Mnemonic Question

When the point is reached to where a vocab word, kanji, etc. can be recalled from recognition rather than a mnemonic, is it recommended to continue studying the mnemonic to make sure it can still be recalled that way, or should it be dropped so that the word can be recalled from recognition the next time. I’m asking this because I know that once a person is able to recall from recognition rather than the mnemonic, the interval between when they see that item again is probably going to double. So basically, the first time you’re able to recognize it without using the mnemonic would mean that that way of recalling it isn’t as strong as your ability to recall it from the mnemonic, which could cause the person to forget the meaning/reading the next time around (especially since the interval is much longer than before). Just curious what people’s thoughts are here, based on experience, etc. I’d figure that going over the mnemonic would be the right way to go, but I’d prefer getting rid of that the more I’ve seen the item.

Hopefully, my question is clear enough here.

Thank you.


The mnemonics are meant to fall away. They are just a temporary learning device. The mnemonic is just to create the initial mental connection. The whole point is eventually that you don’t have to think at all.

To quote Koichi’s article:

But, the memories are still shaky. You still need to put in the work to transition those memories from “need to use mnemonics to recall them” to “fluent” (pops out of your mind with no thinking at all).


I know they’re meant to fall away, I’m just wondering for when the word is recalled from pure recognition rather than using the mnemonic (for the first time). At that point, the mnemonic wasn’t needed to recall the word, but the next interval is going to be double that (probably a month or two months) before I see it again. I’m wondering if the mnemonic should still be looked over to make sure it’s remembered for next time around? Because I end up forgetting the mnemonic for the next interval for some items (but then can’t recall the item from recognition either).

If I miss at the next interval I would review the mnemonic, but not after a correct guess.


If at some point you want to learn how to write kanjis, then meaning mnemonics can be helpful to recall radicals. I wouldn’t bother it from the get go though. I tried for two levels lately and it takes too much time for me for almost zero gain.
Sure, I sometimes feel weird when I can understand a kanji but have no idea how to write it on paper myself, but that’s something I will get back to once I’m finished with all the WK levels. Would be a nice form of refreshing all the kanjis then.

Yeah, I’m currently in the progress of writing them as I learn them.

Wouldn’t it be better to be able to recall the item the next time around, even if it is from the mnemonic though? I feel like getting it wrong would be worse than getting it right (worse as in making it take longer to learn the word). I guess more importantly though, do you have high % of correct answers on the next intervals after? I just figured that it would be harder to recall from recognition the second time around since the interval is typically pretty long.

No, I don’t personally think so. The point is to commit things to long-term memory not to just get a quiz answer correct. Others can disagree, but I feel that is just gaming the system in order to level up, rather than genuinely testing my recall.

But you’re expected to get things wrong from time-to-time. So, no, I don’t see that as wrong. But then again, my goal is not simply reaching 60 in and of itself. But even if I did care solely about speed my average level up time is under 8 days (not the fastest pace but not slow by any means), so it’s not really hampering me speed-wise. All while maintaining nearly a 92% accuracy in reviews.

In general, yes, but that’s not to say every review has a high percent. I’ve had review sessions where my recall was terrible and I get maybe only 1/3rd correct. It just happens. Just means I need more reviewing.


I don’t think this is really anyone’s intention though, I think the goal is to get the word correct because they want to be able to know it. I remember reading in a Tofugu post that it’s much better to actually be able to recall the word than to be reminded of it because you’re forcing yourself to pull it out of your long-term memory - so getting the quiz answer correct would still be committing it to your long-term memory.

Makes sense though, I’m not trying to learn as fast as I possibly can, I was just looking to understand when to throw away the mnemonic and trust that I’ll be able to recognize it next time around. It just seems like getting it wrong isn’t as beneficial to long-term recall over getting it right, no matter how it’s recalled.

But getting it wrong is a perfectly natural part of an SRS system and is why an SRS makes you review something more often when you get it wrong. Precisely because it’s identifying that you don’t know it and you need to review it more. There’s nothing detrimental about that.


That’s true, honestly I guess I didn’t actually really think about that. Alright, I’ll give your method a try then. Makes a lot more sense now, it also just feels weird being able to recall something without really knowing why I know that, you know? lol, anyways, thanks for the help I appreciate it.

But isn’t that how it works in your native language? Outside of potentially new words you’ve learned or words you use infrequently, don’t you just simply recall them without having to think about it? I think of this in that same manner. For most things, the meaning of words just comes instinctually. :man_shrugging:

You’re welcome. :slight_smile:

Yeah, but I never actually think about that because I’ve spent so much time in my native language, it just kinda makes sense that I know it. As for Japanese, since I’ve only seen the word, kanji, etc a few times, I only know it mainly because of a mnemonic, so when I part with that, it feels weird as to why I know what it means or how it’s said. Additionally, it feels like I’m going to forget how to say it because I parted with the reason I was able to recall it in the first place. Of course, I know once I start reading more it’ll become less weird, just like 日本 is something I can immediately recall without it being weird that I know what it means and how to say it.

Yeah, and this is the important part to remember. As long as you stick with it, eventually this stuff just becomes second nature and you’ll start realizing you’ve skimmed multiple sentences, instinctually understood everything and never needed to do an internal translation in your head (obviously this requires appropriately graded content). Those a very motivating moments.


Agreed with above. It does feel weird in a way that you can remember things without the mnemonics, I agree. But it also feels amazing when you see a word outside of WK and suddenly realize you can read and understand it. The mnemonic doesn’t come to mind in that situation, and that’s the goal.

I’m recently getting a lot of my Master reviews coming back, and I tend to get 5-10% of them wrong. Its frustrating, but WK does its job by dropping them back down to apprentice so I will learn them, and I’m alright with that. By the time they reach master again, I’ll probably have no issues with them.


It’s just one of those things you kind of pick up after doing WK for a while. I’d say sometime within the first year. Personally, about 20% of the items that come up for Enlightenment are ones I know without thinking about the individual Kanji. The rest will knock around in Guru for a bit until they get close to the same level. This is especially true when you have Kanji used in multiple words.

There’s so much truth in this. I’m fine with getting something like 50% on my first review. That usually helps me identify which parts I need to work on. For some, it’s the meaning; for others, it’s the reading. And some are just leeches that stick around in Apprentice or Guru for a while until they stick.

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