When I started learning Japanese years ago, I used Anki for SRS. Obviously at the beginning, when you don’t know enough Japanese yet to immerse yourself into any kind of material, you need to have a way to remember what you learned, and SRS is a proven and thus obvious choice for that.
I did that for maybe a year, I don’t remember exactly. But at some point it became kind of a chore. Worse yet, I had the feeling that because I spent time repeating vocabulary every day, I had less time to dedicate to actual reading or doing other Japanese-related stuff.
You see, I never really learned for any kind of test. I didn’t care about JLPT back then and didn’t have any kind of pressure. My primary goal was to be able to use Japanese for my hobbies. So at one point, I decided to abandon Anki and SRS entirely and never regretted that decision.
My personal take on it is this: When you forget a word, you forget it because you don’t use/encounter it frequently enough. Which means you don’t need to know it enough to remember it. Vice verse, you will remember words you encounter. So it made much more sense to me to spend my time reading instead of repeating vocabulary without context. Remembering and forgetting things are both part of a natural process, and I felt SRS became an inefficient way to spend my time learning at maybe a lower intermediate stage of learning.
Last year, I kinda did return to SRS for a while. That was mostly because I found a way to add words together with the context (i.e. sentence) and lots of customizable options with one click from my browser to Anki, so it was tempting to try it again after so many years. This lasted a few weeks, but then I came to the same conclusion again: I could spend the time better.
Now don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t want to say SRS is a waste of time, far from it. I think it’s very much necessary in the beginning stages of learning, and a great thing to do when you lack the focus to read actual Japanese, e.g. on train commutes or other times you wouldn’t spend your time very productively otherwise.
But when it becomes time-consuming, when you start to feel that it eats away your time better spent immersing yourself into actually Japanese, and especially when you realize that you spend more time doing SRS than anything else – in that case it might be prudent to rethink if this is the best approach to take.
Anyone else with similar experiences? Or even better, the opposite experience? Feel free to present your experience with and opinion on SRS during various stages of learning Japanese.