Why I Stopped Using SRS

Yes, and that’s something I meant to mention in my earlier post, the importance of context in grasping meanings. Because even at its most effective, SRS has severe limitations in teaching vocabulary.

Since Japanese and English tend to describe the same actions using not only different words, but different grammatical structures as well, learning that one word in Japanese equals one word in English only gets you part-way there. It’s only when you repeatedly encounter words in context that you can really understand how they are used in natural language. So even having a sentence repeating itself in Anki isn’t often enough. You need variety.

But having said that, I’m probably in the mid-point of @F1ForHelp’s summary, and well below @Naphthalene’s position of starting to use SRS again to learn more esoteric vocab.


I see. Adding only words that appear multiple times is a good approach. 300 words per book seems managable. But still, repeating a word you’re unlikely to encounter again anytime soon over and over again seems like a much bigger time investment than just looking it up again the next time.

I mean, if I read two books a month, that’s 20 new words for each day. At that point it already becomes a serious time investment again. For example, I just encountered the word 綾織り twice in a row in a book. I’ll probably forget what it means soon, especially the reading. I didn’t even know what it is in my own language without googling it. Adding that word to my SRS deck would just feel like misinvested time to me. I may or may not learn it naturally eventually if I encounter it twice a year reading, but actively learning it for that purpose just doesn’t seem productive to me.

I fully agree with that. That’s why I think starting to use a monolingual dictionary as an advanced learner is a good approach. It helps you to stop thinking in your language, trying to translate everything, and instead encourages you to think in Japanese. I have to admit, I’m not good at that – I still feel like I need to look up translations “just to make sure”, even when I know I understand the word. But all available Japanese-English dictionaries are not perfect, and especially when it comes to nuances, you eventually will need to consult a monolingual dictionary (or a corpus), especially for translation work.

You think? I can tell you first hand that you’re over-hyping exposure way too much. I’m sorry but it simply wont give you the benefits you think it will in an efficient way.

But thats the reality of learning japanese. When you read an actually book, a lot of words are words that dont appear frequently. So in the first book of the light novel im reading, there were OVER 500 WORDS that didn’t appear in the next 6 books. Over 500 words that were used once. Hell, plenty of them prolly wont be used in the entire 13 volume series but I don’t feel like checking.

Leebo is right. As shitty as it is, there are a lot of words that don’t appear often that you can’t learn from exposure alone. You need something else. I think you are severely underestimating the sheer quantity of vocab you need to learn.

EDIT: I took the liberty of checking the first three books as well. So in the first three books, there are 1600 words that are used once in the first 7 books of the series.


My takeaway from this thread matches my experience. When SRS takes so much of your time that it takes too much time away from native materials and it is becoming more of a chore, it’s time to back off. I had a few learning burnout due to overusing of SRS (hundreds of reviews a day can be very time consuming).

As I don’t live in Japan, I still find that some daily amount of SRS is useful to keep me exposed. As I also don’t read Japanese materials everyday, so the daily dose of SRS helps maintain some level of exposure. And it’s true that the vocabs I’ve SRS’d through stick more easily. I think it’s definitely the most useful tool for beginners as there are just too few materials to read beyond textbooks, which is less of a problem later on.

I do find the same issue with Anki deck getting out of hand as I’m reading, so I just do Anki on best effort now. I keyed in stuffs into the deck often, but I only start ~10 lessons a day (if at all).

How do you SRS Kanji writing? Do you have decks with Japanese reading/English meaning and you just try to write them? How about stroke orders? I’ve recently started an obsession on wanting to be able to handwrite Japanese as well, and I found that I hardly am able to recall them correctly (many times it’s close but not exactly correct) or my stroke order is a mess (e.g., vertical lines before horizontal line in 艹 radical) ):


I don’t think anybody has ever suggested that we have to do SRS until we die…


That’s what I meant by the diminishing returns of immersion only. At some point, I was reading all the time, but I wasn’t really learning anything anymore, exactly for that reason.
Even words that appear multiple times in a single book won’t probably appear in other books, so you will eventually forget them without something like an SRS. Right know, when I get reviews in floflo, I can often tell which book a given word comes from. :stuck_out_tongue:

But again, that’s only for the late game, in terms on Japanese learning. If you do not need SRS right now, you are right not using it :slight_smile:


SRS will be my death

(no i love it. I really needed the srs to get a solid vocabulary base. Since level 27 I’ve been studying with other methods too, but srs is my eternal fave for teaching me this much)

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Now as mentioned before, English is not my first language. Obviously English was much easier to learn for me than Japanese due to similarities in structure and vocabulary with my native language, but that’s not important. When I think back on how I learned English, I can say with confidence that the biggest factor was in fact “exposure”. I nowadays rarely look up words in English. I just tried to read a couple of Wikipedia articles on advanced subjects to check if that really is the case, and the words I had to look up were mostly ones I don’t even know in my native language. But I never used SRS for learning English. Obviously, in my first years of English classes in school, I did a fair amount of repeating vocabulary. But apart from that, it was all exposure.

I don’t believe that learning Japanese is so fundamentally different that the same logic cannot be applied here. It may be hard getting the same amount of exposure and effectively take longer overall, but I don’t think exposure really can be overestimated. As the amount of words you don’t know decreases, you are naturally more likely to pick up the few words you do not know. It’s a gradual process, but exposure will get you there at some point.


I think I’m using this. It’s been long enough since I downloaded it that I don’t remember for sure : o

And I either write it on paper or trace it in the air with my finger when I review. I only add 5 cards a day because I have other priorities.

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Yeah OP says theyre at the lower intermediate stages of learning which I dont really know what that is since everyone has their own scales to judge themselves. They just seem misinformed based off of this post

And I think its very important to emphasize that there will be a lot of things you hardly encounter…and you will very much need them.

Right, this is why I added “efficient” into my post. Like nath said, I’m sure you can do it…it would just take a very long time. As your studies progress you may change and adapt your method, but I can tell you that in the long run you’ll have a hard time from just exposure.


I agree with this too. There’s been references to low-hanging fruit, but like, eventually you get taller and start picking the next-lowest hanging fruit. And the next. If your amount of exposure keeps ramping up over time. That’s the big if though.


Well, that’s where I disagree. I learned English the way you describe, but my first language is French, so it was easy to make connections. Even though, it took me ~12 years to get to a point where I considered myself fluent. I sometimes wonder if I could have made it much faster by actually using an SRS. (I’ll never know obviously).


No, no, that seems to be a misunderstanding. I dropped the SRS approach at a lower intermediate stage which was basically six years ago. I do consider myself an advanced learner for a while now.

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Thank you! That deck does have stroke order, which is what I sorely need.

I wish there is a way to add a vocabulary item to Anki with the back of the card showing the vocab in kanji and the kanji stroke order… s:

There’s definitely a way to do that, but I hate customizing Anki so I can’t help you there ^^

Ahh. So let me ask about this inefficient business since you feel that SRS is the inefficient one. How much time would you say you’ve spent per day reading over these past 6 years?

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I don’t know if what I have to say really is all that interesting or anything, but I guess I’ll give my opinion anyway.

It seems like a lot of people either do tons of SRS or nearly none, but I think the most efficient way to do it is to balance things in a way that makes sense and addresses your weaknesses.

When it comes to reading, that would mean using some SRS if you come across a decent amount of words you don’t know (but not to the point where it’s the only thing you do, because that just seems pointless) and spending more time reading instead if you only come across a few words you don’t know.

That’s obviously just the way that seems best for me though. Regarding the debate about learning through exposure, I know it’s possible because I learned English that way, but it also took a really long time before I really could consider myself fluent at a level at least close to a native. I honestly feel like I’m learning Japanese faster than I ever learned English despite how it supposedly is much harder. Part of that may be because I have more experience with learning languages in general, but I’d like to think at least part of it is because the methods I’m using are more efficient.

To summarise: I think both SRS and exposure help a lot. Exposure is more important, but using SRS as well is more efficient for me, judging by how fast I’ve learned Japanese so far compared to how long it took me to learn English and German without using any SRS at all.


In Japanese? I couldn’t say. Until maybe 2 years ago, it used to vary a lot. At that point, though, I felt like I’d overcome an invisible barrier that had stopped me from engaging into high amounts of native material.

Nowadays I probably spend about 40-60 minutes reading a day. In the past year, I’ve put more time into reading books which, I think, has helped me make significant progress. Obviously I’m doing this for fun, too, not only to learn Japanese. I mean, that was basically the reason I started learning Japanese in the first place.

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Which books did you enjoy the most? :slight_smile:

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