Can i turn off the SRS? (learning disability+anxiety+TIME)

Hey folks. Here for advice and (perhaps) encouragement??? Before you explain that the SRS is the point, let me explain my header.

I’ve been doing WK on and off for about 3 years. I’ve taken some significant breaks in that period (like, close to 6mo at one point) but I move pretty slow even so. In that time I’ve done several intensive language courses and been to Japan, and I don’t deny that WK has been VERY helpful to my language learning.

I have a diagnosed learning disability that seriously affects memory and processing speed. I take an exceptionally long time to remember facts/definitions/isolated information/translations even with memory devices like mnemonics. Because of my terrible memory I regularly get 50% or less on my reviews, and because of my superbly slow speed in accessing any kind of memory (correct or incorrect), I often spend 3+ hours per day trying to clear my WK stack. My slow speed paired with my consistently wrong answers just compounds this problem, and adds cards I still don’t know to my review stack. I am honestly feeling completely demoralized. I can’t keep up with the SRS, I keep getting fed cards that I have no prayer of knowing, and having piles and piles of reviews gives me extreme anxiety (cried my way through 2 hours of reviews yesterday before putting myself back on vacation mode and watching YouTube nature walks to calm down. Didn’t finish what was in the stack, either.). I don’t have the time or the emotional energy for this (I have a job!!!), but WK itself has been really helpful to my language learning overall. If I’m being honest, though, I’ve made it this far because I’ve devoted WAY more time and energy to it than is reasonable, and I just don’t have that time or energy anymore.

TL;DR Learning disability and disability-induced anxiety causing me to fall irredeemably behind and I need options.

Anyway, I have two questions:

1) Is there any way to either turn off the SRS or slow it down? I can’t keep up with it as it is and if I just let the cards pile up to save myself time, then I’ll be trying to review cards I don’t know very well waaaaaay after I was supposed to, getting them wrong, and compounding the problem. I want to keep learning, but I can’t handle the SRS as it is, and it’s causing me. Extreme. Anxiety (yay!!! LD-related trauma!!)

2) How have other WK users handled learning disabilities + WK? My specific issues are memory and speed-related, plus a really hard time pairing specific English definitions with kanji. I know the meaning of the kanji, but when asked to translate my knowledge of English deserts me (and I have an excellent vocabulary).

If you made it to the end of this long post, I would appreciate any insight you have on anything I mentioned. Thank you!!

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You seem to have over 300 apprentice level items. That would be tough for aynone; most people aim to have around 100 at any given time. Have you tried stopping doing lessons? That would be the best way to slow things down from accumulating into enormous review piles.

There is a vacation mode in the SRS, that will freeze everything in place, if you feel like you need to stop the process temporarily (you can’t do reviews when it’s on). Keep in mind this results in a longer interval than intended, so you may be forgetting things more easily. That said, using it smartly could help in reducing the anxiety stemming from the large review pile knowing it’s not constantly growing.

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Firstly, well done for getting as far as you have with significant challenges. Be proud of your achievements and reflect on how much you have already learned.

A couple of ideas which might help:

  • There is a script to order reviews by most overdue first, or lowest SRS level first. So in this way, you should be able to whittle down your apprentice count over time more efficiently than just battling through reviews. Reason being, a 4h review thats a couple of days late is significantly more likely to be failed than a 4w review a couple of days late. [Userscript] WaniKani Review Asc/Desc SRS Order

  • I’d suggest not doing new lessons until your apprentice count is back down to around 100.

  • Also when you complete a session (maybe stick to small batches of 25-50 reviews then end the session and take a break) review those you repeatedly get wrong and try and go over the mnemonics again. I try and make one mnemonic to cover the reading and the meaning as that can help keep things together for one Kanji/vocab. I’d say in your situation this is more important than batlling down to zero reviews as you want to focus on getting a few items OUT of apprentice to lighten your load rather than just bashing through everything with lower retention.

Good luck - hopefully the community can help keep you motivated through this challenge :slight_smile:

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I’m sorry I don’t have any useful advice, but I just want to say keep going! You already came a long way, and you worked hard for it! I hope I will be able to work as hard as you too.

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You might want to try [Userscript] Self-Study Quiz so you can review items without consequence to the srs. Not sure if you can use this while on vacation mode, but I do think you can go ahead in levels as well, when you feel more comfortable with the past levels.

The other thing I would recommend is to use [Userscript]: Double-Check (Version 2.x), so you can deal with that ‘not being able to come up with the English word for the kanji’ problem. You can press backspace to type in the correct answer right away. But you do have to be very honest with yourself over whether you actually knew the answer, or should you actually be marked wrong?

Furthermore, applaud yourself for making it up to level 27! That is a lot of words and kanji you learned already!

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If you haven’t stopped lessons, now is a good time to do that until you feel comfortable adding them back in.

When you have an overflow problem into your apprentice and guru pile you’ll get back reviews back on your daily plate fast, especially when you get them wrong.

I recommend working on a set number of reviews you think you can handle per session/per day. Keep it small and doable, focus on that and not on the big pile that are left behind.You want to make reviews more predictable and get back some consistency in your daily routines. It will take time, but that’s something you should give yourself. There’s always gonna be stuff that you get wrong and that’s okay, on the other hand there will be items you get right. Count those small victories. Over time the work you put in it will pay off and you’ll see the results.

Everyone learns at their own pace, you just gotta find the sweet spot for yourself at this moment. If you need a break, take that break. You don’t want to start your reviews already stressed and filled with anxiety, neither do you want to finish like that. Doing reviews should give some sense of accomplishment, because in the end you did manage to complete the task you sought out to do. So after every review session you should give yourself a compliment and after finishing your daily quota you should give yourself a reward. Turn the routine into something positive for yourself.

You also may want to look into what times are best to do your reviews and keep those times throughout the week if possible. Consistency is really key. It makes it more predictable what you can expect, it makes it easier to do a certain thing and it will have a positive effect on both learning and the srs in the long run.

Other things that may be helpful is setting you up for the right mood during reviews. Maybe tea or coffee works (like it does for me), or having some background music works. These are just a few suggestions.

Ultimately you can’t turn off the srs, but you can make it work for you through. I had a long break of 5 years and the restart was very painful after the brainfog I had, yet I tried to break it down in smaller pieces and kept at it and really over time I made more progress than I thought was possible for me. It started out as a way to keep myself occupied for a bit and it turned into a good daily routine. Now doing my daily reviews is a net positive for my own mental health. And sure my pace has dropped since then, but I’m on a pace that does work for me and that is what’s best for me.

You know yourself best and learning how to you learn best is what matters. Also be proud of your achievements, not many get to be your level. This definitely is the result of all your past work and I’m sure if you can find a way to keep at it, it will become a great foundation for the future.

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afaik, there will be changes to srs intervals. @viet san can answer this question i suppose…

IDK whats that but I consider myself being slower than an average person when it comes to processing the information. I can stare at kanji during review like in a dream and then go in my thoughts only to find out 5 minutes later that nothing changed and I was thinking of why my eye is twitching all day long. I found how to counter that:

  1. Complete all important tasks which constantly clog your brain bandwidth like eating or reading messages.
  2. Don’t open anything in browser except for WK. Social nets, discord, YT and etc. is prohibited to even think of.
  3. Close doors and windows so there won’t be any noise.
  4. Don’t turn on the music because it actually distracts as well. Use music with greatest caution. Seriously.
  5. Sit properly. Yes. Sitting properly closer to the screen and looking straight at the kanji lowers the chance of me getting distracted.
  6. Put your phone further away.
  7. Keep talking to yourself. I mean try pronouncing all those radicals and lines of thoughts to not be thrown off the track when you are solving the riddle of the current kanji.
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There’s definitely no way to turn the SRS off— there’s no way to determine what information is presented to you in reviews, or what new information is offered in lessons, other than the SRS timings and unlocks based on SRS level.

Slowing the SRS down also doesn’t seem like the answer. If you’re having trouble remembering items that are shown to you on, say, a one week interval, then extending that interval to two weeks doesn’t seem like it would do any favors to your recall or review percentage.

But there definitely is a way to reduce your workload and slow down the number of items you see per day: stop doing lessons. Every time you promote an item, you lighten your workload. If you stop adding new items to the SRS, you can slowly gain more comfort with the items you already have and only add new lessons once you’re solid on the stuff you’ve already learned.

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I think your tips are great and quite helpful, but please reconsider the language you use to refer to learning disabilities. Not everyone is going to be ok with it.

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Why so? I am truly slow myself. We should be on equal grounds with the OP. Also I used that language towards myself and comically. So whats wrong with being funny a little?

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:slight_smile: I know you weren’t intending it as an insult, but just pointing out that it’s generally considered an offensive term, at least in my country.

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Good, let me keep that dark humor off here and clean that funny post of mine then… sigh

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Thanks so much to everyone who commented with encouragement and advice! It didn’t occur to me that stopping lessons would reduce the workload… of course! lol. And the userscripts are great too. I appreciate it.

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ah! thanks for the encouragement and also the userscript. I think that’ll be super helpful and hopefully take some of the anxiety down.

I’m no expert, but out of curiosity, have you heard of Jim Kwik? He apparently had a diagnosed learning disability as well, but he now gives talks like this one teaching people how to learn better and faster:


Here’s his YouTube channel:

He gives tips for improving memory and memorising things more easily. Some things are only available in his paid courses, of course, but I think there are plenty of free tips available as well. Some of the ideas include visualisation and associating new knowledge with a familiar location (aka the method of loci or the ‘memory palace’ technique). I don’t know if they’ll be helpful, but if his tips apparently worked for him, well, it might be worth a shot?

That aside, I agree with everyone else about slowing down on the lessons since having reviews pile up will definitely make you feel like someone (the SRS, in this case) is forcing you to learn at a pace you can’t manage. In any case, all the best!

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As others have said, the workload on WaniKani is highly linked to your apprentice item count. If you stop doing any lessons for a little while until you can bring your apprentice item count, it may be easier to handle the smaller workload. I’d even suggest maybe resetting back a couple levels to cut down how many items you have, and then implementing that slower progress.
I also like the self study userscript Saida linked above.

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I’ve never seen this before! I’ll check him out, thanks!

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I have used SRS since the late 90’s. Normally, I would set a number called the “forgetting index” much higher, so that I get more repetitions of easier material.

Wanikani does not let me do that.

It took me a couple of years here to realize that the solution for me is to use the Self Study Quiz, as others have mentioned. I quiz my apprentices every single day. By the time that they get to Guru level, I have had enough repetition for them to be easy, instead of struggling with every answer.

You can do this! You have made it nearly half way already!

:slight_smile:

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Since you have a hard time getting from the meaning you know to the specific English word Wanikani wants, I’ll suggest

  1. Using a thesaurus to look up a word you can think of that’s close to the one WK wants, and see if one of its synonyms is the right one. I do this pretty often, and usually when I see the right word, I know it’s the one.
  2. Adding more synonyms in WK. Jisho often has more synonyms for a word than WK does, and a little imprecision here is OK I think: You’ll develop a better sense of how to use the word through exposure to native content.
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