Forum Settings
Feb 13, 2009 12:04 AM

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 627
Thanks to firebound12 for the thread idea.

If I understand things right, basically, this thread is for sharing ways of making the task of completing your reps in an SRS a smoother process that makes it fun to do. At least, in theory. :)

I'll go ahead and name a few that have worked wonders for me.

1. Timeboxing. There's no excuse not to use this technique. Anki has it built in. Got reps to do? Only got 5 minutes? Timebox it! Only want to review for 30 minutes a day? Timebox it! Suffering from procrastination? Better use Timeboxing. :)

2. Colors! - Not only do they help with recall, but they stimulate other areas of the brain which makes each item even more memorable. Pick some fun colors that you like for your question and answer sides.

3. Fonts! - Download some sweet Japanese fonts and use them for your cards. Again, this stimulates other areas of the brain making things a lot more fun and memorable.

4. Short-short-short items. - Basically, with any language, your listening comprehension is weak in the beginning. That's a given. And, if you're like me, and you do Audio -> Text cards for sentences, then you'll want tiny tiny items. I'm talking like four to fifteen characters. Want a large sentence? Break it up! For example:


I see 「様々な言葉」, 「言葉の定義」,「定義を書いた」,「書いた本です」,「様々な言葉の定義を書いた」, and the original 「様々な言葉の定義を書いた本です」. You see how the big sentence was 15 characters, but I broke it up into parts? By memorizing the parts, and sometimes the whole, you will become able to read the whole. These smaller chunks, are much easier to hear, also. So, what I hear 様々な言葉, I can repeat it back quickly, write it out quickly, and check my answer. Plus, these chunks are easier to understand.

And, if you think about it. By learning words/sentences/etc. We are effectively chunking the language and learning it by piecemeal. By learning these parts, and seeing them used in many different contexts, we will become able to piece them parts together into longer sentences. Or, something like that. :)

5. Typing. - Sometimes it's been a long day, and you just want to relax. I hear you. But then you have 100 sentences waiting for review. And, writing out all those sentence by hand just doesn't sound appealing when you're tired. Type them out. Anki has a feature for this, and if you don't use Anki, open up notepad and start typing out your answers there. I haven't actually used this much because I like to write Chinese characters, but I imagine that it could be handy.

6. Pictures! - For those of you on Google, that would be the 画像 link. Using pictures reinforces meaning, stimulates those other brain parts, and makes things more interactive and fun. I use pictures a lot when I work with monolingual dictionaries. I could look up definitions for things like 水星, but then.. it's so much better to get a picture of Mercury, right? :D

7. Chunking. - What I'm calling chunking here is the idea that you can wake up, do 10 minutes of reps. Watch some anime, read some manga, listen to Japanese music while you read the news in Japanese, and then come back to reps again for 10 more minutes in a couple hours. Do a chunk whenever you're waiting for your Ramen noodles to cool, or right before bed. Even if you don't finish them all for the day, you made progress, and lightened the load for tomorrow. :)

8. Set a goal. - Set a limit on the number of reps you'll do daily. For me, I haven't set a limit, and I think it would help greatly if I did. But I don't really have so many reps that I need to employ this. Basically, you say you'll do 100 reps a day, no more no less. And, you count that as full, even when there are more waiting for review. Because, the magic of SRSing will cause the items you know well to be pushed further and further into the future, allowing those other items to be reviewed. And eventually you'll have a day where the number waiting is equal or less than the number you set. Basically, you tell you how much you do each day, instead of being surprised every day.

9. Overlap items! - For example, I wanted to learn the word 勝負, so I looked it up and got a few examples. I entered all of the examples into my SRS, as well as examples for the words used with the examples using 勝負. So, saying I don't know なる, in the sentence 勝負にならない, I can look it up and get a sentence like 医者になる, and then look up a sentence using 医者 if I don't know that word, and so on. By having duplicates of words within different contexts, you are making the memorization of that word MUCH easier because you are creating different paths to that memory in your brain. And, by extension, you'll be strengthening your Kanji knowledge!

Plus, you're learning different uses for words, which is better than just learning its meaning. Especially for words like やっぱり. It's just better to learn by context and hearing/reading it and getting a feel for it, since it translates to different expressions..

10. Sit at a table/desk that has a good height! - If you've taken a typing class, then you know they stress posture and such. Now, I'm not going to slap your fingers with a ruler, but I highly recommend (especially for laptop users) to sit at a table that is high enough to be comfortable to have your writing, clicking, and keystrokes to occur. I like dinner tables because they seem to be a good height, where I don't have to crouch over. This increase productivity. (At least for me, because I usually do my reps with my laptop on bed. :P).

So, that's all for now. Share if you have ideas of your own! :D
Feb 13, 2009 8:11 AM

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 239
11) "Rate it high or fail it". You better score yourself really high (easy in Anki), or fail it (Anki term again :P). I thought scoring lower will make my retention better because I'll practice them more often. Wrong. You must try to forget to learn better. Most of your rating should be, in Anki, mostly 4, sometimes 3 and quite some fails :P

12) Anki failure multiplier: In model properties, set it to at least 0.1. It means that if you fail a card that have an interval of a 100 days, you'll see it in 10 days. Also in the advanced scheduling, set again (mature) to 480.0 (mins). That'll make you press the "fail" button more. And fail = good, if you know how to use it :P. Everyone just hates to press "fail" because it will reset the card completely.

I don't have much time today, so I'll continue another time.


11a), I have to change a lil bit: there will be lots of 4, but also quite some 3. And you also have to know that in some rare cases, you can use 2. Or else we would of had 3 buttons instead of 4. You don't need to use 2, but you should know that it exist for something :D


11b) Again, Sleepyday and I have changed our ratings, like always XP The same philosophy is still in place, but we realized that most of the time, rating it easy is way too hard. Personally, I use 4 for those sentences I am used to and are mostly mature card. But anything new or relatively new, I put a 3. Also, when you get it but are absolutely sure that you`re going to forget it soon, then mark it hard XP
Just to say, rate it high or fail it, but also see what fits you best.
Modified by firebound12, Apr 6, 2009 10:31 PM
Feb 13, 2009 2:28 PM

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 627
13. Kanji Exploration! - This is really just something new that I'm playing with. In my experience, it doesn't help to learn Japanese words that use Kanji in compounds if you can't figure out why the heck they are the way they are. For example, いんそつ 【引率】 can mean "leading" or "commanding" (according to Rikai-chan), but the Kanji here, their meanings are roughly "pull" and "ratio" respectfully. So, how does one get "leading" out of that? Well, by breaking it into its parts and exploring the use and meaning of each of the characters as words in other compounds, you confusion should be lifted.

ひきいる 率いる
lead; conduct; 《軍隊などで》command.
[Copied from Goo 辞書]

Well, that would definitely help in understanding how you get "leading" from that Kanji. Now, how about the other?

ひき 引き
《引き立て》favor [〔英〕favour]; 〔英〕favour; patronage; 《つて》pull; 《影響力》influence
[Copied from Goo 辞書]

Looks like we have a winner! "Influence" - "Lead" .. sounds like "leading" to me!

Hopefully you see where I'm going with this. It's cool to learn the meaning of Kanji as individuals from Heisig, but learning their use and other meanings certainly helps in understanding those compounds that "just don't seem right" because of the Kanji being used. The solution is to break it up and find out why it is the way it is.

This can also be done with monolingual dictionaries, which actually results in much better understanding of the meaning of the characters.

This idea stemmed from the fact that I have difficulties recalling certain Kanji from Character -> Meaning, but have excellent abilities going from Meaning -> Character because of Heisig's book. Plus, I'm curious about learning the pronunciation of each of the Kanji I know. So this technique solves both problems. I'm learning the character's meaning, uses, and creating many paths to it in my memory. And by learning a few uses of it, it's hard not to figure out how it's pronounced.

And, I think in the end, this will result in much much greater accuracy of inferences of compound meanings. And, may actually be a great help in making the transition to monolingual studies. Anyways, I think I'll be employing this technique from now on.
Feb 14, 2009 12:10 PM

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 239
14) Use that edit/delete button. - Got anything that has to be edited? Your cues for Kanji starts to suck? You hate the description of a certain word in a sentence? Edit it out or change it for the better. The sentence just doesn't make you happy anymore? Delete it. Though Khatzu already emphasized it already :P But I'm more emphasizing on editing, because that's what I do more than deleting.
Modified by Zealous, Feb 14, 2009 12:37 PM
Feb 15, 2009 3:20 PM

Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 386
I got this from the koohiii forum but anyways for learning names you could speed it up by replacing any pronouns or whatever in your srs with a name I guess it would enable to add sentences you wouldn't have added before (if it's too easy) by making it harder

this site has common Japanese names
reading and the kanji...

今はどんでん返しの時代ではない★너와 함께 했던 일상은
어느샌가 작은 영화속 풍경이되고 ☆
Feb 15, 2009 5:21 PM

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 627
That's not a bad idea actually. I guess you'd need to at least be familiar with how pronouns are used in Japanese, though. Another way you can do this is to use dialogs from shows and change the names around.
Feb 19, 2009 6:20 PM

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 239
midori- said:
I got this from the koohiii forum but anyways for learning names you could speed it up by replacing any pronouns or whatever in your srs with a name I guess it would enable to add sentences you wouldn't have added before (if it's too easy) by making it harder

this site has common Japanese names
reading and the kanji...

For sake of order:

15) To improve midori's way, why not replace pronouns/people's name with name of your favorite Anime or Manga? There's enough character names to replace all your names in your SRS. This is especially helpful when the names are of an importance in the Anime.

For example, 小此木優子 「おこのぎゆうこ」 in Dennou Coil: there's actually 2 Yuuko in the Anime, and they explain that the first kanji in her name means "gentle", so that's why they nickname her やさこ; because of 優しい 「やさしい」


16) In Anki, ignore the percentage and all the other performance stats. Sorry for those who uses Anki, including me, but the retention percentage is NOT representative of what you actually know. This has been an issue for Chaotic, Sleepy and I. But it shouldn't be that case. Like I said, the more you fail when rating your cards high, the better (until a certain point).

Let me provide an example: I have been using Anki for my classes notes. I did not really cram study any of my courses and I always obtained a minimum of 90% in tests (well, almost always :P). But guess what was my average in Anki? 70%. Up until the middle of my reps for school, I usually had an average of 60% or even 50% and it goes up at the end because I pass all the failed cards (sometimes goes up to 80%). I know that if I fail a card, It's going to come up soon again and the information will go deeper into my long-term memory. But I have to "lower" my so called retention percentage to do that.

P.S: This is an example. I checked my % for school reps, and it was 80% average, with 70% average for first time.

Another EDIT:

17) Add new material every single day, even though you have reps to do: Seriously, people are more worried about their reps than what new material they learn each day. Add kanji, even though you have 200 reps to do. Add new sentences, even though you have a hundred to do. Finishing your reps will lead you to nowhere. There's some gratification, but you're better off learning new material. Remember, New material > Reps. Reps can wait, not the new material.
Modified by firebound12, Feb 19, 2009 7:44 PM
Feb 19, 2009 9:42 PM

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 627
17.5. I have to respectfully disagree with firebound12 on the idea of adding new material every day even if you have reps to do. I think that one should find a balance and pace that works well with their time and resources available. So, add stuff every, yes. If you can. Do reps every day. Yes, if you can. My advice is to set a question or time limit and just do that every day and then add stuff. What I end up with are one of two things normally. 1. Days of reps and additions and 2. Days of reps. Reviewing should be the higher priority because without the foundation, you're less likely to learn new stuff. This is the same thinking with Kanji. Seriously.. take your time and work through them because the benefits of knowing Kanji and their meanings works magic later in the sentence phase. I wish I had spent more time and took care in learning them. I'm kind of paying for it now. Which sucks. It wouldn't be worth my time to redo Heisig, and I've been debating with myself on if I should go back and learn Kanji again with a different way so that I could tie in readings or something with them.
Mar 11, 2009 6:47 AM

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 239
Argh, post deleted...

anyway, trying to remember:

18) In Anki for sentence phase, change model properties. Make 3 fields instead of the 2 by default. Front, back and definition. (for kanji, make one for stories) That way, you can be very flexible in your things instead of editing all the cards one by one. And trust me, you don't want to do that, especially when you're pretty much in the 250+ sentences.

Well, theres 2 more coming. Might remember afterward.

EDIT: well, since I don`t want to double post, here`s another one that I found interesting (not in the two that i forgot):

19) In monodic like yahoo or infoseek, there is some example sentences just below the definitions in japanese brackets like this 「例えば」. It helps a lot, and better if it`s an easy sentence, cuz youre getting another context for the word. So don`t be shy to copy it down in your description!

EDIT (again): I finally remembered the two things!

20) In Sentence phase: Don't put too much details into your "description" field (see #18). This will tire you very quickly. Instead of having 10 lines of description from the dictionary, cut that amount in half or even more. Having description of description of description turn anybody off, especially when its hard to understand the first description. So relax a bit, only write descriptions for the main sentence you're learning. And that leads to...

21) Write the pronunciation only for description of description. Sure, you have the description for the main sentence, but you can't even read it! Don't worry. If you have done RTK, it should be fairly easy to understand it by its meaning. But what if you boost that up with the pronunciation? No need for a long description. Just write how it is pronounced. Read it everytime, and when you encounter that word again in another card, you'll have at least 2 context of how to use that word. And it is at that time that you write the description.

For example, you have this sentence:
and the descriptions here:
運ぶ 「はこぶ」 物や人をある場所から他の場所へ移す <- description of main sentence
他 「た」 <- only the pronunciation is given. No description.
移す 「うつす」

EDIT (3rd time, as to not double post XD)

22) Tired of reps? Relax and Recognize. Stop thinking that you must write out every kanji and every sentences with perfection each time. This is very true for people who just don`t have enough free time (like me). If you have tons of reps to do for the day, you don`t need to write, just recognize as you go. Writing is good and is an asset when you want to give out output, but the most important part at our beginning stages is to understand Japanese. You`ll worry about writing later. And beside, you didn`t learn how to write perfect English (or your mother tongue) at age 5.

EDIT (4th time)

Improvement on 20 and 21:
23) Less description: we mainly used definitions of definitions because we wanted to make the transition from E-J dictionary to J-J, even if it was only the readings. However, I think that pass that stage and its kinda useless. You mostly dont read your description when you accumulate your reps. So, add a description when you really dont know what it is, but you should'nt go further than the first definition. RTK knowledge will back you up for the understanding. Also, at this point you should know the basic and understand most of the description by itself.
Modified by firebound12, Apr 12, 2009 10:01 PM
May 30, 2009 4:10 PM

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 627
This thread hasn't gotten much love in a while, so here's a suggestion that may be blindingly obvious.

24. Only use the dictionary to find words that are related to the words that you experience in your reading. For example, say you're reading 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン (Neon Genesis Evangelion), and you come to the word ぶったい 【物体】 in the sentence 正体不明の物体. And, let's just say that you were able to understand this with context and the meanings of Kanji and maybe previous knowledge or something. Instead of taking just this and putting it into your SRS, try looking up that new word, and you'll find something like 未確認飛行物体. How does this make SRSing easier? Because, you have more mental links to the same word 物体, and thus giving the word more use and making it more likely to get lodged into your brain with less effort since you're seeing it double. And, while this may seem counter productive to the SRS theory of reviewing something as little as possible, the fact is, that words, and indeed language, needs context. And by having it multiple places in the SRS deck while still gaining something from both individual items, you are reinforcing this new word, and you become more familiar with it. Thus, making it something you just know and can recognize any time you need to, and possible use it if you get enouch examples.

Like, if you can across the word しょうぶ 【勝負】, then take the original sentence (if you can) and then take the dictionary ones to give it more context and usage 「勝負に負ける」、「勝負に勝つ」、「勝負にならない」, etc. Plus, this makes it a lot easier to learn new words since you're coming into the dictionary with at least some understanding (since you understood the word you were looking up). And, even if you didn't understand what you were looking up, chances are, you will once you see more examples and the definitions. But, even if you don't, then don't fret it and move on.
Jan 24, 2010 7:56 PM

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 239
Been a long time since last post here... But it still applies to anyone using an SRS!

Anyway, I reread this thread... and it made me laugh XD

Some of this stuff still holds true, but some didnt work that well.

25. For doing reps regularly... you only need 2 thinsg: Itouch/Iphone and willpower. Its not a joke; since i bought mine, doing reps have been so easy... when i had the willpower. Timeboxing, chunking and stuff like that? itouch solves it all. If it costs too much, try using an older model, or buying an used one (roughly100$), which if u look at how much time it save u, ur gaining money.

26. Well, its kinda of a principle... Basically, making cards shouldnt be long. I find taking picture, doing audio, searching long terms in the dictionary just kill ur time and fun.

27. To tell the truth... I havent written or even typed any of my reps for a long time. Doing reps should also not take you 5 mins per card (ok, not 5 mins, but u get my idea). The basic idea behind it is that some people really dont need to do any written tests soon, so forcing to write takes too much time. For those who are taking classes or stuff like that, well i guess writing will help you. If none of the above applies to you, then u just like writing XD *cough notaimingatsomeone cough*. Anyway, dont take too much time to do each rep.

28. Ratings. I know people change a lot, and i think at the end its really each one's preference. But one thing hold true: Do not do more reps than necessary. It doesnt matter if you fail hard and then make it easy, or that you try to just rate it high, but forcing to remember too much is never good. Except if ur taking tests. Do ur best to not rep too much the same card, that is all.

29. Thats really more a tip than anything else. You should rep ur new cards soon when u have made them. Im not telling u to do it right the next day or something. I mean months, where u have forgotten why u even added that sentence. I had 500 new cards that i have finally done 1 year after. And most of them I was like "wth, why did i add that sentence in the first place?"

Some old ones are still very very important factors:
#14: Deleeete plz. Change anything that makes u do this face: (.\ /.)
#16. What stats? 50%? 95%?

That is all.