I decided, after stressing a bit over my final exam for the last two weeks, that this month is my “no heroic efforts” month. WTF do I mean by that? Well, I study a lot every day. Not as much as I should, or could, but nevertheless, a lot.
I try to do at least 30 minutes of iKnow each day. For those not in the know, iKnow is a site that teaches vocabulary, specifically the 6,000 most common Japanese words. I’ve “mastered” 2,211 words as I write this. I think I try and learn too many new words at once honestly, but iKnow isn’t really cheap and I’d like to get through all 6,000 by the time my subscription runs out… So, for “no heroic efforts” I’m trying not to add as many new cards until I complete a course. I have two courses at 99% with 2 words each before I master them. It’s driving me nuts!
After I tackle iKnow I start on my kanji cards which I painstakingly scribble each morning. As I recently noted, I just finished all the new cards in the Basic Kanji Book Vol. 2. I usually have about 175 cards to go through each day. The last few were really hard for me. I always think I need to be doing more, more, more! So it’s weird not to have new cards each day. And I’m resisting the urge to either begin adding cards from my Nihongo So-matome JLPT N3: Kanji book or my Intermediate Kanji Book. And I’m torn about which book I should focus on when I do start adding material again. It’s never too early to start studying for the next JLPT IMO, so that’s probably where I’ll start.
Of course, that’s not the only deck whose kanji I write out. I have several writing decks, each of which serve different purposes. I have my Genki II deck, based on all of the vocabulary from…you guessed it…Genki II! That one also has no new cards and is in permanent maintenance mode.
Then there’s my original kanji study deck based on the Kanji Look and Learn Workbook. I made it through that one a while ago. I like it because it uses sentences from the book instead of just words. So I get context when I’m trying to remember the words. I thought it would be in maintenance mode for a while, but then I found some graded drill books for Japanese Children that are formatted similarly so I started adding those cards. Well, until I started stressing about my final. Then I stopped adding new cards and just did reviews. For the first time since its creation I have that deck down to 0 at the end of a session (about 25 cards per day). It’s kind of nice.
Oh, then there’s my Heisig deck. It’s been on maintenance mode for over a year. I do between 10 and 20 cards a day for it. Half the time I have completely forgotten what the hell the English key words mean, so I just write out the kanji to write out the kanji and remember its shape. I figure I’ll worry about what it means when I can actually read it.
And that is all of my writing decks. I know. I’m insane. It often takes me two hours or more just to get through those. And some days it saps my will to live. Not adding anything and watching the stacks slowly decrease by 4 or 5 cards a day is nice.
…But I have reading decks too. I make one specifically for each Japanese class for our “oral production” test. We have to translate sentences on the fly from English to Japanese using the grammatical structures we’ve learned during the class, and judge our fellow classmates on their translations. It helps tremendously, but the day after my test I hid the deck so I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about not reviewing.
The deck that makes me smirk is my original deck. It’s made up of sentences. Some of them are in there to reinforce grammar, some have new words. I only do that deck for 4 minutes a day, but I constantly add new content to it (especially from iKnow. I don’t want to forget what I’ve learned once I don’t have access to the site anymore). It’s never been at 0 cards. It usually hovers around 200 due, has 2286 total cards, and has 1281 new cards that god knows when I get to. Half the time, by the time I get to my new cards I’ve already learned what’s on them. It used to bother me that I study this deck so little, but I’ll get to it when I get to it.
I also have (of course) a JLPT N4 deck. That one is just words, not sentences. And (unless I come across new words in my N4 studies) it’s in maintenance mode. And yes, I have an N3 book that I want to add cards from. I think I’ll hold out until after December (and the N4 test) to do that.
The last deck that I study is the one I want to focus my (non-heroic) efforts on, my N4 grammar constructs. I still have over 100 new cards in it and I still have issues with a few of the constructs. I’d like to get through all those new cards by the end of September so I have time to get comfortable with all the rules before December.
Not adding new cards is about as close to a “break” with Anki as I can get. I can’t stop studying and take a real break because I’d never start again. There would be too many cards. And I can’t just give up because I’ve put in way too much time and effort to learning this language (god knows why). So, I have 14 more days of leisure study. No heroic efforts. Then who knows? I’ll probably go crazy and start adding more kanji until I have a nervous breakdown. We’ll see. For now I’m on “vacation”.