10,000 Sentences is Dead. Let the MCD Revolution Begin!

This entry is part of 7 in the series MCD Revolution

In the summer of 2010, I innocently started experimenting with a new SRS technique.
Easy, effortless and effective, the technique rapidly ballooned in scope, creatively destroying all that came before it.
It worked. Devastatingly well.
On October 18, 2010, my sentence deck breathed its final breath, and the “10,000 Sentences” method literally died, a happy victim of the very process that had brought it about: experimentation and discovery.

All the while, only a select group of people even knew this was all happening.
Despite — or perhaps because of — their massive impact and the implications for the future of getting used to languages, the technique — MCDs — remained a closely guarded secret.
And time wore on…
“MCD”. An enigma. Wrapped in a conundrum. Wrapped in a mystery. Wrapped in a cryptic acronym. Wrapped in….I dunno…my bad writing.
Only people in AJATT Plus (and, later, SilverSpoon) were allowed to know the whole truth and enjoy the benefits of this amazing technique.
Until now.

Dude, WTF Are MCDs Anyway?

Language. In a word, “Massive-Context Cloze Deletions” or “Massive Context Cloze-Deletion Cards”.

So They All Have To Be Massive?

No, there is such a thing as miniMCDs or μMCDs (microMCDs).

Why Do You Keep Making Up New Acronyms?

To impress your mom? How do you expect me to even answer a question like that? Your mom and I love each other, okay? And that’s all there is to it. She deserves to be happy. She deserves to be with an acronymic man.

How Can You Do This To Us?! How Can We Ever Trust You Again? You Keep Effing Changing Methods!

Look. I know I’m young and thin and beautiful and handsome, okay? I know I have nice thighs and a perky butt, okay? I know I look like Michelangelo’s David, okay? Wait…pull back. But you know what? Even I’m not perfect. The so-called AJATT method not changing would mean that it was perfect when it came out. That simply isn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong. It’s an amazing method. But you know what? It can get even more amazing.

There is no AJATT “canon”, in my opinion. Or if there is, it’s an open canon.

To me, AJATT is more than a set of techniques, it’s a mindset, a meta-method. A method of methods. Method of methods in the sense that it’s the dog’s bollocks, but also method of methods in the sense that it’s an approach to method itself. The true “AJATT method”, the meta-method is: do what’s fun, do what works; answer to no one but the results.

The true “AJATT method”, the higher, deeper “AJATT method”, is not about being bound by tradition. Even your own tradition.

Do you think human history ended when fingers went to keyboard and the first five AJATT posts came out? Do you really think…oh my gosh, I just snorted ginger tea up my nose…where were we…ow…hot…yeah, no, but…I may have written the best word when it comes to getting used to languages 1, but I certainly didn’t write the last word.

Things change. Things evolve. Things get better. Things get faster. Things get easier.

Does This Mean That Ye Olde Sentence Method is Broken?

Well, was your cable connection “broken” when you switched to fiber optic?
Are mountain paths “broken” because stairs exist?
Are stairs “broken” because we have elevators?
No, you just moved on. You can still connect via cable; cable still works, but you use optical fiber now. ‘Coz it’s better. It’s faster.
That’s what’s happened here with MCDs.

How Can We Be Sure Whether This Shiz Works? I Need Guarantees!

Oh, please. Funnily enough, that’s exactly what people said about the so-called sentence method of AntiMoon. Indeed, it’s exactly what I thought: can it really be this easy?
I approached the whole sentences thing with intense skepticism. But I suspended my disbelief and just gave it a try.

I ran experiments.

That’s the scientific method (well, kinda), baby. We let the results speak for themselves. We let the results do the talking. Not authority. OK, “scientific” is a bit of a strong word to describe what we/I do. Probably the word we’re looking for is “empirical”. Be skeptical if you want, but don’t use skepticism as an excuse for stagnation and inaction. Be empirical 2. Be an empiricist about this.

So How Should I Go About Getting Into This MCD Thing?

Slow down, tiger. Chill, Winston. Whoa there, big boy. I only just got outta bed with your Mom. Relax. I’m gonna show and tell you how in a sec…

So Should I Delete All My Sentence Cards?

First of all, there is no “should” in AJATT (pedants, do me a favor here: don’t Google search “site: alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog should” and count the number of matches for the word “should” just to embarass me 😉 )

Mmmm…I mean, you could if you want.
But there’s no need to do anything that drastic right away unless you really want to.
I wouldn’t.
What I would do is:

  1. Make a new, separate, MCD-only deck
  2. Fill it with stuff I love (as you’re going to learn how to do in “MCD Revolution”)
  3. Use Surusu’s custom functions (e.g. “Spinoff Card”) to convert some of your favorite and/or most problematic sentence cards into MCD cards.

But that’s just me.

Ultimately, there’s no reason that both methods can’t co-exist.
It’s not an either/or thing. I mean, I find MCDs to be awesome and better, and so do most people who taste the fruit of the MCD tree. I eventually made a total switch to the MCD way. And my entire sentence deck went the way of the dinosaurs (back in October 2010), resulting in the literal death of 10,000 sentences — actually about 15,0000 sentence cards died that day — in name and in form. But you might be that chick who only gets turned on by being kissed on her elbow [insert Mom joke], and that’s okay.

It’s been a long time since I started using MCDs for getting used to Japanese. It was a whole summer’s experimenting (back in 2010), and I didn’t say goodbye to my sentence deck until that Fall. Elite groups of AJATTeers have been using it with great success since about the same time. It takes me time to transition, and it may take you time as well. Probably less time than me, because I already done blazed a trail for you and all. But still.

Why The Motherloving Heckshizzle Did It Take You So Long To Tell The World About MCDs?

You’ve waited this long to announce [MCDs] on PORAB [The Plain Ol’ Regular AJATT Blog — i.e. outside AJATT Plus and other premium services]? Meaning everyone has been continuing with sentence decks this whole time?! That’s heartless!
Brityan, AJATT Pluser

New ideas and techniques are a privilege of AJATT Plus members. They get to see new things first because they have proven themselves worthy.
When you’re an AJATT Pluser, a member of AJATT Plus, you get to be privy to previews, to see things early. You get the latest and greatest. And you get freebies up the wazoo.
AJATT Plus is all rainbows and gumdrops 😛 . It cures cancer, obesity and acne.
But fear not, there are rainbows and gumdrops outside AJATT Plus, too. It just sometimes takes them a year or two to make it out 😀 , that’s all.

Does This Mean All The Sentence Packs You Done Sold Us Are Now Crapola?

Not at all. Absolutely not. Not by any means. Sentence packs work perfectly well with MCDs, and I’ll show you exactly how to make them work…

What’s In It For Me? What Are MCDs Going To Do For Me? How Do I Benefit? Why Should I Bother?

Dude. There are way too many reasons to list here, but since you asked, and since you deserve to know, I’ma give you a little snippet from MCD 101: 101 Reasons Why You Should Switch to MCDs — Learn About the Secret Technique That Has Killed, Pwned and Destroyed Sentences (All 10,000 of Them).

  • MCDs teach good, adult reading skills — they teach you to use context but not become bogged down in it.
  • MCDs allow you to access more fun, interesting and varied content.
  • MCDs themselves are more fun, interesting and varied content.
  • MCDs free you from the shackles, the crushingly unnatural brevity of short, near-context-less sentences. You don’t have to learn boring, disconnected stuff just because you’re a beginner. You don’t have to keep things short for the sake of quick reps even though you’re advanced.
  • MCDs (ironically) also free you from the mental and physical burden of overly long sentence cards.
  • MCDs work for all levels of language game — beginner, intermediate or advanced. They are sufficiently challenging for advanced players, but (paradoxically enough) also forgiving of the incomplete knowledge of early-stage players = beginners = noobs, because you only have to get the hidden text right.
  • Because they give you a more powerful “workout” — deeper practice — MCDs build powerful predictive capabilities (“in this context, it’s most natural to say XYZ”), the sine qua non of fluency in a language. Lots of power going on here.
  • MCDs are low-stress and easy to do reps on, because there is only a single point of comparison/failure (that point may be repeated within a single card, but it’s the same point). MCDs turn a mountain of learning into a flight of stairs, or, with Surusu’s automated card generation…an elevator journey.
  • MCDs train both vocabulary and grammar, easily and virtually effortlessly — no need for you to make arbitrary — and perhaps even false — distinctions between the two any more.
  • Says Kalek, an AJATT Pluser: “my understanding of both written text and speech has gone through the roof since beginning MCDs.” | Massive-Context Cloze-Deletion Cards (MCDs) | AJATT Blog Posts | Forum | AJATT Plus j.mp/hkpQ34
  • MCDs are easy to make — especially in Surusu, where you can generate them automatically.
  • The MCD technique is unique to AJATT. While it was inspired by SuperMemo and Daniel Coyle’s Talent Code, there’s nothing quite like it anywhere else — be it SuperMemo, AntiMoon or even WikiPedia. In fact, the examples in those sources would make very bad (difficult, ineffective) MCDs.
  • MCDs are an embodiment of the AJATT principle of “engineered inevitably” — they enable you to memorize and internalize information speedily and effortlessly.
  • MCDs are topic- and language-agnostic. They’ll work for Japanese, Chinese, ophthalmology exams, European languages…and impressing your Mom.
  • Learning — which is to say, getting used to — a language used to be like climbing a mountain. With MCDs, it’s like taking a gentle flight of stairs. Everything becomes i+1, because we’re only ever handling one thing at a time.

What Has Other People’s Experience With MCDs Been?

Here’s just some of what AJATT Plusers and SilverSpooners have had to say about MCDs:

  • ダンちゃん (Danchan): “SRS can be about engagement with the language, immersion if you will, rather than a break from it. It’s Krashen’s basic principle enhanced by the steroids of SRS.” [Emphasis added]  | The Death of 10,000 Sentences | AJATT Blog Posts | Forum | AJATT Plus j.mp/y5Oyzo
  • sargon: “MCDs have exposed a weakness with particles that I didn’t know I had.  Doing normal sentence cards, I had been glossing over them and guessing the meaning, but with MCDs now I’m actually learning them. ナイス!” | SilverSpoon BigBoi Day 37 of 495 | AJATT SilverSpoon j.mp/wrk1Fr
  • ダンちゃん (Danchan): “OK, so I’ve given MCD’s a try, and I have to say I really like them. The way the greater context combines with the cloze deletions seems to be a great way for me to dramatically improve my output in a relatively short time (especially written, I think).”  | Massive-Context Cloze-Deletion Cards (MCDs) | AJATT Blog Posts | Forum | AJATT Plus http://j.mp/hkpQ34
  • Amelia F: “I like the idea of “closing in” on a point you want to learn.”  | How to Pwn Grammatically Complex European Languages Using MCDs | AJATT Plus j.mp/eSpznE
  • /David/CurryIsYummy: “I can see [MCDs] ending people’s problems with all kinds of prepositions/post-positions in all languages. When you think about it, that’s exactly what people who are even really good at languages, have the most trouble with. Most of my Japanese friends, they can use the right words almost all the time, but seem to always mess up things like “for”, “to”, “from”, “of”, “the”, “a”, etc. In Japanese we can, quite easily be rid of the issue of when to use は and が.” [Emphasis added] | How to Pwn Grammatically Complex European Languages Using MCDs | AJATT Plus j.mp/eSpznE
  • nacest: “For some reason[,] I never tried using cloze deletion[s] before I started testing…MCDs. Now I’m all over it. Thanks, Khatz :) ” | Aren’t cloze deletions great? | SRS | Forum | AJATT Plus j.mp/s3OVYw
  • Dani: “Takes better advantage of SRS by only testing me on one thing at a time.” | Dani’s Japanese Resources j.mp/yQPZw3
  • Dani: “The ability to add sentences based purely on interest rather than having to turn away otherwise good sources because they are “too difficult” | Dani’s Japanese Resources http://j.mp/yQPZw3
  • 安藤 (Ando): “I’m knowing which particles to use without even knowing why and it’s freaking me out.”  | Massive-Context Cloze-Deletion Cards (MCDs) | AJATT Blog Posts | Forum | AJATT Plus http://j.mp/hkpQ34

Waitaminute! You Dirty, Brown, Effing Capitalist One Percenter Weasel! Isn’t This Just A SuperMemo Thing? Isn’t This Just Fill-In-The-Blanks?

Actually, no. While the idea was inspired in part by SM (SuperMemo — overlapping cloze deletions) 3, MCDs differ in significant ways from any other example of cloze deletions I have ever seen, be it by Dr. Wozniak (SM), Coyle, Ishii or even WikiPedia’s discussion of cloze deletions and their history. Every other example of cloze deletions I have seen, online or off, would make for a bad MCD, SRS boredom and significantly impaired “learning outcomes” (OMG, I love talking educationese; it’s like wiping your derrière with silk; I mean, I’ve never actually wiped my derrière with silk, but I can only imagine…mmmm).

In short, MCDs are a game-changer; MCDs are an evolution. They didn’t spring from nowhere, and they share “DNA” with other methods just like humans share DNA with chimpanzees. But ultimately, MCDs are fundamentally, qualitatively, quantitatively different from everything that has preceded them. That’s kinda why they have their own name. And kinda why they were incubated for so long. And kinda why a relatively big deal is being made about them. Because they are a big, new deal.

Hit Me With Your Knowledge Stick! I Want To Learn More About MCDs!

Your Mom wants to learn more about my knowledge stick. OK, stop. Stop. Enough. Um…Sure. Whatever. If you want more detail (that you can’t even find on AJATT Plus, actually), you’re welcome to join the revolution: you can Pre-Order the MCD Revolution Kit, which includes:

  • MCD 101: 101 Reasons Why You Should Switch to MCDs: Learn About the Secret Technique That Has Killed, Pwned and Destroyed Sentences (All 10,000 of Them)
    • + free lifetime access to updates and extensions
  • MCD 102: Real MCD Examples From The Very Decks of Khatzumoto
    • + free lifetime access to updates and extensions
  • MCD 150: 50 Tips and Pointers To Help You Get The Most Out of MCDs
    • + free lifetime access to updates and extensions
  • MCD 120: 20 Common Noob Questions And Answers About MCDs
  • MCD 200: Beyond Japanese — Using MCDs for Other Languages and Topics
  • 1 Free copy of ARES-3: The Science-Fiction Sentence Pack
    • Because sentence packs are not dead. They’re just being reborn into a new world of MCD awesomeness.
    • + free lifetime access to updates and extensions
  • 1 Free month of AJATT Plus — premium multimedia AJATT content combined with access to the AJATT+ Forum: The Most Intelligent, Civilized and Trolless Forum in the Multiverse (for free!)
    • For your convenience, your AJATT Plus membership will automatically renew after the free period, so you can keep getting awesome premium content, freebies and forum goodness.
    • However, should you prefer, you can also easily cancel your membership at any time, online, 24 hours a day.
    • Even if you were to cancel, you can still continue to enjoy your free month!
  • 1 Free smile…at your Mom. No, but, seriously: she has needs.
    • Smile needs.

There are only 100 pre-order slots available. Each comes with a 20% pre-order discount. The hard pre-order deadline is March 7. Pre-order ends at the deadline or when copies run out, whichever comes first. So, I doubt we’ll make it to March 7, kids. After March 7, you can just order the kit all regular like 😀

What are you waiting for, son? 4 Join the revolution!

Pre-Order Now

>>Get Yours Now<<


But I’m Not Playing With Japanese or Chinese! What About European Languages and Stuff?

I’ve already got you covered, homeslice 😀 . What, you didn’t think I was going to leave you hanging and not give you the hook-up, did you? I brings the hook-ups. 5 In terms of examples, the MCD Revolution Kit covers English, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swahili, your Mom...it’s all in there.

Fo’ Shizzle Refund Guarantee

Hey. I’m only almost-perfect. Let’s say you get this kit, but due to an incredibly unlikely confluence of incredibly unlikely probabilities and circumstances, a literal Green Swan Event, you don’t like it? Just ask me for a full refund. And you’ll get a full refund. And I’ll even let you keep the kit 😀 . ‘Coz I rocks like that. All you need do is send an email to refund at ajatt dot com with the subject line: “I love you. You’re so good-looking. The MCD Revolution Kit and I just need some space right now. I promise I’ll be back.” Easy, breezy, fo’ sheezy…shizzle.

Series Navigation

Notes:

  1. I say this in all seriousness…I don’t think I have the best ideas, but the ideas on this website are easily among the best you will find written down. Many folk have great ideas, I would even venture that most people in the world have way better ideas than me — I spend most of my time thinking of your Mom — but few bother to try them out, and of those that try them out, fewer still bother to record, collect and share their ideas and results. AJATT is not the best that could be, but it is the best that is, the best you could find. Is Steve Pavlina the wisest man alive? No, but his is certainly the best PD writing you’re going to find online, period.
  2. That…doesn’t sound like good English 😛
  3. (as well as learning examples found in Daniel Coyle’s Talent Code, ISHII Takashi’s One-Minute Learning Method and even the wooden dummies used for Wing Chun training as depicted in Donnie Yen’s Ip Man)
  4. Certainly not your Mom, coz she’s totally not coming home tonight…what with “traffic” being what it is and all…Yeah. “Traffic”. With airquotes.
  5. that sounds “street”, right?

  63 comments for “10,000 Sentences is Dead. Let the MCD Revolution Begin!

  1. 695DayMonk
    February 29, 2012 at 15:33

    I’ve been an AJATT Plus member since basically the beginning but I’ve never really tried/fully understand what MCDs are about, so I grabbed this. What? It’s 20% off! I mean I’ve read all the stuff about them but quickly and without paying much attention to examples. $20 will now motivate me to investimagate more further.

  2. ライトニング
    February 29, 2012 at 17:05

    I’m just gonna stick with sentences. Why? Well, there is nothing wrong with them, and they obviously work 100% Khatzumoto used sentences for japanese, antimooners used them for English, so nothing is wrong. MCDs may be better, but right now I don’t think the transition is really worth it. Also considering the fact I have nearly no free spending money for myself, cuz I spent it all on books. 🙂
    Also, sentences have worked great for me over the past 3000 something I’ve done so far. No need for me to fix something that’s not broken, but that’s just my opinion.

    • February 29, 2012 at 20:09

      You could do both. It’s what the Magical Girl Kana does. I find that the cloze deletion method works well when you really just want to focus on that one thing that seems easy to forget, but that doesn’t describe every sentence I want to add.
      But what I really meant to say is that experimenting is good.

      • ライトニング
        February 29, 2012 at 22:57

        True. While it may help get the understanding of those minor things in a sentence rather than just the big picture, I think that over time it will eventually even itself out. I believe the immersion environment will also help it out. I mean, I don’t need to know those meanings now, I have all the time in the world 🙂

  3. Man-san
    February 29, 2012 at 17:25

    You explained why MCDs are better than sentences but you forgot to explain how to use them actually.

  4. joe
    February 29, 2012 at 18:23

    Hey Khatz, the fact that this is a monthly subscription makes me unable to pay with debit card. I would have to link Paypal to my bank account which I’m unwilling to do. If it was a one-time payment I would buy this. Or if you used a payment processor that didn’t have all the stupid restrictions Paypal does.

  5. ダンちゃん
    February 29, 2012 at 18:25

    Hehe, kind of funny seeing my praise of MCDs given that I don’t actually use them any more! Still, I wouldn’t disown the positive things I said in the above quotes.
    After trying out MCDs I went back to vanilla style sentences, but let me explain my reasons.
    Firstly, I can read Japanese just fine these days (thanks Khatz!). If there is perchance a word I do not know, I can guess quite easy from context.
    Secondly, I barely ever, ever read Japanese online. I love me old fashioned books, so shoot me. ^^
    It seems to me that MCDs are possibly a very good way to break into an intimidating sino-Character language and build yourself up to an advanced level. They allow you to dive into some text that you are not even capable of reading yet and allow you to just focus on the little things. I must say I am tempted to try it out with Chinese actually and compare how it feels to using a reading system like Lingq.com or learning with text.
    That said, in order to make MCDs you need to be reading stuff online and most of my reading is of the old fashion bookish variety. When I find a word I don’t know I slap it into yahoo 知恵袋 and then store it in read-it-later until I get around to inputting in into the SRS. The pre-made yahoo sentences are good enough for helping me remember a new word.

    • fangsryoga
      March 1, 2012 at 07:57

      Dan Chan said:
      “That said, in order to make MCDs you need to be reading stuff online and most of my reading is of the old fashion bookish variety. When I find a word I don’t know I slap it into yahoo 知恵袋 and then store it in read-it-later until I get around to inputting in into the SRS.”

      While it may be true that digitized content may not always be available for reading in the tangible world, I have to disagree with you on the point you make above. MCD’s a don’t have to be created exclusively from online material, rather they must be created from a digitized source. At the moment I am reading some drama scripts and txt file books I printed from baidu.com (受験の神様, Harry Potter, and the Metamorphosis, strange combo I know). While reading, I circle any kanji, compounds, readings, and grammar points I am unfamiliar with and just… keep reading. Later, when I’m ready to add some cards, I can refer to the digital word copies I have in my computer and create MCDs of the same points that popped up. If you really want to MCD a hard-copy book there are some well-known Japanese companies that will send you surprisingly precise OCRed(optical character recognition) versions of the text you want to read. So, yeah, no digital barrier, if you don’t want it to be there. Note: they do kind of have to destroy the hard copy of the book you want, but hey, if you really want to read a book you can always buy too copies of  it

      I also used Lingq.com for a while and I have to say, I don’t find it to be too much better than the Rikaisama add-on for firefox. Sure, you are reminded of words that are giving you a hard time, but you are forced to click a few too many times to look up definitions monodic style. I prefer rikaisama simply because of the J-EPWING functionality. I mean you’re learning Japanese using Japanese only! What  more could you want.
       
      As for MCDs vs Sentence Cards. I do think there are certain times on the road to fluency when you should use one method over the other.
       

      For example, a Beginner would probably benefit most from using the some combination of MicroMCDs and Sentence cards to build up a foundation for mondic-ing later(but if you think about it even a little, you begin to notice a Sentence Card ,as defined on AJATT, is actually just a MicroMCD really) 
      Someone at the Intermediate level like myself (is 8,000 cards intermediate?) can get the gist of pretty much any text but is driven crazy by the gaps in their knowledge of the readings for these frequently recurring words. So, I would benefit more from making cards that emphasize recall of the kanji and readings in compounds (i.e. chunking from interesting content using Micro to Massive MCDs)
      Someone at the Super-Advanced level in their target language, like you Mr. I-write-dissertations-in-Japanese-at-one-of-the-premiere-graduate-institutions-in-japan-and-with-little-or-no-help. ;D would probably find reading most text pretty easy, and therefore, would rather refine certain little quirks in their Japanese and really make it shine and sound natural. I’m guessing in your case you would benefit more from taking sentences from an academic translation manual like the kind used at the monterrey school of translation – you know that really high level stuff – and to a certain extent some MCDs.

      p.s. sorry for pointing out your amazing Japanese credentials. If it makes you feel any better I admit I also graduated from an elite – supposedly ranked #1 by Forbes and U.S. News –  undergrad institution in the U.S. located somewhere in Williamstown, Massachusetts. =P

       

      • ダンちゃん
        March 1, 2012 at 12:09

        I think I might get in trouble if I started sending the university’s books to the shredder for digitizing, but I get your point. ^^

        Regarding lingq, it has been many years since I used Rikaichan, but I quite like how Lingq stores the words you know in a personal database allowing you to tailor your hints and track progress. Once I am capable of reading books without much difficulty I can leave the system and just use Anki to clean up the rest of the vocabulary. All this MCD hallaballoo is making me consider giving german MCDs a go though.

        As for the ‘amazing Japanese credentials’, I do like blowing my own horn, but unfortunately I do still need to have people check my papers for grammatical and stylistic errors. ^^

        • fangsryoga
          March 1, 2012 at 14:10

          Sorry if my previous post seemed a little too scrutinizing. Perhaps I was overly inspired by the previous post telling us not to turn into “pee-drinking frenchman”. Frankly, it’s a miracle if I can get my hands on some good ol’ stagnating pee down here in south texas. 

          I see where you’re coming from. It must be so intoxicating having all those paper books in Japanese at the library. Why drink pee when you’re drowning in an oasis of ambrosia, right?  If I had several stories of Japanese books(no pun intended) waiting for me to dive into I too would probably never touch an ebook again.

          Yeah, a lot has changed with rikaichan, now rikaisama,  over the years. You should check it out if you haven’t already. Not that you need it at this point  rikaisama.sourceforge.net/ You know, just so you can stay on the technological frontier, unlike my previous Japanese school professors, who didn’t even know rikaichan existed when I mentioned it to them.

          I must admit, for anything besides Chinese and Japanese Lingq is pretty much the only viable resource for online readers. My mom just wouldn’t believe me when I told her that learning a language didn’t have to involve ‘studying’ and could actually be fun, but now she’s stuck to her seat reading those funny beginner lessons and actually learning English after all these years thanks to lingq. 😀

          I’m curious as to what the format for you German MCDs might look like. If you don’t mind my asking, I was hoping you might tell us what you think would work best. I’m a native speaker of Spanish with gaping holes in my grammer, so I’ve been considering MCDing Spanish grammar cards and word pairs, but the MCD plug-in for Anki doesn’t really work with small bits of characters, in particular, for particles.

          For example if you MCD the particle ‘el’ in the sentence.  

          ‘El elefante es elegante’

          I would get the following MCD card in Anki ‘[..] [..]fante es  [..]gante”
          where all I wanted was 
          ‘ [..] elefante es elegante’  
          Perhaps I’m using it wrong? 

          Street-cred is street-cred, yo. It’s really humbling, eye-opening, and quite an honor having such experienced J-speakers commenting on these threads along with us beginners. Thanks for all your input; your making the internets a better place.

          • ダンちゃん
            March 1, 2012 at 23:02

            Not at all. I might be experienced with one foreign language, but there are many people around who can claim to have a lot more expertise than that.

            ” I must admit, for anything besides Chinese and Japanese Lingq is pretty much the only viable resource for online readers.”

            Interesting, So you wouldn’t recommend Lingq as a resource for Chinese? I know I could jump right into text with MCDs, but lingq provides sound files that I can listen to to build by listening skills at the same time. Finding/buying graded audio-books that I then MCD would be really time consuming methinks.

            As for German MCDs I have not made any yet, but I guess I would cloze grammar particles as well as making vocabulary cards for the trickier words in a Lingq reading.
             

            • fangsryoga
              March 2, 2012 at 06:14

              Ahh! It’s hard to imagine there are people even better than you! 

              Perapera Chinese is pretty neat, too. It just doesn’t have any Epwing functionality, so I guess Lingq does win that one. My bad.

              Text to Speech and OCR combos, pens in particular, have become quite impressive recently. I bought a couple of Chinese books and a nice pen scanner during my visit to China last year. It’s really nifty; I can scan a line from a book and the included TTS voice reads it aloud for me instantly. It’s the next best thing to having a chinese person read the book for me. I also find I save time practicing listening/pronuncation as I can listen to a specific line without having to scroll as you do with an audiobook or an mp3.  But of course you have to listen to a TTS voice instead of a real voice. My native Chinese friend says it sounds 99% accurate so I guess it’s good enough?

              As for my digitized library I just run those through Textaloud and have it batch export out the audio by chapter. Later, if I really like the book I can export the entire text and split it into 3.5 minute snippets using mp3splitter and add these to my immersion playlist batch file. It takes very little time really.

               

      • ナカツ
        March 1, 2012 at 19:46

        Finding digital versions of books on baidu… How do you do that? I just tried to find Harry Potter, but I haven’t got a clue what search terms to use (other than the title, obviously). Any tips?

        • fangsryoga
          March 2, 2012 at 04:51

          wenku.baidu.com didn’t work. It seems the link I used last time was taken down. Just a minor set back. Google should work but take a bit longer.

          If you already have a hard copy of the book in Japanese
          Probably the easiest way to find a text is googling some random text from the middle of the book. If you are going to use quotations, don’t make the text too long or too you might have an error in there somewhere, but don’t make it so short that you will get too many results. If using quotations doesn’t work get rid of them, as a single work may have multiple translations even in one language sometimes.

          Things will be harder If you want to find the book and have 0 leads, but by no means impossible(you know for when you lent your J-book to a friend…). No worries though, with a series of books as popular as HP there is always a copy online somewhere.  Generally the keys to finding a text online is knowing how to do a anadvanced search, doing some guesswork(big emphasis here), and persistence. A general rule of thumb when searching for a book is it gets easier to find it the more text from the actual book you include in the search bar. So your main aim should NOT be to find the book in its totality from the get go, but instead to find a portion of the book or quotes or what not and search for those in google using an advanced search.

          Here’s what I did to find HP 1 with 0 leads.  

          Use Wikipedia to find the translation for the name of the book you want. 
          Use a dictionary to find a key word(s). In this case the keywords are table of contents.
          Do a google search for these 

          “ハリー・ポッターと賢者の石” “目次” translates to “harry potter” “table of contents” (include quotes in search)

          The first link on the search results should be 
          www.yk.rim.or.jp/~guessac/harrypotter/vol1/contents.htm

          this page contains the chapter titles in Japanese”the boy who lived”=”生き残った男の子” perhaps our first good lead?
           

          Replace the keyword with the new lead “ハリー・ポッターと賢者の石” “生き残った男の子”  And sure enough the first search result is an awesome link that takes you to a parallel translation of some excerpts of HP1

          blogs.yahoo.co.jp/willmollywilly/folder/674482.html?m=lc&p=1
           
          google one of the bigger sentences and nothing else. Experiment with and without quotes

          ダーズリー夫妻には、ダドリーと呼ぶ男の子が居ましたが、『どこを探したってこんなに出来の良い子は居やしない』というのが、夫婦二人揃っての意見でした。

          The search results are just fantastic!

          The third link takes you to a full parallel translation of the entire HP3 for some reason(lol I wasn’t even looking for this!), perhaps a good resource for sentence method cards. 

          blogs.yahoo.co.jp/willmollywilly/archive/2012/1/1

          The 4th link takes you to the full unabridged HP1 text

          www.scribd.com/doc/52180320/1/CHAPTER-ONE-The-Boy-Who-Lived

          Now just save it as an HTML file and rikaichan away to your hearts content!

          Hope this helps

          • ナカツ
            March 3, 2012 at 11:39

            Damn, and I thought I was good at using search engines…
             
            Awesome, thanks! 😀

      • L
        March 1, 2012 at 23:04

        LOL dude..you sound bitter and self righteous at the same time.  Relax!

  6. fangsryoga
    February 29, 2012 at 18:54

    Once again, the article 20 Rules of Formulating Knowledge, written by piotr wozniak aka the creator of srs, is gold, specifically, the part on avoiding enumerations is can provides cloze deletion/MCDs with amazing flexibility.
    www.supermemo.com/articles/20rules.htm

  7. アミール
    February 29, 2012 at 22:47

    Being a beginner still, I’m going to hope I got the idea right for these MCDs(I’m still going to try the 10,000 sentences since I just found out about it yesterday.)
    Would a good example of an MCD be as following:
    Front// 図書館「location」本を読みます
    Back// 図書館「で」本をよみます
    or maybe:
    Front// 火曜日にクラスが「existence,past」。
    Back// 火曜日にクラスが「ありました」。 
     
     

    • Matt Bonder
      March 1, 2012 at 00:27

      You see, one of the biggest benefits of MCDs is that is forces you to use context to figure out the black. This will help a a lot once yous tart outputting. if you just put the meaning of the word in the blank, you dont get the inferring practice. Another thing is, a lot of times you will have multiple cards for one word. this makes it so that each card is very easy, plus you get more repetition for each word, resulting in memorization with little or no effort.
      For example:
      Front: 図書館#####本を読みます
      Back: で; 図書館「で」本をよみます
       
      Front: 火曜日にクラスが#####ました。 
      Back: あり; 火曜日にクラスが「ありました」。
       
      Front: 火曜日にクラスがありま#####。 
      Back: した; 火曜日にクラスが「ありました」。

    • Matt Bonder
      March 1, 2012 at 00:32

      Oh yea and I forgot to add, if its a single sentence like 火曜日にクラスが「ありました」, you probably wouldn’t be able to guess the した. this is why usually you want to have a lot of context of the front of the card. But if you are still making bi-lingual cards, you should go like this:
      Front: 火曜日にクラスがありま#####。 On Tuesday I had class.
      Back: した; 火曜日にクラスが「ありました」。
      In this case, the English translation takes the place of the context, so you have enough to guess the word.

  8. 熱狂
    February 29, 2012 at 23:12

    I’m sorry but, by chance could you show some examples of MCDs? Please?

  9. J
    March 1, 2012 at 03:17

    $19.94 USD for the first month
    Then $0.01 USD for the next month
    Then $19.95 USD for each month
    Whats the Recurring for? If you liked AJATT+?

    • J
      March 1, 2012 at 09:57

      Oh it actually says that.. derp

  10. ケネス
    March 1, 2012 at 07:38

    This is going to be interesting!!
    I think everyone should calm down and let Khatz out.
    I can respect anyone who tries to help others out.
    So MCD’s are like a beta project. I understand that.
    Someday most of you will be thankful for learning to ADAPT to the various and effective ways of his teachings!!

  11. 完璧悪魔
    March 1, 2012 at 11:50

    aww.. 🙁 I was reading through all the benefits of MCD and how wonderful it was..then my hopes of being schooled by the khatz were shattered by marketing..Honestly though, this seems pretty promising. However i would have been happy to buy it if you gave some instruction like you did with sentences. Sentence tutorial, a few free starter sentence packs, and in addition, the sentence packs via ajatt+ and the My First Sentence Pack to top it off. At least then i’d have a taste of what it is i’m purchasing. 

  12. Kimura
    March 1, 2012 at 11:58

    “There is no canon.” Have you been reading the SCP Foundation wiki?

  13. JustinB
    March 1, 2012 at 12:56

    Personally, I’ve been using MCD’s to learn Spanish for several weeks now. I’m still a newbie at the language, but I’ve definitely made formidable progress. While a few weeks certainly doesn’t give me a lot of credibility on the topic of the effectiveness of MCD’s, I can definitely say I’ve gained quite a bit from them. Perhaps my biggest and most recent testimony is my ability to determine when to use para or por in Spanish. Although this is a basic concept in Spanish, it’s frequently the little things that trip us up the most. I’ve add many MCD’s (which right now are really bilingual, micro-MCD’s containing 1-2 sentences on average) that have either por/para in them and I cloze delete every instance of them. Already, I have sort of this “feel” for when to use either por or para. Now, I couldn’t tell you why I’m using por in one case and not para or vice versa, I just know that it feels right. This, for me, is revolutionary and provides me with a truck ton of motivation to add more MCD’s for other grammar items. I also feel that my vocab recall is excellent as well, as I cloze delete the living hell out of those too!

    At one point, I tried to go back to the vanilla 10,000 sentences for comparisons sake and I ditched that idea literally within 5 minutes. After about the 4th card I was already bored and did not care to see the next sentence card! If anything, MCD’s are truly revolutionary because they are engaging. MCD’s make me want to read more native materials in Spanish to find more sentences and grammar items to own. I never got that feeling with the vanillla sentences method, it was always a “meh, maybe later” feeling. So I definitely recommend everyone to try MCD’s for at least 2 weeks to see if it fits their learning style, if not, the vanilla 10,000 sentences is a proven, award-winning (:p) method to fall back on.

    • March 1, 2012 at 21:10

      “MCD’s are truly revolutionary because they are engaging. MCD’s make me want to read more native materials in Spanish to find more sentences and grammar items to own.”

      That’s what LWT does: reading interesting material, saving words and expression, and creating automatically MCD’s: lwt.sf.net 

  14. Shadow8820
    March 1, 2012 at 15:25

    So I have a question. Should I attempt to use MCDs before or after going through Heisig?

    • March 1, 2012 at 19:13

      Khatz recommends doing Heisig before anything else, but that means you have to wait 3-6 months to do any sentences. I ended up starting sentences before I finished and I don’t think it hurt me in any way. I say if you want to start sentences before you’re finished, go for it.

      • Freddie Gibs
        March 2, 2012 at 02:43

        Agreed!

    • Kimura
      March 2, 2012 at 05:41

      If you want a decent-sized “starter” sentence deck, look for “Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese Grammar” in Anki shared decks. Yes, it’s focused on grammar, so what. What’s important is that the sentences build on each other (like what you’d get out of a textbook), they’re in MCD format (which I never realized until I saw this blog post), you’ll learn a fair amount of vocab as well, and the sentences are fully kanji-inated with readings in the answer part (including some Japanese names in kanji, interestingly enough). If you’re following along with both AJATT and Japanese Level Up, the deck will get you more than halfway to the “1000 J-E sentences” goal too (it’s 785 cards in all, which is pretty good).
       
      In fact, I’ve noticed that doing the Tae Kim deck simultaniously with Heisig does help to reinforce a fair amount of kanji. Now, it’s not a good idea to binge on both of them; I’ve found 25 kanji and 25 sentences a day, plus due review cards, is a nice pace, but whatever you feel is reasonable. Just don’t overdo it. Seriously. Last week I started doing the Lazy Kanji Mod deck and tried to Sonic Lightspeed Dash my way through the first few hundred (since I was previously up to ~600 in the Japanese Level Up RTK deck), then I was 病気になる for a week (still kind of am), and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE RUSHED-THROUGH CARDS IS NOW DUE. What in the Nether was I thinking… (To be honest, I didn’t see the cold coming, but still.)

      • Kimura
        March 2, 2012 at 05:46

        Forgot to mention: Even though the sentence deck is based on the grammar guide of the same name, it can in fact be used by itself (I’ve been doing just that since about halfway through it…) If you get stuck trying to figure out “freaking sentences, how do they work?”, it can help to have the guide open in another window, but the note at the bottom of each answer also mentions what grammar type is being used, which is usually enough to get it.

  15. kalek
    March 1, 2012 at 15:50

    Do I get it for free since I was quoted in the post? :B

  16. アメド
    March 2, 2012 at 07:12

    I’ll try using MCD’s from now on. It actually does make sense when you think about it. It helps with context,vocabulary,grammar,syntax,speaking,reading and it’s easy to collect and add to your srs of choice(Anki for me).  I’ll try it out for 3 months and see what the results are. One thing people should note is: experimenting is a good thing and you lead to better methods and Japanese Skill. It’s a win win situation. 
     
    P.S. 2.5 years of learning Japanese so far and I am no longer worrying about fluency.

  17. Valerie
    March 2, 2012 at 08:24

    I’ve tried using MCDs before, and they seem great, but there’s one thing I feel like I just don’t get: the “massive” part of the acronym.
    Am I supposed to read the entire card every time it comes up? If it’s like a paragraph-long one. I feel like the fact that it’s so long makes me feel…bogged down, and I don’t want to do it.
    Also, how do you prevent yourself from “cheating” the system, or…is it okay to cheat? Like, when there’s a really difficult particle somewhere near the end of the paragraph, but the answer keeps getting spoiled because that same particle appears in a really easy-to-understand spot earlier in the paragraph….I can’t help but just look at it and then know that that’s the answer.

    • 名前
      March 2, 2012 at 10:33

      Read what’s necessary to discover what is in the closed text.
      Read more if you want to; if you don’t want to, then don’t bother.
      As for the particle issue, just pay attention to how it is used in each close. If you feel you aren’t getting the benefit since there are too many easier particles spoiling it for you, look for another instance of how that more difficult grammar point is used and add that as well.

    • ブライアン
      March 2, 2012 at 12:28

      The idea is that the massive amount of context clarifies what’s in the blank.  It’s not always necessary to read it, but it’s there to remind you of the context of the sentence if you need it.  (The classic example: “私「・・・」スミスです” has two valid answers depending on context.)
       
      As for “cheating”; go ahead, as long as you read that particular sentence and know the context, you’ll *get used* to that particle being there.  To put it simply, it’s very fancy reading practice; the cloze deletion just forces you to acknowledge the particle being there rather than skimming past it.

  18. March 3, 2012 at 21:07

    Hi is This is a monthly payment or a one off. I don’t want to be paying monthly for a service. Is it possible to just buy the item but not with the AJALT pro subscription?

    • 名前
      March 4, 2012 at 03:24

      If you don’t want the subscription to AJATT+, simply cancel the recurring payment option in paypal. You’ll still get your first month of AJATT+ free, but you won’t pay anything other than the initial amount.

      • March 5, 2012 at 00:39

        Ok I’m just wondering what exactly it is that i would be paying for and What level Japanese should i have before using this. Also do I have to pre order it?

        • 名前
          March 5, 2012 at 02:57

          I’m not khatz, and I didn’t buy this — I’ve bought other AJATT products, including AJATT+ before though — so I’ll just answer to the best of my ability.
          You’ll get access to several examples of MCDs and guidelines on how to use them well. You’ll get access to the ARES-3 science fiction pack, which has some good example sentences in it; some would work well even if you aren’t into SF at all. You’ll also get one month free of AJATT+. AJATT+ includes several articles not available on PORAB (this site) as well as access to a forum where you can ask for advice or encouragement / help out other /get ideas from/communicate with other  AJATT+ members and even khatz himself. Lastly, you’ll get a smile for your mom.
          You’ll get lifetime access to all of these except for AJATT+…. and the smile to your mom. They’ll be added to your AJATT library and stay there for the life of the website. To access it, simply navigate to it and login.
          Again, if you don’t want to keep paying, simply cancel the recurring payment schedule in paypal.
          As for what level you have to be to get the most out of it: any level really, it might be nice if you are starting sentences, but it certainly isn’t required.
          Do you have to pre-order? I’m not really sure. But if you look at other things like silver spoon, if you’re planning on purchasing it, it would be in your best financial interest to pre-order it.

  19. Jordan Johnson
    March 6, 2012 at 12:23

    I have a questions I just started sentences today and I just found out about MCD and I am not sure how the work? Since I am a beginner Should i say with sentences for a while or start fresh with MCD and can someone give me some easier examples I am still very confused. Thanks in advance.

  20. EverAlert
    March 6, 2012 at 16:27

    I’m pretty sold on this technique, but I get the impression that it would be rather overwhelming to the newbie. For someone just finishing up RTK1 and ready to move into sentences, what would be the recommended course of action? Pure MCD, perhaps starting with the micro variety? Sentences then MCD? A mix of both from the start? I can see MCDs being incredible once you go monolingual, but anything leading up to that seems difficult to come up with a gameplan for me.
    Also, how would you score yourself on MCDs? Unlike sentences (which have an easy clear checklist of things for a perfect score) it doesn’t seem all that straightforward. Would it be based on speed of recognition? Recognition of a number of properties of the word (reading, function/meanings, etc.)? Recognition of the word combined with the ability to read the whole card? Does the ability to speak it aloud factor into the score like sentences, or should I entrust the development of that entirely to language exchange services/strategies? Just some things I’m wondering.
    My best guess at a beginner’s approach would be to use sentences as usual, and at the same time use MicroMCDs to reinforce vocabulary and specific grammar points, then just go straight MCD when you decide to go monolingual. However I am very interested to hear what other people have done in the same situation and to what degrees of success.

    • 名前
      March 7, 2012 at 01:01

      When I first started with sentences I was pretty overwhelmed and missed most of the readings for the kanji since I literally didn’t know any words before this point. I tried vanilla sentences and was getting discouraged because of how often I would fail them during reviews. I then gave MicroMCDs a try and the amount of cards I failed went down dramatically. What I did for my JE sentences was: Japanese and English on the front, and close out one part of the Japanese sentence (word, particle, kanji) and then grade myself based solely on whether or not I could, and at what difficulty I could, produce what was in the clozed text and if I knew its reading. Since they’re just one sentence per card, I would always read the whole sentence, but even if I didn’t understand parts of it not in the cloze, I still wouldn’t score myself based on that.
      As for being able to speak it, I don’t factor that in my grading, but I often read out my cards if I have a desire to, but honestly I think that my immersion environment has done more for making my speaking sound better than actively working to improve it. (I’m not too far along, so it still isn’t great)

  21. Santayana
    March 8, 2012 at 17:46

    Hi,
     
    I’m the handsome Santayana, the man who gave rise, a long time ago, to the celebrated post by Khatzumoto titled “How to Be a Capablanca,” or something like that. By the way, I would love to insert a reply to that post sometime. I think I probably have some interesting things to say on that topic.
     
    At any rate, I’m not a learner of Japanese, the only foreign language I study being English. Yes, I only dabble in English as a Second Language, Since I employ exclusively Krashen-influenced learning strategies, I’ve been following AJATT rather devoutedly over the years. This website is full of nuggets of gold on the Krashenite approach to foreign language acquiring. I have never registered to the “Plus” version of AJATT though, and that’s because, well, its galore of resources are designed for Japanese language learners, and I’m just not one.
     
    I don’t think I’m the only learner of a language other than Japanese that keeps an eye on AJATT. Alas, I believe the non-Japanese-learning readership of AJATT make up for a remarkable, if minor, part of the whole readership of the website.
     
    So… Any chance that Mighty Khatz explains what MCDs are in a decently detailed fashionto people like me, i.e. people that for understandable reasons have not upgrading to the commercial area of this website? What about a small demonstration of how a few MCDs items, let’s say a dozen of them, would read if the language at hand was English?
     
    Unleash the Krashen!
     
    Santayana

  22. Shawn
    March 24, 2012 at 22:28

    Khatz is this included for silverspoon members? 

  23. Natsu
    March 27, 2012 at 01:45

    I was hoping that after waiting all that time for this to come out, there would be some sort of explanation as to what MCD’s really ARE. Not just, “MCD is short for Massive-Context Cloze Deletions”.  I wanna know what Massive-Context Cloze Deletions ARE. How they WORK… D:

    I don’t wanna buy something without knowing first what it is. It’s like going to the Trading Cards section, closing my eyes, and picking out a pack of cards and then buying them without looking to see if they’re the kind of cards I actually collect… Okay, not the best example, but I’m sure you get it.

    For you, Khatz, I actually might buy it anyway just because I trust you to be the eyes of the blind (in the sense of being blind toward what’s good for your language learning) in these situations. But I’d rather not rely merely on trust when spending my rarely-earned money. (I’m mentally too young for a real job, and only have a tiny “career” which is barely getting me anywhere because it hasn’t truly started yet.)

    I’ll look it up and come back to you, though. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll find something.

    • Squimpleton
      March 28, 2012 at 04:42

      There’s been quite a few posts in the past week on MCD’s. I don’t know how you could have missed them. They explain both the how and the why of MCD’s. People’s comments on those posts even further explain.

  24. February 17, 2013 at 04:03

    Bwhahahahaha, “Look. I know I’m young and thin and beautiful and handsome, okay? I know I have nice thighs and a perky butt, okay? I know I look like Michelangelo’s David, okay? Wait…pull back. But you know what? Even I’m not perfect.” As a fellow blogger in a completely different niche (parenting) I so hear you and I wish I could use this answer sometimes. It wouldn’t fly for me, but that really made me laugh, thank you.

    Ok – off to continue reading about acronyms language learning and whatnot. You’ve really helped me in my German learning; I’m so curious to read more about what you’re doing now.

    Thanks again!

    Alissa

  25. kyub
    May 23, 2013 at 02:20

    It makes totally sense. I’m actually starting to use this method for Spanish,and i have noticed improvements.

    But just for clarification, finding sentences aren’t that hard, just hit up some news website or forum, but should I be sentence mining for sentences with translations in L1(in my case english)? Or should I gathering L2 sentences, and just makes cards while cloze-deleting words I don’t know but will eventually learn (since it is in context)?

    I guess what I am asking is should I be looking up every word I dont know or based on this method, through constant SRS reps I will just GET what words mean?

    BTW i use a grammar book so translations are already there, I just want to see if I would be able to move past the grammar book to L2 media and learn combined with the MCD method.

    • Raphael
      December 13, 2013 at 05:22

      In short, yes, you will get what words mean.

      That and constant exposure to native material.

      I think the reason why people are bitter towards Khatz about his zero grammar approach is that they have the idea drummed into them that language learning is a series of rules that you have to follow from the wider society of killjoys known as traditional language teachers. They seem to forget the way that kids learn languages, through experiencing them in context. You can completely ignore the grammar books because you don’t need them. With MCDs, you start linking different grammatical structures to contexts which become familiar to you through SRS. Like if the context is about how you spent your day yesterday, you might come across a grammatical structure involving the word ‘play’. (e.g. I played, which is in the past tense). You might look up the word in the dictionary to find the infinitive (to play). The point of that is to get the basic sense of the word. The different grammatical nuances are inferred through context (if the context mentions the word ‘yesterday’ for instance, that might give you a clue to the fact that the ‘playing’ occurred in the past, when you see the same sort of pattern in different places and you notice there’s a similar context involving times before the present, you’d be tempted to think that perhaps this isn’t a coincidence). As you add more and more cards, earlier cards become clearer. And the good thing with the MCD approach is that you say the word out loud. That gets you used to saying the correct thing in the context. Once I realized this, MCDs have become so much more clearer and so much more fun.

  26. Gabriel
    February 13, 2015 at 07:21

    Anybody with any clue how many MCD cards is a good number? I have about 21000 right now which seems possibly excessive. I delete all the time but I’m still in the virgin cards and keep finding more passages to add haha. Anybody?

    Thanks!

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