- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 1: The SRS Is a Servant, Not a Master
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 2: Fun
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 3: Don’t Go Looking for Items, Let Them Come Find You
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 4: Collect ‘Em to Throw Away
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 5: Timeboxing
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 6: Maintain Only the Baseline/SRS Holidays
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 7: The Place of Pre-Mined SRSing and Other Ramblings
- How To Banish Boredom from Sentence-Mining (Sentence-Picking)
- Popping Bubblewrap: Tips for Better SRS Sentence Items
- SRS Precedence Rules
- The SRS Victory Formula (SRS Formula Victoria? :P )
A few days ago, a reader of this site sent me this email:
The problem I’m having is that it takes me an awfully long time to add these sentences. Even when I just copy and paste them from the Yahoo dictionary into a Word document for later transferral to Mnemosyne – it takes ages! I use the Rikaichan Firefox extension to learn the readings before I can type up the kana answers to the sentences and then I add in the English translation because I’m not up to Japanese-Japanese interpretations yet.
So, I was wondering, do you know of any techniques to speed up this process — is there any program you use that makes formatting all the data an easier process? Do you enter all your question and answer sentences straight into your flash card program?
As enjoyable, effective and simple the 10,000 sentences method must be – the work thus far of adding all these sentences is horribly boring and repetitive and slow. So, any suggestions?
With the length of time I’ve been doing Japanese sentences, a lot of the process has become unconscious to me. And somehow, I never get bored with it, nor find it slow and repetitive repetitive. So, a while ago, I would have told this kid to suck it up. But, now that I’m on the Chinese project, I have tasted this, this, “boredom” thing people speak of. But I have found out a way to overcome the boredom, restore fun to sentence-collecting, and bring balance to the Force. Here is my advice for making your study more enjoyable:
1. We’ve been calling the process “sentence-mining”. Looking back, it was fun sort of coining a new, cool-sounding phrase, but unfortunately, it’s a misnomer. Mining is so industrial, so rough, like carpet-bombing and massive smoke stacks. So not Toyota Prius. A better name would be sentence-picking, or even clause-picking or phrase-picking (since you don’t necessarily have to pick an entire sentence). Picking. You know, like berries — you go for the big, red/purple juicy, ripe, sweet ones. Mmmm…Remember, selectivity is key. Your goal is not to collect every sentence to which you have access, your goal is to collect sentences that are interesting to you. Think of it like baseball cards or stamps: unlike Pokemons, you don’t have to get them all. You only want the cool ones. Only pick sentences that are interesting to you at that moment. Only pick sentences that contain something you REALLY, ACTIVELY want to learn immediately. Not something you think you “should” learn. Not something that you think you “have to” learn. But something you really really really want to learn RIGHT NOW. RIGHT HERE. Those are the sentences you should pick to enter into your SRS. There are too many sentences even in a single dictionary for you to pick them all. Only pick the ones you care about right then. And feel free to change your mind — maybe yesterday, you wanted to learn that sentence, but today you can’t be bothered. Throw it out, find something cooler, and enter that cooler sentence into your SRS.
I can hear the complaints already: “but Khatzumoto, if I only learn what I want to know, how will I learn what I need to know???”. Trust me. By learning what you want to know, what you need to know will come naturally. I mean it. You can go through the entire process only learning things you want to learn and still succeed: I did. In fact, the best path to success I know is the path of most enjoyment. It may not be the shortest path, but it will definitely feel like it. Boredom can only kill your will to learn, and endanger the very success you are seeking.
2. Unless you habitually automatically import files into your SRS, you are probably doing your entries by hand. So, to reduce your workload, remove as many intermediate processes as you can. As far as possible enter directly into your SRS. Writing things in notebooks or compiling Word files for later addition has its place, but it does get really boring and it creates extra work for you since you have to go back and look at those notebooks or whatever later: Look at it this way: if a sentence is important enough for you to learn, then it’s important enough to go straight into your SRS (the reverse is also true — if you can’t be bothered to put that sentence into the SRS, then it wasn’t worth it in the first place), without any intermediate steps. Removing intermediate steps also reduces the probability of errors creeping in during those inter-step transfers (typing in, extra copy-and-pasting, etc.)
3. Use online or software dictionaries. Sentence-picking is not a typing exercise. Reduce your typing load as far as possible. Software dictionaries allow you to copy and paste: this will save you oodles of time which you can put towards learning more sentences (that you want to learn), and ultimately help you get better in less time.