I use iGoogle everyday so I was shocked and bummed to hear it was going to be shutdown. I have a bunch of new vocab sitting in my notes in iGoogle that I go through for my #JWOTD. Sure, the shutdown isn’t happening for another year but I thought it was a good excuse to finally try Anki and this whole SRS thing for myself. So below are my impressions and opinions on Anki specifically and SRS in general.
The user interface is pretty clunky especially for the Android version. For example, I have to download a deck for every client. If I synch, why won’t it grab all my decks? What’s the harm? Also “synch” is not an accurate term because if it detects changes on both sides, it forces me to pick one even if I just added cards on the PC and only reviewed it on the phone. There doesn’t seem to be a concept of merging. AnkiWeb is also missing a lot of pretty basic functionality such as browsing your deck. Given the advances of modern webapps, I personally would ditch the desktop client and focus purely on the web and mobile apps. It’s silly to have to install the program on every computer and launch it every time. I would much rather have a richer and interactive web version always open in my browser with tab synch on every machine.
Overall, gets the job done but a LOT of room for improvement.
So I discovered this SRS thing is not for me at all. First of all, it takes way too long to make the cards. Eventually, I just imported all my words using only one side. There’s really no point to filling the other side because I usually read whole web pages and articles to fully get the nuance of new words as people following my twitter account know. At this point, simple words like “car” and “doctor” are not really on my list.
Second, the whole review thing seems backwards to me. If I review a word that’s completely new, I pick “Hard” and then it shows up again right away. For me, seeing a word I don’t know over and over again does not help me. I need new words to bake over time. If I know the word, I want to delete it, and if I don’t know it at all, I pick “Easy”. If the word looks familiar to me, I pick “Hard” so that I can see if I want to delete it the next time.
If you are just starting out, given all new words you would need to learn (and quickly), I would not recommend SRS. Given the additional time it takes to make the cards and the time wasted reviewing words you already know, it’s not worth it. If you know a word, you don’t want to hide it so that it comes back in 8 days. You want to get rid of it and move on. You have thousands of new words waiting for you to waste any more time on ones you already learned.
I personally recommend the “firehose” method of dumping your brain with TONS of interesting content. This means plowing through pages of books and manga, hours of dialogue, and conversation practice forgetting more words than remembering them. Don’t sit around wasting time entering and reviewing what you’ve already seen, just get more, more, and MORE STUFF!!! You’ll be surprised at how much just seems to stick somehow like osmosis. Some people feel this is not effective because they end up forgetting so much stuff. They don’t realize that the fact that they even remember forgetting it means they’re learning it.
I don’t know, maybe I’m just weird…