Over the years, a lot of great comments have been left here on AJATT.com. Unfortunately, unlike posts, they get lost in the vast depths of Commentland pretty easily. “All-Star Comments” is a section where I resurrect them from the dead and share them with you.
Obviously, people (adults) were becoming fluent in second/third/nth languages LONG before the invention of SRS, or even flashcards. And the general consensus among learners who use an SRS is that you also have to do non-SRS stuff (informal reading/listening/immersion) in addition to your daily reps. So really, an SRS is neither necessary nor sufficient for L2 acquisition.
Does it make the process faster or more efficient? I’m not sure. I tend to think so, both because of the scientifically well-established effectiveness of spaced repetition for long-term memorization, and just plain old common sense (although the latter is infamously questionable in my case )
For my part, I love SRS’ing. It sounds weird, but I can’t wait to get up each morning, get my coffee, and do my reps. I get a huge sense of accomplishment from watching Mnemosyne’s “Scheduled” and “Not memorised” counters drop from two or three digits to zero every day, and that makes it fun. So it’s fun, and it’s in Japanese, and… hey! Don’t I recognize that formula from somewhere?
It’s fun in much the same way that RPGs are fun (YMMV), particularly RPGs involving lots of micro-management like Pokemon or Final Fantasy Tactics. Adding items, grading my performance, keeping track of statistics… it’s a form of instant gratification, in a process where delayed gratification is the name of the game. I like numbers and structure; that’s just how my brain is oriented. It’s not a choice, it’s a lifestyle! But it’s largely what keeps me going in my quest for fluency; if I didn’t have some kind of objective indicator of how much progress I’ve made and what I’ve learned so far, it would be all too easy to succumb to the old “when the heck am I going to get good, I haven’t learned a single thing in months, I’m sitting here pretending to read these strange symbols that I’ll never actually understand and I should just give up” trap. (Okay, maybe it needs a shorter name.)
Anyway, I’m not the sort of person who buys into ideas like “kids are magical” or “East Asians are magical”, but I’m very much the sort of person who is quick to self-doubt. The SRS keeps me motivated and encouraged (not to mention organized and accountable), and that alone makes it indispensable in my opinion.