A word about SRS

SRS stands for Spaced Repetition System. I know what it is and why it’s useful for learning languages, so I don’t see the need
to go on about it. This blog is all about me, remember? But for anyone who wants to know more, I’ll link the AllJapaneseAlltheTime (AJATT) website post on the subject: What is an SRS?

I started the SRS thing around 1st May, planning to enter about 50 sentences a day so that I could hit the magical 10,000 mark (or close to it) by the end of 2008. Some days have been rough (i.e. I have been lazy) and some days have been awesome, hitting the goal and more. Yesterday I had my personal best of 77 sentences in 8 hours, made up almost entirely of sentences ripped from Dragonball wikis. To paraphrase Khatzumoto of AJATT, just because it’s fun doesn’t mean you’re not learning. When it’s something you want to read badly enough, no Great Wall of Kanji can keep you away.

The SRS system I’m currently using is Khatzumemo. I like it’s because it’s simple, it’s online and the interface isn’t cluttered. I hate cluttered stuff, and these buttons and functions and whizzbangs and doodads. All I want is a place to keep my sentences and the chance to review them at the right time. Having said that, it has a major drawback in that you can’t input audio sentences…(or can you, I haven’t tried) or pictures into it. For that purpose I’ve installed Anki on my laptop, but I haven’t gotten round to testing it yet. Also Khatzumemo seems to limit reps to 100 a day, regardless of how many you have left undone in your backlog. It’s also a bit annoying when you have a delay between clicking on your mark and moving on the next sentence. I’d rather have the statistical information be optional so I can access it when/if I want to, instead of forcing me to look at it every single time.

A picture speaks a thousand words, so here’s a screenshot of the current state of my sentence collection. 907 sentences in 7 weeks isn’t half bad, eh? Click to enlarge.

How do I pick which sentences to add to my SRS? Anything goes, really. With over 9000 words left to go before I hit my goal, I’m not particularly picky about getting “just the right” sort of sentence. I don’t even think there’s any such thing as “just the right” sentence. My criteria is simple: it should be grammatical Japanese. It should be natural Japanese, or as natural-feeling as I can tell. The kanji should be correct. For preference it shouldn’t be too long, but super-long sentences are also part of Japanese writing so I include them on occasion. It helps if I find the subject matter interesting (witness all the DB sentences) so that I can stand to read them over and over again as I learn.

When I come across a word/phrase/expression I don’t know, I look it up in two dictionaries simultaneously. First the Sanseido Web Dictionary, which has definitions in fairly simple Japanese, and then in Jim Breen’s WWWDJIC, which is English-Japanese. I check with the English meanings just to make sure I’m not getting confused by the J-definition, and also because Sanseido occasionally has unhelpful entries like this:
げきど 1 [激怒]= 激しく怒ること.
It’s fine for me when I already know the meanings of the two separate kanji, but when I don’t it can get pretty annoying.

So that’s it for my SRS doings. In the mornings I do all my reps, and then I spend the rest of the day surfing the net for new entries to add while listening to music on the internet. My retention rate is 98.13%, 1927 reps done. I’m a bit Dragonballed-out today after yesterday’s marathon session, so I’m going to cut back on that today and spend the time going through Mainichi Daily’s game article archive. And that’s all for today!

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