Thursday, February 12, 2009

How I use Anki, part 1

(Shot from the median of Jozenji-dori during the Pageant of Starlight in Sendai)

As some of my Japanese-studying friends know, I am a huge fan of the Anki spaced repetition software. If you are not familiar with the idea of spaced repetition software, please check out the Wikipedia page. In addition to the basic software, I also sync my deck to the free web server, and occasionally review by using my cellphone.

I started using Anki less than a year ago. Previously, I had tried using other similar software but it was not mature enough for serious use (or didn't work with Linux). At the beginning of the summer of 2008 while on my internship at Amazon, I started learning all of the Japanese kanji through the Heisig method. Anki is a big help in learning by Heisig method; the spaced repetitions keep most of your time focused on new cards and troublesome cards. Since the Heisig method relies on creating imaginative stories to remember kanji, this had the effect of refining only those stories for kanji that are difficult to remember.

Through this (and a lot of hard work!) I got through Remembering the Kanji. Near the end, I was becoming so adapted to memorizing kanji that I was learning around 40-50 new kanji meanings per day. This made my daily load stable at around 300 cards per day, which typically took at least 2-3 hours to clear (plus time to add new cards, which was almost just as time intensive. If I weren't planning to study abroad starting in October, I could have slowed down this rate to a more comfortable 20 new cards per day or so. I was also slowed down in the last month by a new relationship, but that was a tradeoff that I understood and accepted up-front.

Coming next: what do you do once you have "learned" all of the kanji?

1 comment:

  1. I've been using Supermemo for a while. It's got some problems with Chinese, though. I also like the online option with Anki. So, I was considering trying it.

    But, I'm unclear about how you(the program?) determine how many cards you do. With Supermemo, you do a certain number every day. Exceptions can be made if you go on vacation, but otherwise, if I skip a day, I just have more to do the next day. From how many cards I have a day, I determine whether I want to add some vocabulary. Basically, if I'm doing badly, I will have too many review words, so I add new words less often.

    Do you simply decide for yourself how many cards you do each day with Anki?