First of all be warned, this post probably will end up being a long wall of text (with some images though).
The last month of my japanese studies has proved to be one of the more rewarding ones. I’ve been diggin’ into methods to plunge into new material and try to keep my motivation high, since after 6 months I know I’m hook.
I read through AJATT, JALUP and many blog’s articles that where very informative and provided with new tools that showed me ways to pick new and fun material and make it into study material… but the jump seemed just too steep considering my current routine, and though all of this blogs talked about keeping it fun the things they recommended just didn’t look like fun to ME.
I was aiming to some immersion, but some of their recommendations just weren’t very apealing.
But then I think a found my own custom made routine making use of many of the things they talked about it
Currently I have done Genki 1, keeping a vocab of around 1500 words and level 10 in WK, just as point of reference, 'cause the method I’m about to explain I’ve no idea if will suit someone of much higher level or anyone just starting.
A couple of months or so ago I learned about the tool Subs2SRS, a great application that enables you to create (among other things) Anki decks from video, using subtitles files as reference to extract snapshots/video + audio to incorporate to the card along with the mentioned subtitle lines (with or without translation, provided you have a 2nd subtitle file).
The first thing that can stop you it’s Subs2SRS been only available in Windows (downer for me when I read about the app). After seeing really cool decks made with this app, I made the extra effort to install a VM in my Mac, and finally with Windows at hand, was able to use it.
When I finally got all setup to use it the result was something like this:
I was stunned!! A cool looking card of a show I liked, with the image, the audio of the sentence, the Japanese lines and the English translation. 258 cards came from that one chapter of that anime.
By the way I used that anime because I have watched the show previously, like it, and was able to find the basic components: video of the show with English subtitles and then japanese subtitles that match the video I had. Most of the time the japanese subs it’s the critical step (and then if it’s found, make sure it syncs well with the video file, otherwise some modification should be done).
So. 258 cards. From one chapter!! A tremendous achievement if you consider how time consuming making good Anki cards can end up being. And these are audio sentences with images…. What else could I ask…. Well let’s see…
If you see the example above, depending on your level of vocab and kanji… many words would come up as unknown vocab. Giving my current level most of them are. And though the card was packed with content… that content was above my level. Not all cards where like this one, but the 258 count could be drastically lower if I was to grade the material to my current level (besides taking the time to do this sounded like no fun).
So what was I to make of my newly discovered shiny tool?
The answer came thanks to one WK member who referred me to this Anki add-on: MorphMan.
Basically MorphMan it’s a plugin that looks into your decks in Anki and search for morphemes in your cards, so makes a database of your know morphemes. Then reorder your current decks to be shown in a +1 manner. Exactly what I was looking for!!!
I have my vocabulary deck (based on the Core10K) and then my Subs2Srs deck.
So the idea was for Morphman to catch all the vocab I’ve learnt in my vocab deck and then reorder my Subs2SRS sentences to show me the ones that were +1 sentences.
The first wall that I encountered after downloading Morphman was that: it’s not intuitive to use. Besides both the forum where they discuss about it and the youtube tutorial are of a previous version (and much more complicated to setup for what I saw).
The original creator left the add-on project, then some other programmer took the initiative and created a better GUI, so no longer coding it’s need it to setup the addon. That version you can now download. The problem it’s that there are no tutorial or any recommendation that I’m aware to setup the add-on correctly, since it has many knobs and options to do probably much more that I’m currently aware
After some trial and error and asking the fellow WKanian that referred me to add-on I was able to properly setup Morphman.
My setup was something like this:
(EDIT: the modify box should be checked for the deck you plan to reorder)
Basically it looks for morphemes in the field Word in my vocab card and then the morphemes in the Expression field in my sentences Subs2SRS cards
If it’s working fine you should see an index in your home page in Anki named K “number of known morphemes” (in the numbers of your current vocab count)
Must warn you that most of my first cards where of small particles and words like うん。。ううん。。え。。ええ！あ！ etc… because they constitute morphemes as well. So if you don’t want to review them, just suspend those cards till you get to actual sentences. Or just press the K key and they are supposedly tagged as known and you should be moved to the next card.
So finally I was getting sentence cards that were supposedly +1 . But the problem was that depending on the show they came, they could present really slangy or rare vocab (specially anime) . For example I got my hands on a Subs2SRS deck for the series Hikaru No Go and did reviews for the cards comming from episode 1, the show it’s about a kid playing Go (a Japanese board game) with the ghost of a former master of Go in the Heian period…. No wonder my sentences ended up becoming about Go specific vocab and Heian period words… that were nowhere near being common today!!
After reading some people commenting about the benefits of Subs2SRS created decks, I realized that many also notice that the limitation was that you can end up doing card review of shows just because they had jpsubs available…. And after checking my available decks that was the case… 90% were animes and many were there just cause they were available with jpsubs.
Fortunatly enough I ended up reading NihongoNoBaka post, a blog that I’ve read before, and he was also very exited about Subs2SRS decks… but made from Netflix series!!!
Now that it’s something I DO watch…. And after a search or two I was finally getting material from series I actually enjoy and I am exited to watch.
Many of those Netflix series I was already considering to watch them do some immersion as well. The JALUP guy recommends watching a show first in jp with or without jpsubs and then with your native language subs a second time should be a good way to immerse into native material.
So finally my setup after mixing all recommendations and new information I’ve gather these month it’s:
Watch an episode with jpsubs, then again with Spanish (mother language) or English subs.
Do my reviews both from vocab deck and subs2SRS decks, that it’s looking like this:
And it’s actually +1. ( notice I also remove all the furigana on all know WK kanji )
I keep my new cards to be just 10 each day so I can really crack those sentences and look into that new morpheme, whether a verb, noun or particle.
- Then to do extensive analysis I put the sentence in Jisho.
This really helps me to SEE sentences break it into individual words, realizing which ones are known verbs but sometimes just with unknown conjugation, sometimes known words but written in hiragana.
Caution sometimes must be taken with particles, as Jisho can sometimes struggles and separates a particle into smaller particles (の、で、か、etc). You can just pick all of them and look for them, but not in a sentence context, and you’ll see if it’s really a “bigger particle”.
For any new verb o noun I activate or create that card in my vocab deck if it’s of importance (in anime decks I was reluctant sometimes, but my current show it’s much more down to earth vocab, so I’m adding most of the words I come up).
If it’s a particle I save it and review it in The Dictionary of Basic / Intermediate Japanese Grammar.
So basically this it what I’ve been raving this last weeks, I just wanted to share, since I’ve seen this apps mentioned every now and then, and then so little actually shown about how can they do wonders … which I think they are doing for me anyway. Specially I found very encouraging to see particles and expressions used in real audio / sentences, so I realize who tells them (gender, young/old/child, etc) and when. I get so many more meanings of lots of verbs, that by their own they could look so alike to some other, but then I realize how they are actually used.
Anyway, it’s just the beginning, I’ve actually wahtched just half of the season of Dad of Light, but it’s proven to be one of my most rewarding experiences in my japanese learning adventures so far.
Hope this gives you some lights as how any of this tools and workflow can do good things for you too!!.
PS: Some of the resources to get to make Subs2SRS cards are in that grey area. So you’ll have to do a google search whether it’s subs, video, etc…. It’s easy enough if you are wondering.