Memrise- The Art of Spaced Repetition

Memrise – The Art of Spaced Repetition

Did you know that you can hack into the mainframe of your brain and control it by using one simple method? Spaced repetition, a study technique, is the secret key that helps you in unlocking the potential of your memory. One spaced repetition app, that helps in this memory technique is Memrise. Today I will be going over some of the features of memrise, and how to use it to its greatest potential.

Spaced Repetition Using Memrise

What Is Memrise?

It is an online site that employs spaced repetition, to help you learn and control your learning preferences. It has a catalog of the most used decks in every language that users share on the platform. You can easily learn the most used words of any foreign language through memrise. If a person manages to learn 500 “most used” words of any language, they cover up to 80% of that language (considering this is everyday life we’re talking about). This helps you to grasp the grammar and other elements of the language quickly. When you start to use Memrise you will find that there is a pre-built frequency deck of all the languages. For further aid with pronunciation, certain courses allow you to access diction practice. To employ a more enjoyable experience, there are memes too; which are a picture/word mixture to help you with the learning and pronunciation of the words.

Memrise Japanese Courses
Basic Memrise Japanese Courses
Memrise Memes
One of my favorite memes

What Is Spaced Repetition?

We are always looking for ways to increase the efficiency of our brain to learn more effeciently. One of the most effective methods to do this is through spaced repetition . Spaced repetition resembles the flashcards technique, but there is one thing that distinguishes spaced repetition from a deck of flashcards and that is time. Spaced repetition uses time gaps to set up a gap in learning periods.

For example, let us say you learn 10 words today, but do not review them until 5 days later where you then add another 10 words.

What happens is that while you are on the verge of forgetting those words forever your brain scrambles trying to find those words and when it does it holds onto them for dear life. In simple terms spaced repetition techniques trick your brain into thinking that information input is highly valuable and cannot afford to be lost.

Flashcards SRS
Learning New Language Making Original Flash Cards; Spanish

 Memrise: The Program for Spaced Repetition Software

Many of the spaced repetition programs function similarly to the manual style of memorizing things using flashcards. The items to be learned are entered into the program in pairs of questions-answers. When one of the members from the pair is displayed, you must answer.  Once you have answered the review question, you can check manually to see if the answer was right or wrong. Depending on the result, the review is sorted into by hours, days, weeks or months.

Memrise Dashboard
My Memrise Dashboard

Benefits of Using Memrise to Learn a Language

Memrise Uses Sound To Match Vocabulary

Many SRS apps completely disregard audio and just include the word flashcards, but this is not the case with Memrise. Memrise even has the choice of an audio review for its premium members. During an audio review, you are only allowed to hear the recording and select the right answer. If you are wondering if audio recordings are worth the premium membership, you can always just click the mic icon at the top of the word to hear the recording.

Screenshot_2018-09-08 Garden - Memrise

Memrises’ Native Speaker Function

Recently, Memrise implemented a feature where native speakers say the word for proper pronunciation. What’s even cooler is that the native speakers were recorded on camera, in their natural setting repeating the word given to them. The recording is then played during the course and you can watch them pronounce the word. It is very useful for shadowing and accent removal. Below is a video showing just how they did it, enjoy.


Memrise is FREE…If You Want It To Be

Using memrise cost nothing at all. That is one of the greatest advantages it has over other language learning software. The only thing Memrise costs is time, and with space repetition, time is not that expensive.  While there is a premium option that I had a once upon a time (a very long time ago), there is not that much more content you can squeeze out of the spaced repetition app.

Memrise Pro
Memrise Pro Prices

So, you are wondering what “that much more” meant in the last sentence. Memrise premium is for visual nerds. If seeing your progress on a singular bar line along with some streak marks is not enough for you, memrise premium offers detailed graphs based on your learning patterns. It will show you things like: Days You Learned the Most, Words Learned, Words Reviewed etc… It is very pretty to look at.  Also, the native speaker feature I mentioned earlier is a premium feature…so I guess that is cool. Oh, who am I kidding, get the pro version its honestly frickin’ amazing. Heck, I might just buy it after publishing this post.

Memrise Pro
Memrise Pro Benefits


Hack into your own brain with the help of spaced repetition and make your language learning journey easier! Create a Memrise account today, and see just how quickly you’ll unlock your memory’s potential!






Why Is Reading Important In Language Learning?

Why Is Reading Important In Language Learning?

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Jojen Reed from “A song of ice and fire, Game of Thrones” – George R.R Martin

Importance of Reading

As mentioned above, reading allows a person to enhance their views or broaden their visions. Reading is important for all types of people, be they, children or adults. You can never have read enough of anything no matter how many books you go through. Even if your reading consists of romance novels, it will benefit you in one way or another. Reading proves as an escape to some people and to others a new opportunity. Some think of it as a way to increase their knowledge of the world and its customs, others merely lose themselves in it so as to get some sort of direction. Whichever category you fit, reading will never prove to be a time wastage. Reading is the key to unlocking the hidden treasures in your mind.

Why You Should Read?

There are many reasons for why a person should read. Let’s discuss a few below:

  1. Enhances Your Intellect

Reading increases your intellect. By reading you unlock a wealth of information about a certain thing and the best part is that those words that you read at random remains etched into your brains for a very long time!

  1. Increases Your Knowledge

Just like intellect, your knowledge is increased. Naturally, there are many things that you can’t learn while watching a TV or a documentary or listening to a lecture. Reading about it from different authors and their point of views gives you another side to look from. It increases your knowledge or information about that certain thing or view.

  1. Broadens Your Horizons

Reading broadens your horizons, it changes the way you see the world. You look at everything in a new light. Some of the things in this world are insignificant to us, but reading shows us that everything in the world teaches us a lesson. It has a purpose. Reading gives you agency!

By learning about new things, new lives, new cultures, you evolve as a human and start understanding the world and its workings a bit more easily and carefully. Take it as a weapon of peace, an avid reader can change the world in so many ways.

Reading and Language Learning

The best way to have complete command over a certain language is by reading. Yes, you heard me correct. Suppose you’re learning English or say, French. Then you might learn the basics from a class or a tutor, watch movies without subtitles but you can never gain fluency in that language if you don’t read.

Reading is a huge factor when accounting for fluency in languages. The first time you read a foreign language, you’ll be frustrated and devastated to no end. However, slowly you’ll get the hang of it. Then, you’ll start learning new words, phrases, sentences. Eventually, you’ll be able to read more clearly and when you speak, you won’t be fidgeting either. Hence reading increases your vocabulary, your spellings and grammar, your fluency and your knowledge.

The real question is: what’s stopping you from reading?


The Monbukagakusho Scholarship

Recently, I was awarded the Monbukagakusho scholarship from MEXT, Japan (Ministry of Education Sports Science and Culture) for graduate studies. This scholarship covers basically everything while you’re conducting your studies in Japan and it even allows you a monthly stipend. Today, I will be sharing with you my process of applying and obtaining the scholarship.

Things to Know

  • Applications open up somewhere between late February and early March.
  • This is a global scholarship, each country, represented by a consulate or an embassy.
  • There are two categories for collegiate studies:
    • Undergraduate – This is the same as when you graduate high school and go to college, only in Japan. You are expected to WANT to learn the language and focus your studies at the same time. In addition, you are expected to do research on schools you want to attend and which ones offer degree programs in English if you are not up to standard in Japanese.
    • Research Student- This is the one that I applied for and got; and its essentially the same offer as the undergraduate but at the graduate level, and you start as a 研究学生 (research student) and have the opportunity to extend the scholarship into your doctoral studies. The way it works is that while conducting research on your area of focus you will have a chance to take your universities exam to test into the master’s program, if you pass and the embassy still favors you then your scholarship will be extended. The doctorate follows the same pattern.
  • There are other opportunities with this scholarship too, such as: Language schools, technical schools and teaching opportunities, but the two categories, which are, focused the most are the Undergrad and Research.
  • You will be expected to show an interest in the Japanese language in culture, even if you do not expect to be fluent in the language, there as to be at least a spark.
  1. The application process: As stated earlier this began in March 2017 for me, but I was aware of this scholarships existence about 2 years in advance. With that being said my #1 tip here is preparation. Have all your documents and identification together, my mother always told me make copies of everything, even if you don’t need them, to this day I still carry at least 5 copies of every official document I have with me (but that’s another story). The application seems long and scary at first but it is really just a lot of information you need to give up. This is a lot of money they are giving you after all (free +stipend +the opportunity to get a part time job).
    1. If you are a research student and have not written your thesis yet, you need to write a detailed well mapped out proposal of what you are going to research and how your research is relevant to Japan AKA is your research worth going to Japan “WHY CAN’T YOU RESEARCH THIS IN ANOTHER COUNTRY? Is the question you should be trying to answer at all times when writing this?
    2. Finding your schools of interest (I will talk about the hard part later): So this is just the part when the embassy ask your first, second and third choices for education. This can always be changed later on in the process but this part is somewhat stressful early on…because it is freakin’ Japan.
    3. You are going to want to get some SOLID letters of recommendations; I am talking about SOLID, ROCK HARD, CONCRETE, “I LOVE YOU” recommendations. They really take a good look at these – I have a story later about this.
    4. Health Certification: They require a detailed, and I mean DETAILED physical, from your doctor/clinic and it must be stamped and no older than 6 months. However, they will not ask for this unless you have passed the interview stage, but since you need all of your documents by the time of the exam, you should aim to have it by then (and it never hurts to get a physical done). If you do not happen to have it by then you can contact the embassy and explain that you will turn it in later.
  1. The exam(s): This is the part where the stress kicks in; in my scenario I was applying as a research student with the proposal of exploring the cultural barrier in SLA, with future plans of pursuing a masters/ doctorate in Japanese language & Culture – So studying for me really wasn’t an option. However, in general they usually do not pay any close mind to the Japanese segment of the exams if you are major or field of research is not pertaining to it, but you do have to get above a 75/100 on the English exam. There are also topics other than Japanese and English if you are going into a field of science etc.

*Music/Art majors have to submit a recording (music) or their portfolio (art)

*But all applicants must take the English exam (no exceptions)

  • During the exam, they examine your application right in front of you, and they will call you up to the desk if there are any errors on it or incomplete sections. One person barely had anything in his application folder and the exam overseer simply said “No.” If you are wondering, how many files should be in a complete application, your folder should feel like a decent sized book. The person I mentioned earlier had about eight sheets of paper and his photos.
  • TIP: During the Japanese portion of the exam, even if you do not know anything do not leave until you finish that entire paper. This shows that you have guts and a sincere intention to obtain the scholarship- I was the last one in that room and used up the full 3-hour time slot. This in and of itself is like a secret interview.


  1. Interviews: If the panel (panel as in whoever oversaw the exam) approved of your marks/effort then you will be called to schedule an interview- I received my call the very same afternoon that day. During this interview, they will try and BURN your research topic to the ground, your primary goal in this interview is to prove that your research is worth it. Keep your cool and show them that you know what your goal and purpose. If they even sense a fiber of weakness or doubt in your body, they will instinctively pounce on it. Your secondary goal in this interview is to demonstrate your knowledge about Japan (however as mentioned, this is secondary do not focus on it too much.) Thirdly, they want to get a sense of how independent you will be once in Japan. They do not want to give the scholarship to someone and then have him or her breakdown in Japan. Overall the interview will test three things:
    1. Purpose
    2. Independence
    3. Experience
  1. Contacting Schools (LOA): So if you have managed to pass the interview you will be required to contact the schools of your choice (this is when you can change things up a bit). You will be mailed tamped documents from your embassy as proof that you have passed the secondary screening. Your job here is to ensure that you have a spot at your school. As a research student, the goal is to go to your school’s website get faculty and graduate school information and contact them ASAP. The difficult part is that usually the faculty you will be speaking to will be speaking in Japanese , so this is where you may need an interpreter or manage by yourself (if you can). On the other hand, you can send the professor you want to study under an email explaining your situation and that you have passed the interview, in need of a Letter of Acceptance.
  • Once you get a Letter of Acceptance, send it to the embassy right away, as they usually need these before a certain date.


Rumors have it that once you’ve gotten your LOA(s) you have a 99.9% chance of the getting the scholarship.

I contacted about ten graduate schools by phone and email and out of ten, only two accepted me. In addition, you can only apply to three graduate schools at a time. Therefore, the game plan here is:

  1. Have a fallback school
  2. Apply early
  3. Contact by PHONE AND EMAIL (Using only one will slow things down)

The Long Wait: So after you have done all of that listed above, it should be around September at this point…remember you started in February/March. You have done all that is humanly possible and now your one mission is to wait for the final yes or no.  Depending on which country you are from dates may differ by a few weeks, but people hear back between Late December- Early March *this is a yearlong application* (I started my application in the month of March 2017 and received the final “Yes” in January.)

Final Contract Acceptance: As all scholarships have some terms of agreement, this one is no exception. Should you accept these terms (I know I will: /) you will be on your way to Japan to start your graduate/ undergraduate career.


Island Boy Dro

I forgot to mention throughout this whole post that undergraduate students do not have to sit in interviews.


For more information please follow the link

Creative Language Learning Awakes: Kanji with WaniKani

What is WaniKani?

The Creative Language Learning Platform For Kanji

WaniKani is an online platform designed to assist Japanese learners to overcome the massive obstacle they face, kanji. Many learners shake and quiver in fear at the mere thought of seeing ten strokes flash across their eyes, not knowing what each of those strokes means. Classrooms tackle kanji through standard repetition methods, mainly through textbooks, this method can be a described as a bit dry, difficult, and “mendokusai”. Imagine this, cramming ten kanji in the lobby ten minutes before class before just to pass a test, wipe the sweat off your forehead and begone with them forever. Heartbreaking right?

WaniKani however, makes this a bit more interesting through its space repetition and mnemonics system.  The websites colourful layout also runs circles around the traditional black and white book.

Wanikani Dashboard

So what exactly makes this language learning platform so well known in the Japanese language learning community?

Let’s start off with a list of positives this colourful, multifaceted crabgator offers.

Pros of Wanikani

Creative Power Unleashed

WaniKani’s mnemonics system introduces a plethora of wild and crazy stories to help you remember a kanji in its entirety,  forget strokes (well okay, don’t forget them, but stash them away somewhere safe while using Wanikani. It also introduces you to the breakdown of radicals, which are the building blocks to kanji. If you know all your radicals and creative enough you can effectively memorize all 2,000 + kanji.


Learn Kanji In Context

Wanikani doesn’t just throw kanji at you and say “Here, you have a week to learn these, then you’ll have a test.” Sound familiar professor? Just kidding, but seriously Wanikani introduces you to vocabulary associated with the kanji you are you learning. It also provides context sentences so you can see exactly how the vocabulary word in its kanji form is being used.

Wanikani review

Wanikani kanji break down and context sentences


Spaced Repetition is King

You will not advance to the next level until you GET it. Wanikani ensures that the users actually learn the kanji, vocabulary and radicals. Its level system is a huge motivation factor, you must reach the level of guru on 90% of the kanji that was introduced before advancing to the next level. Depending on how fast you are this can take anywhere between 7 and 100 days.

Wanikani Progression Bars


Modify The Way You Learn Kanji

There is a massive collection of plugins to help you modify your learning experience. So you won’t be stuck with the same old wanikani layout and software 24/7. You can create your own learning environment and go at your own speed.


Stay Engaged With WaniKani’s Online Community

There is also an active community forum for you to use while your reviews are on cooldown. You can basically go and talk to other members on the same journey as you are. It’s a great way to stay focused and avoid distractions. It’s also beneficial to see the different methods people are undertaking to study Japanese, prepare for exams and discuss in general just about anything.


Wanikani online community

Cons of Wanikani

Wanikani has a slow startup

It is slow in the beginning! If you happen to already know some basic kanji you are still going to have to go through the beginning levels to access the higher levels and more intermediate lessons. You cannot skip levels. If you fall behind on reviews…. you will drown. BUT! There is a vacation mode you can activate when you are not able to do any reviews. It will freeze your review lineup until you get back.

level 1 wanikani

Level 2 WaniKaniLevel 3 WaniKani

Radical Radicals, No Pun Intended

The radicals can be a bit strange at times. Depending on whether or not you have some experience of radicals already, making the switch to WaniKani’s highly creative platform can be a challenge. Some of the radicals you will be introduced to will be extremely RADICAL if you catch my drift. I forgot a narwhal was an actual animal until Wanikani named an entire radical after it. Use your discretion here…

Wanikani Radicals Tie Fighter


The Conclusion on WaniKani

Overall Wanikani is a highly affordable platform for Japanese learning for what its worth.  While its platform may be difficult to become adjusted to, that doesn’t change the fact that the mnemonics approach works wonders. Its unique methodology is what attracts learners from various backgrounds; it certainly doesn’t feel boring and its interface is bright, creative and mesmerizing.  It’s like the crabgator has you in his hypnotic prowess, and you can’t escape unless you finish all 60 of his trials and tribulations!Wanikani Pricing


Did I mention that these 60 levels all together can be finished within a year if done at maximum speed? Did I also mention that WaniKani teaches you effectively just over 2400 kanji and 6000 vocabularies…that’s kind of crazy when you compare this amount to Japanese grade school. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR HAIL THE CRABGATOR!

Image result for wanikani pictures