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What is an SRS?

November 24, 2006
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SRS is short for “spaced repetition system”. Generally speaking, it’s a piece of electronic flashcard-like software that helps you to long-term-memorize large quantities of information by effectively working on only a small subset of the information each day, using spaced repetitions.

The idea of spaced repetitions is painfully simple: when you first learn something, you (need to) review it very frequently in order to keep remembering it. Later, you can review it less frequently — apparently this is a property of human memory regardless of age or “intelligence”. The ever-increasing space of time between repetitions allows you to keep reviewing (and thereby remembering) old material even as you learn new material. The SRS takes care of that constant “leaking bucket” problem where you only remember things learned recently. In this sense, it could be said that SRS basically solve the problem of long-term memory: as they say at SuperMemo, you can forget about forgetting.

SRS aren’t perfect, but if used correctly (i.e. daily and with well-formed question-answer pairs), then they promise retention in the range of 90-95%, and in my experience, they do deliver. It’s interesting to think that actually “letting go” — allowing that you will forget 5-10% of what you learn, rather than being obsessed with 100% retention, has the counter-intuitive effect of leading you to actually learn more. To put it in numerical terms, I have so far learned 4500 kanji with a retention rate of about 90%+; 90% of 4500 is a much better statistic than 100% of only, say, 1000. Also, the 5-10% that I forget generally aren’t the ones I’ve been reviewing for a long time; they are the more recently learned characters.

There are many SRS available for varying platforms. Whatever SRS you choose, remember that the key is not which SRS you use, but that you actually use one and use it every day.

For more on SRS and kanji study, check here and here.

Yea, verily and it was written, that [your name goes here] did donate to AJATT. And it was good.

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99 Responses to What is an SRS?

  1. [...] The problem here is slipping up on your practicing. Of course you’ve surrounded yourself with Japanese music, movies, TV and books. But that needs to be backed up by good old low-level practice of kanji and sentences, in the form of practicing electronic flashcards (or, in the lingo, “doing repetitions”) in your SRS. [...]

  2. Oisín on March 5, 2007 at 11:03

    Slipping up isn’t really a big deal once you actual return to it. You come back and find that you have a big pile of flashcards to review and either do them in one sitting (100) or deal with them over the course of a few days or a week (500….). The SRS will catch those that you forgot – that’s the whole point. Our brains are pretty good at dealing with it, too.

    As long as you bite the bullet and load up your flashcards, rather than telling yourself “argh, there’s going to be LOADS to do…” every day and not doing it. If you feel like that, then just allocate a 5 minute (set a countdown timer on your phone) session each day until you’ve gotten over it.

  3. Michael DiStefano on March 25, 2007 at 04:42

    I’ve gotten mnemosyne to compile on OSX and wrote my instructions here .

    It is a bit cumbersome though and must run in X11. I personally like using iFlash on the mac, it’s interval learning mode is not an algorithm per-se, but is close to a SRS.

  4. Duran on April 8, 2007 at 10:06

    Very interesting. I don’t see how this technique can fail, if you apply it to your everyday life.

  5. uberstuber on May 24, 2007 at 14:00

    For Mac OS/Linux users who are too lazy to get all of the dependencies mnemosyne needs, jmemorize (jmemorize.org/) is a good java based (and thus cross platform) alternative. There’s no scaling system (you can only answer yes/no instead of 0-5) but it’s still very effective.

  6. Michael DiStefano on May 31, 2007 at 10:34

    Just thought I would write that I’ve updated the guide to installing Mnemosyne on OSX. It’s completely rewritten and updated.

    Mnemosyne no longer needs to be run in X11 and the problems with getting the window in focus no longer exist. I now use it exclusively for reviewing Japanese material aside from kanji.koohi.com (which is only for RTK).

    Anyway, the new guide is here

  7. Brody on July 13, 2007 at 00:18

    First things first, thanks so much for this information. I was beginning to think Japanese was an impossible feat. The SRS system is really helping out, as well as all the other information on the site.

    I was wondering if there was any possible way to add audio to say, a program like Mnemosyne. I’m getting decent at reading, but I still have great trouble catching spoken Japanese. I figured if it helps to read sentences over and over, it ought to help to hear certain Japanese spoken over and over (and an SRS system would be the best way to do it). I have sources for good Japanese audio, and I know how to “grab” the audio from movies and shows; if there were some way I could make that audio the “question” in Mnemosyne and the “answer” could be the transcripted phrase, I don’t know, maybe it will help my listening skills.
    Thoughts on if this might be a good idea (and if it’s possible?)

    Thanks.

  8. khatzumoto on July 13, 2007 at 12:01

    Hmm…I don’t know about Mnemosyne. But perhaps another of the programs out there (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaced_repetition) might support audio.

    It would definitely be a cool idea to have the audio there (although, if it takes too too much effort to sort out, then it might be best to forge ahead without it).

  9. Jim on July 14, 2007 at 03:06

    I can confirm that Mnemosyne supports audio, as of version 0.9.8.
    mnemosyne-proj.sourceforge.net/news.php

    The tag is used like this (but use angle brackets instead of parens):
    (sound src=”file.ogg”/)

    You can put that tag either on the question or answer side, and the sound will play when it is shown. Hit ‘R’ to replay the sound.

    I just found that out last week, because I was wondering if audio might be a neat addition to the flashcard review. It seemed like hearing the audio confirmation would be fun, rather than just reading the phonetic spelling. However, I agree that the effort required to prepare the audio is a big concern!

  10. Brody on July 15, 2007 at 11:11

    Great, thanks for the info.

  11. Mario G on August 1, 2007 at 11:52

    Ok, so I just made an account in KhatzuMemo. I understand how to use it what I don’t understand is what I should input in it. What am I supposed to be learning in the SRS phase? Or was that phase just to introduce what an SRS is and once I have the SRS I’m supposed to go to the Kanji phase and input Kanji to the SRS?

    I’m sorry, I’m a little confused.

  12. khatzumoto on August 1, 2007 at 11:58

    >was that phase just to introduce what an SRS
    Yes

    >I’m supposed to go to the Kanji phase and input Kanji to the SRS?
    Yes :D.

  13. Mario G on August 2, 2007 at 03:19

    Ok, thanks for your reply khatzumoto! =)

  14. Mario G on August 2, 2007 at 06:37

    Uhmmm just some more things. I got “Remembering the Kanji”. In the SRS, the question would be the kanji and the answer the meaning in english? And how can I type the kanji in my computer? Do I look for the word in a translator then type in my mac how you would say it and select the kanji? That’s how I’ve thought of doing it…

    Thanks,
    Mario.

  15. Mighty Matt on August 2, 2007 at 09:59

    Mario,

    Actually you should have the English keyword as the question and the kanji as the answer. That way, when you review you can look at the keyword and then try and write down the kanji.

    As for inputting them into your computer, I have three suggestions:

    1. I know in windows there is an option in the Japanese IME for ‘writing’ the kanji with your mouse in a box. The computer then tries to work out which kanji you meant.

    2. Look on this website (www.ziggr.com/heisig/) and there is a file you can download with a list of all the kanji and keywords. You could use this to copy/paste the kanji into your SRS.

    3. Save yourself a ton of time and use kanji.koohii.com Everything is already set up for you and it’s a great site for later in the book as people have shared stores for all the kanji, when Heisig just gives you primatives.

  16. Mario G on August 3, 2007 at 06:01

    Thanks a lot Matt! This site is great! It makes it so easy to learn.

  17. Name_(required) on August 25, 2007 at 06:35

    iFlash can support audio and pictures…

  18. Charles on August 27, 2007 at 07:36

    Name_(required),
    I used iFlash for quite a while. I really enjoy it, however it doesn’t have an SRS algorithm attached to it. So I had to stop using it. If it did have an SRS algorithm, I would jump on it immediately. It is a great program, just not exactly what Khatz is advocating here. If you or anyone has figured out a way to make it work like an SRS, please let me know.
    One more thing, I can’t really find an SRS that I’m fully comfortable with for the Macintosh. I couldn’t get mnemosyne to work, Genius and J-memorize didn’t do it for me and Anki seems a bit too buggy yet (although, it appears to be shaping up fast). Any suggestions? (I’m using a moldy ibook G3).
    Thanks,
    Charles

  19. Jim on August 27, 2007 at 09:00

    Charles,
    You might want to try Pauker. It’s Java so it should just work everywhere. I used it for quite a while, and I think it’s scheduling algorithm should be fine. The UI isn’t quite as ‘minimalist’ as Mnemosyne.
    -Jim

  20. Syg on August 29, 2007 at 09:53

    Thanks for the information. I got “Remembering the Kanji” and an SRS. I was just wondering, do I just remember the kanji and their keywords and learn their pronunciations at the same time or worry about pronunciation later? And where would I find the pronunciations?

  21. ¡Mnemosyne Al Rescate! | babelhut.com on November 6, 2007 at 14:30

    [...] recommend that anyone who is learning a new language use a Spaced Repitition System like Mnemosyne, Anki, SuperMemo, or [...]

  22. ¡Mnemosyne Al Rescate! | babelhut.com on November 6, 2007 at 14:30

    [...] recommend that anyone who is learning a new language use a Spaced Repitition System like Mnemosyne, Anki, SuperMemo, or [...]

  23. Stay True on November 20, 2007 at 23:27

    [...] Review as much as possible using an SRS program [...]

  24. Luke Frohling on December 30, 2007 at 15:06

    Hello All. I’m looking for a SRS which works on my mobile phone (Docomo, FOMA, n903i- I have sim cards of 1,2 and 4Gb in size) which can connect to an internet database so I can use the same info at home on my computer as well. Yes I live in Japan

    I tried the “Khatzumemo” on my phone (after creating an account using my PCs and heres what happened…I surfed using Docomo’s proprietry iMode software (which supports HTML and Java (I think)
    1) The picture on the login screen was missing (no problem-saves on time/money)
    2) the password defaults to accepting numbers (no problems- I changed my password)
    3) Once logged in the screen simply goes blank, white, nothing at all happened…

    I havetried logging in an manyh different times too…

    Any help would be appreciated…

  25. khatzumoto on January 3, 2008 at 11:39

    @Luke Frohling
    Yeah, that’s kind of a known bug on Khatzumemo that appears on certain phones. I’ll start trying to fix it again at some point soon. But for now it’s kind of “on hold”. :(

  26. Kevin on January 12, 2008 at 09:33

    Hey All

    I’ve just recently began using Anki, and I was wondering how big people make their SRS decks – I have one deck at 220 words, and have started a second now as the first one started to feel a bit big. Both decks are a mixture of vocab: BJT, JLPT 1/2, slang. Anyone got any idea as to how to optimally organize my (future) decks?

    Cheers

    PS: Special thanks to Khatz for this awesome site!

  27. Meshi on February 1, 2008 at 08:19

    Kevin, there’s no need to make separate decks when they get big. Just put all related items in the same one, e.g. one deck for Heisig kanji, and one for sentences (AJATT style).

  28. Nihongo Notes » A method for learning Japanese on February 19, 2008 at 23:37

    [...] and the pile was getting unmanageable. So I went looking for a computer based solution and found two posts about Spaced Repetition Systems. I gave Anki a try and that’s when things really took [...]

  29. querido on March 7, 2008 at 23:45

    Mnemosyne 1.0 no longer requires the manual tagging with the angle brackets, etc.
    In the edit cards screen, just right click and choose “Insert sound” or “Insert image”.

  30. BakaGaijun on March 30, 2008 at 03:37

    I must be dumb or something… how do you get the actual cards? Are there any starter packs, because I’m a beginner and have no clue where to start o_O

  31. [...] What Is An SRS? 2 [...]

  32. [...] than I have and I found his description of his study habits interesting. He doesn’t use an SRS program like myself or Thomas, but through his use of Rosetta Stone he has had some similar results to what [...]

  33. [...] details of my day-to-day studies, how I’m mining the WWWJDIC for sentences to put into my SRS, and slogging through gobi and particles and keigo. An extra 3+ hours of this kind of work every [...]

  34. DaNn0 on June 11, 2008 at 14:55

    Hey is there an SRS that will work well on a WIndows mobile device? I know there is supermemo for pocket pcs, but I keep hearing bad stuff about it. I’ve got mnemosyne on my laptop, and am building a dictionary for my PDA using ebpocket, but I would really love an SRS on that PDA. Then it will be the lamborgini of language tools.
    If I have to stick with supermemo for pocket pc, can it synch with its desktop buddy? Or would I have to make my cards twice? As it is Im going with th ecutting and pasting from the PDF file I found containing the whole of RTK1. If anyone wants to know, you need Adobe reader 7 to be able to cut and paste into word and then from there into your SRS. Im trying to be lazy/ efficient, but the srs developers seem determined to make us double up all my efforts..><

  35. DaNn0 on July 15, 2008 at 16:15

    well seeing as its been a month and no answers, I will mention my own discoveries snce then…that only supermemo and fullrecall have windows mobile capabilities. Supermemo is apparantly buggy, badly designed, and difficult to use not to mention its not freeware. You would have to buy two seperate programmes if you wanted to sync, while the pocket pc version of fullrecall is free and unlimited, only the desktop version costs, and less than supermemo. Its interface is very simple, there are good preset databases, but I havnt had any luck with synching yet, although My correspondence with the programmer seems to have spurred a new update.Im hoping once I repair the registry(again) that it will finally sync, plus you can apparantly use just the one database on a sd card, and work from that on the pc too, negating the need for sync. So it gets better and the dude who made it is cool and helpful. Oh yeah and fullrecall has rave reviews from what I have seen, and is 100% guranteed bloat/spyware free.

  36. DaNn0 on July 30, 2008 at 14:39

    woohah talkin to myself still but i hope it helps someone else…pocket fullrecall is the way to go for a pocket pc/pda/ windows mobile device based SRS…the pocket version is free and unlimited. I decided not to bother with the desktop version now, as I have my PDA everywhere I go anyway. I have to enter it all in manually as there is no import function for pre-made databases, but the entering process is a good learning tool in itself. Of course, you need a japanese OS windows mobile device, which is also good Nihongo practice, especially as I can handwrite all entries on the screen then select the right kanji.
    good for stroke order practice. It took the update by the developer and setting the new data bases again, but now it works sweet. If you are in japan you can get good secondhand pda at sofmap in Akihabara in Tokyo or Denden Town in Osaka. Don’t forget to try your haggling skills in Japanese!! I got a 一万円 discount all in Japanese, somewhat strange Japanese, but I was still pretty stoked.

  37. burtholomew on August 6, 2008 at 12:08

    Not sure if anyone will reply to this old topic, but I am looking at buying a cheap eee laptop and I’m wondering if my windows mnemosyne files will transfer over to linux without a problem. If not, I can easily install xp on it. On a similar note, if i reformat my computer will the history(like how far the words are spaced) be saved if I save the entire mnemosyne folder and just recopy it back on the fresh install?

  38. Searching for a Thai Language Learning Style on August 14, 2008 at 23:58

    [...] led me to All Japanese All The Time Dot Com which led me to Input and 10,000 Sentences and SRS. The 10000 Sentences method of language learning is similar to an assimilation-based learning [...]

  39. Top Thai Language Learning Resources on August 21, 2008 at 23:45

    [...] What is an SRS? 1 Khatzumoto shows the way with SRS. [...]

  40. konakona on August 31, 2008 at 01:57

    i was wondering how do i learn with the srs when there isn’t much repetition cause when i answer i end up not being able to see the kanji again until like 3 or 4 days…… the n by then i will have already forgotten the kanji.

  41. brian on September 13, 2008 at 19:13

    burtholomew: yeah, you can copy your .mem file from windows to linux, and everything will still work as before. I did this when I moved from windows to linux.

  42. Rufus on September 25, 2008 at 02:03

    Hey, DaNn0, thanks very much for the information about full recall! I’ve been searching for a while for a good SRS program for my PPC. That helps alot!!

  43. All Chinese, all the time | My Name is John on October 3, 2008 at 08:12

    [...] himself in it 24/7 and making constant, measurable effort. He’s also an advocate of using spaced repetition systems to handle the parts of language learning that require memorization. What makes his success even [...]

  44. Kei on November 17, 2008 at 09:22

    Hello Khatzumoto,

    Well I’m actually a bit confused with this method.So i need to get something clear.

    First step is to memorize the kanji symbols?(cant remember how many there are 160 or 1400, or something)
    Well, i havent learned the actual *Sound* of them yet, so it wouldnt help me so much.

    next:How can i use your programm when i have to type it all myself?and without the ability to write kanji with the pc?Anki doesnt even show any kanji, might be a bug…

    Also you suggest watching anime without subtitles etc.If i understand 5% of the simple japanese words, i wont learn the others by observation without subtitles.I mean, its through the subtitles in the first way, that i even know some words.

    Your website seems more like a motivater.We have to find the kanjis etc. ourselfes.

  45. Tyler on November 18, 2008 at 23:41

    Kei:

    You’re not supposed to know the sounds. That’s the point. You will get the sounds naturally, as you read more and collect sentences more (it sounds crazy, but as someone who’s been studying Japanese for a couple of years, you’ll learn that’s completely true). So, essentially, the effect you should achieve after completing the SRS is being able to look at a Japanese newspaper and recognize all the symbols for their meanings individually, and sometimes even being able to draw conclusions about the meanings of two characters that are right next to each other, making a new word (electricity + car = train).

    And there are only 2042 kanji to learn. It sounds like a lot, but it’s totally doable in a month if you’re really dedicated/have two free hours a day (which I can’t imagine any not having). If you do only 20 a day, it will only take you 100 days (and if you just make that 25 a day, you knock that down all the way to 80 days).

    Anki isn’t made FOR kanji. It’s made for whatever you want to put in it (state capitals, names of bones, pokémon statistics). Therefore, upon downloading it you don’t just start kanji. Anki’s like a blackboard in a classroom–you can be trying to learn math from it, but that doesn’t mean it comes pre-made with equations, or that it can’t be used for drawing pretty pictures of flowers. Luckily, though, the people at Yahoo! Groups have actually made the list of kanji FOR you: tinyurl.com/6868d2 (That should work, but if it doesn’t, just join the Yahoo! Group “Remembering the Kanji” and get the heisig.anki file)

    All PCs these days (unless you’re running Windows 98 or something) come with the ability to type in Japanese. Google how to do it, or just go to Control Panel>Regional and Language Settings and figure it out from there.

    Also, typing it out yourself (which is what many people have done) isn’t a bad idea, although it is a big turn-off for prospective beginners.

    Listening to your anime (many, many, many, many, super many, so many many times) serves a few purposes:
    -Hear the words you already know.
    -Help you differentiate and separate words, so that it doesn’t sound like a string of gibberish.
    -Makes you LISTEN instead of read.

    You say you know some words because of subtitles, but if you were to quote a funny line or story plot to your friend, wouldn’t your brain be referencing the English you read? Probably. It’s less learning than you think.

    This website IS a motivator, but it’s also a great resource for ideas, and a nice look at what it looks like to reach the goal that everyone here hopes to achieve.

    Hell, if I could, I’d make this website into a Bible and put it in every hotel nightstand drawer I could.

  46. Tyler on November 18, 2008 at 23:41

    Damn, that was long.

  47. Kei on November 19, 2008 at 05:25

    Thanks Tyler.

    I see.But to except learning a language just from animes might be a bit hard to comprehend, allthough i’ve allready done it once. >>.i learned german through german dubbed anime as a kid.So…I’ll go for this now.

  48. soulcalibur on November 20, 2008 at 02:46

    Hi to all… I need your help… Im a very beginner to study kanji… I already learn all hiragana and katakana.. and I would like to use the program ANKI, but I don’t have idea how to use to learn kanji and componds…
    I download the program, but now.. how I can learn something?

    I don’t know what to type, I thought in this program there was all the cards and kanji and sentence I needed… but there’s nothing.. how I can add all these things?

    I don’t know where to find it…
    Thank you so much I hope you can help me :)

  49. Byki Thai Language Course on November 27, 2008 at 14:26

    [...] your language learning style of choice is a SRS (Spaced Repetition System), then Byki might just be the one for [...]

  50. Mentat on November 28, 2008 at 02:04

    For learning the kanji the AJATT way, check kanji.koohii.com
    People there use the same concepts you’ll use while using anki. Some of use, like me, actualy use anki too.

  51. [...] the SRS once taught me about memory, 90-95% right is good enough. The remaining 5-10% is almost never worth [...]

  52. Anomynous on February 7, 2009 at 07:22

    Hey, for those of you using Mnemosyne, I found this enormously helpful:

    www.mnemosyne-proj.org/node/128

    It’s a flashcard pack for the entire Remembering the Kanji Part 1 book.

    頑張ってね!

  53. Tiger on February 16, 2009 at 10:04

    so when i get RTK should i just input all of the symbols one by one into khatzumemo, or is there somewhere where i can just copy all the necessary kanji in?

  54. Tiger on February 16, 2009 at 10:05

    and whats the keyword of the kanji, is it just the meaning?
    sorry im just confused =/

    thanks

  55. Ritorno al giapponese | Doppelgänger on March 17, 2009 at 07:37

    [...] Perciò al momento sono lanciata nella fase “impariamo gli ideogrammi”. Ho trovato un .pdf del Basic Kanji book, e mi sono messa all’opera (sentivo il bisogno di ricominciare dalle basi), e sempre sul solito sito, ho trovato due interessanti suggerimenti. Uno è il libro di Heisig Remembering the Kanji, di cui ho letto un sample e che penso di comprare appena riesco. Parte dal presupposto che i non-giapponesi non riescono a memorizzare gli ideogrammi perché non li associano a nulla, e il libro “racconta” gli ideogrammi attraverso storie che aiutano ad ancorarli. Detto così sembra una stupidaggine, lo so, ma pare funzioni davvero. Esiste anche un gruppo Yahoo! dedicato al libro e a come utilizzarlo al meglio. L’altro suggerimento, che mi ha davvero aperto un mondo, è stato quello di usare un SRS. [...]

  56. Gray on March 24, 2009 at 09:42

    As someone who has been studying Japanese for the last 15 years on and off with varying levels of motivation I am very happy to have been referred to this website. I feel like an idiot for not taking on an approach like this sooner, but I guess information wasnt as accessible as it is now. Well that is the defense I am going to use.

    Ive got a question that someone might be able to help me with. Im plugging in sentences into Anki that contain the vocab that I need for JLPT level 1 working from a textbook. So far I have added 500 sentences and I am still enjoying it. I also downloading the premade Hesig deck and am working on that.

    My problem is that I seem to be spending too much time on this each day. In particular the the adding and revision of sentences. In the earlier stages of my study with Anki I noticed I had a higher memory retention rate and a higher rate of answering correct the first time. And Im thinking that is because I would have to review the sentences that I entered the day after. This has the benefit of still being fresh in your memory when you review it but also retaining a better sense of the nuance of a particular word/sentence as you have looked through lots of examples.

    Presently there is a 4-5 day space between the time that I enter a new sentence to the time that I first review it and I think this is bringing my review time up. I have anki set to the standard mode over reviewing sentences and learning 20 new ones per day. I guess I have been adding more than 20 per day so now there is this big space between when I add the sentences and when I first review them.

    My question: Do you guys make sure that the amount you add each day is equal to the amount of new sentences that you need to study each day (in order to make sure that you can learn the new sentence the day after you entered it)? i.e. add 20 learn 20 new ones. If so do you think this has saved time?

    Sorry for the long post!

  57. [...] that works for me – and if it’s not working for you, try something else. Try Heisig. Try SRS. What can it [...]

  58. JAMAP, AMJAP, and AJATT « OLiSPIELS on May 17, 2009 at 13:29

    [...] (space repetition software) program that you will need to become OVER 9000 and learn Japanese. See this for more info. b. Japanesepod101 will act as one of your best sources for sentence mining. That [...]

  59. RJ on May 22, 2009 at 07:41

    Guys I SERIOUSLY scoured every comment age through all the comments and seen multiple occurrences of this question but no answers. I want to know, HOW do you learn to pronounce the kanji? You use Heisigs method. Great. You can see a kanji and understand it’s meaning. You can even write it, but how do you learn to pronounce it? That way you will be able to pronounce sentences. I REALLY want to know how this problem gets solved…

  60. Raul on May 29, 2009 at 11:29

    I agree with RJ, can someone tell us how you learn to pronounce the kanji?

  61. momoko on May 30, 2009 at 04:17

    RJ and Raul,

    Khatz covers how you learn to pronounce the kanji in his FAQs section. The fourth question down reads:

    Remembering the Kanji Volume 1 (RTK/RTK1) does not cover kanji readings. How will I learn pronunciations of kanji in Japanese?
    You learn kanji readings on a sentence-by-sentence basis. When you input a sentence into your SRS, part of the input process will be for you to find out the readings for its kanji. Those readings will be part of the “answer” section on an item in your SRS. Go here to read Heisig himself explain the system.”

    In the comments section of the article “10,000 Sentences: How” he answers a similar question with a more detailed answer:

    “>how do you manage to memorize the kanji readings and stuff?
    1. Learn the reading of each kanji as it used in the sentence. So, rather than learn all the readings of a given kanji, learn the one reading that is being used *in this case*–in the sentence at hand.
    2. Add that kanji reading to the “answer” section of the SRS.
    Note:
    (i) A sentence has a kind of rhythm to it that will actually make the reading quite easy to remember, generally speaking. Certainly, it will be easier to remember than an isolated kanji reading.
    (ii) Also, be sure to use SHORT sentences to begin with, don’t overwhelm yourself. Something like 「テレビを見る。」 or 「夕食の支度をする。」 or 「慌てて登校する。」 is a good length.
    (iii) Use sentences that have multiple parts of speech. What I mean is, you want nouns, verbs and adverbs/adjectives all in there.”

    So, to sum up:

    1. Don’t worry about the readings when you are still learning the kanji.
    2. After you’ve learned the kanji, then you learn the kana (hiragana+katakana). These are your pronunciation guide.
    3. When you are ready to start picking out sentences from your immersion environment (listening, books, etc.), you will naturally and gradually learn the readings of kanji one by one in the context of individual sentences you enter into your SRS (start really simple!). At this point, dictionaries with sentences, beginner books and books with furigana (tiny hiragana printed over or beside kanji) are your best friend. (Some manga–especially those written for Japanese children–put furigana on all the kanji.)

    Here is an example of how to learn pronunciation of kanji in the context of a sentence when you enter it into an SRS:

    1) Put the sentence with kanji in the question of your SRS: 行こうよ!
    2) Using hiragana, indicate the pronunciation of the kanji in the answer: いこうよ! (or 行こう=いこう, etc.)

    The fact that each kanji has multiple readings can sound intimidating when you think of it all at once, but it’s easy when you take it sentence by sentence. Like Khatz says, you just get used to it. Kind of like how English speakers get used to how “ough” in words like “dough” is pronounced like “ow” in “snow”, but the “ough” in “cough” sound like “off”, and the “ough” in “rough” sounds like the “uff” in “cuff”. When you’re still learning the alphabet, if you worry about all the diffent ways you can pronounce the vowels, you might get a heart attack. You start out with something easy and fun like “The Cat in the Hat” and before you know it you’re sounding out the highly-processed ingredients on your cereal box and asking your mom what “dextrose” and “trisodium phosphate” are. Likewise, when learning Japanese pronunciation sentence by sentence, your knowledge gradually builds and connects until you develop a ‘sense’ or ‘feel’ for how a kanji is probably read (even if you’re not sure). It’s a process that you go through a step at a time.

  62. Jonathan on June 7, 2009 at 18:04

    Khatzumoto,
    I’m a beginner in Japanese; rather I started to learn Japanese last week. I’m a High school student and I don’t have any money to spend on classes and really don’t have time to go to Japanese Classes either (Pretty much avoided this after reading how unpractical the method they teach is).

    I’m so-called ‘Emersing’ myself into a Japanese environment and finding it really easy, I’m using the SRS and that’s where my question comes in. I’m using SRS for Kanji of course but when I’m memorizing each of the characters, I don’t hear the ‘Audio’ of it.

    Do I need to memorize the character and then find how to say it?
    Sorry if I’m sounding like a total idiot but could you help me understand. Maybe I’m not just getting the concept with the SRS, but where does ‘Speaking Japanese’ come. Should I be learning Hirigana/Katakana first? I’ve been told that it is used my younger children to help them further understand the Kanji better?

    I’m probably asking a question thats probably been answered but.. could you please help me understand. :/

    Could you please answer here or reply it to my email.
    Thanks (I really like your guide and the concept of ‘Self-Emersion’, It’s awesome)

    - –

    Jonathan.

  63. JUSTIN on July 18, 2009 at 09:12

    PLEASE EXCUSE THE CAPS —

    I JUST HAVE A QUICK QUESTION FOR YOU, KHATZ, OR ANYONE ELSE WILLING TO PROVIDE SOME INSIGHT.

    i SIMPLY WANT TO LEARN JAPANESE WITH ONLY JAPANESE. FROM BEGINNING TO END. HOW DO I USE AN SRS WITH ONLY JAPANESE? ALL OF KHATZS SENTENCE PACKS HAVE THEIR ENGLISH EQUIVALENT AND THAT RUBS ME IN THE WRONGEST OF WAYS. I JUST CANNOT BRING MYSELF TO DO IT. WHILE LIVING HERE IN JAPAN, I HAVE PURCHASED A FEW CHILDRENS BOOKS FOR LEARNING THE KANJI AND HIRAGANA AND THEY LOOK TO BE PROMISING! THEY ARE A PART OF A SERIES INTENDED FOR JAPANESE CHILDREN (AGE 5 AND UP) SO I PLAN TO CONTINUE USING THEM AND ORDERING THE NEXT ONES IN THE SERIES.

    IN SHORT!

    hOW CAN AN SRS FIT INTO ALL OF THIS? SHALL I WAIT A BIT AND THEN SLOWLY BEING INPUTTING JAPANESE QUESTIONS WITH THEIR JAPANESE ANSWERS IN MY SRS? BECAUSE AS KHATZ SAYS, SENTENCES ARE KEY TO NATURALLY PICKING UP GRAMMAR, WHICH I WANT TO DO.

    AND LASTLY, HEISIGS BOOK….SO MUCH ENGLISH WITHOUT THE PRONUNCIATION OF THE KANJI? HELP.
    MAYBE I WILL JUST STICK TO THE CHILDRENS BOOKS, MOVIES, SHOWS, MUSIC, PODCASTS, AND HOPEFULLY AN SRS?

    THANKS TO EVERYONE,
    JUSTIN

  64. [...] By way of note, for the uninitiated, an SRS is a smart electronic flashcard system. [...]

  65. [...] sentence flashcard pack for use with an SRS (a lot like “MFSP”, with even cooler formatting), containing both phrases from the book and [...]

  66. [...] sentence flashcard pack for use with an SRS (a lot like “MFSP”, with even cooler formatting), containing phrases from and inspired by the [...]

  67. SRS: Basics « When English Attacks! on March 15, 2010 at 01:52

    [...] – Spaced Repetition Software All Japanese All the Time – What is an SRS? (1) (2) Wired – Want to Remember Everything? Antimoon – Supermemo [...]

  68. [...] Use an SRS to remember [...]

  69. [...] of All Japanese All The Time (AJATT) has a ridiculous wealth of information, but here is his page on SRS programs, with this [...]

  70. [...] What is an SRS? [...]

  71. SRS Basics: What is SRS? | Attack! Language on October 13, 2010 at 21:47

    [...] – Spaced Repetition Software All Japanese All the Time – What is an SRS? (1) (2) Wired – Want to Remember Everything? Antimoon – Supermemo [...]

  72. [...] www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/what-is-an-srs This entry was posted in Overall Approach. Bookmark the permalink. ← Writing Practice 29th Oct 2010 [...]

  73. 3-R4Z0R on November 22, 2010 at 04:47

    To be able to do the SRS-technique effectively I’ve written a Windows Mobile SRS-application for Kanji/Hanzi repetition. I think it’s mature enough now so that I can release it so any of you guys who uses Windows Mobile as well can use a free SRS-tool. =)
    The algorithm used is mostly the same as in SuperMemo and Anki, I just haven’t had a chance to do any testing of it with lots of Hanzi/Kanji yet, since I’m still learning at chapter 12 of Remembering the Hanzi. =)
    It uses its own file format but can read and save XML files, so with a bit of fiddling and converting it should take content from other sources (Anki, SuperMemo, etc). I’ve created a program for editing decks on the PC too and I’m supplying the first few chapters of Remembering the Hanzi as sample content.

    sourceforge.net/projects/simplesrs7/files/

    Have fun. =)

  74. Kyndrill on February 16, 2011 at 13:41

    Do you happen to know of any SRS software that’s _in Japanese_ aimed at a Japanese market? People keep asking me how to learn English and I want to recommend SRS programs but don’t know of any in Japanese. What is SRS even called in Japanese?

    • Tyler on May 25, 2011 at 05:49

      Anki has a switch language option (a.k.a. Japanese) that I’ve use.

  75. Study, study, study… « 52asia on May 24, 2011 at 02:27

    [...] language proficiency test (JPLT) N2. I put all the grammar example sentences in Anki and do SRS… May 22, 2011 No Comments [...]

  76. [...] What is an SRS? [...]

  77. [...] a quick summary of incremental reading, the idea is that you put lots of reading material into an SRS (spaced repetition system) and sit down with it and read.  Material that you don’t understand or is too difficult gets [...]

  78. Screwing up is so helpful « myroadtofluency on August 15, 2011 at 11:29

    [...] Anyway, I learned that completely immersing myself does not work for me. I learned the using an SRS helps me and by the time I had started using one for Spanish i had become a Veteran at using it and [...]

  79. [...] What is an SRS? [...]

  80. [...] learn. For more detail on what an SRS is and why I use it so extensively, please visit this link: (www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/what-is-an-srs) and then COME BACK TO MY BLOG   11) Read books. Reading books enriches you. Reading Chinese [...]

  81. [...] the Hanzi”. If you don’t know what Anki is, visit here before you continue reading (www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/what-is-an-srs). The rest is pretty [...]

  82. Day 1 of 600 « Joel's Tagolog Journey on March 8, 2012 at 23:44

    [...] What is SRS you ask? Look here or Look Here [...]

  83. Starting out Learning Japanese. on March 11, 2012 at 11:33

    [...] or in fact anything that involves memory, which is y'know, most of the language) I'd use an SRS. The one I recommend is Anki (free for the PC, but if you have an iPhone/ iPad it's US$25 but [...]

  84. [...] lot of people are on the fence about the effectiveness of using a Spaced Repetition System (SRS) for language learning, but I’ve found that, as long as it’s used in moderation (no more [...]

  85. JLP 060512 « Truth Unlimited on June 6, 2012 at 10:02

    [...] is SuRuSu. If you don’t know what an SRS is, or how it makes studying effortless, look no further. Other choices are Anki, SuperMemo, or [...]

  86. [...] to organize everything that you learn. If you don’t know what an SRS is, check out this or this. I believe that using Anki is a very important part of this method, but I will leave it to better [...]

  87. [...] are punctuated throughout the day, which is a smart way to work because of the way memory and Spaced Repetition Systems work.   It is better to space out studying over the day than drill to kill.    As the memory [...]

  88. Learning Japanese | Animosophy on January 25, 2013 at 17:05

    [...] has very nice list of shared decks. It’s called a “spaced repetition system”, or SRS for short. You can see how it works on this [...]

  89. Insiya on February 15, 2013 at 23:40

    Hey Khatz! Whenever I want to add cards into my SRS, I usually copy paste the kanji into it since my OS is not in Japanese (have to share the computer). But sometimes the kanji is part of a picture or something and I can’t do that… And these are usually kanji that I have no idea how to pronounce or type or anything. Any tips?

    • Grant on February 17, 2013 at 06:25

      I’d strongly recommend learning skip codes, www.basic-japanese.com/Hilfsdateien/skipCode.html , they’re a method of describing “classes” of kanji through patterns and are great for finding kanji in pictures/books by narrowing options down from a few thousand options to around ten.
      Also not sure what your operating system is, but while getting your OS into japanese can be a hassle enabling japanese just requires downloading some software called an IME. Google has a decent one, www.google.co.jp/intl/ja/ime/ and microsoft has a good one you can add in through the control panel under the keyboard tab in the region and language menu.

  90. [...] changed my life. I love SRS. Read Nutshell, and you’ll find that a third of the material (at this writing) is about [...]

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