Memrise vs. Read the Kanji

These are just two of

the lingo-learning sites that

have helped me somewhat

I think a comparison is due.   I`ve known about and have used Read the Kanji for a long time while Memrise has been a more recent find.

Read the Kanji helps you learn your kanji by putting a word in the context of a full sentence.   The word in kanji, for which you have to give the reading, will be highlighted.   And you type in your answer.  This is fantastic as not only do you learn the reading of the kanji itself, but you also pick up tips on syntax  (the correct order of grammatical elements and vocabulary within a sentence).    If you get it wrong, you`re given the right answer.  You can decline to put in an answer by leaving the space empty and clicking the `check` symbol or just pressing enter but that is taken as a wrong answer (it will say `no answer` but there`s a very visible red x beside it!!).

Sometimes, a sentence  you saw before will come up a second time.   Only this time a different word in the sentence (in kanji) may be highlighted for which you have to give the reading. So this allows you to see the sentence again (say in case you wanted to note it down earlier but were in too much of a rush to do so) but this time you`re focusing on a new word.   You can choose to study your Japanese according to JLPT level but I find that for example, if you pick level 3, that material from level 4 and 5 still come up and so you wonder if you`re being really challenged and if you`re really moving ahead.  Revision is always good of course as I have pointed out before and sometimes you do learn alternative vocabulary or see that a word can use a different kanji to the one you have learned.   However, you can only put up with so much repeated words before it gets on your nerves.  Overall though I like the site as I have learned not just kanji (or relearned kanji in some cases), but important grammar structures as well.    I have gone to the trouble of writing down most of the sentences with the trickier syntax, sentences that seem very idiomatic for natural sounding Japanese, or sentences that I thought were good for revision.    Another positive is that other users can give tips on helping you learn by adding `notes`.   Though depending on their knowledge, it might be a negative.  Some actually use mems, I have noticed, but more about mems next.

This other site I am about to talk about next is slightly better in helping you remember vocabulary.

Memrise is a site which sees learning (anything) in terms of growing plants.   In that your memory is like a plant and needs nourishment and care to help it retain any kind of knowledge. True enough!!  You get a chance to learn whatever it is you are learning through the different stages of the growth of a plant.  First you have the planting of the seeds, then you have the harvesting, then the watering.  You can also over-water, which despite the negative connotation, is not really harmful. Each stage develops at a certain rate.   For example, once you have gone through a certain quota of words, the system will tell you that what you have just learned needs to be `harvested` or `watered` in so many hours, usually within 12 – 24 hours.    Therefore, your long-term memory is tested as well.  That time limit is not strict of course so don`t worry – If you`re busy and forget to come back or have other things to do until after the hours are up,  your plants won`t die!!  In other words, your long-term memory will most likely still have retained the words you learned.   I hope I am giving a good description here but if you`re baffled, just go to the site –, where you might get a better description from the people who started it up.

Anyway, there are other languages too (as well as every other subject under the sun!!) but regarding Japanese, people can start at the very beginning with kana, or jump straight to the JLPT level of their choice.  Which I did.

Regarding the type of study.  No sentences here.  Just words.   Though, some of the site users put in example sentences with the word in question.  Again, you have to trust that they are right.  Otherwise, just focus on the word itself.   I did wonder myself how useful it is to just learn words that are not in context but this site does work very well even with that in mind. The answers are available in multiple choice or you type the answer in yourself.  When you first see the word, you can see optional extra information as to what grammatical function it has e.g. adjective, noun etc.

You get 45  points for a correct answer and for each word you only get so much time to put your answer in and if you don`t select or type an answer in within the time allowed or you get it wrong, you don`t get the full 45 points.

The best thing about it is the hints that users can put in for each word to help themselves and other users remember it.   These are called mnemonics or mems for short.    You get points for adding them and maybe more according to how much yours are used.  These are very helpful and a lot of the time, they`re very witty too.   Some are baffling, others make no sense at all but most of them are very witty.  If humour helps you learn then so much the better!!  I love giving the thumbs up to good ones as much as I love getting thumbs up for my own.

You know your mem has been given a thumbs up if the thumbs up sign in your list of mems in your profile page  is green.  I`m proud to say many of my mems have been given the thumbs up : )

Another thing about this site is there`s a leaderboard for each subject available.  So for level 3 JLPT I`m not doing so bad.  I was in the top 30 at one stage but then I slipped, probably because  I`m not on it every spare minute I have : P  Not making excuses honestly.    This makes people more competitive and more eager to learn the kanji so they move faster.  I don`t know if this a good or bad thing.  Moving faster I mean, considering the whole `plant growing` idea.  I mean you wouldn`t rush the growth of a real plant  would you??   The only thing you can do with a real life plant is put it in the sun or keep it out of the extreme cold or whatever helps its growth, but technically you can`t rush it.  And like I said, when you`re told that something needs to be `harvested` or `watered` in 12 hours, I don`t think you can start on this next process until those 12 hours are up.  You can go back to `practice` which is like going over them again, but you can`t actually start on the `harvesting` or `watering` stage until those hours are up.   Correct me if I`m wrong.  I would definitely use this site to learn a new language if and when I decide to take on a new language.

Even though this was a comparison between these two sites which I use a lot, there are a lot of other sites.  More about those another day.

I got an email today saying that the JLPT results will be online from the end of January.  Woohoo!!  Sooner I find out the better, whatever result I achieved.


Any thoughts? In haiku form or not?

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