Hello everyone, I wanted to do a “little” post about some of the experiences I have came across with what I find to be some tremendous tools for learning japanese, those are Subs2SRS decks and the Morphman plugin for Anki.
I did a post some time ago after only a few weeks of using Morphman, here.
Basically I want to show you how Anki could become something like a personal trainer for your japanese studies by using this tools, as you are able to create material adjusted to your own actual knowledge.
This way you can have these two programs throw you:
New vocab in a N+1 manner (the previous post shows the basic setup for this)
Reading sentences with your known vocab (practice context sentences)
Listening practice with your known vocab (real sentences graded to your knowledge)
Extra sentences for reinforce vocab you’re having trouble with.
A little about the tools in question (you can skip to the how-to part of the post if you read the previous N+1 post):
Anki: well, I’m hoping you’ve heard about it by now. (if you’re super against using Anki for whatever reason… you might just skip the whole post, as there’s no other more “user friendly” app / website to accomplish the same ).
Subs2SRS: It’s a separate program that allows you to create Anki decks coming from video of your anime, movie, drama, youtube clips, etc. For this you need such japanese video material to have some form of subtitles associated with it. Japanese subs (are a must) and your native language as well, so you can have have a nice spreadsheet to import into Anki with your video sound (or video clips), a nice image, and the lines from japanese subs / English subs in the same card.
For the Susb2SRS software
Go here http://subs2srs.sourceforge.net/
For a nice tutorial on how to create your own susb2SRS decks go here
For subs2SRS decks for you to try you can go here (though having them from your own shows will prove the most enjoyable experience)
Subs2SRS decks look something like this:
So you get the image for the scene, the audio of the sentence, and the japanese line. Then in the reverse side you’ll get the english translation.
*It’s super important that you have a deck with actual text in japanese (sometimes people have made decks using the subs in image file format, which for our purpose it’s not good at all)
Now about Morphman.
This is a terrific tool, somewhat unknown, and with actually just not enough documentation or tutorials for making an easy use of the many capabilities it offers.
Your can get the plugin here
https://github.com/kaegi/MorphMan (make sure you get the last version, as previous versions require to actually alter the code on the python file to adjust the preferences). The last version has a GUI that it’s pretty easy to use after some clarification.
Morphman uses what are called morphemes, that for our purposes will be treated as they were words in itself. So it identifies words, that could be already located in some actual deck of ours (a vocab deck perhaps, a sentence mining deck, a grammar deck, etc), with that in mind it creates a list of words currently in our knowledge (it uses the maturity status for the actual cards). If your are not using Anki in your current routine you can simply import your list of current known words into the known words file the application uses.
Myself I have my own vocab deck in Anki that includes WK vocab and then some more, besides that, a grammar vocab, that I use to keep track of current grammar concepts that I become aware and make Morphman aware this vocab as well.
If you’re jumping straight from WK to Anki and will like to try this, I would suggest, importing all your known vocab from WK (you can use the handy function from https://wanikaniexplorer.com/ to create a list of your known vocab).
Morphman has a handy function to import a list of vocab (in Anki. Tools>Morphman Database Manager). There you import the CVS file, convert it into a db file and make that one your know.db file that Morphman will identify as your current vocab.
Ok, all set with the tools you will need. Now I’ll put some pics of my setup, so you get the idea on how you can use it in a similar fashion.
First, ideally have your vocab, grammar, and senteces decks separated, as It will make reviews easier. If you don’t plan on having vocab / grammar decks on Anki then you can just add known vocab to the Morphman database file, and then just have Subs2SRS decks.
In Morphman preferences should be something like this.
You have to choose what type of cards to look into, any specific tagged cards, what field should it serch into and click the modify in the deck you will want to reorder (typically the Subs2SRS sentence cards)
Then if you want to have N+1 sentences (basically learn a new word for every sentence review) your setup should look like this:
With this setup you should be getting Morphman to search into those sentences and finding lines with vocab you know + 1 new word. Will try to get sentences ideally in the 4-5 word count, but just if they are available in your deck. When reviewing you can hit “K” if you already know every word (specially in the begining as there will be particles an contractions that probably wont be in your vocab list) and it will throw you a new one. If the sentence doesn’t strike you as a good one you can suspend the card an it will throw you a new one, if possible with the same word it was testing.
This setup is ideal for… well learning new words. But it’s not as simple as that. This card for example:
There is the word 人間 , which may be the unknown word. But then Morphman may have marked と and して as 2 words also currently in your known db. But if you are not aware of the grammatical concept of として you might find yourself still struggling to get the meaning of the sentence.
Depending on your grammar studies, you can find this situation more often than not… so I would recommend to put the sentence in jisho.org and identify that grammatical concept. As this could make your reviews somewhat more demanding, limit yourself to 5-10 / a day perhaps.
If you want to review in context sentences your known vocab this if how your setup should look:
The first unchecked box it’s for comprehension cards (sentences just containing mature vocab), The second unchecked box will allow in your sentences unmatured vocab (for anki this is vocab with due time less than a month).
Now this is powerfull stuff too. You’ll get something like this.
My recommended routine for a comprehension card like this one goes like this:
- (with eyes shut) Listen to the line. Hit “R” to repeat the audio until you grab it (or not)
(optional Shadowing practice)
Repeat the sentence an try to match the actual line if you already grasped the words in there
Then read the text. Should be all known words. So look for grammatical concepts / particles to ckeck if you get their function there*.
Just then hit the anwser button an confirm the meaning (or at least the aproximated translation in the english subs)
These kind of cards are a real pleasure to practice with. 15-30 a day are easy enough, since it’s known vocab. Though you might encounter some unknown grammar in there that could prove an extra effort.
One last feature that could come in handy for reinforcing vocab, specially words you’re having trouble sticking in your mind, is the FocusMorph field.
For this to work you must add a new field into all the type of cards that Morphman is aware of. By default you should name the field “Morphman_FocusMorph”, though in the preferences you can stablish a different name.
This way Morphman will check up all the cards in the Subs2SRS deck and determine for some of them (the ones that have exactly one unknown word) what Morpheme it’s they are currently testing. This will change over time as you learn new words, so you should refesh the database every session (Cmd+M).
So, the situation shoul be something like this:
A new reading of some kanji, a similar difinition you are having trouble to contextualize, etc.
In this situation the reading for 度 in this word was the one that I was having trouble and causing me to fail this card a couple of times.
So while reviewing (my vocab deck in this example) I edit the card and put the actual word in the FocusMorph field.
Next thing in the review screen hit the “L” key to go to the Browse window and search all the Subs2SRS cards having that particular word as a Focus Morpheme.
In this example, I found 2 cards that contain this word as the only unknown word.
So I pick both and go to the tool menu and select “Learn Now”
This will put the cards as your very next cards to be reviewed so you reinforce that particular word right away.
So, I hope you give this a try. I think these are terrific tools to keep your studies on the fun side. Actual immersion it’s just a step ahead giving you’re already using native material. So If you decide to start immersing, you’ll see quickly how you can grab much more content practicing in this manner.
It’s quite easy to get a large Subs2SRS deck (in the 50,000-100,000 numbers) and it will prove usefull for having a large database of example sentences. Try having ones from different shows, anime, dramas, even movies. As you will find examples for more diverse vocab. I’ve found out that Shounen anime it’s a good source for words related to fighting, war, magic, fantasy …If possible have decks of shows you have already or are actually watching, as the retention of the context will be greater.
Anyway, there you have it, all of the ingredients needed are at your disposal to create your own material to improve and reinforce over your actual knowledge. This is a terrific method to work over new vocab, context sentence mining, listening, shadowing … well basically you can do pretty much whatever you can think of.
(*) A very practical way to check grammar on the spot (after checking in jisho.org) would be the DOJG series (maybe made into Anki deck ). If for any reason the DOJG doesn’t do it. This reference book has proven to be my last resource, specially with contractions and spoken terms.