It seems since the time I posted that I’d come back to the topic of sentence SRS in a week or so, about five weeks have passed. Things kept changing as I settled in, and found things that worked and things that didn’t work; more of the former.
I have two decks at present. One is the core2k deck, and the other is my main, long-term deck. The core2k deck is disposable and I think I will, in fact, dispose of it shortly. I’m very tired of the sentences. They are of course not sentences I picked, so they have no intrinsic interest to me as chunks of meaning (as opposed to exam questions); that’s one problem. Another (that, in fairness, I could solve with a ready finger on the delete key) is that even in this list of 2000 most common words, there are quite a few that will be mainly found in material that I have no interest in. The political terms take me a long time to remember and a short time to forget. Then, there’s also the extremely elementary grammar used. I can’t learn anything but vocabulary from these sentences, yet they take just as long to review as any other. Lastly, there’s the matter of the card format. I started by reading the kana sentence for each card, and writing the entire sentence with the kanji. Now, while this was effective in that I was learning kanji readings quickly, and my kana writing also benefited greatly (it needed it), it was pretty frustrating because it took a very long time. There’s something about that number of cards per unit time that makes a significant difference to one’s state of mind about SRS reviewing. Faster (within reason) is decidedly better. So then I switched to this:
The cloze deletion was the easiest way I could get close to what I wanted; namely, the vocabulary word in question in highlighted kana, with the kanji in the answer; my task being to know the word and write the kanji. The problem with this is as follows, where the orange line is approximately the path of my eye as I attempt to read the sentence:
It might not seem like a big deal but after a couple thousand reps it’s starting to make me severely annoyed with the deck. Enough to make me not want to start reviewing it. That isn’t right. I should be looking forward to it. For the time being I stopped adding new cards (I’m a bit over 600 cards in at the moment) to make the number of reviews per day a little more manageable, and those are down to around 40 now. This has enabled me to make better progress on my main deck and restart mining.
I don’t think deleting the deck is anything to worry about. Any words I need will come back to me in the course of normal sentence mining, and since I’ve studied them on smart.fm if I do happen not to have remembered them they’ll be relearned in a snap.
So my main deck is up to just under 500 sentences. Most of these are from the sentence patterns book I’ve linked to before; the rest are from Naoko Chino’s All About Particles, which is equally good. I also want to thoroughly go through Shoji’s Basic Connections and Chino’s Japanese Verbs At A Glance, as well as take quite a few from the japanesepod101 upper intermediate lessons that I’m listening to and enjoying all day at work now. The rest of the 10000 sentences will be taken from the wild.
Also, some of my later cards are monolingual. Getting to monolingual cards in less than 500 sentences caused me to be inordinately pleased with myself (feel free to mock me in the comments for this!). I have very few of these so far, but it’s quite clear that they cause you to think in Japanese far more than those with a translation at hand. Grammar point explanations, though, I have no hesitation in putting in English. It isn’t like I’ll be thinking of them whilst speaking anyway; they’re just for initial understanding.
Here’s one of the better samples from this deck:
While the ideal is to have only one knowledge item per card, I don’t see anything wrong with having a grammar point and a vocabulary word sharing a card. After all, every sentence has grammar. Here, the vocabulary word is highlighted in blue in the question, and the task is to write the kanji (as well as understand the whole sentence, naturally). As well, since this sentence has a specific grammar point that it’s meant to illustrate – it’s taken from the epic 13 pages of various uses of が – that part of the sentence is highlighted in red. The answer contains the sentence with the readings, and a Japanese definition of the vocabulary word. Incidentally, if I don’t remember the reading of a name, I don’t fail the card. I’ll worry about name readings later.
Briefly now, a couple of ideas for further sentence mining: firstly, I’d like to stop reviewing my RTK decks eventually, so in order to do this I’d like to go through the kanji in RTK order and find a couple of sentences for each one. Secondly, I would like to try getting an anime with transcripts, SRSing every part of the transcripts that gives me any trouble (or you could say, that I can learn from), and then watching the show. Also, of course, anything random that I happen to like from Twitter, blogs, and January’s tadoku.
So, it took a little while, but by now it feels as though I’m finding my groove with this game, and I look forward to much more.