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Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 2: Fun

This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series Secrets to Smoother SRSing

This is part 2 of a multi-part series on smoother SRSing.

At the risk of repeating myself, while sentences seem central to the so-called AJATT method, and while they represent a move away from the so-called “traditional” vocabulary-and-grammar approach, I don’t see them as the so-called core per se. The actual process as I saw and implement(ed) it centered around having fun. FUN.




In fact, this whole thing is so all about fun that something with “fun” in it was one of the original domain name candidates. (When you see a word too many times, doesn’t it start to sound weird?) I don’t know why I picked something as long and unwieldy as alljapaneseallthetime, but there you go. FUN. FUN is so central to this that for a while there I was toying with making it like the closing line of every blog post, kind of like how Tony Robbins goes: “live with passion”, and Steve Pavlina goes: “live consciously” and Captain Planet goes: “the power is yours”, and Catholic priests go: “don’t cry, it’s just the special way Daddy loves you”. Get this etched into your head:

No fun = No good.

No, really. If it is not fun, stop now. STOP. STOP!!!





Stop and either change to something else or figure out a way to make it fun. When you get down to it, this is something that may require getting back in touch with your feelings. I know, sounds gay. And by “gay”, I mean black people and Jews. Many schooled people have grown numb to their own desires, interests and lifestyle patterns – that’ll happen after years of being forced to do boring things with a roomful of other prisoners. You’re so used to “no pain no gain” and just pressing through. Stop. That crap works when other people are forcing you to do something, but it just won’t fly – not for long, anyway – when you’re in charge.

If you’re bored/tired, stop entering items. If you’re bored/tired, stop doing reps. If you’re bored/tired stop reading that book or watching that movie. WTF, man, what are you doing? Watching a movie that’s boring you, are you insane? Stop, OK? Mmmm kay? This is not a failure. This doesn’t mean SRSing “doesn’t work” or “isn’t for you” and it doesn’t mean that you’re “lazy” or “undisciplined”. It just means there are limits to your concentration, limits to how long you can run that little head-engine of yours in SRS gear. Very real limits. Lower than you wish. But don’t worry, after some rest, you’ll be ready again. Stay in the language, just do something else.

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for the next installment: part 3!

Series Navigation<< Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 1: The SRS Is a Servant, Not a MasterSecrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 3: Don’t Go Looking for Items, Let Them Come Find You >>

  21 comments for “Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 2: Fun

  1. toadhjo
    August 31, 2008 at 12:27

    Maybe I’m being nitpicky here, but I’m proceed…

    In any case, I do believe that fun is very important, because when you’re having fun, you learn faster and can keep doing your activity longer, whatever it is.

    However, perhaps “fun” isn’t the best word?

    For example, I like reading the editorial sections of newspapers. I wouldn’t necessarily call it fun, but it’s definitely enjoyable. Much like doing SRS reps (in moderation).

    This is a really geeky comparison, but I’ve started to view my SRS much like battles in an RPG. Generally, it’s not the most enjoyable part, but I see it as a way to help myself “level up”. I’ve spent way to many hours wasting(?) time playing RPGs in my life, building up imaginary characters…but I enjoyed it for the most part. And now instead of wasting time doing that, I can actually spend time wisely helping myself, for real. It’s amazing how properly framing something in your mind can completely change your perspective on it.

    Of course…I still find time to play some Dragon Quest and other things (in Japanese, of course) on the side.

    I think I got a little off topic, but hopefully people find this post…interesting? Maybe?

  2. Alyks
    August 31, 2008 at 13:58

    “This is part 1 of a multi-part series on smoother SRSing.”

    You sure about that?

  3. bubble
    August 31, 2008 at 14:41

    Thank you!

    I saw that thread you linked in the previous SRS post a while back and just went ‘Waitasec. Aren’t they missing the point?’ And that point (it’s got to be fun) is why even though I don’t do sentences at all anymore, I continue to recommend this site to people, but with heavy disclaimers about the emphasis on SRSs.

    I mean, I used an SRS (Anki) for a while. It helped. But after a while, I had a giant expired pile, and that, combined with the way I was doing it (mostly Japanese-to-English what with Remembering the Kanji and all) made me want to beat my head against a conveniently placed wall… or just give up on Japanese. Which was silly, given the amount of progress I had made. So I ditched the SRS (I’ll still use it for study for a test-heavy class) and spent that time instead on Japanese news, dramas, anime, and now comics and novels as well.

    So yeah, thank you. Because we all need a reminder to have enjoy the journey every now and again.

  4. vgambit
    August 31, 2008 at 15:05

    [i](mostly Japanese-to-English what with Remembering the Kanji and all)[/i]

    You’re supposed to only go English to Japanese when you’re using RTK.

  5. vgambit
    August 31, 2008 at 15:06

    Hm, I wanted italics, but I guess that code doesn’t work with this comment system.

  6. Ivan the Terrible
    August 31, 2008 at 17:22

    I would like to buy into this whole-heartedly, but at the same time I can’t help but think about employment contracts and visa extensions and lease agreements. I would much rather be reading a book or watching a movie than entering sentences from those, but at the same time there’s stuff on such forms you need to know and you aren’t likely to find doing purely entertaining stuff.

  7. August 31, 2008 at 20:45

    Part 1 of Part 2? Sounds a little bit like Douglas Adams: ‘part 5 of a trilogy’, etc.. 🙂

  8. nest0r
    August 31, 2008 at 21:23

    Yo, people who are dissing the koohii thread, ease off, if you read the thread, you’d know it’s a good thread with plenty of views from both sides, and details analysis and experiences with AJATT, many supporting the parts 1 and 2 here. In fact, I think of it as this site’s forum, even though Khatz wanted to avoid forums sense the arguments can bog people down from ‘doing’ the method. I think Khatz was just pointing out one or two posts that represented a certain mindset when he linked it, hence the specific link in his entry.

  9. nest0r
    August 31, 2008 at 21:25

    ^sense = since, hehe

    And anyway, yea, as to this Part 2, I agree with it much more than Part 1, because the key is knowing your own views on what’s fun and how to make it work for you as you learn what you want/need. Even Da Vinci wrote in his notebooks about taking regular breaks from painting throughout the day and reapproaching from different angles to get a fresh perspective!

  10. Rob
    August 31, 2008 at 23:07

    I think perhaps instead of using the word “fun”, it should be changed to enjoyment. You should try to find enjoyment in whatever you are doing. Because like Ivan said above, there are things that need to be learned in order to get fluent that probably by themselves would never come to one’s mind when they think of fun.

    Ivan mentioned contracts, leases, etc., and you could throw in there listening and reading to the news ad nauseam or Khatzu wrote a post once about going clothes shopping and entering some language that was on the tags into his SRS. Info on clothing labels fun? I doubt it, but necessary to learn if you want to buy the right thing and know how to wash it properly.

    But I think there are ways to find enjoyment or contentment out of doing those things; it’s just up to each person to find the way they can push through those types of things and still enjoy the process.

  11. bubble
    September 1, 2008 at 01:26

    @ vgambit “You’re supposed to only go English to Japanese when you’re using RTK.”

    Er. That’s what I meant. I was using the standard Anki RTK deck, the way it was originally set up, keyword to kanji. But most of my other cards were Japanese to English… or sometimes kanji to reading. Which is probably why I got mixed up (that and it’s been several months).

    But that’s not the point (and I’m not just saying that because I’m embarrassed). The point is that doing a mix of Japanese and English eventually started to drive me bonkers, once I’d gotten enough input that Japanese was starting to take on a life of its own in my brain, if that makes any sense. It was much harder to remember and concentrate compared to Japanese-only, and I began adding Japanese keywords, which helped a little, but took a while. Then too, I had been borrowing someone’s copy of RTK and had to return it… so yeah.

    I have a hard time switching from language to language. Anything to English is easy, but other transitions are pretty hard for me. For instance, it takes me at least a full page of text to get into the swing of reading Japanese, and my listing comprehension drops a lot if I have interruptions.

  12. phauna
    September 1, 2008 at 14:36

    I thought part one was also ‘fun’?

  13. nacest
    September 1, 2008 at 17:17

    Part one was on SRS specifically, but related to ‘fun’ nonetheless.

  14. Jerry
    September 3, 2008 at 01:39

    I’ve been using an SRS for 15 months, and I can say that I only missed 4 days in that time. I was on vacation with my family; and it wouldn’t be much of a vacation doing SRS reps. I have been doing the SRS “the wrong way” for this whole time… only have 3,300 entries, not even close to 10,000; the entries are about 95% J-E; I have paid zero attention to learning Jouyou Kanji. But having said all that, there’s two things I’d like to point out the success I feel I’ve had with the method.

    I started with no Japanese ability at all. (I did know kanji, because I’ve kept active in Mandarin for the past 18 years — so there was a head start with that.) But 15 months later I can read light novels and manga with a high degree of comprehension. My listening is pretty good — and I get a lot of practice with that using Text Aloud and my SRS together. I struggle with writing — though it’s OK. Of course, my speaking is the worst. But I’m not worried about it as I have no Japanese friends or co-workers to embarrass myself in front of.

    So the key thing to this rambling message is that I’ve done SRS “the wrong way” — heaven forbid J-E entries! (I learned Mandarin C-E without trouble, btw. Though I agree J-E is best if you can learn that way.) But I had fun doing it, and never troubled myself that I wasn’t doing it “right.” I’ve still got results that I’m happy with, and I know I am on track to get the additional results that I’m seeking.

    I’m very glad to see Khatz posting these clarifications. Fun has made all the difference to me, even if I haven’t stuck to the program “as designed.” I’ve only missed 4 days out of 455 because it is fun. (And not having to face 100+ entries each day is big factor in that.) Remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. You don’t have to be totally fluent in 18 months!

  15. September 6, 2008 at 06:38

    I’m right at the point where SRS just became boring. This was a good post. I am going to revise my study method and get rid of all those sentences that drag me down!

  16. Laura
    May 30, 2010 at 05:47


    yes I know very late to all this, but I only just started learning Japanese a week ago, I’ll add my bit any way 🙂

    As a confirmed World of Warcraft addict who wants to learn Japanese because I’ll be going there for 6 months in november… I totally agree with toadhjo. Using Anki for my Kanji is absolutely on the same level as farming for mats or grinding for money/emblems in WoW. Lots of little wins whenever I look up the stats 😀

    maybe not quite the same as FUN, but hey I do STOP when bored and go look up Japanese music on YouTube

  17. Routine
    January 7, 2011 at 05:03


    Another MMORPG addict speaking here… (:D) when you’re putting it this way, this method is starting to seem more and more fun. Grinding for quest items or experience might not be really “fun”, but it’s definitely satisfying.

  18. ナツ
    April 18, 2013 at 14:04

    Wow, Khatz… This is amazing.

    You know, I was always worried that I was doing something wrong or that I need to be more disciplined because I wasn’t doing my SRS enough. In fact, feeling pressured to do it is probably what made me stop in the first place.

    So I was reading through this post, expecting it to give me a way to make it fun because SRSing is an important part of things, but then I see, “If you’re bored/tired, stop.” And I stare like, “… What?”

    This post really helped me relax more. I always sort of knew this was the case, but it’s reassuring hearing/seeing it from the one who’s website introduced me to immersion in the first place.

  19. Paris
    February 27, 2019 at 17:26

    If you stop every time you are bored, I can guarantee you, you are not going to learn any language (or shit). In our age boredom is depicted as something evil and as someone who studied a dozen languages, I can tell you that all the methods out there and all the foreign languages in the world will get boring after a month or so. (unless you study one or two words/phrases everyday which means you are going to get to intermediate stages in the language in about 10 years if you are lucky) And I can’t believe how someone who advocates SRS systems could say “stop when you are bored”. Anki, Supermemo all these srs systems are the most boring study methods I have ever seen. I can’t do it more than 10 minutes a day honestly, and that’s a stretch. I also didn’t meet many successful language learners who use these SRS systems. (except for some highly introvert geeks who don’t wanna speak the language much anyways)

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