Chinese Project Notes 11: Constant Improvement, SRS Image Hack

Constant Improvement

One thing that writing this blog has made me aware of is that I always seem to be hustling for new and better ways to do things. And, you can take that a bunch of ways, but I take it to mean that I have massive room for improvement. When I was just writing ex post facto about how I had learned Japanese it was easy for you good-looking, well-proportioned, intelligent people reading this, and even for me as the writer, to silently fall into the trap of thinking that the method had just dropped into my lap after maybe a tiny little bit of thinking, and that I spent the rest of the time simply cranking out this already-perfect method. This idea is so easy to fall into, that a reader named reineke made this comment on this post:

Is it still the old proven method? Are you watering down things a bit too much? I know you can do it, but is it wise?

Wow, like, I had no idea that I was already “established”, hehe. But, like I said in my response to that comment, there is no “proven old method”, at least as far as I’m concerned. There are just related iterations; you stay at one iteration as long as you know it to be the best choice for the scenario at hand, but once the scenario changes, or you find better choices, then you tweak or change things appropriately. So, it is still a 99% perspiration to 1% inspiration deal, only that some of the inspiration comes in at the beginning, and some comes during the perspiration.

Remember, also, that one of the stated aims of this site, in addition to providing an account of how I acquired Japanese, is to share: “new cool tools that I did not have, and that would have made things much faster and easier for me”. New methods fit that description.

SRS Image Hack

Anyway, back on topic, thanks to a couple of readers (like Saleem/Kid Ethnic), I’ve had the opportunity to rediscover some information to which I had actually been previously exposed, but on which I had never acted extensively. Specifically, this piece about using multiple senses when learning, and this article about how children learn (the latter originally from Slashdot).

And, it led me to make yet another tweak to how I do my SRS items. First my report on the tweak — it works really well for my active recall, much faster than ever before. Why? Because it all comes down to associating a specific image — one or more actual cartoons or photographs — with each SRS item. This is what it looks like (the format is exactly the same as that explained here, except with pictures added).

Example 1: Learning a proper noun without sentence/phrase context (name of a famous actor)
QUESTION:
Andy Lau
Image Courtesy of XinhuaNet
[Audio]
ANSWER:
劉德華
[Actual text; my task is to write this out correctly from hearing the audio]
Lau Dak-wa
[phonetic reading for confirmation of audio...I do not put this in the answer due to not wishing to depend on it as a visual cue that does not exist in actual Chinese]

Example 2: A sentence/phrase (newspaper headline about Hong Kong stocks tanking over 1000 points — the image is pretty close the audio/text content, but to the extent that it doesn’t actually give it away, it’s still good)
QUESTION:
HK Stocks Fall
Image Courtesy of Epoch Times
[Audio]
ANSWER:
港股暴跌逾千點
[Actual text; my task is to write this out correctly from hearing the audio]
gong gu bou dit yu chin dim
[phonetic reading for confirmation of audio...I do not put this in the answer due to not wishing to depend on it as a visual cue that does not exist in actual Chinese]

Example 3: Sentence/phrase (article headline about whether or not microwaving food causes cancer)
QUESTION:
Microwave Man
Image Courtesy of ENorth
[Audio] ANSWER:
微波爐加熱食物致癌?
[actual text; my task is to write this out correctly from hearing the audio; this text is on the long side; you generally want to keep things shortish, even as you get better]
mei bo lou ga yit sik mat ji ngaam?
[phonetic reading for confirmation of audio...I do not put this in the answer due to not wishing to depend on it as a visual cue that does not exist in actual Chinese]

Example 4: Sentence/phrase (“Shut up! I’m talking!”)
QUESTION:
Mojo Jojo Shut Up Smiley
Images Courtesy of 510q and Scott Hong
[Audio]
ANSWER:
你收聲! 我話事!
[actual text; my task is to write this out correctly from hearing the audio]
nei sau seng! ngo wa si!
[phonetic reading for confirmation of audio...I do not put this in the answer due to not wishing to depend on it as a visual cue that does not exist in actual Chinese]

So, anyway, like I said, it’s really helping me with actively remembering all this stuff, because the audio I’m hearing is being directly associated with actual concrete images. Now, when I think of Andy Lau/劉德華’s face, I can say his name; I would have been able to do that eventually, but this makes it all happen much sooner.

This sort of thing, I think (not my own all-original idea, by the way) is one part of what’s so effective about the methods children unknowingly use — when a kid learns something like “the glass broke” in her so-called native language, she almost always gets to hear something breaking (like glass), and see that cracked glass and feel the shock and have shards strewn all over the floor. When a kid learns about bee stings, cuts, “that smarts”, “pain” and “ow!” in a “native” language, she may be right in the middle of it. This is powerful stuff. And kids get this with everything — they don’t just get random words in a list, they get sentences, and not just sentences, but sentences with visuals and sounds and emotion. And these are the kind of things that are bound up strongly in memory.

Like one of my teachers once said, most Americans can remember where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001 because that was my sister’s birthday and the news was carrying it like crazy, everywhere you looked: “Khatzumoto’s Sister Turns 31″, “The Big 3-1 for ‘Moto Sibling”, “Over 30 for the First Time: Khatzumoto’s Sister Moves On”, “Nine Years to 40: Khatzumoto’s Sister Ripens”; and then the appointed President of the US was like “Well, we’ve got to celebrate! You only turn 31 once!”; it was a huge deal. The shock of realizing my sister was turning 31 helped bind what people were doing at the time, to their memory. Now you don’t always have to use shock — humor, grossness, and even just a good, decent, appropriate image (like a picture of a wireless router with a sentence about wireless internet), will also do. But don’t take my word for it — read that biologist’s stuff.

So, anyway, lots of words to explain a little tweak, but there you go…such are the inefficiencies of human communication/my writing.

Anyway, go ahead and give it a try…it may sound counter-intuitive, but you might be pleasantly surprised. And feel free to share your results with it.

By the way, the pictures are just googled. They’re for personal study so, you know, whatever, just download them.

  38 comments for “Chinese Project Notes 11: Constant Improvement, SRS Image Hack

  1. Nuke-Marine
    June 1, 2008 at 15:11

    This is of course one of the areas that Rosetta Stone got it right: using pictures to reinforce the language. In fact, it works so well that people buy that crappy program because of it before realizing most other things about it do not work (slow progression, short term memory only, overdependence on cookie cutter approach to training).

    Goes to the root of the problem to why people are not doing Reviewing the Kanji then Sentence Method coupled with Japanese immersion….There’s no WOW factor. You can’t blow someone away in the first few minutes with a concept that demands months of committment (your 1% versus 99%). Things like Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, Kanji Pict-O-Graphix, or Japanese for Busy People sell a GORGEOUS box with little inside that’s of use for very long.

    Anyway, sorry for the rant. Yes, associating a picture works great, but it takes quite a bit of effort to set up. However, with Google and AdPicassa, all things are possible in time. For those doing Kanji Odyssey 2001, just google the vocabulary word being tackled in the sentence (usually just one anyway), and use that an the image. Hopefully you have the TTS set up for the triple punch.

  2. Nivaldo
    June 1, 2008 at 16:24

    Wow! Thanks for the wonderful share. It’s incredible how long we take to discover things about ourselves. :)

  3. nacest
    June 1, 2008 at 18:34

    I was aware of the “many senses are better than few” thing, and I’m 100% positive that the picture method you described works well in reinforcing your memory.

    My concern, however, is that it may work TOO well.
    説明しましょう。The thing about the sentences method is that you get a very intense and controlled exposure to the studied language, so that you will be able to recognize the words and structures even when you encounter them in the “real world”. For this reason, you want to focus on those things, not on the SRS sentences per se. Remembering a sentence by heart is not so helpful, because you may start giving it good grades on your SRS even though you may have forgotten the meaning or structure of the parts that compose it. For me, at least, learning a sentence by heart is kind of a failure, because it leads to an “over-spacing” of that card, and a possible weakening of my understanding of its parts. It’s like a “blind/automatic memory”.
    The ideal thing would be to look at each card AS IF you’d never seen it before, retaining only your knowledge of those parts that compose it.

    And we finally come to my concern about using pictures: it may work too well because it may make it very easy for you to memorize the whole sentence/card, leaving the understanding in the background.

    Granted I haven’t tried this method yet (and I’d like to hear the opinion of those who have done so), I’d say that it may be very useful if applied to idioms, words, names, etc., basically everything that can be seen as a “tag” to the images, but not to whole sentences.

    Does it make sense?

  4. mzmz
    June 1, 2008 at 20:17

    All this sounds nice and dandy but one needs an srs thing which can support all the bells and whistles painlessly.

    I’m still on a lookout for best srs for me. Any OS GUI dependancy is 駄目 so there goes Anki, Mnemosyne, Supermemo and Sugarmemo. Want something that can be accessed from any OS, any device, whether it’s GUI or the Command Line. The srs info HAS to be stored on my own server because of security concerns so can’t use Khatzumemo nor Anki-Online-Study. If you compose the SRS very deeply into your everyday life you don’t want the stuff you store in your memory to be “somewhere on the internet” or do you. Also if you have your info on your own box you can do all kinds of fun stuff with the data, like arrange it in different orders, filter it, do experiments and stuff. Couldn’t find any solution like that so far on the interwebs so currently trying to (slowly) write my own srs soft using PHP and MySQL. :P

    I wonder if anyone else here is facing similar difficulties. We could join or efforts or something lol.

  5. captal
    June 1, 2008 at 21:05

    Great idea! I’ve started incorporating images into my Heisig kanji- I’m hoping it makes the more difficult kanji easier.

    Nacest does have a good point though, and perhaps images and sentences could work too well… maybe the best application is single words, or short phrases? I’ve noticed that I often remember words/short phrases when I have a memory that goes with how I learned that word (e.g. a girl taught me 裸見たい when we were kissing- try NOT to remember that!)

  6. Charles
    June 1, 2008 at 21:20

    Hi mzmz,
    I think you’ve sold Anki short, if I understand your plight correctly. It can be installed on your machine and doesn’t have to connect to the interwebs. There’s no use reinventing the wheel (unless you want to write an SRS).
    I have Anki on both my Mac and my Windoze box. I only use the online feature to study on the go and keep info between the two the same, but you could transfer the databases by hand, I suppose. Or if you’re really industrious, figure out a way to serve it to yourself if you have a home server:)

  7. June 1, 2008 at 21:28

    Would just like to add I think Nuke-Marine has sold Pimsleur slightly short. Its not one of the “quick-fix” or “learn X language in 12 hours” type courses, or a Teach Yourself with a pretty plastic case, a 250 page book and an *hour* of audio. You have to put in the hours, and if you do it is a very effective method to teach you speaking and listening. Different things work for different people, but I’ve canned my evening language courses at a local but nationally respected university because I feel I can do better with the Pimsleur material for speaking/listening, and a combination of Anki and other materials for reading/writing.

  8. mzmz
    June 1, 2008 at 23:35

    @Charles
    Thanks for your comment!!

    “It can be installed on your machine and doesn’t have to connect to the interwebs.”

    Yeah, but I can’t run it from command line on GNU linux (which I connect to via SSH for my programming stuff every day). Don’t really like Anki’s GUI interface and the shiny icons that much. If it was a web page I could write like a different CSS style for every day of the week or something, like I did for Khatzumemo :) With the standard ANKI interface it’s monotony every day, ie a boring life.

    “but you could transfer the databases by hand, I suppose”

    Too much work, too slow. Why can’t the two interfaces connect to the SAME database in first place? :/

    “Or if you’re really industrious, figure out a way to serve it to yourself if you have a home server :)”

    Yeah almost got that to work few weeks back, but don’t really like ANKI because of the reasons mentioned above so what’s the point…

    The ANKI wheel is too big and too heavy, can only turn right and doesn’t match with the color of my car.

    The Khatzumemo wheel is well adjustable, comes in 1000 colors and flavors but slows my car down to 10mph (due to bad ISP and slow refresh times) and all my journey data is stored “somewhere on the internet” which is not THAT bad overall, but still………

  9. Chiro-kun
    June 2, 2008 at 01:23

    すっげええ!
    I use the same method to memorize character names as well and it works great! :D

    BTW this is off-topic but does anybody know where to get 関西弁 shows/movies/podcasts etc.?

  10. nest0r
    June 2, 2008 at 01:47

    I’ve been trying to think of a way to use images with TTS-SRS too, influenced by Mangajin (I keep thinking of manga panels when I do sentences, and even switch from female to male voices depending on the characters, hehe) and Rosetta Stone (and there’s that Anki deck with prefecture map images), but I wasn’t sure how to incorporate them (it seems painstaking, plus there’s the issue nacest noted). I was thinking of using the Answer side, or keeping text and audio separate, but now, I think I’ll try your way. I think your entry already deals with nacest’s concern in underscoring the benefits of keeping the image from not giving away the meaning, and I think finding such images will be easier/more fun, actually.

  11. nest0r
    June 2, 2008 at 02:36

    Hmm, I’ve been spinning in circles thinking about this method, but I guess I’ll just give it a try for a few days and see how it works instead. ;p

  12. khatzumoto
    June 2, 2008 at 13:37

    @nacest
    That’s what I love about you — you always tread carefully, my friend :D .

    Give it a try and see what results you get. I wouldn’t say go retrofit all your SRS items; they’ve served you this well so far, and it’s too 面倒臭い, no matter which SRS you use. At least, I didn’t bother. All my new items are photo-items. I do retrofit items I fail on.

    Indeed, a part of me wants to wait on sharing all this info until after the Cantonese project has reached maturity, because at some level I can see how getting all these updates/suggestions is annoying. It’s like: “so, the previous one sucks now?”. Still, you can kind of see a general trend toward kanji production from CPN#8 on down.

    Even though I tested this for some weeks before reporting (you know I wouldn’t give you untested ideas, mang!), if I were you, I wouldn’t make any conclusions based on my advice. And I wouldn’t make any conclusions based on predictions or expectations, either. Give it a whirl! :D . Go do it! I’d be really excited to hear how it goes for you. Remember, this is not a thought experiment.

    BTW, tell me more about the automatic memory effects you discussed. To me it sounds like something that sheer *number* of SRS items would crush (plus the fact that we’re writing kanji from memory here, baby). But I may be misunderstanding you. Also tell me more about what you mean with understanding the whole card versus parts.

  13. nacest
    June 2, 2008 at 18:09

    Khatzumoto,
    I know, I probably sound picky and conservative… but I’m not :P
    Your suggestion to try the thing is the right one and it’s what I already had in mind. Btw, I’m still testing the “kana to kanji” card template you suggested, but that’s another story. I’ll try to explain the “automated memory” now.
    Or at least, I’ll try to be less cryptic!

    ***********************************************
    It’s sort of like learning the words of a song in a language you don’t understand. I don’t know if this happens to English native speakers (you only have music in your language), but in my country people listen to a lot of foreign music. They love it like the rest of the “national” music, but 90% of them don’t understand what those songs mean. So you’ll meet a girl who’s learned that Justin Timberfake song by listening to it hundreds of times, watching the video etc, but doesn’t speak his language. Maybe she read a (mis-)translation of that song on a girls magazine some time ago, so she has a vague idea of what it says… but does that really count as understanding English?

    That’s what happens (to me) with some SRS entries that have had too big an impact on my memory. Take, for example, 涼宮ハルヒ/Suzimiya Haruhi’s line「ただの人間には、興味ありません!」. I’ve read it and repeated it for fun so many times that now it’s like saying my name. Those rare times it comes up in my SRS, it takes me one single look to be able to say it, with no need to read it! That’s not good, I think, if it happens with too many cards.

    In one of your first entries you wrote:
    「“But wait, if I don’t memorize it, how do I know I know it?”. Oh-ho. That’s where the SRS comes in. When you first learn a sentence, of course you’ll “remember it”. What counts isn’t so much that first time, as 2, 3, 10, 52 weeks later.」

    The first time, of course you remember it. It’s not a big achievement. The same goes for those sentences you know “too well”, and you just parrot in front of your SRS.

    A parrot! That’s it! A parrot would be a blazing star with an SRS, man. It would never fail a card in its lifetime. As to understanding Japanese…
    ***********************************************

    Anyway, I only wrote this because you expressed interest in the concept (sorry, I was probably more cryptic than before). However I agree with you when you say that philosophy is bad for the health. Much better to jump into the arena and try things for real.

  14. Sam
    June 2, 2008 at 21:19

    @Nacest

    I think I have experienced exactly what you’re talking about. I have noticed it most when I have inputted sentences with multiple new vocab – probably because I fail and repeat them until I know the reading off by heart. So i am trying to input sentences with little new vocab. Maybe you are doing something similar.

    Sam

  15. UberStuber
    June 3, 2008 at 01:07

    @Nacest

    I sometimes find parroting happens. What I do then is find new sentences which use the same vocabulary/grammar in a different context (from a 国語 dictionary or elsewhere), which (hopefully) ensures that I learn to understand the concepts.

  16. Nivaldo
    June 3, 2008 at 02:31

    Hi, Khatz! I Just wanted to say a VERY VERY VERY VERY BIG “THANK YOU” for the existence of this site. Now, why did I decide to post this comment?
    First, because without this site the mere idea of learning japanese would have never gone through my little brain, especially when it comes down to places where Japanese is the same as Mars or Jupiter (my case).
    Second, because I really thought nothing was happening during all these SRS repetitions. Like I could read a manga with some effort, with words still shaking so I thought I was stuck. Today, I was playing (is this the right word?) an anime episode (just for fun, with no sentence-mining intentions) and to my surprise I discovered I had understood some 90% of the whole episode. I could understand only some 15% of it some months ago. It was amazing. 本当に嬉しい。ありがとうございます

  17. quendidil
    June 3, 2008 at 03:48

    Have any of you heard of this Latin method called Lingua Latina: Per Se Illustrata? www.lingua-latina.dk/
    It’s a Latin textbook entirely in Latin, with the help of illustrations to … illustrate some points. It’s quite fun actually.

  18. Nuke-Marine
    June 3, 2008 at 12:44

    Victoria, you’re right. Pimsleur has the most going for it for the ones I listed. However, like Rosetta Stone, what it got right (pronunciation, demanding responses, spaced review) is again dimmed by what it got wrong (emphasis on politeness, no study manual like the Spanish version, SLOW). A combination of Rosetta Stone, Pimleur and an SRS would be a great combination indeed.

    Nacest, from my current experience I am memorizing some cards for whatever reasons (vivid sentence, large number of early on reviews where one word failed it, etc). I’m not worried due to an unusual experience yesterday. I just happened to not have an Ipod on me, so I went to the 7-11 and bought a Manga to pass time. First one I bought in 6 months. Now, I got one that looked like a Slice of Life (Directer Something or other) and found out there’s no Furigana. Yet, I was following along. With a mere 700 facts in my SRS, I’m following along a manga at about 50% (maybe less). Kanji, vocabulary, grammar that I “memorized” in one fashion was being utilized on completely different sentences and events.

    Don’t sweat that you’re going to memorize sentences in your deck. Keep adding items. Liken it to the fact that you’ll memorize lines to some dialogue from a 13 episode series you liked. You’ll still want to watch more series and rewatch your series that you liked.

  19. Daniel
    June 3, 2008 at 13:18

    In the end, aren’t all we doing is trying to memorize all the little phrases to be able to pull out of our butt-crack and throw them back into a real conversation? For me, if I could memorize all my SRS items, I would be super happy because next time I see a fairly similar sentence in real life, I wouldn’t have to figure it out, I would just have to remember what it means (which seems easier and faster to me).

  20. June 3, 2008 at 17:30

    Interesting use of images! I myself use images for my Mnemosyne entries on plant taxonomy but none specifically for my Japanese studies. (although you can refute that, because most of the plants come from reading Japanese texts)

    For my Japanese word entries, currently context-bound words are sufficient for me. I also haven’t tried playing around with audio btw.

    It’s always nice to see the nitty gritty on how people use their SRS.

  21. June 3, 2008 at 17:38

    Apologies if somebody’s already mentioned this, but sometimes with short phrases it helps me to include a small note as to the context in which I learned the sentence.

    For example, the following just came up in my SRS, might not make sense to anyone but me, but just an example of the notes I sometimes give myself:

    —–
    Q:
    ただ埋めあわせだよ。

    A:
    うめ‐あわせ【埋め合せ・埋め合わせ】
    [名]スル埋め合わせること。おぎない。「約束を破った―をする」

    (robot talking about the trip he’s giving his wife in Pluto)

    1. うめ‐あわ・せる【埋め合せる・埋め合わせる】別ウィンドウで表示
    [動サ下一]うめあは・す[サ下二]損失や不足を他のもので償う。補う。うめあわす。「赤字を借入金で―・せる」「忘れた結婚記念日を―・せる算段をする」
    —-
    I feel like it helps me retain a sense of the usage. BUT I make no claims to be a tested expert here, just throwing that out there.

  22. Jerry
    June 4, 2008 at 02:17

    I have experienced the memorization problem mentioned in these recent posts. When a sentence pops up, I immediately recall the entire meaning and can pronounce it without error. I haven’t worried about this, figuring it’s just the outcome of reviewing some of these sentences many times over the last year.

    My concern comes in when I encounter the kanji in readings outside of my SRS and I forget how to pronounce the kanji or its meaning. So have I learned this sentence or not? This seems to happen with those “middle aged” cards more than anything else. Maybe there’s a maturing process as well? I also have to encounter the vocab in real-life before I own it totally.

  23. Max
    June 4, 2008 at 11:56

    I don’t know if this has been posted or not, but I thought this was a pretty useful site: www.njuku.com/

    It’s similar to the site Jon posted (www.voiceblog.jp/japaneselistening/) in that it’s a podcast with an exact transcript provided. Unfortunately, it’s also not being updated anymore. All the same, looks like there are some good sentences for the mining.

  24. Tony
    June 4, 2008 at 13:43

    Google images may work really well with this idea.  Yesterday I found a news article on fnn-news.com that said ”一見すると、ブタの赤ちゃんのようにも見えますが、よく見てみると、ウリ坊独特のしま模様が入っているのがわかります”  I didn’t know what ウリ坊 was though, but if you put it in google image search, (at least with japanese preferences) it’ll show up :D

  25. Jon
    June 4, 2008 at 14:02

    This seems like a good idea; in fact I’ve used this method to learn words before that don’t have an English translation, Japanese words like 振袖、 襖 etc. but didn’t think to use it more generally – I’m gonna try this from now on for words I think I might have difficulty with.

    Also, Max – that podcast looks really useful, thanks for sharing – makes me wonder how many more podcasts like this there must be?!

    Talking about images, I like this site because of the (admittedly simple!) pictures that go with everything being described – www.avis.ne.jp/~casy/tenku/seikatsu.htm – plus, it’s stupid and so appeals to me a lot…

  26. khatzumoto
    June 16, 2008 at 22:41

    @quend
    That Latin thing is ROCKING MY SOCKS…thanks for the link!

  27. khatzumoto
    June 16, 2008 at 22:48

    @Nuke-Marine
    >Don’t sweat that you’re going to memorize sentences in your deck. Keep adding items. Liken it to the fact that you’ll memorize lines to some dialogue from a 13 episode series you liked. You’ll still want to watch more series and rewatch your series that you liked.

    @Daniel
    >In the end, aren’t all we doing is trying to memorize all the little phrases to be able to pull out of our butt-crack and throw them back into a real conversation? For me, if I could memorize all my SRS items, I would be super happy because next time I see a fairly similar sentence in real life, I wouldn’t have to figure it out, I would just have to remember what it means (which seems easier and faster to me).

    Good points. Great examples.

  28. khatzumoto
    June 16, 2008 at 22:51

    @saleem
    Nice idea on the context…I used to do that, but stopped.
    Now that I’m focussing on making and keeping my SRS items much shorter, I’ve started again. Thanks for the tip :)

  29. khatzumoto
    June 16, 2008 at 22:52

    @Jerry
    >I immediately recall the entire meaning and can pronounce it without error
    This is a GOOD thing!! LoL…It’s just like I’ve started to “read” Japanese simply by seeing it, without any effort to actually process it…just like my English.

  30. OrangeNut
    January 3, 2009 at 15:21

    This is really cool, and I’d love to try it out. You are using a TTS to get the audio, right? Can you tell me which TTS you are using? Thanks. :)

  31. January 11, 2009 at 18:22

    Hey Khatzumoto

    I feel honored. Sorry, I missed your answer.

    Khatzumoto said
    May 29,2008 @4.56 pm

    Short answer: wait till next year to find out

    Long answer: There is no “proven old method” per se…

    Short answer: I am still waiting.

    Long answer: Your previous series of “iterations” has proven successful. Finding better solutions or attempting to find better solutions requires a lot of time. If you come up with something that works well for you, it makes sense to stick with it.

    Sir Richard Burton:

    “My system of learning a language in two months was purely my own invention, and thoroughly suited myself.”

    Now, let’s leave aside the fact that we’d dearly like to master such a “system”. We can also extrapolate three things:

    1 Experimenting is good – within reason. We cannot achieve no. 2 without experimenting
    2 there is such a thing as a “proven old method” that can be applied to a wide number of languages. Sorry, I’ll side with Mr. Burton on this one. You’re not “established” enough. However for optimum efficiency no. 3 must apply as well.
    3 we need to find something that thoroughly suits us

    If all of the above has been satisfied, you are mucking around or experimenting for the sake of experimenting. You’re wasting time.

    If you disagree with no.2 you’ll spend a lot of time experimenting and trying to find the best approach for each language. This is inefficient.

    Now, you can also say that you agree with no. 2 but that you have not yet come up with a satisfactory approach and that you should be allowed to continue experimenting. Khatzumoto is therefore not perfect (gasp!) and needs more time for his kung-fu. I’m ok with this – within reason. You are doing language-related things so I “suppose” it’s ok to experiment a little longer. I would not worry too much about challenging myself though especially when juggling several things at the same time. But that’s just me :)

    “You know me, reineke, it’s Khatzumoto! Ah paid ja befo’! Sign the treaty!”

    Uh, I need a little help understanding this one. Peace treaty? :)

  32. Tsuioku
    March 28, 2009 at 20:20

    Hi all,

    Khatz, referring to the length of the audio/text, you said:
    ” you generally want to keep things shortish, even as you get better”

    What makes you say that? I’m trying to lengthen the audio fragments I use, going from 2-4 seconds to, at the moment, 8-10 seconds and perhaps beyond (into Outer Space! oh wait). I’m using fnn-news as my main sentences source, so because of that I’m getting used to all the “newsy” words and this makes the effective length of sentences shorter: if I already know 4 seconds’ worth of an 8 second audio…yeah. :) But also I figure it’s useful to train your “audio memory”, or perhaps “audio processing capacity”. Some sentences actually are 10 seconds long, why not force yourself to get used to that sentence length? Of course this only works if you restrict yourself in the number of times you repeat the audio, else you can still chop the long sentence up into small pieces. I haven’t been doing sentences for very long, but I can imagine putting a cap of 1-3 repeats on mature (interval >= 21 days) sentences.

    For the rest I think this approach is great, pictures are fun, audio is challenging, and not using any native language text is very good too.
    I usually embed proper nouns into normal sentences anyway, I think it’s more fun that way, doing them in separate reps is too dry repetition for me.
    Also, I don’t learn the writing of all proper nouns, when there is a news item about a murder in some little village, I usually write the name in hiragana but I put the kanji next to it in brackets, because I don’t require myself to memorize the name but seeing it like that still helps me learn :)

    Alright, hope you can reply to my post, especially the first point, actually I welcome replies from anyone :)
    Thanks for the website, helped me a lot!

  33. Tsuioku
    March 28, 2009 at 20:30

    Two other things I thought of that differ between our methods:

    Once I’ve written and corrected my sentence, I read it back to myself. I guess this is my way of checking whether I have the correct reading for all the words etc ( I don’t enter this separately like you do), but also it’s meant to improve my reading: even if I can associate sounds with kanji, it feels as if associating kanji with pronounciation and meaning is a game of its own so I practice it as well.
    Lately I’ve been testing a fun little game where, after I’ve read the sentence out loud, I play the audio again and try to talk along (or sing along! :D) with it. THAT’S SO HARD! :D the speed is usually quite high and I think I haven’t yet learned when I should pause for breath in Japanese, because usually I’m out of breath after a sentence. ^^ I’m not sure it’s a good idea to do this though, because like they said on antimoon, you don’t want to learn bad pronounciation habits. Well perhaps as long as I do it with the sample audio I’m okay.

  34. Jon
    July 17, 2010 at 14:55

    Currently I’m using this format:

    Front:
    Sentence (full Kanji, etc) as is – black no highlighting, etc.

    Back:
    1. Hiragana Translation with particles and points of interest highlighted.
    # The hiragana is in red,
    # Kanji in black enclosed in (parenthesis),
    # particles in [brackets],
    # points of interest are blue.

    2. Translation in English, but in Japanese sentence order with particles.
    # Regular text, no emphasis.

    Example:

    Front:
    速達便なら明日の午前中に届きます。

    Back:
    そくたつびん(速達便) なら あした(明日) [の] ごぜんちゅう(午前中) [に] とど.きます(届きます)
    fast delivery mail / if possible / tommorrow の morning に to arrive.

    Notes:
    # I found そくたつびん interesting so its in blue.
    # The dot in とど.きます(届きます) marks the end of the Kanji and start of Hiragana.

    Why do this?
    Well, I’m using the CORE 6000 Anki deck and so I’m not sentence mining these sentences myself. The result if I just did it normally would be that I don’t get that massive learning increase that comes from inputting them in the format that I like myself (the difference is a 50% initial bounce in recall for me according to deck stats.)

    Also, I’m weak with grammar and I’m still only 50% through RTK; hence, there is a LOT of Kanji and grammar I don’t know. This allows me to start on those vicious little compounds now. I also get the chance to look up the words/particles/etc. and see examples of them in use (which I may or may not add to another grammar deck later.)

    Oh and it’s also sort of fun to do it my way :)

    Note: Time per card is about 2.4 minutes once you get the process down and as there is vastly less repitition involved when seeing the item the first time the time is made up elsewhere.

    ======

    My dictionary: Japanese for IPhone. Cheap and accesses EDICT/JPTL/shows stats, etc. EDICT is alright (hardly the perfect dictionary), and I’ve found this app useful. Oh and has Furagana. Bye bye all!

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