Mixed experience with mnemonics

Just finished level 3 a few days ago. So far so good, progress is reasonable, and I had 99.24% overall accuracy.

But I thought I’d give some feedback on the mnemonics. A lot of them are good, and some are pretty funny. However, the ones that are based on sports teams, or celebrity or movie references are a total miss for me. I’m not really interested in learning about “Hard Gay” or even “Charlie Sheen”… I think mnemonics using generic things (types of animals, roles, physical objects) or even fictional people (like Ms. Chou) are better than assuming knowledge of pop culture.

With that said, here are some that I found particularly good:

  • Enter (kanji)
  • White (radical)
  • Left (kanji) meaning
  • Friend (kanji)
  • Task (kanji)
  • Fur (kanji) reading
    … and other similar ones.

It’s not that easy to find memorable references that fit the reading and make good mnemonics. Instead of using Charlie Sheen, for example, they could also use the word “she”. But “she” is such a general word, it doesn’t invoke anything specific.


I don’t really think you need to learn about Hard Gay or Charlie Sheen, I don’t know much about either of them. One short but memorable YouTube video each would probably do it.

The staff have certainly gotten this complaint about those mnemonics before, so it’s possible that it’s something they’re working to fix in the revamp I’ve heard they’re doing.

Here’s Charlie Sheen’s most famous interview, which is quite memorable - be warned, it’s very… cringy, I suppose? Absurd? Words fail me.

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I agree with Darcinon - both that you don’t really need to know much about the characters (in the same way that you can’t exactly know much about Mrs. Chou), and in that this aspect might be something they’re addressing in the revamp.

That said, I would also encourage you to feel free to tweak and / or completely revamp any aspects of the mnemonics system that don’t work for you. I created a djinn / ninja aspect to differentiate in a consistent way between the じん and にん readings of 人 early on, for example, and there are a couple of mnemonics which don’t work so well for me because I have a British rather than an American accent.


Mm i didn’t know hard gay but I looked up a clip on youtube, and sure enough I have used it for every せい reading since, because it is extremely memorable and easy to visualise this guy in his ridiculous outfit jabbing his hips in some obscure serious setting and proclaiming “せいせいせい!” haha


When I got to Charlie Sheen and Hard Gay references, I was fairly sure I pictured the right actor for Sheen (but I didn’t look it up) and I’d seen one Hard Gay video over ten years ago and I did not remember him yelling せい. In fact, when I saw Sheen, I didn’t think it was pronounced anywhere close to shi, but I’m guessing it is because it is used for shi. (But it didn’t matter, because I just said “okay, this Sheen guy is shi” and I still pronounce his name in my head with as sheen and not shiin (or however it is pronounced).)

Still I used them like I used Mrs. Chou. I don’t know her, I have no history, no gossip, no background with her and she works perfectly. (More or less the same as Charlie Sheen and Hard Gay for me.) Use the pop culture references the same way. You can make it up all yourself and/or look up a quick image or video to add to your imagination of the mnemonic.

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resisting temptation to post this in the Fun with Out of Context Quotes thread…


not a fan of cultural references myself. as someone from a different cultural circle, i miss a lot of stuff when people reference poculture. the same goes for those here on wk.

but meh. changing them all at this point in time is probably more work that it’s worth.

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same here. a lot of popular culture still seems to come from TV, and I’ve not owned, nor had the desire to own a TV for over 5 years, and stopped watching it long before then.


Mnemonics are only going to get more and more weird as you progress through the levels, so don’t worry about pop references you don’t get, you’ll likely have to come up with your own anyways in the near future.

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Just learning the following vocabulary:
滞る: To be overdue: とどこおる
with the following mnemonic sentence:
The reading for this one is wildsauce. I’m going to leave this one to your capable hands. Just think of Tod (とど) and some coot (こお) doing something wild even though they’re overdue for something else, or something. Anyways, best of luck to you on this one.

That doesn’t seem that crazy. Doesn’t it make sense for it to be a mix of 届くand 凍る?
A frozen delivery is something overdue.


That’s how I remembered that one. Honestly I’d prefer all the mnemonics to be in Japanese.

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Good point that I also don’t know much about Mrs. Chou. I guess the difference is that a super-short description (evil old lady who scatters nails on streets) lets me conjure up a memorable image, and in fact it’s more memorable because I pictured it rather than watching it in a video.

Anyway, this is a fairly minor criticism, I can certainly work around it. Just a potential opportunity for small improvements. And I wanted to stress that I appreciate the difficulty, and the great majority of them are really good.


I also often find it easier to go backwards and remember readings from known vocabulary. For example, knowing 先生「せん・せい」 it’s easy to remember both kanji’s reading.


I think maybe Hard Gay is more effective than Charlie Sheen because, as far as I remember, they do describe him a little (and that description is really all you need to know). They do explicitly tell you to look him up if you don’t know him, but honestly I think that should come with more warning because I wouldn’t have wanted my boss to wander in just as I loaded up one of those videos! (and it didn’t add much to my mental image anyway)

But yes, Charlie Sheen is used in so many mnemonics that he just becomes a mnemonic character anyway, really. I agree that when he’s first introduced it’s not very effective, and that they ought to give you something more to work with.

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That’s exactly the kind of thing I would use alongside the WK mnemonic. I knew a fair amount of basic vocabulary before WK, so often my learning experience would be, “So that’s how you write it!”

That reminds me, in every kanji lesson I would read the list of vocab that use the kanji to see if anything seemed familiar. That both helped with remembering the kanji by seeing what words it appears in and how it is pronounced in them, and by giving a tiny head-start on the vocab before they unlocked a few days later.

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Unless you actually know somebody called Mrs. Chou, who is a very nice old lady who always gives children sweets for Halloween and Christmas and Easter, smiles and waves at all neighbours, brings delicious home-cooked meals to every neighbourhood party, and never spreads nails on the street :older_woman:


Yes, I find that very helpful too!

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This thread reminds me of this. It is for 転.

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I get this for sure, especially with certain words that rely on you being an American. ‘Skosh’ is an American adoption, I have never encountered it from non-Americans, but luckily I already knew 少し.

考 (かんが)is a recent unlock, and it uses ‘conga’, which doesn’t make sense for me. Con doesn’t use an ‘a’ sound like it does in North America. So I made up something about kangaroos (kangas).

Also I have no clue who Tyra Banks is, so I’ve got Tyler instead of Tyra because I know a few Tylers in real life.

But I think this is a good thing, that they don’t always match perfectly, because it gives you a chance to make up your own that will work better for you. I always find mnemonics work best when they come from your own head.

Edit: In fact, I just came across something that definitely benefits non-Australians. 西 being せい meaning ‘go west til you hit Japan and find Hard Gay’. There is no hitting Japan by going west here! This is discrimination of the utmost!

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