- Why The Way We Read Sucks, And How To Fix It: Part 1
- Why The Way We Read Sucks and How to Fix It: Part 3 — The Unified Reading Process
- Why The Way We Read Sucks and How to Fix It: Part 4 — Why SRS Personal Development Books?
- Why The Way We Read Sucks and How To Fix It, Part 5: Examples Shown and Questions Answered
OK, so after all that talk, let me show you a few examples of the SRS cards I’ve been using with the Unified Reading Process (URP). Remember that the URP was designed (which seems a bit of a posh word for how simple a thing it is, but, there you go) by yours truly to solve problems with both (a) native-level languages and (b) sucky-(not-yet-native)-level languages.
So, while it is a single process, it does have two rather different motivations, and this produces two broad types of cards:
- (a) With native-level languages, one is trying to remember ideas through vocabulary.
- (b) With sucky-level languages, one is trying to remember vocabulary through ideas.
(b) is the type of thing we typically discuss here at AJATT. So, it uses the same types of SRS cards as we’ve been talking about all this time. No changes, no surprises. In this article, we’ll focus mostly (though not exclusively) on type (a)
But before we hit the example cards, let me answer a couple of your questions all nice like.
Do you use one massive deck for all of your SRSing, or switch off between decks?
Currently, I have a bunch of different decks. I think this is definitely the way to go, as:
- Different subjects lend themselves to different types of SRS cards, and mixing them all together would just be jarring.
- Splitting helps with performance management and analysis.
- I switch subjects by mood. I mean, logic.
- Surusu makes it very easy for me to switch between decks, both when adding and doing reps. You like that plug?
My current deck breakdown is:
- Japanese – the “original glazed” deck. It contains Japanese sentences.
- Kanji – Heisig-style kanji reviews. I still learn new kanji and reinforce old ones. You never stop learning, you just stop sucking.
- Math/Science/Engineering – very broad…basically anything technical or scientific goes here…I also have quite a few math cards
- Humanities– extremely broad; this has everything from legal stuff to funny internet quotes, to insight on random social issues. I even have the occasional piece of English vocabulary (like “anodyne”…didn’t know what that was…).
- The English vocab thing is made even more ironic by the fact that one American blogger has decided that my accent is so weird and Christian-Baled up that I could not possibly be a native speaker of English…I guess those AJATT “method-acting” chickens have finally come home to roost and Japanese really is my native language now? Maybe I should just start cross-dressing…I always did enjoy hanging out in women’s restrooms with the freaking…couches and TVs and herbal tea and free massages from sporty Swedish women…
- The legal vocab is there because on rare but significant occasions, it helps me in Japan to be a bit more-eloquent-than-average – as if to demonstrate that “I-am-not-a-roll-over-play-dead-and-cry-myself-to-sleep gaijin, so if you try to brush me off with a spurious explanation you just made up, life will get difficult for you”…I know that sounds jerky, but even in Japan, once every 6~12 months or so, I find the need to project stubbornness and erudition at the same time. Of course, I’m bluffing because I’m not actually erudite or stubborn, but it works every time – people treat you differently when you signal that your crap threshold is low).
- No, really, though…women’s restrooms are…the shiz.
- Original Ideas – I just throw my own original ideas in here…Everything from long-term projects, to Surusu feature concepts.
- Business – business vocabulary and good ideas from business books and blogs.
- As a programmer, I was “raised” to look down on business people. After reading Johnson O’Connor’s vocabulary research (executive summary: there apparently exists a powerful correlation between vocabulary and social position), I started to realize that many “business”-type people used vocabulary that I didn’t actually know well enough to use myself. (I think Paul Graham also raised this point once, actually). It occurred to me that they were communicating things that may actually be of some value to me; they weren’t just dumb people in suits throwing buzzwords at each other. I mean, there’s that, too, but that’s not all there is to them.
- Cantonese – Cantonese sentence cards, using a format that I developed (again, a rather OTT word to describe something very simple) after my trip to Taiwan. Basically, it’s full of sentence cards. The format still uses sound, but is much less labor-intensive than some of the Canto cards I’ve previously shown. Look out for another Chinese Project Notes post on these.
- Personal Development – the main difference between this and the “Business” deck is that it is purely focused on inspiration, where the business deck is more about vocabulary and procedure. The purpose of this deck is to increase my self-efficacy (self-confidence?); it is pure “positiveness”. It contains quotes from PD books, affirmations, afformations…all that good stuff. I’M A GOOD PERSON! LoL.
- Mandarin – Mandarin sentences. Originally, a lot like the Japanese deck in format, but has since morphed to be more like the Cantonese deck because, me loves that sound. Chinese cards + sound = gold.
- Hangul – I just wanted to learn to read Hangul. All this contains is the alphabet. This is an extremely low-priority deck for me. It doesn’t even contain all the Hangul yet.
- Recipes – I brainwash myself with good recipes: this influences me to default to healthy food. I usually read recipes for ideas, but I never follow the recipe to the letter myself. I just take its main concepts and then put my own spin on it. A metaphor for all reading, perhaps?
- Unconfirmed/Questionable Cards – This contains mostly Cantonese cards I made by transcribing movies, where I have things I’m not sure about, but I don’t want to just throw the card away, so I save the card here in order to ask a native speaker when I get the chance.
- Pre-Dump– This just contains things I want to throw into the SRS, unprocessed, to maybe make “proper” cards for later.
- It gets a LOT of deletion. I am not sentimental – that kind of feeling holds too many people back, as does too much hypothetical (counterfactual?) thinking: “what if…”, “maybe”….No…not fun or useful now = no right to be in the SRS.
- When I’m at a loss for what to learn next, but want easy pickings, I just flip through this deck.
- If sentence-picking is fishing, then this is fish-farming. Rather than go out to the sea of Japanese/Chinese media, I have my own tank I can pick from any time.
- Links to Websites – Can you see a pattern here? The SRS being used less and less for its traditional/original purpose, and more like a card management system. Anyway, since the SRS I use (Surusu) is web-based, I’ve started adding links to websites I would like to get into the habit of visiting. This, for me, basically means sites in Chinese and Japanese.
- It’s easy to stumble upon a good site, but hard to find one when you’re looking for it. Also, simply throwing things into bookmarks doesn’t lead to sites getting seen, for me. Previously, I had been using a program to open sites randomly, but that got rather out of hand…websites opening left and right.
- A more streamlined alternative to using Surusu for storing websites is WhatPage, a web-based, no-install browser homepage rotator. Unfortunately, they have a ridiculously low limit on the number of websites you can store. So if you know of any alternatives, please let me know.
How do you score your cards?
I just kind of play it by ear, to tell you the truth. I use the scoring principles outlined by Dr. Woz at SuperMemo. Namely:
- 0 = Blank. Total. Memory. Blank.
- 1 = Well in’ dat cute…but it’s WRONG! (Two Stupid Dogs…anyone? Anyone?)
- 2 = Slightly Wrong
- 3 = Just…Barely…Right…By The Enamel of the Teeth
- 4 = Correct…amundo.
- 5 = Psssh…Piece Of Cake, Be Arch, Why You Even Be Showing Me This, Motherlover? You’d Best Believe I Come Correct, Son. Perfect! Flawless victory! Correct and Fast and Easy.
So basically a card is either correct or incorrect, but then within that binaryness, the 0~5 scale gives uz a finer-grained way of explaining the correctness. 0~2 is all incorrect, 3~5 is correct; it’s all a matter of degree and the specifics don’t matter too too much. SRSing isn’t so ossified a field that these things are hard and fast yet.
We are living in a golden, lawless age where no one’s telling you what to do*: enjoy your freedom. In any case, once you decide what constitutes correctness and incorrectness for your cards, then scoring is smooth sailing. The key is that you recognize that most decisions are ultimately arbitrary, that there’s nothing wrong with that, and that you have the right to start making some of these arbitrary decisions. You are the rules. That’s my take on it.
Besides, I don’t like other people controlling my whys, whens, whats, with-whoms and hows, because they’re not very good at it 🙂 .
*For example, some idiots went and decided that socks + slippers = lame, before I was even born. From birth, I have known that socks + slippers = a prudent foot-hygiene choice in any urban environment. But now, on top of making good decisions for myself, I’m beating off the social inertia of someone else’s ancient opinions. Is that what you want? 😉 Coz you’re asking for it! Don’t come asking me to make rules that don’t exist.
How would you grade something like a personal development quote card?
- If the quote is a cloze deletion, then I grade myself my ability to fill in the (one-word) blank, just like any other informational card.
- On the other hand, if the quote is in full view (no blanks), then I grade myself on the extent to which:
- I have internalized (i.e. am living) the content of the quote. So if, for example, I have been blowing a setback out of proportion, then a quote about setbacks would get a low score.
- The quote is boring me. So if it’s a quote that I’m not quite living up to, but that I have seen so much that it feels cliched, I’ll give it a big score anyhow to get it out of the way. Conversely, if the quote is feels very “fresh” to me, then it’ll get a somewhat lower score.
So many decks, do you go through them all every day?
I choose decks in order of fun/priority and I delete extensively. If I’m avoiding a deck, then I go on a deletion spree, and I keep deleting until the deck feels good again.
Also, while there are many decks, many of the decks contain only a handful of cards (80-20 rule) or are information-only decks, so…there are no reps to do as such.
So, no, I don’t necessarily touch every deck every day without fail 😉 . Rather than try to “work harder” to correct this, I instead tweak things to make it so that I want to touch the relevant decks — again, deletion is big here. Also, if, for whatever reason, time is short, then priority rules take over. Japanese is a top priority deck for me. Humanities is not.
Surusu does automated rep-capping and deck-switching for me, so a lot of the thought/selection/management burden is taken away.
Show us your cards, motherlover!: Actual Card Examples
Yeah, and it was your mother I was loving…jerkwad.
What? No…Um…OK card. The simplest way is to just give you a nice, pretty table, much like in “My First Sentence Pack”, except MFSP is even better.
To make things easier for myself, these cards do not have links to actual audio files (even where applicable). In a real, live SRS, they would…I just wanted to save myself a few steps since this article is so long already! … ‘Told you I was lazy 8)
So are you offended by the “jerkwad” part or the advertising?
|Japanese||テメエら人間じゃなええや！||Don’t come to me with a note from your Japanese wife saying that this is a “very rude” phrase. I flipping know it’s rude, OK? That’s the point. She likes it when I talk to her like this.|
スピーチに強くなる!―ビジネスに役立つ スピーチが楽になる (特選実用ブックス) (単行本)
|There’s your precious 敬語.|
a DEER that’s begging for you to SHOOT it!
|麝||Yes, it’s the older format: the one that isn’t lazy kanji.|
|Kanji||QUARREL STAREeyes + quarrel||睜||A simpler format. Front has component names only, no explicit story (although one always seems to get made up in my head by just looking at the components).|
Biochemistry. the substance acted upon by an enzyme.
Biochemistry. the substance acted upon by an enzyme.
(x^2 + 2x + 1)
|(x + 1)^2||Not MathML or anything. Not ideal for notation. But a start.|
|Original Ideas||Deck rename||@Surusu||AJATT articles, Surusu features, etc.|
本田 直之 (著)
|Primary goal of this deck: increase effectiveness and efficiency.Contentwise, this deck is very close to the personal development deck, except that the PD deck contains only cards that are worded positively.|
本田 直之 (著)
|Lots of ideas from Seth Godin and the like go here as well.|
|Cantonese||具有多元嘅種族||[media: canto-london- 005.mp3]||Read the front; confirm my pronunciation against audio on the back.A contributor at RhinoSpike kindly supplied the audio in this case.|
|Personal Development||my compliments to Khatz for breaking down my resistance to motivational writing, that was not an easy task ^_^||Source||Primary goal of this deck: increase self-efficacy.I also put compliments from people in this deck.|
|Personal Development||A setback is a setup for a ####||A setback is a setup for a comebackLes Brown||.|
|Personal Development||F = False
E = Evidence
A = Appearing
R = Real
|Mandarin||飛 看大雪紛飛 卻再也找不回||fēnfēi【紛飛】
jìng huā shuǐ yuè【鏡花水月】
杯中景色鬼魅 我忘了我是誰 心情就像夜涼如水
醉 怎麼會喝醉 美 因為你的美 愛匆匆一瞥不過點綴
當時空成為擁有你 唯一條件 我又醉
|This is an example of a song card.|
|Hangul||국||국민대학관(國民大學館)’||Extremely low-priority deck.|
|Recipes||筍のわさびカルパッチョ レシピ||材料 （ ２人分 ）筍 小１本
|Food, baby.Yummy in my tummy.
This is an example of what I like to call a “static” deck, in that I don’t actually do reps on it; I just throw things here because it’s an easy way to data storage/management. I’m going to be using the SRS anyway, and it’s easy to run searches on my decks.
hung bou hung bou
yau me ye
|Items remain in this deck until checked off with a native speaker.Usually, these are things taken/transcribed from raw native media.
Often, these have sound files attached.
yung yau yat go yun sin
|This deck undergoes heavy triage/deletion.Much of its current content is full, “raw” dictionary entries.|
|Links to Websites||YouTube- 舛添氏新黨結成へ 會見ノーカット（10/04/21）|
That’s about it. I look forward to your insight and feedback 🙂 .