Free ways to learn Japanese: Memrise.

There are tons of expensive online courses, books and apps to study Japanese but some of the best ones are actually free or ad- supported.I’m planing to look at the best free resources avaliable to learn Japanese starting with Memrise.
Memrise is a spaced repetition software (SRS) avaliable for both Android and iOS along with a browser version. It works a lot like a set of flash cards but rather than going through them evenly or always from the start the app shows the ones that you are most likely to have forgotten and tests them. If you get the question right it will wait longer before showing you again. If you get it wrong you will be shown a picture to help you remember it then tested again in the near future.

A Memrise ‘Mem’ with pictures and sound.

A lot of people use Memrise to learn hiragana, katakana and kanji. I know a lot of people (myself included,) that were able to learn hiragana in a day thanks to this app. This kind of program is also great for vocab and short phrases which are really just route memorisation. It can still be useful for more complex things like grammar structures but where I personally get the most out of it is general vocab.
Memrise is not the only SRS. Another popular one with language learners is Anki which allows the creation of you own ‘decks’. The areas that Memrise excels in are its testing system which Anki doesn’t have and its ready made courses to follow. Anki does have decks that you can download ready made but these often don’t have the clean simplicity of Memrise.

It’s not all roses though. While most of the material on Memrise is well made it is still community submitted. This means that some area are covered better than others and that some ‘Mems’ might not make sense to all people.

A mem unlikely to appeal to everyone.

The above picture won’t make sense to most people. What does a gun have to do with the sound ‘sa’? The reason is that the rifle pictured is an SA80 assault rifle ( technically it’s the L85 IW A2 but thats not really relevant,) which is the standard rifle of the British army.For people that recognise what it is it’s a somewhat effective way to remember but most people won’t make the connection. Outside of gun fanatics, British military and maybe a decent percentage of the British public the needed association just won’t be there.Incidently before you assume me to be a fanatic I actually fall into the second category as I was in the reserves during university.
Overall Memrise is a great app as long as you pick a Mem that works for you. If you can’t find one you like you can always add your own and help improve the community for everyone.

You can find the desk top site here. For the Android and iOS apps check the Playstore and Appstore respectively.

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6 thoughts on “Free ways to learn Japanese: Memrise.

  1. Memrise is pretty good. Most user submitted content comes straight out of books, so it’s like getting a text for free. I’ve used it for a while now. Only problem I find is that the repetitiveness makes it hard to feel engaged.

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    1. True but you do come across some odd ones. I only found that SA80 one a few days ago and had to post it due to how weird it was. What better way to ora rice the language of a passivist anti gun country than with gun mems.

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  2. I use Memrise and really enjoy it in short amounts. Otherwise it feels like grinding if I keep at it for more than 3 months. It’s why immersion is so important to break the monotony of grinding kanji/Vocab 😺
    Good post on it, that gun mem is definitely weird tho 😹

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