If you’re a Japanese language learner, the chances are you already know what Memrise is and have been using it or a similar software. But for those unaware, Memrise is what is known as a “spaced repetition learning” website, meaning that it will quiz you periodically on the things you’ve learned, with more regular testing on words you repeatedly get wrong.
There is, however, one issue with Memrise. There are too many courses! This may sound like a bit of a stupid problem, but it really can be overbearing when the site has so many choices and you’re not entirely sure which one is right for you. To help you out, in this article are a few of the great options that Memrise offers and which learners they’re aimed at.
Target audience: Beginners
Alas, these weren’t an option when I began learning Japanese. Memrise has recently launched their own beginner Japanese language courses, three in total, which begins by teaching some basic vocabulary, as well as the three Japanese scripts of hiragana, katakana, and kanji. The later courses are designed to offer more useful phrases around everyday life, such as how to ask for a certain item in a store or order food in a restaurant. These courses, therefore, are aimed at complete beginners and are useful for people intending to take a trip to Japan as a holiday or someone just starting out at learning the Japanese language.
Target audience: Beginners taking Japanese classes
If you’ve ever taken a Japanese class, you would most likely agree with me that vocabulary and kanji tests can be annoying to study for. While Memrise can’t help with writing Kanji, it can be a useful study tool for learning vocabulary lists or kanji readings/meanings. The courses in this section include the full vocabulary lists from the two most popular Japanese beginner textbooks – Genki and Minna no Nihongo.
Another good feature of Memrise that helps when studying textbook vocabulary lists is its ability to split each course into lessons so you can just study for whichever chapter you happen to be on. Naturally, these courses are designed for beginners who are using these textbooks in a classroom but can also be useful if you’re self-teaching via these books.
Target audience: Varying levels for people taking the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)
While the JLPT may not have a defined list of vocabulary or kanji characters that might come up each time, there are some rough guidelines, although these vary depending on which source you use. Therefore, if you intend to learn the JLPT vocabulary through Memrise, it is important to note that it may not be able to provide you everything that could come up in your exam, but rather a good starting point for what you should be learning.
Target audience: Manga readers, anime watchers
Let’s be honest with each other, chances are if you’re learning Japanese, you likely watch anime or read manga, or at least have an interest in one or the other. These courses are designed for people who want to better understand anime without the use of subtitles in their native language or read Japanese manga.
Target audience: Intermediate to advanced learners, people working in Japan
Learning keigo (Japanese honorifics) can be a somewhat infuriating task. Thankfully, there are Memrise courses designed to help you learn some of the essential phrases. Keigo itself will prove to be essential to anyone looking to move beyond the basics of the language or anyone who wishes to work in Japan, and these courses might just come in handy!
So these are just a few of the various courses on offer via Memrise. If you’re still not sold, you can trawl through their course list yourself to find more specialized ones such as Japanese words used in the first Harry Potter book, or perhaps you want to learn some Japanese computing words?