We Can Do This The Easy Way or the Hard Way

Today is party day, because I am not halfway through 中級へ行こう (which is the red book).  The next book on the list is 中級を学ぼう (which, as it turns out, is the orange book).  Even though I still expect to spend a couple of months in the red book, I have ordered the orange book to allow for travel time from Japan.

(Oddly, I could have ordered the orange book from a supplier in the US, but it would have cost over twice as much as ordering it from Japan, and includes shipping.  不思議ですね.)

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.  What I wanted to talk about was Memrise.

When I was using みんなの日本語 as my text book, I was using Memrise to learn and review the vocabulary.  I could do this because some kind soul had set a course for each volume of the book.

When I started 中級へ行こう, because it was the newly released 2nd edition, there was no Memrise course, so I created one.  As I get to each new chapter, I add the vocabulary in to the course.

The question is, which device do I use to study?  As it turns out, this is a very important question, because the courses work slightly differently on desktop versus mobile devices.

For the みんなの日本語 courses, desktop is actually better.  This is largely because those courses include a lot of sentences, and using the desktop version, I have to type in those sentences, whereas the mobile version usually just has me pick them out of a multiple choice list.  Having to type them character by character is more work because it is a more rigorous test of my knowledge.

(みんなの日本語 is a hiragana based book.  中級へ行こう is a kanji based book.  Knowing that will help this to make more sense.)

For the 中級へ行こう course, however, mobile is actually better.  On the desktop, you type in the word in hiragana and hit the space bar, and it magically turns into the kanji.  On the mobile version, however, the word appears, and I have to select the correct kanji in the correct order from a list.  That’s is harder because it is a more rigorous test of my knowledge.

Do you see where I’m going here?  Years ago, when I got my first job, my manager said, “If there are two ways to perform a task, and you pick that way that requires more effort, you will usually be right.”

I’m not swearing that’s always true, but, in this case, it definitely is true, because the method that requires the most work is the method that helps me learn better.

After all, the ultimate goal is to be totally comfortable with reading the kanji, so using the method that makes me recognize and select the correct kanji is definitely the better method, but I also definitely make a lot more mistakes that way.  Making mistakes, by the way, is absolutely fine.  A mistake is just a way to help the right answer stick in your head better.




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