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CatAcademy update – and job posting!

CatAcademy – Cat Spanish

Last year while analysing our data on which mems are most effective, we noticed a pattern that mems involving cute pictures (especially cute pictures of cats) were remarkably effective. Initially we were a bit skeptical of this finding, so we ran series of experiments to test whether the effect was real, and to see how we could make real practical use of this interesting data point.

At first these tests were quite speculative – we come across lots of interesting data patterns at Memrise, and we test out a lot of new ideas to help people learn better. Not every interesting pattern can find a practical application. But at each stage of testing cat-based mems, we have been amazed by the results. Gradually, test by test, we have come around to the idea that we should take this seriously.

We have also been digging into the wider scientific literature on the effects of cuteness on cognitive function, and other studies around the role of attention and emotional state while learning that suggest that seemingly absurd idea is actually very powerfully scientifically backed!

So, we created a new CatAcademy team (initially a team of 1!) within Memrise to turn this discovery of the mnemonic power of cats into a product that could help people learn a new language.

To help bring this product to life we are hiring a new team member: a Director of Cat Mem Creation! The job is to take, find and caption the truly bewildering number of delightful and apposite cat pictures that will help people learn. To find the exceptional candidate we need for this unusual role, we have set up a competition! To enter:

  1. Head to the Cat Academy Tumblr
  2. Click “Submit your cats”
  3. Read through the cat-meme creation presentation
  4. Click the link to check through the list of English phrases available on the shared Google document,
  5. Upload any awesome cat photos you may have that fit any of these phrases!

All successfully chosen pictures will be published on the Tumblr and the first person to reach ten published pictures will become the Director of Cat-Meme Creation. So get started soon!

We want to release CatAcademy in as many languages as possible – so we also need your help in translating the captions into other languages. So if you would like to help people to learn your language through pictures of cute cats, just head to the Cat Academy Tumblr and click “submit your translation” underneath any of the pictures!

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