and often brief nature of texting, a new abbreviated communication register referred to as “textese” has surfaced. Due to the informal nature of textese and its blatant disregard for basic grammar and spelling rules, textese has received a lot of negative attention from the media. Many claims have been made about how detrimental texting is, especially to peoples’ reading and writing abilities. It has been claimed that texting and the use of textese damage spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and literacy. Much research has been done on the effects of texting and surprisingly shows some positive results. Many studies that show negative results, usually among adults, are mixed and inconclusive, often citing a need for more research. Texting may get a lot of bad publicity from the media and others making big claims without doing their research, but it may not be as bad as they assume. In fact, texting may have more positive effects than negative. Contrary to popular belief, texting is not always detrimental to literacy and grammar and is rather beneficial in many ways.

Research indicates that texting does not necessarily have the negative effects on literacy that many people have been led to believe it does. Studies show mixed results, but they largely indicate that texting has positive effects with few or no negative effects on literacy and grammar among children and adults. M.A. Drouin points out that “studies in both the United States and Britain have shown that there are no significant, negative relationships between the use of textese and standard measures of literacy,” and that those studies actually indicate positive effects among children and little effect on young adults.[1] However, research, especially concerning adults, is often inconclusive. With so many variables in regard to people and their environments and circumstances, it is difficult to determine consistent trends and effects brought on by texting. It is likely that an adult’s comprehension of literacy and grammar systems is determined more by his own competency than by his use of language.

Regarding children, research indicates that texting offers some clear benefits. As children learn to differentiate between textese and formal writing, they improve their literacy and grammar skills through texting. If children are capable of such improvement with relative ease, adults should at least be able to differentiate between the registers of textese and standard English and know the appropriate time and place to use each one. Drouin says, “It does not appear that textese just seeps out into writing everywhere and in equal amounts; instead, the average person uses textese thoughtfully, and more often within the contexts deemed ‘appropriate.’”[2] People are not usually oblivious when using textese. They generally seem to make the deliberate choice to use it or not. Wood, Kemp, and Waldron also pick up on this idea of the average person’s awareness in their study: “Our results suggest that the impact of ‘lazy’ language use when texting may have been overstated. Our findings reinforce the need to differentiate between the deliberate violation of grammatical or orthographic convention and a genuine lack of understanding.”[3] When a person uses textese, he is likely doing so consciously. The use of textese does not necessarily mean that people are becoming completely ignorant of the proper rules of grammar and syntax in standard English. People are aware of two distinct forms of communication, even if they do not always choose the best one.

Even in the case that an individual being truly oblivious or grammatically incompetent, textese could still be potentially useful to him if he still wishes to make use of the convenient flexibility of textese. De Jonge and Kemp assert that “if less competent language users are drawn to the creativity and flexibility of textese in a way that improves their language skills through exposure to written language (as has been suggested with younger children), then mobile phones could prove useful in educational settings.”[4] As with children, textese could prove beneficial even to young adults, if it serves to expose them to written language and encourages them to experiment and manipulate it in different contexts. Of course, texting is not preferable or comparable to real language education, but something is better than nothing. Texting has the potential to be beneficial to people of differing levels of linguistic competency.

There are other factors to consider besides the competency of the person texting when considering the effect of textese on literacy and grammar. Wood, Kemp, and Waldron point out that things like the state of the person texting and even the texting device they are using also play make a difference. Factors such as time constraints, emotional states, and who is the intended recipient of a message can all affect how a person texts, as “the use of kisses, emoticons, and multiple punctuation marks might have more to do with one’s tendency to feel or to display emotion and affection, than with one’s grammatical or orthographic prowess.”[5] Different situations call for different levels of correctness and formality; the use or neglect of standard grammar and punctuation in a situation that does not require their strict application does not necessarily indicate any detrimental effects of texting on an individual. Wood and associates also indicate that “the inclusion or omission of conventional punctuation and capitalization might be determined more by the sophistication of self-correcting phone technology than by the skill of the writer.”[6] Even the notorious “auto-correct” functions account for some of the apparent lack of literacy and grammatical skill associated with texting.

Texting is not necessarily as detrimental as people often think. On the contrary it can actually be quite beneficial, particularly to children. Research shows that children who text frequently tend to be better readers. Deacon and Whitzman point out that the more proficient a child is at texting, the more proficient he is at spelling and reading standard English and believe “it seems unlikely that texting, on its own, impairs children’s development of the vital reading and writing skills that they need in the classroom.”[7] Studies indicate that texting does not have negative effects on children’s literacy and rather show the opposite. Van Dijk and associates assert that in most studies “children’s use of textese and their spelling and literacy abilities were found to be positively related.”[8] Drouin and Driver agree that textisms are positively related to children’s literacy.[9] Wood, Kemp, and Waldron also observe that school children “who used more ungrammatical word forms and more unconventional orthographic forms showed better . . . spelling and growth in orthographic processing.”[10] Contrary to what we may have been led to believe, research indicates that the more children use textese, the more their literacy improves.

There are several possible reasons for the positive effects of textese on children. One common idea is that texting is fun because it allows children the freedom to play and experiment with language without regard for spelling and punctuation rules. If children enjoy the fun of texting and using language in this way, they are more likely to enjoy and appreciate other literacy-based endeavors as well, further increasing their interest in the use of language. Van Dijk and associates suggest that texting exposes children to more text and also increases their “phonological and phonetic awareness” to improve their reading skills, suggesting that simple exposure to text itself, whether typing it or reading it, provides practice of sorts and increases children’s awareness and mastery of reading and using text.[11] Wood, Kemp, and Waldron echo this idea as they discuss the phonetic nature of many textisms: “Their use contributes to phonological awareness and phonological processing, which in turn contribute to spelling development.”[12] Simply gaining more exposure to language and putting it to use in different ways contributes to children’s development.

Van Dijk and associates suggest another idea that texting generally increases children’s awareness of different registers and the appropriate times and places to use each register.[13] Texting may help children to understand that there are different registers of speech and writing and to differentiate between those registers as they learn where and when each register is appropriate. Children who frequently use textese may develop advantages similar to those of bilingual children. It is possible that switching between the registers of textese and standard English may exercise similar mental functions to switching between languages. Van Dijk and associates point out that being bilingual strengthens one’s abilities to suppress certain information while making use of information relevant to a given situation, even a non-linguistic situation.[14] A similar process for choosing between registers of speech and writing could offer the same benefits.

Texting has been found to have positive effects not only on children’s literacy but also on their grammar. Much like the effects of texting on basic literacy functions, its effects on grammar are largely positive. Van Dijk and associates found that “the more words children omitted in their text messages, the better their grammar performance,” suggesting that the omission of words in textese may train children’s grammar systems and improve grammatical performance in their speech.[15] Similar to the way exposure to texting and manipulation of language improves phonological awareness, experimentation with omitting words enhances grammatical performance. Van Dijk and associates further explain that “by using textese, . . . children apply rules of grammar and do so in a context-sensitive manner.”[16] When children regularly analyze sentences and make decisions about which words to drop in ever-changing contexts over text, they are essentially doing grammar exercises without even realizing it. Wood, Kemp, and Waldron’s studies agree that texting has no detrimental effects on grammar and found that grammatical violations in texting do not appear to be linked to loss of grammar skills.[17] Texting has no significant detrimental effects on grammar, but rather improves understanding of grammar. Writing is an art form, and as with any art, one must understand the rules before he can break them. Combined with an understanding of the rules of standard English grammar, textese can help deepen a student’s understanding of grammar as he picks grammatical constructions apart and uses them in different ways and contexts. The manipulation of language to write in textese actually exercises grammar systems and improves understanding of grammar. As long as the correct rules are learned, remembered, and applied when appropriate, breaking them through textese offers only benefits.

Many of the claims against texting for its supposed negative effects on literacy and grammar are woefully unfounded. Studies indicate that texting is more often beneficial than detrimental to literacy and grammar. It is especially beneficial to children and likely harmless if not beneficial to adults as well. Texting exposes children to text in new ways and contexts and serves as a mental exercise to sharpen their understanding of grammar. Studies show mixed results regarding the effects of texting on adults, but many apparent linguistic deficiencies in adults can often be attributed to outside factors or to the individual’s own carelessness or lack of linguistic competence in general. Texting may break a lot of rules, but, so long as the distinction between registers is understood and each register is used appropriately, there is likely no need to worry about texting destroying our language skills.


[1]. M.A. Drouin, “College Students’ Text Messaging, Use of Textese and Literacy Skills,” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 27, no. 1 (February 2011): 69, accessed April 5, 2017, Academic Search Elite, EBSCOhost.

[2]. Drouin, “College Students’ Text-messaging,” 72.

[3].Clare Wood, Nenagh Kemp, and Sam Waldron, “Exploring the Longitudinal Relationships Between the Use of Grammar in Text Messaging and Performance on Grammatical Tasks,” British Journal of Developmental Psychology 32, no. 4 (November 2014): 427, accessed April 5, 2017, Academic Search Elite, EBSCOhost.

[4]. Sarah De Jonge and Nenagh Kemp. “Text-message Abbreviations and Language Skills in High School and University Students,” Journal of Research In Reading 35, no. 1 (February 2012): 65, accessed April 5, 2017,  Academic Search Elite, EBSCOhost.

[5]. Wood, Kemp, and Waldron, “Relationships Between Grammar and Texting,” 427.

[6]. Wood, Kemp, and Waldron, “Relationships Between Grammar and Texting,” 427.

[7]. Helene Deacon and Sara Whitzman, “Does Texting Lead to Poor Literacy Skills?,” Literacy Today no. 67 (December 2011): 15, accessed March 29, 2017, Academic Search Elite, EBSCOhost.

[8]. Chantal N. van Dijk et al., “The Influence of Texting Language on Grammar and Executive Functions in Primary School Children,” Plos ONE 11, no. 3 (March 31, 2016): 2, accessed April 5, 2017, Academic Search Elite, EBSCOhost.

[9]. Michelle Drouin and Brent Driver, “Texting, Textese, and Literacy Abilities: A Naturalistic Study.” Journal of Research In Reading 37, no. 3 (August 2014): 264, accessed March 28, 2017, Academic Search Elite, EBSCOhost.

[10]. Wood, Kemp, and Waldron, “Relationships Between Grammar and Texting,” 427.

[11]. Van Dijk et al., “The Influence of Texting Language,” 3.

[12]. Wood, Kemp, and Waldron, “Relationships Between Grammar and Texting,” 425.

[13]. Van Dijk et al., “The Influence of Texting Language,” 3.

[14]. Ibid., 4-5.

[15]. Ibid., 16.

[16]. Van Dijk et al., “The Influence of Texting Language,” 17.

[17]. Wood, Kemp, and Waldron, “Relationships Between Grammar and Texting,” 427.

Korean signs lighting up a dark street

Useful Apps for Living Abroad in Korea

There are a lot of apps we use to make our day to day lives a little easier. From shopping and eating out to navigating and catching a ride, we rely on apps to do quite a bit these days, and if you’re going to a foreign country, you might need some different apps in your arsenal to keep doing all these familiar things while you’re away from home. Here’s a list of a few apps that I frequently found helpful during my time teaching in Korea.

Keyboard

The reason I mention keyboard apps first is that you’ll find life much easier if you are able to type in Korean on your phone. You don’t need to be fluent in Korean to get by for a while in Korea, but you’ll need to at least be able to read and write the Korean alphabet to make good use of some of the other apps on this list. That means you’ll probably have to spend a little time studying Korean, but being able to read and write in Korean will make things go much more smoothly, whether you’re just taking a quick trip or living in Korea for an extended period of time. Don’t worry though, you can learn to read the Korean alphabet, called Hangeul, easily in about an hour or two. To learn Hangeul quickly, I recommend GO! Billy’s 90-minute YouTube series, and if you’re really excited about learning Korean I recommend TalkToMeInKorean.com.

Most smart phones these days offer options for typing in multiple languages in the settings already. However, if your phone doesn’t have the option to use multiple languages, you might consider installing a keyboard app like Gboard instead.

Translation Apps

If you don’t speak Korean, you’ll definitely want to keep some translation apps handy. I recommend being comfortable with more than one translation app if you plan on spending a significant amount of time in Korea. Sometimes one app might just be inaccurate or not be able to find the particular word or phrase you need, and sometimes you might need to translate offline. For a quick trip you might get by with one basic translation app, but to handle all the different circumstances you might find yourself in during an extended stay in Korea, it is best to have more than one app at your disposal. Here are the apps I recommend.

NAVER Korean Dictionary

NAVER is a big name on the web in Korea. You can think of NAVER as a sort of Korean version of Google. NAVER offers a range of web services including search, email, translation apps, and more. You’ll see lots of people using various NAVER apps in Korea, and you might end up using a few yourself. The NAVER Korean Dictionary as a translation app is not as fully featured as Google Translate, but it does have some great features that you might enjoy. Its dictionary function is pretty straightforward. You can input words in either language with your keyboard or voice, and it has a handwriting feature for inputting Korean characters. The app also includes Korean conversations with scripts and audio and features short video and audio lessons to teach Korean vocabulary and phrases for those interested in studying Korean language and culture. NAVER’s dictionary might not be the best app for quick translations on the go, but if you’re serious about studying Korean, some of NAVER’s study features more than make up for its unremarkable translation functions.

Naver Papago

Perhaps the most useful translation on this list is NAVER’s Papago. Papago is a fantastic app for quick translation on the fly. You can easily switch between several languages, and you have plenty of different input options. You can type in either language using the keyboard, use voice input, and even use a conversation mode similar to the one Google Translate offers. One of Papago’s best features is its camera input method. It allows you to take a picture or screenshot of the text you want to translate, pan around and zoom in on the image, and highlight the specific text you want to translate. Papago saves your translation history and allows you to star your favorites and frequently used words and phrases. Another fantastic feature about the app is its built-in phrasebook for everyday topics, travel and tourism necessities, and emergencies. Papago is a must-have in Korea, and it’s my go-to translation app for everyday use.

Google Translate

I know your Spanish teacher in high school told you that you can’t trust Google Translate because it’s just not accurate. Mine did too, and our teachers were right. Google Translate is not entirely reliable, but it has come a long way over the years. Many common phrases and individual words are perfectly accurate.

Google Translate has some handy features that make it an impressively versatile app. It’s easy to input text in either language with various input methods and has a handwriting feature you can use even if your keyboard app doesn’t already have the option. You can also use your camera to translate text as you look at it. Google Translate also has voice input and a conversation mode that allows two speakers to converse back and forth in their own languages. Another great thing about Google Translate is that many languages are available to download for offline use, making this app indispensable when you don’t have data or Wi-Fi. Google Translate also makes it easy to save frequently used words and phrases in a phrasebook.

Kakao Talk

Just like you probably rely on a favorite texting app at home, in Korea a lot of people rely on Kakao Talk. Kakao is another big name on the web in Korea. They offer many web services including Kakao Talk, navigation apps, games, and even a social platform called Kakao Story. If you have even one Korean friend or colleague you need to stay in touch with, they’ll probably ask if you have Kakao Talk, or “Katok,” as most people call it for short. Kakao Talk is a pretty straightforward messaging app, which is what you will really need it for. It offers free texting, phone calls, and video calls with all the standard features that other similar apps offer. It has deeper features and functions and connects to other Kakao apps and services as well, but I won’t get into all those details here. Kakao Talk is a convenient and versatile messaging app, and you’ll probably need to get familiar with it if you plan on staying in Korea for long.

Air Quality Apps

An unfortunate dilemma that comes with staying in Korea is having to be wary of air quality. Korea has a bit of a pollution problem. Some of the pollution in the air comes from within Korea, and some of it blows over from China. The severity of the pollution varies with the weather and time of year. You’ll want to keep track of the air quality when you plan on going outside, as the pollution can be detrimental to your health. When the air quality is poor, you should wear a mask outside, even if you don’t plan on being out for long. Breathing the pollution can give you a sore throat, bother your sinuses, and make you sick. It’s best to have an app to check the air quality, so you know when to wear a mask and keep your windows shut to avoid breathing in pollution.

Some weather apps like AccuWeather include an air quality index with the other weather information, but they may not be as accurate or reliable as dedicated air quality apps. I recommend using either AirVisual or MiseMise. If you prefer to be able to read all the detailed information in English, then go with AirVisual. AirVisual offers detailed information about the level and content of the pollution and what precautions you should take. If you would prefer a Korean app, then MiseMise is a good choice. You’ll need a fairly decent understanding of Korean if you want to read the information on this one. Both apps are color-coded and have different visuals for different levels of pollution for a quick idea of the air quality, so if you’re not that interested in the details and just want to know whether the air is decent, either app will do the job.

Navigation Apps

At home in the States, a lot of us are used to using popular navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze, but sadly those won’t work so well in Korea. Google Maps might be better than nothing in a pinch, but in Korea it just doesn’t cut the mustard. Here are a couple alternative navigation apps you might find useful for getting around in Korea.

KakaoMap

Kakao comes in handy once again. KakaoMap seems to be the most reliable map app in Korea. It works pretty much the same as apps like Google Maps. You can even use it in English, but you’ll find better search results for some destinations if you’re able to type their names in Korean. Just like Google Maps, you can search for the best routes by car, bus, bike, or on foot; save favorites; and choose to see the map in several different modes.

Kakao Navi

Kako Navi is a GPS app similar to Android Auto or Waze. It displays detailed information about traffic congestion and the locations of speed monitoring zones and CCTV cameras for traffic law enforcement. Kakao Navi provides lots of handy information for driving, but it does beep and talk a lot to tell you all this information. Don’t expect much peace and quiet on the road.

MAPS.ME

MAPS.ME is particularly useful for its offline features. This app also works similarly to Google Maps, but allows you to download maps for offline use, even in places where Google Maps might not let you. It allows you to save area maps, locations, and routes for offline use, which can be a lifesaver when traveling somewhere without data or Wi-Fi. MAPS.ME is not always perfectly reliable though. I ended up doing a lot of extra walking on a hot July day in Fukuoka, because this app confused an apartment complex named Fukuoka Tower with the famous Fukuoka Tower tourist attraction. It’s not a perfect navigation app, but it’s reliable enough and a lot better than nothing in a pinch. Just remember to download important maps and routes before you travel somewhere without data and Wi-Fi.

Public Transportation Apps

In addition to their great navigation apps, Kakao also offers a suite of public transportation apps. For finding a taxi, Kakao offers Kakao T, which allows you to request a taxi to pick you up at your location. If you’re looking to take a bus, there’s KakaoBus. This app offers bus stop information for many cities in Korea and can notify you of bus arrivals and departures. Finally, if you need to take the subway, you might want to try KakaoMetro for checking subway maps and information and finding the right train and exit. Your mileage may vary with some of these apps depending on where you are in Korea, as some apps and services might not work well in small cities or rural areas.

Travel Apps

Now that we’ve covered getting around within Korea, let’s mention a few things about traveling internationally from Korea. Incheon International Airport is a big hub for international travel, and it’s surprisingly affordable to travel to a lot of other countries from Korea. If you’re staying in Korea for an extended period of time, it’s likely that you’ll want to travel for a vacation or a long weekend. If you plan on traveling during holidays, especially big Korean holidays like Chuseok, you’ll want to plan as far ahead as possible. Everybody in Korea has the same grand idea of taking a nice international vacation on their long weekends and holidays, so tickets can get expensive if you don’t plan and buy tickets well in advance.

Jeju Air

Jeju Air is a budget airline that offers affordable flights to many major international destinations. It’s a popular airline in Korea, because it’s cheap and offers some great deals, especially if you book well in advance. They also have a rewards system, so if you plan on being in Korea for a while and using Jeju frequently, it’s probably worth creating an account. Jeju flights are not always for sale on the usual big travel websites, so be sure to check Jeju directly.

T’way Air

T’way Air is another budget airline based in Korea. I haven’t used this one myself, but depending where you want to go, it’s another cheap alternative to consider when booking your trip.

Kiwi.com

Kiwi.com is a travel site for booking cheap flights and hotels. They offer some good deals that you might not find on more well-known sites, and they even list Jeju and T’way flights.

Hopper

The Hopper app tracks flights and tells you when to wait and when to buy for the best price on the flight you want. Again, you’ll want to start watching and planning as far ahead as possible, so you don’t miss the best price on your flight.

Banking Apps

If you’re living and working in Korea for an extended period of time, you might need a bank account. Banking in Korea is probably a bit different from what you’re used to. Unless you’re already fluent in Korean, you’ll probably need your employer or a good friend or coworker to help you open your bank account. Once you have an account, you should have a debit card and a bank book.

Korean bank books function sort of like an ATM card and a checkbook in one. Bank books are important and should be kept up to date, but sometimes it’s much more convenient to view your account information on your phone. The app should update your transactions almost immediately after they occur, so you have an accurate idea of how much money you have in your account every time you log in. You will likely be required to download an additional security app alongside your banking app for added protection.

Apps for Learning Korean

Whether you’re going to be staying in Korea for a while or you just really love the language and culture, you might be looking for some apps to help you learn Korean. Like I mentioned previously in this article, if you’re serious about learning Korean, I’d recommend TalkToMeInKorean.com. They offer free audio lessons, and they sell a great collection of textbooks and workbooks for serious students. No app out there can really get you to a true mastery of a language, but there are a few that can supplement your learning along the way.

AnkiDroid

Anki is a flashcard-based study app you can use to memorize just about anything. You can download flashcard sets made by others or create your own. Anki will then show you some new cards each day and use spaced repetition to review old cards. Anytime you come across a new word or phrase, add it to your deck of flashcards, and Anki will do the rest!

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is not perfect, and it won’t make you fluent, but it can give you a good start. It’s available on mobile devices and in a web browser if you prefer to use it on a computer. Rosetta Stone takes the immersion approach to learning a language, attempting to simulate the way we naturally learn our native language as we are exposed to it. It’s speech engine also helps you improve pronunciation. Rosetta Stone is a good place to get started, but it will not help you fully understand things like reading, writing, and grammar, and it will not prepare you very well for natural, real world conversations all on its own. If you decide to subscribe to Rosetta Stone, I recommend you check prices on their website and in the mobile app before you pay. The pricing within the mobile app is often significantly lower than the pricing offered on the Rosetta Stone website, and subscribing from either the app or the website grants you full access to both platforms.

Innovative Language

Innovative Language offers courses for a lot of languages. The website for their Korean courses is KoreanClass101.com, where you can listen to their podcasts and access many other useful learning tools, some for free and others requiring a subscription. Innovative Language often offers big sales and discounts on apps and books available on their store page as well, especially for new subscribers. Much of the content you can find in Innovative Language podcasts and apps is also available for free on their YouTube channels.

HelloTalk

HelloTalk is a language exchange app. It allows you to chat with native speakers of your target language who wish to learn your native language. You can message each other for free and easily translate texts and correct mistakes to help each other improve. The app also offers free voice and video calls to practice speaking and interacting with native speakers. There are some paid features available, but the free version should be more than adequate for most users.

Duolingo

Duolingo is primarily useful for memorizing key words and phrases from the app or your favorite browser. It makes memorizing vocabulary somewhat entertaining and gives you a little sense of progress to keep you motivated. However, it can get a bit tedious and will not help you much with speaking or grammar, although it is still improving over time.

Quizlet

Quizlet is a good flashcard tool, and it offers several methods for learning and memorizing vocabulary cards in engaging ways. You can make your own flashcard sets, or you can study sets that others have already made. Quizlet is available for free on mobile devices or in your web browser.

VPN

Sometimes you may want to use a VPN to access non-Korean versions of certain websites. Many websites automatically detect your location and display the version of the site designed for the country you are currently in, and it can be difficult and frustrating to find your way to the version you’re looking for, if you can get there at all.

A VPN can also come in handy for online shopping. If you’re trying to make a purchase online with a credit or debit card from your home bank, the merchant might decline your card for security purposes. Sometimes simply selecting your home country on your VPN settings is all it takes to get the transaction to go through. A good VPN to try is ProtonVPN. It’s free and available on mobile devices and on your desktop. Hoxx VPN is also a decent option. It’s available as a free app or as an extension for Chrome and Firefox web browsers. If you want to know more about how VPNs work or need help choosing the best one for your specific needs, I highly recommend this article by ConsumersAdvocate.org. Their team has done thorough and diligent research and put together a list of the best VPNs to help you choose the right one.

Security Apps

Now that you’ve downloaded and set up a suite of useful apps to make life in Korea a little easier, you might want to install a security app to keep everything running smoothly and protect your personal data. Korea has a bit of a problem with scammers and hackers these days. That’s why Korea takes security so seriously, especially when it comes to banking and online shopping. Sometimes the extra security can be frustrating, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. The readily available public Wi-Fi connections all over Korea are just as convenient for hackers as they are for the rest of us. Even having a simple app like Kakao Talk get hacked can cause drama and inconvenience for you and all your contacts. Therefore, I recommend having a security app to protect your devices, especially if you use public wi-fi connections at places like coffee shops, malls, and restaurants. McAfee offers protection for all your devices under one subscription, and it has great security options for scanning, protecting, and cleaning your devices; securely deleting sensitive files; managing passwords; protecting your device on public Wi-Fi connections; and locking and locating a lost or stolen device. There are plenty of other reliable security apps available with equally competitive offers. Choose a reliable security app you’re comfortable with for added protection and peace of mind while you’re living abroad.


I hope you found this discussion helpful and thought-provoking. If you’ve found some other apps useful in Korea, or you think I missed something that should be on this list, please feel free to share! If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing and following the Grammarai Warrior Facebook page for updates.