[Userscript] The GanbarOmeter

I think adding a launcher for the self-study quiz to this was about the best thing I’ve done for my own personal learning. It’s incredibly useful for anyone that hasn’t yet reached level 60 and only does their reviews once or twice at most per day.

I’m definitely going to make it the default to have radicals, kanji, and vocabulary checked in the preferences so that they are included in the self-study quiz. Those extra reviews of all items (not just kanji) are making my morning sessions a little longer, but the improvement in my retention has been dramatic. It also seems to be speeding up my time-on-level which isn’t really surprising, but I don’t really think that’s important.

In case anyone is interested, I’ve changed how I use the self-study quiz with this script.

My daily study routine

First I created a new self-study preset:

Once I launch the self-study quiz, I also enable audio (I use headphones) and disable pairing. Pairing feels easier to me, too much like cheating. It’s amazing how often recalling the reading reminds me of the meaning, or vice-versa. Getting intervening questions between the pairs is kind of a mental palate-cleanser that helps to overcome this “cheat”.

(I’ve also disabled lightning mode as I prefer to hit enter to move forward, but that’s a personal preference.)

With this configuration, I’m asked the normal reading and meaning questions for each item just like the standard WK reviews (except that it also reads aloud the pronunciation you just typed whenever you enter the correct reading — which is a little distracting, but it doesn’t hurt).

The last checkbox quizzes you on vocabulary production by presenting you with the meaning (written in English) and asking you to type in the hiragana for the Japanese word (like kamesame or kaniwani).

I really, really, REALLY wish I’d been doing this since the beginning. Practicing recall in both directions helps cement things into your brain.

I’ve been wanting to start using kamesame regularly for ages, but I didn’t want to allocate more than an hour or so each day studying Japanese and Wanikani already consumes most of that. I told myself I’d eventually transition after I plateaued here at level 60 and started burning off items without adding more (queue little red-haired girl singing “Tomorrow, tomorrow!”).

Because items quickly transition past stages 1-2, though, getting production practice in small batches like this with the self-study quiz doesn’t really add take too much extra time: I rarely have more than a few dozen items in stages 1-2.

Since WK isn’t really about teaching vocabulary, I think the tradeoff of only quizzing on production for stage1-2 items is quite worthwhile. Once I transition away from mostly studying kanji and focus more on production, grammar, and reading I’ll start using other tools but for now this seems the best of both worlds.

The following morning routine has been working exceedingly well for me in practice over the past several days (as I’ve written: I typically only do one review-session per day):

  1. Bring up the dashboard (refresh the page since it’s usually still there since yesterday) and glance over my status. Mostly, I just glance at the gauges and see how many reviews are currently in my queue.

  2. Click on the self-study launcher, which remembers my configuration choices from last time (shown above).

  3. Make a first pass through all the stage1-2 stuff. If I’m still in the early stages of a level, I’ll inevitably get several kanji and vocabulary items wrong. Each time I get something wrong, I hit “f” to refresh myself with the correct answer.

  4. Continue until finishing all items until the review page comes up. If there are more than two or three wrong items on the review page, I don’t even bother to look through what I got wrong. I just hit “enter” and start another pass.

  5. Usually, I get fewer wrong on the second pass, but if I don’t seem to be making progress, I sometimes click the “re-quiz” icon to just quiz myself again on the items I get wrong. Extra reviews for just the items I missed goes very quickly and usually suffices to start getting those items to stick.

  6. I continue making full iterations through all stage1-2 items until I’ve made a pass with 100% correct. My personal rule is that re-quizzes don’t count: I have to be able to answer all of my stage1-2 items correctly before starting my “real” WK reviews.

  7. Only now do I start my WK review session. In practice I’ve rarely spent more than a few minutes getting to this point.

  8. I continue doing reviews until there are no more reviews currently available. On the very rare occasion where I just don’t have the time to finish them all in a single session, I try very hard to do an extra review session in the evening to get it down to zero.

  9. Only after completing all my available reviews do I even consider doing my lessons, since how much time and energy I still have in the tank is part of the calculus.

  10. If the GanbarOmeter is to the left of the green zone (or at least to the left of the upper limit) I’ll usually try to do at least five lessons. Toward the end of a level when I’m seeing mostly vocabulary (which I find easier) I might do 10, 15, or even 20 or more lessons if they seem easy and I’m feeling particularly gung ho, but I try not to do more than 20 lessons at a time just to reduce my workload for the coming days.

That’s what works for me. I’d welcome any thoughts anyone else might have.