I was struck by a thought as I was finishing my anki vocab deck. It had taken way too much time to finish, even though there weren’t that many reviews. I have mixed feelings about it after a year or so of building it up (it has +12000 words). This year became busier and I found myself with less time to dedicate to Japanese. I can barely sit down to read a book or watch anime (without feeling tired due to various reasons) and most of my time goes to chipping away at my anki reviews (they keep coming still due to the amount of cards, but they’re decreasing slowly).
My question is; should I stop adding cards and only do reviews, and focus on immersion, or should I soldier on? I feel like I need more immersion. I know a lot of grammar and I reckon I just need more Japanese overall, and practise. It’s just, having done SRS for so long and stopping using it not because I somewhat “finished” it or reached a goal (Wanikani level 60) but of my own accord feels iffy.
When did you guys stopp using Anki?
This is just my opinion, but assuming you are a native English speaker, did you make flash cards for all the words you knew and reviewed them every day in school? Probably not. I think Anki helps you get to a certain level quickly, but once you achieve that it isn’t that required unless your goal is to never forget any random word that you don’t actually use in real life.
In some ways, I think it was a a relief that my WK subscription ran out, so the decision to simply stop doing SRS was taken out of my hands. But, as i stopped, just doing immersion felt quite enough. I hadn’t even watched much anime due to being too tired for it. Same with drama CDs.
Turns out, SRS was draining my mental resources more than I thought. And with no WK taking up time, I was back reading manga, listening to audio dramas and watching anime.
I never got Anki started even, due to my switch to pure immersion learning and doing book clubs here on WK. But, I think that was for the best. Doing integrated learning is just more fulfilling and challenging, rather than learning decontexualized vocab or kanji. That had its place to give me a stable foundation for reading, but now it’s fine to let some of that focus go.
I’m mostly doing wanikani and kamesame out of habit at this point. I never quite got with anki decks myself, but have some vocab I get from koohi (which is coupled with what I read). Most of it comes from looking up some things while reading.
That said srs is only as useful as you like. You gotta stop it at some point.
Here are a few things to consider with Anki to help you burn common/easy words more quickly to get them out of your reviews.
- Don’t be afraid of the Easy button
- If you forget a word you really feel like you should have remembered, Bury it instead of “againing” it (if you forget it again the next day, then you can Again it)
- Use the Reset Ease plugin to get rid of ease hell (many people, including myself, consider Anki’s default ease functionality to be poorly conceived)
I’m almost in your same position (I only have about 10,000 distinct words in my deck), but I’ve already made these adjustments. My intention is to get to a point where I’m aggressively burning common words I frequently encounter and only rotating through new words for which I need more exposure to learn them. Incidentally, that will continue to be something I do for years–perhaps my whole life. To reach a high level of comprehension, you need to know tens of thousands of words.
That being said, if you’re sacrificing reading and listening to do new flashcards, that’s probably not be the best approach, either. I would try to find a way to split time between Anki and real language. Not adding any new cards so you can bring your review count down would be a good approach.
I appreciate the point you’re trying to make, but learning a second language (esp. in adulthood) is a very different experience than primary language acquisition. You learned your first language over your entire lifetime. You don’t have another lifetime to acquire a second language–you need to find shortcuts. Things like SRS are good shortcuts.
Also, there’s nothing quick about acquiring vocabulary via Anki. Those of us who have done it can attest to that.
I would argue that learning 10k words in time measured in years rather than decades is “quick”. In fact you even said that SRS is a shortcut, which inherently means acknowledging that it is faster than the “normal” method of learning.
My point was that once you learn those words there’s no reason to keep doing Anki religiously unless you don’t actually use them in any context other than flash card memorization, because in that case you would forget them. Once you already know the words, methods such as reading books and talking to humans is a much better method of retention.
Fair enough. When I started learning English I didn’t know anything about Anki, I just read an obscene amount of novels.
Yeah, I see you. Just a quick point, all vocab and kanji I add is curated from immersion. So it isn’t really out of context (I also add sentences). But SRS is starting to annoy me. I think I need to switch my anki settings. I will look into it. Thank you.
Would you mind explaining it to me in a little more detail? All I know is that I went through my stadistics on anki and found myself in the ease hell (130%!!!). For some reason, my settings were messed up… I would keep getting the same cards again even if I knew them very well. So I used that add on and bumped it up overall. I wasn’t sure how much was it okay so I moved them all up to 170%. Should I go for 200%?
I started using Anki after I got to level 60 and am still adding small amounts of words regularly. Almost all of it is premade decks from the books I’m reading. Really contributed to increasing my vocab. ATM there’s about 6k active words, and about the same suspended as “known”, not counting the WK vocab.
I just consider Anki extra exposure and a supplementary activity, which is more of a tool to help kickstart learning words I encounter and make reading more fluent. I have a similar approach keeping Anki “lowkey” as @I2PyyXvgTLkez0KA, but instead of easy button and reset ease, I just keep the automatic suspend very low (about 4), and my initial learning steps quite long. Those two things end up avoiding ease hell. Another major thing is to set the “new interval” to something sensible, like 25%, so your lapsed cards don’t completely reset.
It’s still a no-brainer for me to use and keep some words fresh in my memory. Only takes like 20 min to go through a hundred reviews a day (and it’s easy to slip in reviews throughout the day), so it’s not really cutting in my reading time.
I think at this point you would have to take a step back and think about why you started learning Japanese in the first place. What did you set out to do?
Can you do those things yet?
A language is a means to an end after all.
It was the same for me with learning English. Are you at the point where you can read native material yet? If so, I’d prioritize that.
The only reason I’m using an SRS for learning Kanji is because it’s much more difficult to learn new Kanji on the fly than it is with a phonetic alphabet. And if you don’t know at least one reading, it takes forever to look them up in a dictionary because you can’t type it in. But once I know a Kanji, it’s much easier to learn new words containing it so I don’t see the need to add it to an SRS.
But there is no general advice here because everyone learns at a different pace. I’d look at how many times you need to see a word before you remember it. If it’s once or twice, I’d drop Anki and focus on media consumption because that’s the fun part.
If you find find yourself looking up the same words repeatedly, sticking with Anki is probably a good idea.
I went through some videos on youtube and your advice and changed my anki settings. I understand them better know. I think the biggest change was to tweak my learning steps to something doable. Thanks!
This post isn’t about me doubting my reason to study Japanese. I just wanted some advice and guidance on anki usage… I don’t do as much Japanese as before not because I don’t want to but because I have gotten busier. I just wanted to be optimal.
I can. I have read books. Some took more effort than others. I was just torn between dropping anki or not because I keep finding new words. I don’t often look up the same words over and over thankfully (plus anki helps with that) but there’s always specific or rarer vocabulary that just doesn’t stick as easy.
I think my problem was my anki settings. They were terrible. Now I have to work out my messed up cards, but I’ll manage. I just have to keep doing my reviews (plus I got an add on to help me stay out of ease hell). I will keep in mind your advice. Thank you.
i only used anki in order to learn separate kanji and hanzi. in that sense Im afraid srs is a necessary evil when you are learning jap or chinese. But other than that no - i ussualy just read books/subtitles through tools like yomichan/migako/zhongwen but i never save those words. If those words stick in the long term memory from the first time - good, no? - then im just gonna use these tools later to read translation of that word again.