Why I Stopped Using SRS

I barely go in the book threads, so I didn’t see those, I guess. I take back the comment about signing up for the purpose of making this thread.

Shouldn’t derail the thread, so I’ll let people who want to discuss it get the topic back on track.


@KazeTachinu By the way, I’m not saying that you should use WaniKani or SRS in general again, but you might want to check out the following post. It’s from a member of the community who was already advanced but went through the whole program to level 60 anyway. In it they explain how the program worked for them, including some benefits and drawbacks of going through WaniKani as an advanced learner.


Thank you for the input! I’ve actually read that thread just yesterday by pure chance – and I agree that it’s a great post. Can’t say I’m not curious about WK at all, especially the higher levels, but to be honest, I think reading is my strongest part and I’m quite happy about the progress I’m making with my current approach.


I agree with you broadly speaking, but

  1. Writing the kanji is something I never do but want to know how to do, so I SRS for that
  2. Kanji are weird in general to read. There are a lot of words I “know” but if you ask me what kanji they’re written with I can’t tell you, and if I see those kanji in another word I might not recognize them. Natural pickup of vocabulary for me, through reading, doesn’t turn into natural pickup of kanjo, so srs.
  3. There are a lot of words that I see semi-regularly but have a hard time remembering how to read because, again, kanji. Some examples off the top of my head are 躊躇 痙攣 and 絢爛. These are words that, if I’m reading, and I recognize them - which I do - I won’t feel like looking up because I can already ‘read’ the text - I just can’t pronounce it. But I find that unacceptable, so… srs.
  4. There are actually a lot of uncommon words that I do want to know but don’t encounter that much in the wild, so srs.

More or less most of my reasons for SRSing relate to the kanji, I guess. If I was learning Spanish or something I’d probabiy drop srs pretty early on.


This part really resonated with me, especially with what I’ve learned about second language acquisition. Thanks for your post @KazeTachinu :D!


Why are you seeing this semi-regularly? :sweat_smile:


Because when someone gets shot by a ドミネーター in パラライザー mode they inevitable have 痙攣 :wink:


Ha, that makes a lot of sense!


It does… to a point. You will eventually reach a point of diminishing returns with exposure (well, that was @Leebo’s and some others’ point, so this is going to be mostly paraphrasing, but anyway).
My experience reading “advanced” material (news papers articles, novel, blog posts, research articles) is that there’s an insane amount of vocab out there. Learning those through exposure alone would take decades (well, same as for native speakers, really). I don’t want to spend that many years building vocab.

And I completely agree that I don’t exactly need words that are so infrequent that they would take that long to learn through exposure. But a native would (in most cases) know them, so it’s unsatisfying not to.

As for my experience with SRS, I’ve used it on and off over the years, but the most serious I got with it is now. (Before that, I agree that just exposure will give you the low hanging fruits, I.e. common vocab)


I think exposure will give you much more than just the low-hanging fruits, and I don’t think it will take decades, either. The “insane” amount of vocabulary you speak about – I think it becomes much less intimidating with time and constant exposure, and at a quick pace, too.

Now let’s say you want to learn every word you encounter. I actually was like that when I started learning Japanese, and still feel inclined to at least look up everything I don’t know. How fast will your repetitions pile up? If I added all unknown words to my Anki deck, I’m pretty sure there’d be 700 or more new words every week. I would never be able to keep going at that pace, and don’t even want to imagine the amount of time it would take.

So how do you do it? Do you try to learn all unfamiliar words using SRS? Only the ones you think you aren’t likely to encounter again anytime soon?

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So basically: You need SRS to remember things at the beginning as everything is likely difficult to remember and you can’t use native material yet, then back off of SRS as you use native material to expose yourself to significantly more words, then use SRS again later as you learn words that were more difficult to remember with only exposure.

I’m actually really happy this discussion happened IF that piece of knowledge is useful.

Edit: Correction and emphasis of “IF.”


Sounds about right to me. I learned a lot of words last year through exposure, but there are always those that came up so little and so spaced apart that I can never read when they come up. I’m still trying to muster the courage to go back to SRS for these words, though.


At this point in my Japanese career, I basically agree with the OP. I never had any real interest in Anki as a tool, but I did feel that WK was an indispensable way to significantly bump up my kanji knowledge.

In the latter half of WK I felt that dedicating so much time to it really did take away time that I could have been using to read Japanese. But you do need to set your priorities, so I still think it was time we’ll spent. (And I do need to continue spending time on it to burn what I’ve learned here.)

A big problem with SRS learning at least for me is that words don’t really stick very well outside of the context of real material. So even the thorough “burning” that we do in WK is no substitute for seeing/hearing words in context. On the other hand, learning a word in SRS before encountering it in context is also effective.

For now at least, I intend to spend my post-WK time immersing myself in native source materials as much as possible.


These SRS systems have been the single greatest contributor to my ability to read Japanese. No other form of study has produced the results I have seen the in past seven months of using WaniKani. Now as you state, reading is essential to continue to cement these words and kanji in your memory. However, I wouldn’t of learned how to read if it wasn’t for an SRS app.


You’ve made a career out of learning Japanese!?



The intuitive way is to get a good balance. Estimate the likelihood you won’t recognize the vocabulary at a later time. If you think it’s relatively likely you’ll forget it, add it. After a while you stop, exactly for the purpose of limiting workload. For example, you can only add like 50 words a week. After a while you can just discard those words you feel like you know, creating time for new words. In Anki, just make a new deck every week, where you keep only the words of the last week you still think you won’t remember. It’s an iterative process.

I’m sorry if this comes across confrontational, but I feel you seem to be somewhat black and white about the issue. In the opening post you seem to jump from SRS takes to much time to quitting SRS, while you can also reconsider your SRS strategy. If you’re SRSing 90% of the time, obviously something needs to change… I haven’t really seen any argument to completely shut out SRS, though…

I’m only a beginning learner, and most of the vocabulary is unknown basically because I don’t know the kanji. Of most words I look up I can relate the meaning to the meaning of the kanji. Please take into account that this comes from the eyes of a beginner.


You have a shoe that quacks?

Seriously, though, I’ve been learning Japanese over half my life now, so it does seem something like a career, even if my progress has been slow until recently.


Something like that. Except that I only really started doing that when I knew above 10k words (well, hard to say for sure, but based on my WK and floflo stats, that sounds about right).
In practice, I do not add everything I don’t know. With floflo, I just add words that appear at least twice in a given book. That’s about ~300 words per book right now.
So not that many, which keeps the SRS from blowing up.


This is a complete tangent, but most UK newspapers only have the reading age of 8.

What's the reading level of a common Japanese newspaper?

I was using Anki heavily in my beginning stages of learning Japanese and I think it was good that I did. Limiting the amounts of new entries and repetitions is definitely a good way to find the right balance.

Still, having context is very important, especially for verbs. I later added example sentences, but this made the whole repetition process even more time-consuming. I just felt that after a while, the payoff wasn’t big enough. I felt and still feel I’m learning more through exposure than through “grinding”.