Accuracy too dependant on review conditions

Hey everyone!

I feel like this is a bit of a strange predicament to be in but I’m hoping at least one person has experienced the same thing as me before and has some advice on what worked for them to improve their kanji and vocab recognition when they review.

So…one thing that I have always struggled with since beginning WaniKani is that my level of accuracy during reviews is very dependant on the way I review content. Any changes to the way I usually review tends to cause a sudden drop in my recognition accuracy.
A few examples:

I mostly complete lessons and reviews on my phone. Typically I’ll do any outstanding reviews in the morning on my commute to work, followed by some new lessons.
I then do another review session during my lunch break, and a final session in the evening.
My accuracy is usually a little worse on my commute than when I review at home, which I expected would be the case. However, I find that even at home I’m very dependant on completing my review session in my bedroom, and in total silence. If I try to review in the living room with the tv on, my accuracy slips. If I turn the tv off my accuracy improves somewhat, but is still less than if I was reviewing in my room. I even used to go to the extreme of wearing my earphones to block out any extra white noise, but I have since managed to improve this because of course, not being able to understand a language if anything else is going on around you is just silly! :expressionless:

When I first switched over from using my original WaniKani app to Flaming Durtles on my phone, my accuracy slipped because the user interface was different. Recently, when I changed the app into dark mode, I’ve since had trouble recognising certain kanji and vocab because of the change in colour scheme.

When I complete reviews on my laptop, I have more difficulty recognising kanji and vocab because everything looks a lot larger and brighter than on my phone. I make silly errors, but I can’t always allow them to slide in case I’ve genuinely forgotten something. Just this morning I made several errors where I realised afterwards that I likely would have recognised them had I been reviewing on my phone.

I have the Jitai userscript installed and all the extra fonts enabled in the Flaming Durtles app to help me recognise different writing styles, but I am generally more lenient with this if I can still recognise something in the default font. I also have the override script running to accomodate for any typos and I try not to abuse this too much, but of course no-one is perfect :grimacing:

Its so frustrating that even small changes to my review conditions seem to make me lose focus and I have no clue how to go about fixing it. If anyone has any suggestions of things I can try please share your ideas with me!

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It makes sense your accuracy is the highest in ideal conditions with no distractions. Isn’t it like this with everything?

In the military and special forces for example (and many other professions where execution accuracyis important) they drill stuff all the time because even if you know what to do you’ll get lost and confused in unfamiliar environment and under stress.

So, your solution is more practice. Read Japanese, the more the better. And do your reciews :wink:

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Hmmm first suggestion is to get the self study quiz script so that you can do some experimenting without needing to worry about the impact on your SRS. It can also be a tool for getting used to using Japanese in different conditions.
I don’t have much personal experience to share with you (my reviews are impacted more by things like being tired).
If your ability to recall/recognise is dependant on specific conditions, then doing some reading on memory/how we learn could give you helpful advice.
One such theory off the top of my head, which is unfortunately not a great fit, is that of interleaving. There is a Tofugu article on it :+1:
What do your other study methods look like? Do you have a similar experience with them?

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Well, I mean yes, it does make sense that you’d always perform at your best when there’s nothing around to distract you :stuck_out_tongue:

My main concern really is that if I keep pushing myself to review in different conditions in order to try and get used to them I’ll start drowning in apprentice and guru items, not because I’m forgetting the content but through making silly errors based on my review conditions. Being swamped with so many low level reviews would make it a lot harder to memorise new content as well as manage my work load.
Ive done two partial resets so far since signing up to WK and I’m hoping I can make it through without any more if I can help it.

I’ll admit I do need to do more of this. I read through A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar not too long ago and had fun trying to parse all the example sentences without looking at the translations. Of course, the grammar and sentences in the Intermediate one became a whole lot drier and more confusing at my current level so I quickly lost interest in that! :joy:
I do have yotsubato and some other reading material for kids lying around so I definitely should incorporate more reading into my routine.

Just wanted to say I experience this a lot, because we can’t always control the environment we have to review in. And leaving reviews until later can cause even more punishment when the review pile gets too big to handle…

So no advice from me, other than 頑張って!

This might not actually be a bad idea, as long as I make sure the items I’m self studying are not too close to being reviewed.
I also experience a drop in accuracy when I’m tired, on top of everything else unfortunately! :joy:

I think Iv’e read about this before. Its like incorporating muliple topics within the same area of study into one study session all together, isn’t it? To help you make more connections between what you’re learning and avoid rote memorising content. I kind of tend to do this anyway, because my attention span is quite short when it comes to studying, particularly if its something that’s dry or difficult to make sense of. When I find my attention slipping I switch over to something else for a while so I don’t end up zoning out completely.
When I first started using WaniKani I used to have all radicals, kanji and vocab reviewed separately, but now I just let everything mix together in the same session.

I rent a room in someone else’s house; there’s just them and me but its not a huge place so I don’t really have a specific study area I can use. Although my room is quite big there isn’t any space for a small desk or anywhere that I could make into a designated study area. I guess this makes it a lot harder to remain focused because whether I’m watching something, reading something or studying Japanese I’m always sitting on the bed and that’s not exactly an ideal condition for learning.
I do try to incorporate some grammar into my studies as well but find if I introduce too much I start burning out pretty quickly.

There is a filter for this. You have to install this script and it will install the filter in the self-study script. But perhaps you already know this.

I think you can try the undo thing in flaming durtles in case you made a silly mistake :smiley:

Even the “ideal” conditions where you can focus and do great on Wanikani, still aren’t ideal conditions because you’re not consuming kanji and vocabulary in any actual Japanese context, so in the context of this, I say, don’t be so hard on yourself. Do Wanikani in whatever way makes it easier on yourself. This is just one aspect of learning Japanese, and if you make this harder than it already is, how will you then add other learning methods into the mix that are absolutely essential too?

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There are a number of psychological studies on the phenomenon actually. Listening to music for example has been found to assist in recall but especially when that song is played BOTH while studying and while trying to recall. For example if I always listen to a particular song during studying, if they (for some reason) played that song while I was taking a test it would help me recall what I had studied significantly better.
Your body also physiologically adapts to your changes in environment so if you most often study in your room, your body may actually change in order to benefit your studying and recognition. This has been used to account for why many people that are addicts tend to overdose if they take drugs in places that are unfamiliar. Heroin addicts for example can withstand larger doses while in a place they often inject (such as their home) but when they attempt to inject the same amount elsewhere they overdose as their body has not altered its physiology.

It is likely beneficial that your accuracy is dropping as when you’re trying to read it doesn’t always look the same as wanikani. The Kanji that you can recognize in all these situations are probably the ones that you have learned the most effectively.
Many things can cause you to lose focus but maybe this can give you perspective into your learning habits.
I hope this helps in at least understanding WHY your accuracy may be affected after even small changes.

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Seeing the kanji in different ways is going to help you long term. In real life you may see kanji on t.v, in books & newspapers, or in a game etc. The may appear when people are talking around you or other things are there to distract you. Practicing with the different fonts and in different apps will probably help you in the long term. Try to get comfortable and it may make your review sessions less stressful

Alternatively you could continue to try to have ideal review situations for now and make the jump later, but I think at some point it will be necessary to read kanji in less than ideal situations

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I have to be very careful when completing reviews on my phone. The my thumb seems to be the least accurate on the right side of the keyboard (maybe because that’s where my thumb hovers). So I will frequently get the red “incorrect” pop up and see to my horror らinstead of か, or something, because I hit L instead of K. There really isn’t a solution besides very carefully tapping each letter.

Yes! Last month I got lazy and let my reviews slip for a bit and ended up with over 700 reviews. I managed to get things back on track by doing 100 reviews twice a day but waves of master and enlightened items were coming back daily for me on top of that, cancelling out all my progress!

Ah, thanks for the link! I have a version of this on my Flaming Durtles app but not on my laptop. Just added it to my scripts now.

Thanks! I have this feature switched on and its a big help, but trusting yourself to use it honestly is another thing altogether :grin:

Yes, I agree, this is very true. I suppose what makes it hard is that a lot of the content you start out reading is usually aimed at younger audiences, so while you still see plenty of WK vocab floating around, all of the similar government, political and office based terms are not reinforced quite as well. I know NHK Easy News would be good for exposure to that kind of vocab but the grammar they use is still higher than my current level right now.

Hm…that’s quite interesting. I’d never really considered that becoming too accustomed to familiar environments could produce such a strong physiological response like that.

I suppose thats a positive I can take away from all of this - at least I know the kanji and vocab I can recognise in these situations is actually sticking!

I guess it might be helpful to introduce things intermittently rather than forcing them all at once. My main concern really was that my routine would become so ingrained and habitual that I would really struggle to transition into being able to understand the language under anything but the most ideal conditions.

If you use one of the unofficial WaniKani apps on your phone instead of the main webpage there’s a setting that allows you to undo an incorrect answer and type it in again. Its great for times when you’ve made a typo but it can be hard not to take advantage and level up items when you don’t actually know them. I try to avoid this by saying the answer out loud before I type. That way, if I make a mistake I know whether or not I was correct.

Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about it. As long as the difference isn’t something major like 20% you’ll be fine.

The thing is, my accuracy in real world reading is horrendous. I’ll look up an item and realize it’s either in Enlightened or Burned and I would recognize it easily on its own, but in a real environment it’s a lot tougher. But as I read more my recognition goes way up.

So, my advice is to just keep going with WK and do some reading for reinforcement. No matter what your WK accuracy is, there’s no substitute for reading.

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There’s a skip button in Flaming Durtles which i use to push it to the end of the list and try again later. If I still dont get it, i’ll just fail the word.

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If I find I’m blowing reviews left and right due to distractions, fatigue, etc. then I’ll put them off for a while, so I’m not filling up my apprentice and guru queues with stuff I theoretically remember.

But I consider that to be “fragile” memorization - the term is in there but can’t be recalled easily.

The answer to that, I figure, is more familiarity through input/output, not through drilling it over and over on WK… buuuuut I might end up being one of those people who does a level 1 reset from level 30 just to review the material I memorized before I had a functional framework to use it in, I dunno yet.

Userscripts are a godsend for typos - enough that maybe there should be an official, built-in “oops” button. Maybe it would unlock at level 5 or 10, so that you have to use WK the strict way for a while first? Or, you know, don’t make one, and just have people install scripts, but that doesn’t work on all platforms.

I have quite a lot of vocab like this, but I figure if I can still force myself to recall it then its good enough for now. If I kept pushing those items back into the lower SRS levels I think I’d end up with way too many reviews and find it almost impossible to get to 60.

Yeah, I think once I’m able to start reading more content that will really help things to stick better.
I try to incorporate some grammar study as well but I really struggle to make sense of grammar (in general, not just Japanese), so my progress is slow.
I’ve already reset my WK level twice from burning out but I’m almost at the halfway point now, and making it all the way to the end is finally starting to feel like a real possibility for me.

I do use a few different userscripts (and occasionally abuse them :grimacing:), but I can see why WK wouldn’t want to make it an official feature. Its just too easy to cheat yourself and for some people, avoiding scripts altogether keeps their progress honest.
I think the apps for iphone/android have recheck scripts built into them already, and if you operate the Chrome browser on your phone you can access all your usual pc scripts as well.