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Jul 12, 2011

An Alternative to Japanese Sentences

In previous posts I have talked about using sentences and an SRS to learn and remember vocabulary, but there are always alternative methods. Today I'd like to talk about the pros and cons of one alternative method.

This alternative is quite similar to the sentence farming method. Instead of searching for sentences and adding new vocabulary in context with other words, you simply put the new word on the front of the card and its definition/reading on the back. The images below show what an example card would look like.

So what happens if you decide to use cards like this instead of sentence cards? First of all, you'll be able to add new vocabulary much faster. Instead of looking up a word, finding a sentence, adding definitions for all of the words you don't know in the sentence, and then making one or two more cards in the same way, you'll only have to look up the one word and add its definition.

On the other hand though, for each word you learn you will only have one card. That means you'll be going a long time without seeing that word again in the SRS once you've got a decent grasp of it. You'll also not see the word in context, so you may not have any real idea of where exactly you could use it. And finally, you won't get to learn or review other words in addition to the target word (as there won't be a sentence containing the other words).

So there you have it. Instead of making sentence cards, you could make vocabulary cards. There are benefits and detriments to both kinds of cards, so in reality making an SRS deck with a blend of the two would be the best way to go. Always keep in mind that you are the boss – feel free to experiment.

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  1. Since I finished my kanji yesterday (after taking quite a long break to just review and relax) I'm picking up my first sentences now. I've collected a few while casually reading and such.

    How long does it usually take you to enter a new card? I guess after a while it becomes automated and you learn how to do it efficiently, especially when you move to monolingual, but was it a little time consuming at first when you were just getting a grasp of it? It's the first time I'm making my own Anki deck since I've been using pre-made ones before.

  2. Congratulations on finishing the kanji! Once you get beyond the kanji and can focus on media, everything becomes so much easier.

    It was definitely time consuming to make cards at first. It still somewhat is, just because of how I do them. Aside from just getting into a good rhythm with the additions, you should also aim to never type anything you don't have to. Copy and paste make the process much faster. For instance, if I am making 2-3 cards based on the same main word, then I will keep the phonetic guide and definition on the clipboard and immediately paste it into each card's answer. If you can use the same "answer" for several cards, then you can make additions much faster.

    Really though, if you just keep on adding new cards, you'll find your own shortcuts to make it faster. That's part of the reason I advise putting off monolingual until you've done a few hundred cards, so that you can get used to adding.

    Also, did you delete your blog? Every time I try to visit I get a message saying that it's invitation only. Makes me feel sad.

  3. It's not deleted, I just have it on private for a bit. I'm planning to return eventually, but I just never do get around to doing so. Next month is probably when I'll decide to start it up again.

    I've translated the 2nd Poncho chapter and haven't even really posted it anywhere.

  4. You could do like I did (if you wanted) and set a return date. I wasn't sure when I wanted to start back, so I just picked a day and stuck with it.

    Speaking of your Poncho translation, I believe I saw you posting in a certain /a/ thread. I'm thinking about doing like you and translating some series, but I'm still not sure about where I'd put the files once I'd finished (doubt Google would appreciate me posting scanlations).

  5. I just wanted to let you know that I really love this blog! It's a lot like AJATT (All Japanese All The Time if you don't know that AJATT is) except that you don't make me feel bad for straying from the typical methods :P

    Please continue to write articles!

  6. >Please continue to write articles!

    I certainly will! Thanks for the comment~