Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SRS after three weeks

So, three weeks in, and I still think this SRS stuff is pretty cool. Even though I started reviewing even the most basic Japanese, I've polished up a recollection of Japanese postpositions of motion that I hadn't realized had gotten so weak. Starting with Japanese vocab and sentences that are relatively easy, as well as stuff that needed review, studying the flashcards has been fun.

It's fairly easy to make flashcards that review front and back, so that (for example) you're testing your understanding of the phrase from Japanese to English and from English to Japanese. Creating the cards to do this is a little different from the introductory instructional screencast video, possibly because Anki is frequently updated. I'm using Anki with the Japanese plugin. To create forward and reverse cards in the Basic model, choose "Cards: Forward, Reverse" before you create in the cards. In the Japanese model, make sure it's set to "Recognition, Recall".

My strategy is essentially based on sentence mining, studying grammar and vocabulary in full sentences (even if it is something as basic as "This is a chair"/"Iste es un sedia"/"これはいすです"), and say the phrase on each card aloud in the target language before I check and score it. For Interlingua, I've created Forward and Reverse cards focusing on vocab and sentences from "Curso de interlingua pro comenciantes anglophone"; I've gotten through the first four lessons in three weeks at the default settings (20 new cards a day). For Japanese, I've created Recognition and Recall cards for model sentences and vocab from "しんにほんごのきそ I" and "漢字マスター, Vol. 1: 4級漢字100, 100 Kanji in 10 Days, The Easy Way". In three weeks, I've gotten through two lessons of each book. At this rate, I'll finish the Interlingua text in about four weeks, the kanji text in 12 weeks, and the Japanese grammar book over a period of several more months.

The workload is pretty managable. As long as I study every day, reviewing the flashcards doesn't take more than about ten to 15 minutes. Making cards does take some time, but spending an hour or two once a week usually creates enough cards for the rest of the week. I'm working on two decks, which means I'm spending twice as much time reviewing cards.

So, for example, on December 1, I spent 13 minutes reviewing 86 cards, which was pretty typical. Then I spent a few days away from the computer, so when I came back on December 5, I had to spend 38 minutes reviewing 243 cards (with some modest distractions). On December 6, I spent 9 minutes reviewing 60 cards; on December 7, I spent 14 minutes reviewing 90 cards; and today I spent 5 minutes reviewing 39 cards, because I had run out of new cards.

I can see the need, apart from SRS, to create a language-immersion environment for yourself. This method doesn't teach you to think in the target language, or teach fluency or creativity. However, I always found memorization through flashcards to be rather a chore; this is more like a game. And making memorization of vocab relatively fun is both remarkable and useful.

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