April 16th 2016
Today I downloaded a new app onto my Ipad called Memrise; Memrise is an app that uses easy to solve puzzles and questions, and pairs them with spaced repetition theory. This theory works as thus.
Pretend that on day one I learned the Japanese word: Abunai, which translates to danger. After learning the word on day one I would be quizzed on it the day after, pending that I got the word right I would not see it for two days time. The same thing happens on day four, I see abunai and know that it means danger, so I don’t see it for a week but on the eleventh day abunai comes up again and I don’t remember it, if this happens the word goes all the way back to the beginning and the process starts again until you’ve mastered it.
I was skeptical at the start, like most people would be, because I was one of these kids growing up that never took to mnemonics or to games that would help me remember facts, I simply remembered it as easy as that. When faced with a new language however, one that’s logo-graphic and has over two thousand unique symbols to boot, I desperately needed some way to remember these words and this seems to be fitting the bill quite nicely.
From what the app is telling me I’ve mastered sixty words and I’m in the process of learning fifteen more, pending my ability to master fifteen words a day this should mean that I’n a hundred days I should have learned 1500 words! Quite a feat but I understand that there’s more to it than that; just like any language, knowing the words doesn’t mean that you can read, write or oven speak it with any degree of fluency.
Almost every language on earth has a different grammatical system and god knows Japanese does, to a westerner like myself it can appear strange putting ‘subjects’ at the end of statements or having to specify certain intricacies through different ‘particles’ and don’t get me started on putting words in ‘the wrong order’, but I’m sure the feeling is mutual from language to language.
With that in mind it’s good that I got Memrise when I did, Genki is doing a great job of teaching me about how to use the words, how to arrange them and alter their pronunciation as the tense they are used in alters but, it’s a but of a slow road for actually learning the words. the book relies on you to create mnemonics to remember them and offers little help (Memrise does the opposite however, so they compliment eachother nicely).
But that was the largest part of my day, so…