Success Story…Kinda: SRS and the Power and Value of Memory

An AJATTeer who goes by the nickname AdShap shares his story [edited for spelling, punctuation and privacy…you know hwo it is wtih email]:

I’ve been using your methods for the past year and a half to learn Japanese, and have been for the past semester at law school. I’m the only student in the school who knows what an SRS is (I tried to inform a few close friends, but you know, people don’t like trying new things). Anyway, thanks for the great information, and keep up the great site. What you write does make a difference, so keep it up.

I mean, who wouldn’t have praise for Khatzumoto? Who? Who dare not…
OK, end of ego trip. But, that’s not even the coolest part of AdShap’s personal account. This is:

The SRS is amazing for law school. I had my doubts at first, but after the first semester it gave me top scores. While everyone scrambled towards the end of the semester spending countless hours cramming (cramming for law school exams usually takes place a week or 2 before exams, so maybe cramming is the wrong word), all I had to do was continue my reps and do some practice exams. Watching people create 100s of index cards by hand the week before just seemed like such a waste.

The thing about law school is that you will actually be using the information you learned after you graduate, but most of these people have already forgotten what they learned the past semester, while I have it strongly fixed in my mind as I go into the second semester. Also, since most courses build on each other, I have a serious advantage going into the next semester.

Yea, I start to realize that the less people that use an SRS, the more it makes the people who are using it succeed and look better. If everyone was using an SRS it was just increase competition, so I definitely don’t go around telling people about it.

I never once had to work all night, cram, lose sleep, or over-stress. As long as I kept up with my SRS at a normal pace every day I was fine. It mentally made me feel strong knowing I had such a powerful tool. Of course it worked for me in studying Japanese (I’m up to about 10,100 self-created cards and building) but I had my fears that it wouldn’t work in law school because professors like to say “don’t bother memorizing stuff: it won’t help you succeed in law school.” Shows how little they know! How can you apply what you learn if you don’t firmly know it first?

My first semester I had a writing course which unfortunately I couldn’t use it for since it was just for improving your writing skills. But the other 2 main courses I had, I ended up with about 2600 cards for the semester. This semester I have 4 normal classes in addition to the writing course, so I may end up around 5-6k cards this time around.

I noticed that with all the SRSing you really have to exercise your hands and body. I started to develop a little tendinitis before realizing this.

I use the Anki SRS system and have to say I love it. I think you mentioned you’ve used that as well on your site.

Anyway, good luck with your continuing Cantonese studying and your blog.

AdShap’s story got me thinking about this discussion on the SuperMemo website, on the issue of data vs. information vs. knowledge vs. wisdom. The author makes a very convincing case for the value of memorization and the dishonesty of the current “we don’t test rote memorization, we test reasoning” fad that’s got its fingers stuck in all the orifices of schooling in America and many other countries. That the SuperMemo article used flight as a metaphor is quite pertinent in light of recent aviation events (thanks beneficii!).

Update: AdShap very kindly shares a sample of his SRS items.


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  41 comments for “Success Story…Kinda: SRS and the Power and Value of Memory

  1. January 17, 2009 at 12:08

    yes! first comment! lol, anyways, great article. That sure is encouraging. I’m using an SRS with college too and it’s working great!

  2. January 17, 2009 at 12:30

    Ah, me too. Just setup card creation for bio and econ for the upcoming semester. I feel confident. I’ll just sit in class and instead of copying down by hand all the notes the instructor tells us to, I’ll put what I need straight into Anki on my laptop and won’t even worry about it. Bam, how’s that for awesomeness?

  3. Juz
    January 17, 2009 at 13:02

    SRS’s are just the best. I’m glad I found this website(Tkyosam) It’s helped me a lot with my japanese. Finished RTK in 2.5 months and now am on sentences 300+. Thanks a lot Khatzumotto, you’re the best

  4. Rob
    January 17, 2009 at 13:51

    Sorry, I can’t help commenting on this topic. On Khatzumoto’s prior post, I commented on what I consider the dangers of using an SRS. Let me clarify that my opinion was directed solely at language learning. The above story and subsequent comments are good examples of what I think an SRS would be a valuable tool for, and that is for subjects where the content within them is constant, or more specifically, subjects in school that require you to retain information in order to regurgitate it at a later date. We all know that language doesn’t fit this mold as it is a living ever-changing beast.

    I think Khatz has written before that he believes there are infinite ways to express a single idea in a language. If this is the case, then why it is so important to try and remember a few thousand set sentences?

    I’m not arguing that learning a language with the help of an SRS is not going to eventually get you to the goal line. Khatzumoto is an example that it will. I am arguing as to whether using an SRS is the most efficient or funnest way to learn a language. Consider the fun part. Ask yourself honestly, do you consider using the SRS as a fun addition to learning the language, or more of a chore that you have to complete every day because you believe this is the only way to get good? For me it was the latter and I suspect that is the case for others. Why is it necessary to take breaks from the SRS? Would you even want to take a break from something that is fun? Isn’t that what the core of language learning is supposed to about?

    I’m sure millions of people have become fluent in foreign languages before the SRS and more will without it. I believe in following all of Khatzumoto’s methods except swap out the SRS for constant exposure to new interesting reading content.

    What’s that? Are those pitchforks I see in the distance?!

  5. Graham Bouvier
    January 17, 2009 at 13:57

    I really do consider SRS one of the best parts of my day. It’s like “I wonder if I can get up and get 90% on my reps, that would be awesome!”. I don’t think my optimism is shared by all but I can honstly say that I get up faster in the morning to start my reps than I ever have before.

  6. nest0r
    January 17, 2009 at 13:59

    Indeed. The retrievability/stability model of memory those Supermemo guys talk about is also relevant to this, I feel. My main goal right now, after that initial wooing period of SRSing everything and wishing I had Anki before I graduated (so I could gloat being one reason ;p), is managing all the potential of the SRS. Your recent software post clued me in on a lot of time management concepts that I’d been ignoring because they were so laden with guru marketing hype.

  7. January 17, 2009 at 14:33

    >Khatzumoto is an example that it will. I am arguing as to whether using an SRS is the most efficient or funnest way to learn a language. Consider the fun part. Ask yourself honestly, do you consider using the SRS as a fun addition to learning the language, or more of a chore that you have to complete every day because you believe this is the only way to get good?

    The way I see it, I spent most of my time reading and doing things in the language, and every now and then something interesting will come along and I’ll add it to my deck or mark it to put in later.

    The small cost of using an SRS is offset by the enormous benefit it gives. A half hour out of my day (I tend to put a limit on how long I’m allowed to review) is not going to be all that terribly boring, especially if I’m reviewing interesting sentences (a lot of my sentences bring back floods of fond memories or emotional moments, just because where I got them from has strong emotional ties).

    But what you said applies very much to the srs-sentence pack lot who try and get through iknow, or ko, or whatever the fad is these days. Spending all day studying sentences to then spend all day on the SRS reviewing those sentences. I fail to see the benefits for something that sounds so much like boring drudgery.

  8. nest0r
    January 17, 2009 at 14:34

    BTW, Khatz, what do you think of workflow type software as designed for GTD, or stuff that’s similar? I was thinking of combining that with the timing and scripting tools you already posted (but I think some GTD wikis and whatnot might already have such timers). Oh woe, I wish I had classes to force me into a study schedule, instead of having to triage projects and hack time myself. Oh woe to the autodidact. ^_^

  9. January 17, 2009 at 15:05

    Khatz,

    I got a question for your reader, if he has the time to answer: what format did he use for his SRS questions? and what heuristic did he use for extracting facts out of his case studies? I’m really interested in this, and I’ve been thinking for a long time as to how I could apply this to my engineering studies (but without much success). If he could even provide a sample case study -> Anki facts would be *amazing*, but I’m sure that’s asking too much..

  10. Rob
    January 17, 2009 at 15:38

    Interesting point Alyks. I don’t want to say I don’t agree with what you said, because only you can know if something is or isn’t working for you. For me personally though, I don’t think individual sentences hold that much meaning. Focusing on a single sentence without the whole content around it is like belting out the punchline without telling the joke. The emotional ties I feel will most likely come from how I relate as a whole to the story, article, or whatever I happen to be reading. If I like it, then I can always re-read it later. I guess I just don’t see the benefit of extracting tiny pieces of it to go over and over. Rather, I don’t see how doing that (the SRS) could outweigh the benefits of moving on and starting the next story.

  11. Jonathan
    January 17, 2009 at 15:46

    >But what you said applies very much to the srs-sentence pack lot who try and get through iknow, or ko, or whatever the fad is these days. Spending all day studying sentences to then spend all day on the SRS reviewing those sentences. I fail to see the benefits for something that sounds so much like boring drudgery.

    Eh, the way I see it, it’s just amusing to me to study so much in one day that I literally can’t see or think straight. Whenever the novelty of that wears off, I’ll probably just start doing something else.

  12. Nukemarine
    January 17, 2009 at 16:14

    In the US Navy, they have rating examinations (a test based off the type of job you do) twice a year to help determine who gets promoted. Now, 6 months prior to this test you’re told exactly which books are being used to get the questions. Know what most people do? Yep, same schtick as in college, cram the last week if that, then moan how they’re not book smart and wish people were advanced on how they do their job (which does happen, as it’s called evaluation score). Apparently that whole “effort” thing goes over their heads.

    I showed people in my division how to use Anki, and maybe a few consistently use it. It’s not much for 5 to 10 people to divide the labor of creating questions and answers. Sadly, it’s that “Easy to do, easy not to do” quote coming around. And the funny thing is, this is not for an “A” in organic chemistry. This is for MORE MONEY and people still blow it off. However, I did my part. I showed it to them, I offered help in setting it up, I offered preparing and sharing questions and answers. I’ve led them to the water, it’s up to them to drink.

    PS: I did ask those that did consistently use the SRS. They all reported that, though slightly different questions appeared on the test, it was nothing to make the jump to the right answer.

  13. Psi Guard
    January 17, 2009 at 16:57

    The SRS is a tool, not a master. Too many individuals become slaves to their SRS, constantly looking for the next big chunk of premade sentences to add. This causes many of them to become overwhelmed and eventually to burn out to some degree.

    While I do agree that reading is the most productive method for language acquisition, I disagree that reading alone is the most effective method. Many parts of a language are not found in all sources, nor is everything easy to master the first time around. For example, in the technical documents I’ve been reading, they rarely use uncertainty or endings such as と思う、そうです、and ようです. Conversely, many of the anime series I’ve watched use those, as well as their more colloquial cousins (such as みたい), quite often. Early on, I had some confusion with そうです、ようです、みたい、and ~らしい. “Which does what again?”, “That one isn’t used is polite speech?”, etc. By using an SRS I was able to add several examples of each and with in a few days I felt very comfortable with all of them.

    If something feels “new”, “unusual”, “rare”, or “confusing” I add it to my SRS. This casual SRS use has enabled me to remember a very large amount of information that I don’t often find in the material I read. Also, it is very hard to beat an SRS at pure rote memorization of names of people and places (how many of you know which prefecture 栗林公園 is located in?). …I can see the replies now. Yes, reading about the names of places in Japan will be a boring event for most people. I do it because I find it fun (yes fun, FUN).

    While I don’t agree with many of the current sentence mining trends, I absolutely recommend anyone just starting sentences to mine Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide. It’s like learning to ride the Japanese bicycle with someone holding on to the seat for you. It’ll save you lots of scraped knees and elbows while you’re getting your balance. Before you know it, you’ll be peddling along, enjoying the helping hand, but when you look back you’ll see that helping hand had let go and now you’re riding along all by yourself with the whole world to explore!

    If using an SRS feels boring in any way then it is most likely being used improperly. Is it taking too much time? Only add the sentences that REALLY stand out for you. Is it a chore to add things? Then what is being added isn’t important enough to add. Are the same cards coming up over and over and you’re tired of them? Throw them out.

    Rob, while I agree that language is a living, ever-changing being, I disagree that that is an acceptable excuse to completely dismiss the use of an SRS. A language is the collective respresentation of a culture of people. It changes with those people as time progresses and events unfold. It does not, however, change as fast and a single individual does on a personal level. It’s like comparing the distance traveled by someone taking a leisurely stroll and professional marathon runner. Over several hours the individual out for a stroll will have walked a considerable distance. The marathon runner on the other hand will have covered an exponentially larger amount of distance. So, while the walker may have started many miles ahead of the runner, he’ll catch up in no time. In other words, language doesn’t change fast enough to offset the benefits of an SRS.

    I rambled on a bit, oh well.

  14. Carl
    January 17, 2009 at 16:58

    “I think Khatz has written before that he believes there are infinite ways to express a single idea in a language. If this is the case, then why it is so important to try and remember a few thousand set sentences?”

    I hate commenting on theory- it’s a serious waste of my time, and yours- but I’ve got an honest and decent suggestion for you, to demonstrate empirically why you can learn a small set of phrases to great benefit. Record yourself speaking for a week.

    You’ll be surprised, I think, to find that you’re an incredibly repetitive person in conversation- but don’t take it personally, because it turns out we all are.

  15. Jon
    January 17, 2009 at 16:59

    @Rob:

    Just a personal note: I find SRS’ing fun because it lets me “do the language” in fun little bite-sized pieces. Khatz likened it to popping bubblewrap in one of his posts. It feels like much more of an achievement if I can complete 100 simple, nearly-sans-brain-type items than 20 complicated items, even if they cover the same “amount” of knowledge (however that might be measured). Sometimes I just do single words instead of sentences, because I figure that in that case remembering how to read/write the kanji is juuuust enough challenge to make it interesting.

    That works just fine for me, and I enjoy it and always feel like doing more, which is the important part in my mind. Obviously there’s no one “right way” to go about it (though of course there are numerous wrong ways). Cheers 🙂

  16. Psi Guard
    January 17, 2009 at 17:01

    Forgot to add that everyone is different and that various things that work for me won’t work for you, and vice versa. If I said I “disagree” with something it is because it didn’t work for me personally, not that your idea isn’t valid, etc.

  17. Jon
    January 17, 2009 at 17:03

    Addendum: Another factor is that I’m very much a numbers person, and I get a thrill from seeing Mnemosyne’s “scheduled” number drop to 0 each day, as well as the ever-widening gap between the number of unlearned cards and the total number of cards. Just another source of motivation, sorely needed.

  18. January 17, 2009 at 18:13

    To comment on the discussion Rob started concerning SRS:

    One tricky thing about language learning is that it’s, in a way, very difficult, if not impossible, to know what’s really contributing to your fluency; what’s giving the results.

    As an example, if you want to learn, say, a new word which you’ve stumbled upon, you might first look it up in a Japanese-English dictionary, then later in an Japanese-only dictionary, then put it into your SRS, or maybe write out a few sentences with it, and then hear it a few times. At one point you think “Ok, I know this word.” But, and here’s the tricky part, a lot of the times you’ll also think “and I think I learned it when I looked it up in the dict./heard it in the TV show etc. – therefore, doing THAT is the best way to learn new words!”.

    While in fact, can you really be sure at which moment you truly learned that word or phrase or whatever? Yeah, maybe it “clicked” at that one conscious point, but you really can’t be certain if it was because you heard it 20 times on TV or saw it 10 times in your SRS or what combination of all the factors.

    So, the next best thing you can do (and don’t get me wrong, it’s a GREAT next best thing indeed 🙂 is make a system where you’ll set the rules of learning, press play and see what happens over a period of time.

    This is what I think Khatz did. He defined his system: “I want to learn Japanese. I will do it by tons of exposure to stuff in Japanese which I find interesting and fun, I will pretend I am Japanese, I will use an SRS etc.” Then he set out and did that. While doing it, he probably tweaked the system at several points to make it even more fun/efficient etc. He’s still tweaking it now.

    Here’s the thing – the system, AS A WHOLE, IS measurable. Look at Khatz and his results after 18 months. Or all the success stories.

    And not to expand this discussion even further, what’s even more great about that system is that it brought him to fluency in an isolated language everyone’s afraid of, without his having any previous knowledge of the language – he stared with a “clean Japanese slate” (he didn’t previously take 3 years of classes of Japanese, where he learned lots of pointless stuff, but some of it stuck nevertheless. This is stuff which might help or hinder your future learning, without you knowing it).

    So, while the system IS measurable, it’s components hardly are. The best you can do is change a component and see what happens with your progress speed and skill level over time.

    Personally, I think the best method is the one Khatz is talking about here, but without the SRS. I learned English like that, by lots of exposure to fun stuff as a kid, without even knowing I was learning it. It took more than 18 months, sure, but your brain is also a lot slower when you’re 10 or 11. 🙂 And you could say I know my English.

    But here’s the thing. My opinion about SRS is based on a hunch. I’ll know if it’s right after another year or so of my language learning without using it.

    Khatz KNOWS what results his method, which includes SRS, brings.

    So, while perhaps substituting SRS with even more random fun exposure IS more efficient, I think we (the people here 😀 ) don’t know that. What we DO know is that lots of fun exposure + SRS DOES bring results.

  19. January 17, 2009 at 18:23

    I discovered SRS after I graduate from university, and I’ve not been back in formal schooling since. There’s a part of me that wants to go to grad school just to see how it would work 🙂

    I’ve been thinking a lot about SRS and school lately, though. I have a very young son, but in a few years (well, five, but I like to plan ahead!) he’ll be facing the rigors of the Chinese school system, which places very, very high premiums on memorization. Using SRS to help him succeed is the clear choice, but getting a 5-year old to do it seems like an uphill battle. It will be interesting to see in him how it works.

  20. January 17, 2009 at 20:41

    I major Spanish in college (I know, but I started before I discovered this site…), and since I’m using an SRS for vocab and such, I’m passing with straight A’s. People in class do use some kind of flashcards, but all on paper and mostly wordlists. The thing is, we need to explain whole SENTENCES in Spanish, so a wordlist won’t even help. Because I extract the whole sentences from the textbooks, look up some extra info about the sentence, etc. I know the structure by heart. Because of this I can put pretty much any sentence together and therefore pass without even really preparing myself.

    Example: last semester I was really busy and didn’t have time to prepare myself for my Spanish exams. But I already entered quite some stuff from the textbooks into Anki and learned that along the other sentences I already had. At the day of the test everyone was stressed out and cramming until the last minute… I had one of the highest scores without even trying! The part you couldn’t prepare for was the part I was the best at, simply because I knew how to write a letter (while I never had written one in Spanish). This shows how strong an SRS really is.

  21. January 17, 2009 at 22:39

    Rob:
    You’re not using an SRS to memorise lots of sentences, that’s rubbish, and boring.
    You’re using the SRS to memorize words, grammar, punctuation and the subtleties of a foreign language *in the context* of individual sentences.

    It’s a bit (a lot) like how google’s good machine translators work (e.g. the Arabic one). However people are better at picking up on small things and making tiny adjustments to make things sound better overall than computers.

  22. ドンキホーテ
    January 18, 2009 at 01:27

    @Ramses

    I have long been interested in started an SRS for a European language, but I am always tripped up by how to enter the questions and still keep it monolingual.
    In Japanese I did the normal thing and entered the reading for the sentences in kana like a children’s video game in the answer field, and included definitions for words I thought I might forget.
    But if the language was Spanish, I wouldn’t know what to do. I have tried putting the sentences translated into Japanese in the answer field, but it’s really not what I want.
    Have you been able to keep your Spanish SRS monolingual, and if so how did you manage it?

  23. David
    January 18, 2009 at 02:14

    I just started doing this for my Web classes. If there’s anything that uses acronyms, it’s the WWW.. or, I mean W3, er wait! The World Wide Web. You know, that FTP, Email, HTML, PHP.. thingy. 🙂

    And, what’s more, is you can kill two birds with one stone if you think you have the time. For example:
    ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML
    ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_Transfer_Protocol
    ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascading_Style_Sheets

    And, when you have that pressure to learn something for school hanging over you, it gives you that motivational shove you might need. Plus, it kind of forces you to understand the information. And, I think Khatzumoto has mentioned before that in order to learn how to do adult things, like study for college exams, in Japanese, you have to do just that, in Japanese. If I can find a Japanese help file for Dreamweaver CS4 I’ll be making thorough use of it. x)

  24. David
    January 18, 2009 at 02:26

    I’ve been toying with something like this. Kind of the same idea that you should buy your textbooks in your target language. I’m a Web design major, so things like the Japanese version of the Dreamweaver help file, and Wikipedia articles (in Japanese) about things like HTML, XML, FTP, etc. are rather useful for me. And, I think this can apply to any major unrelated to Japanese. What’s nice about this is, you practice Japanese and study for quizzes/tests at the same time. And, being in class, since its conducted in English, you’re not likely to misunderstand. So, it’s safe, too. This is an excellent post, and highly motivational. 🙂

  25. mike
    January 18, 2009 at 04:42

    @Rob

    I am assuming you attend law school too?

  26. January 18, 2009 at 06:52

    @ David (and/or others)
    ha, well I’m an English Major, so I’m not so sure the SRS will help for that. I use an SRS for other things like science classes (*shudders*), communications, history, etc. But, the only thing is, especially my last two years of college where a majority of my courses will be for my major, an SRS won’t help me develop my writing skills. It won’t help me do literary analysis. And it sure as heck won’t help me with Shakespeare (however, perhaps that could evolve into another language learning thing; maybe I could use an SRS to unlock the mysteries of Elizabethan English?!). Yeah all this is a bit unfortunate, but whatev. I’ll still ace my other classes.

  27. LegionCobra
    January 18, 2009 at 07:09

    With SRS you aren’t memorizing a lot of sentences, it’s don’t make sense! SRS is to be forced to read a lot of japanese things every day, things that you have been learned before and will forget if not review.

    The objective of SRS Khatz method is not to memorize all sentences, the objetive is to be forced to read japanese all day, a lot of sentences with japanese that is easy for you because you studied it before. And, when you’re picking sentences, you’re using japanese, you add 10.000 sentences but in this process you need do read more than 100.000 to collect sentences for SRS.

    And, SRS is not all, it’s a tool, a very efficient tool, but it’s not all. You can’t learn japanese or any language using SRS only.

  28. Jon
    January 18, 2009 at 10:57

    @igordesu

    I’m not sure how close to the mark this will be (my major is *shudder* physics ;)), but your post reminded me of this article:

    www.city-journal.org/html/14_3_defense_memorization.html

    Long story short, he suggests that memorizing poetry and prose (something an SRS is pretty well suited to) is a great way to improve one’s command of the language. I myself have been using Mnemosyne to learn some of Shakespeare’s sonnets recently, and it’s actually kind of fun. I don’t know how much this would relate to your major (depending on your focus: creative writing? Lit crit? Journalism?), but it seems to be one way an SRS might help. In fact, it would pretty much parallel the AJATT method: immerse yourself in good (if dated) English, and your English writing will improve (or become dated). 🙂

    Also, insofar as some English classes involve remembering grammar terms (gerund, participle, infinitive, etc.) or names and birthdates of important authors, another use for an SRS becomes apparent.

  29. beneficii
    January 18, 2009 at 12:33

    About sentences. The number of sentences that will make their way through your SRS–mileage may vary. I have a very small SRS composed of interesting entries and I like it that way. I’m not wanting to review 50 items everyday.

    Also, I know that AJATT has been attacked because of the crowd that thinks his method is about getting 10,000 sentences in their SRS and then reviewing them every day over and over again and then becoming fluent and who think that a short-cut is to download a pre-compiled list of sentences and get to work on them. They took what Khatz was saying totally out of context when they set out to do this. I doubt that any of the success had 10,000 sentences in their SRS at anyone time, because that would be a monster to review, but it’s probably true that at least some of them had 10,000 sentences or so grace their SRS over the course of their learning.

    Again, too, Khatzumoto has spoken on the topic of _memorizing_ sentences, and Khatz is not talking about memorizing sentences so that you can recite them later; the purpose of the SRS is to artifically increase your input of sentence structures that seem interesting to you in a way, and which you had just come to understand, so that you can get a quicker handle on the sentence’s grammatical/phrase structure and words/kanji.

    It might also help to write out the sentences as you review them, or at least their kanji, so that you can get more used to writing kanji.

  30. David
    January 18, 2009 at 16:40

    Yeah, I guess it wouldn’t work well for English majors, and I’d think other foreign languages classes. But in that case, you’re probably trying to learn that language instead. And, I have no idea what happened with my comments up there. I posted the first one and it didn’t go through. But when I came back here it was there. Strange. :\

  31. Sponge Ascendant
    January 18, 2009 at 17:29

    Tremendously off-topic, but after 3.1 months I just finished RTK1. I’m rather proud of myself. Hats off to Khatz for motivating the craps out of me (now, crapless, I got to greater things).

  32. January 19, 2009 at 07:19

    AdShap, Khatz,

    Thanks for posting the SRS sample; that answered all of my questions. I had thought about doing something similar with my physics/engineering classes (big word problems with short qualitative answers as the answer), but never tried it because I thought it’d be too cumbersome to work. Your experience certainly shows otherwise! It’s motivated me to start putting together an Anki deck for the upper division quantum physics class I’m taking this quarter. I’ll let you all know how it goes!

  33. antaresprime
    January 19, 2009 at 11:02

    @budoboy

    I’m an engineering student as well and I’ve been using Anki to learn Japanese. I’ve also been thinking about how I can use an SRS with course work. Please let us know how it goes.

  34. wenhailin
    January 19, 2009 at 16:20

    I have actually been doing the same thing as AdShap for my contract law subject. And turns out I got a really good mark in that subject!

    But, 2600 cards for two courses? That is just crazy, I only did about 200 for my 1 law subject. AdShap, you have motivated me to write even more cards for my law courses this semester!

  35. January 20, 2009 at 20:08

    @ドンキホーテ
    Keeping the SRS monolingual is quite easy, although I had to look for it as well. I simply put in the definitions of unknown words in the answer field. Example:

    QUESTION
    Al fondo de la obra se puede ver el monte Fuji, cuyo pico está cubierto por la nieve.

    ANSWER
    fondo = m. Parte inferior de una cosa.
    -inferior: Que está debajo de otra cosa o más bajo que ella.

    pico = Parte puntiaguda que sobresale de algunas cosas.

    Sometimes they get bigger, with more info etc, but simply giving the definitions is enough. At times, I re-write the sentence after an explanation and put the easier to understand sentence in the answer field.

  36. adshap8
    January 21, 2009 at 07:47

    Wenhailin,

    It was a lot of cards but the results really showed. I had tons of hypos, cases(facts/holdings), emanuel outlines facts, black letter law, important points made in class, etc.

    The best part about using ANKI is that it stays with you. While most of the other students are already rapidly forgetting things as the next semester roles on, the stuff stays strong with me. While I’ve stopped using the deck from the first semester (due to lack of time and using the new deck), I may come back to it when the bar exam comes around. Anyway, good luck!

  37. February 5, 2009 at 11:57

    @Sponge Ascendant – Nice one! congratulations! Feels good eh!?!

  38. Casimiro
    April 14, 2010 at 08:44

    @Ramses
    That’s a really bad example. That’s not what “fondo” means in that sentence, it means background.

  39. Han
    April 21, 2011 at 19:41

    I use the SRS for Russian. Because I already study it in university (yeah, I know), I don’t have such a need for finding patterns in the grammar with sentences – it’s all rather second nature to me now. So, I usually keep it monolingual by putting a sentence or word on one side, and explanations in Russian on the other, such as:

    [FRONT]
    Говорят, я́кобы он умер
    [BACK]
    Они сказали что он умер, но я не знаю, и не действительно верю их

    It’s turned out to be really useful in learning how to use figures of speech correctly. That’s how I use the SRS for my own studies, where my main priority is vocabulary building, rather than learning and understanding the frameworks.

    • ライトニング
      April 21, 2011 at 20:56

      How is the explanation so short?

      • Han
        April 22, 2011 at 01:31

        Sorry, don’t get what you’re asking.

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