What do you think about the SRS system?

just curious!

for me, i like it. i have an abysmal short-term memory but a very good long-term memory, so it works for me!!


I’m on a big long break from WK but recently did a handful of reviews just for fun - still managed to burn items even from later levels.

I have very little japanese practice else so I’d say it works well enough!

Horrible for teaching, amazing for remembering


SRS/flashcard systems are perhaps the best tool for learning lots of things by rote in a (relatively) short time. for example to memorize all the possible questions and answers for the german theoretical drivers licence exam. or for memorizing “all” the body parts in order to pass medical exams for aspiring doctors. or indeed for learning enough kanji to be able to start reading.

however, rote learning is one of the worst ways of learning.

in a project like learning to read japanese it has its place, but it also has very clear limits.


For language self-study I couldn’t imagine doing it without SRS.

Yeah for me with foreign languages it’s all about reaching the critical mass of knowledge required to be able to consume content and then pivot to that to further your studies.

The other day I was randomly browsing the r/anki subreddit and there are people there who have been maintaining Japanese decks for over a decade, containing nearly 100k cards and at that point I’m like “do you really need this anymore?”

The longest I’ve been using SRS continuously for a language is for Russian (I’m at year 4 or so) but honestly even there I’m considering stopping and using the time to read more instead, I really don’t get much out of it anymore, most of the reviews are either trivial or too niche to be worth it. It’s just hard to break the habit.


If you want a mild counterexample, I spent some years mostly reading and merely maintaining an already-studied core10k deck. Then last year I started using jpdb.io for some targeted-to-novels SRSing, and the words I’m working on there are definitely coming up in other books I read. So my feeling is that I’d reached a plateau of having enough vocab to comfortably read without doing lookups but there was still a layer of “don’t need to know this to understand the text” vocab I wasn’t really picking up, and that I’m getting benefits from the renewed SRS work.

I do definitely agree that “a lot of reading and a little SRS” is likely better than “a little reading and a lot of SRS”.


Yeah I actually feel the same with my Russian, but I think I should stop using premade decks and just “mine” the content that I consume for words I actually want to learn instead. But I’m lazy and focusing mainly on my Japanese for now so…


I think its worth doing an srs system as well as reading and listening. just to cover all bases.

I think the fact we live in a time where we can implement it without having to thing about it is pretty incredible. Maybe 20 years ago we would have to plan out and be super honest about whether or not we remembered something, basically it would be a whole workload that would be impossible to do without making it like your job.

On the other hand I think people misunderstand that it is a tool to assist you in your journey and isn’t the journey.

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The older I get and the quicker this AI stuff develops the more I feel like my childhood was in the stone age, but more realistically it was the decade that was the technological equivilent of discovering fire with computers.

I had a conversation with my family recently and it was like “Could you imagine having to wait until you get home to call your friends/family?”

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Didn’t people use pagers and public phones pretty often? Maybe I’ve been listening to too much true crime stuff in Japan, but it seems like it was pretty common.

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Yeah, we used 1-800-CALL-ATT for collect calls. Pagers were pretty popular later on right before cellphones got small, but they were largely for business people and drug dealers. lol

EDIT: Joking about the drug dealer part, I think that happened when they started using those in the later stages of pagers too.


I do not miss flash cards at all. I remember having stacks of them on my desk and running through them whenever I was free. Id try to move some to a less frequent pile manually, but its so nice having software to keep track of this stuff and just make the process more efficient overall.

At least now I can pull out my phone to study and not look like a mega nerd too busy to chat. SRS4LYFE


Flash cards help with getting started with remembering a large amount of points, as well as preventing forgetting such amount. SRS’s automated timing is for simplifying timing and management.

However, it removes emphasis from joining those points. Also, SRS doesn’t directly help with the relationship from components, although sequence and chucking as in WaniKani Kanji levels help with that.

SRS can fail with too many leeches, although if you have already remembered beyond minimal amount, maybe it doesn’t matter.

Memorization tricks can help with SRS for relatively new cards; but not so much for older ones.

Personally I do SRS for Japanese, then not after a while, then resumed.

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I’m very happy my school years were spent in the technological age.

Then: Want to know a small piece of information for an essay? Be prepared to comb through library books for hours!

Now: I have the answer to every simple question and practically any other possible question all at my fingertips.

I also really like the SRS system. Obviously connecting words and ideas to form thoughts in another language takes a lot of practice that SRS can’t possibly address. However, I found it was somewhat useful for increasing my flexibility in word choice–at least at my absolute novice Japanese level haha.

Found this video a while back that laid out the pros and cons of SRS: The PROBLEM with Active Recall and Spaced Repetition (Truth Behind Studying Smarter) - YouTube

Clickbait title aside, what I remember is it basically comes down to:

  • SRS is empirically shown to work
  • However, of all the empirically proven methods, SRS is the least effective
  • SRS can be implemented with a few lines of python, so it’s popular among education startups (Duolingo, Wanikani, etc.)
  • For actual learning, mental models are where it’s at.

For example, kanji is a lot like Latin roots in English, and if you actually learn the etymology of everything, you’ll learn it far better, since you’ll have this mental graph inside your head of how everything fits together. However, for any spoken language, that takes way more time than a normal language learner has available, and that’s ignoring whether or not those word origin stories are even available to begin with, so you have to compromise somewhere.

However, I don’t think SRS can hurt your learning if you combine it with one of the more successful methods. If you learn a word in context, for example, and you associate that word with a specific memory, then that’s a really good way to remember it, but you still might lose that entire memory if you don’t use the word very often. But if you plug it into an SRS system, and then every time the word comes up it brings back that memory, then have a really good chance of keeping both the word and the associated memory forever.

So basically, SRS sucks, but it’s easy so you might as well.

so far is the only tool that really worked for me,

before WK ,never heard of SRS, then I started here and so far it was the only way to stick vocab in my mind.

Books in no way do that in my case, I get bored easily. And “learning in the wild” as many here say I really suck at it and easily forget the word meaning as soon as I look it up, so SRS is the way to go.

Hitting lvl 60 here I have to find another srs.

ikr! using books and all of that is so boring!

SRS is wonderful for beginner levels, as it breaks down content in a much more approachable way for someone who never interacted with it. I wouldn’t have started Japanese without SRS.

However, I found its use to fall off after a while. I have the basics, and now understand how to learn things without SRS, with classes and reading etc. After that, I found srs to drag and to be too isolated for the knowledge to apply compared to how I’ve been studying.