An app launched Wednesday in the Apple iTunes Store uses the Internet’s love of cats to help teach Spanish. “Cat Academy” from London-based Memrise uses cat memes on an iOS device to help commit language to memory.
It isn’t just a silly novelty, either. Cat Academy draws on years of extensive research into the process of learning.
According to the Memrise website, “cuteness” aids attention and positive mood while humor makes things more memorable. And visual associations also tend to form the best memories. Cat Academy also uses an adaptive algorithm that tests users on words before they are forgotten.
By pairing cute and funny cat pictures with Spanish words and phrases, Memrise just applied the same cognitive functions that cause people to look at cat memes like “I Can Haz Cheezburger” for hours online towards a more constructive goal.
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“It’s designed to be perfectly addictive, taking the silliest things in the world and apply[ing] an effective learning process,” Ed Cooke, the CEO of Memrise, told Forbes.
The other important part of Cat Academy is the use of gamification. To keep users engaged, Cat Academy unlocks rewards and features when users successfully complete tests.
Cat Academy can be downloaded for just $0.99 on the iTunes store, which should be welcome for people not willing to pony up more than $100 for a program like Rosetta Stone.