Pre-Made SRS Cards = Fail (For me)

I’m always tweaking my learning methods to see what works best for me.
Here’s a recent tweak that didn’t work…

I love me some SRS’ing, and I’ve been hand-picking sentences for my main deck for a couple years now.  I’m usually in some sort of “phase” with my SRS habits, but a few months ago I thought…

Who came up with this gem? (Not me!)

“Gee, I would really like some audio and pictures with my sentences.   But that’s a lot of work on my own… I think I’ll add a pre-made deck to my sentence deck!  Yeah, yeah, good idea, Liz!”

Even though I’d read recommendations from numerous other learners not to use generic sentences, I couldn’t resist the urge to try them out.  After all, it’s always best to take the advice of others with a grain of salt, and I’m on an adventure here, people, I’ve got to try things for  myself!  I downloaded a couple shared Japanese Core 2000 decks, neutered them of their single-word cards, and integrated them with my sentence deck.

“Yay listening and pretty pictures!” For the first week or so I was all about my new cards. I enjoyed having the audio and photos with every sentence.  I loved the ability to replay audio over and over and definitely noticed an improvement in my listening comprehension.

After a few weeks, the novelty wore off and I was slacking on my reps.  And I slacked more and more.  It took me a disturbingly long time to realize…

The pre-made sentences were “I’d-rather-wash-dishes”-boring to me. (And I flipping hate washing dishes.)

I probably didn’t like 98% of them.  And some of the sentences were just…ridiculous, and not in a funny haha way. (See example.)  I could feel my SRS’ing mojo being depleted.  For some reason, I thought I should continue this unnecessary self-torture until I’d finished the first reps for all for all of them.

As soon as I finished, the new picked-by-me cards started showing up for reviews.  What a difference!  It was like I snapped out of a coma.  I loved SRS’ing again.  I felt like I was making progress.  I decided that for me:

Hand-picked cards…

  • are more effective. I learn them more easily and quickly.  My recall is way better.
  • are more fun. And fun = motivation to SRS .  Win!

This is more like it. From the Wiki article on Chuck Norris (日本語で)

As long as it works for you, work it!
So, pre-made cards aren’t my thing.  Maybe they aren’t yours either.  Or maybe you do get giddy over the thought of learning things like, “There are 8 clocks in that house.”  Whatever works, I hope you go for it!

As for picking SRS sentences, I know what’s worked best for me so far.  Maybe it’ll work for you, or help you figure out a way that works for you!

The most HARDENed criminals are the OLD ones PENT IN jail for a long time.
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8 Responses to Pre-Made SRS Cards = Fail (For me)

  1. Diogo V. Kersting says:

    Yea, I also did it. Downloaded one lesson of core 2000 and tried to review them.
    1) Boring
    2) Sometimes I had doubts (like English ambiguity. etc)
    3) Boring
    4) Yes, it seemed like torture
    5) Did I mention boring?
    6) Sometimes the sentence seemed like, “there is something that I will see only here”
    7) Don’t they seem sometime a little, robotic?

    I think maybe I will give it another shot, with a deck “audio-only”->answer for when I go for a run(AnkiDroid) and delete/suspend alot of stuff. Who knows?

    • veganliz says:

      They felt robotic at times for me, too, but I wasn’t sure if it was the cards or my lack of Japanese knowledge.

      Hmm, maybe the sentences will be more fun if you’re running…let us know!

  2. Great points. Self-made cards make the difference.

  3. ta132 says:

    I agree with this. Although, some pre-mined sentences/vocab is very useful for beginners. Later on, it will does get less useful and useful, unless you find it interesting. That’s why, outside of grammar srsing. I only srs from native sources. So I collect vocab/sentences from news,shows,scripts,songs,games,etc. It will builds up my kanji knowledge and my vocab. Eventually, the number of things we don’t know, will go down to a very small amount.

  4. ta132 says:

    Also, after a while. You have to find what works for you. I finally found what works for me. 3 decks. Each testing for different things. 1 is my sentence deck which is for context. My other one is vocab, just for word collecting and lastly my production deck. Going from kana to kanji.

    • veganliz says:

      Ah, interesting! Are your vocab deck cards words alone or in sentences? I tend to try and find a bunch of sentences with the same new word in all of them and add them at the same time so they show up together-ish in the first reviews. (I have a harder time doing word-alone.)

  5. ta132 says:

    Some are alone while others have a few kanji in them for context. There isn’t sentences in my vocab deck, it’s more for getting associating with words I see from context. I strictly add from context now. Works better for the future, as eventually I’ll be able to recognize/read most of what I come by. Yea for 1 word, it can have so much readings.

    But it’s best to test them separately then all together. (Especially for names). I’ve been using my vocab deck for 1 year now, I must say it’s worth it. I have 20,000+ cards (no duplicates, I deleted all the duplicates in all my decks). I add 100 per day, thanks to rikaichan. I easily press 1 button and it saves it to the clipboard and then, once I have a bunch of words saved up. I just save it, then open it in wordpad and import it into my anki deck. (Has 3 fields, 1 is the kanji, 1 is reading and 1 is meanings). So far, I’ve been able to review all my cards fast/efficiently.).

    I’m easily maintaining adding 100 per day for my vocab deck. Now I’m just finding ways of speeding up adding sentence cards.

  6. kanakastel says:

    Chuck Norris jokes in Japanese 😀

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