After having had a rather bad day yesterady, and still feeling tired today, I decided to maintain, read a little bit, and relax. When I got up, I had 280 cards due for review, which was dealt with pretty quickly. I took my time for it, so it took almost an hour minutes. Lately I get most of my cards out the way when I get up, in less than an hour and 20 minutes, which equals 435 cards. I do this in 2 minute sessions, some consecutive when adding new cards, to get most cards out of the way to have some time until another bunch of cards become due. Sometimes I spread out the sessions over the course of a day, but no session is longer than 2 minutes.
Sentences, even longer ones, merely take 10 to 15 seconds to read and understand for me right now. The ones that take longer than that are a sure sign for not remembering a reading for a word written in kanji, which either will get a hard rating, or is a straight failed card. So in 2 minutes I get a lot of cards done. I don’t listen to the old cards anymore, once I hit the answer button, so I always get the sentences still read, while I already read the next sentence. This has no negative effect though. Since I’ve been doing it, I really only became faster, because I had less time to think about the correctness of my answers. Now I have to get it correct to get things done and before the session time runs out. Before, it could take up to 50 seconds, to even read a whole sentence.
Seeing how speed and efficiency improved by only doing 2 minute bursts, my next step will be to start with 1 minute sessions. And because Anki allows it, I will go even further, and lower the time-limit to 40 seconds. Anything below that would only be a nuisance than anything. The benefit of these very short sessions is not the effect that time goes by almost unnoticed. This is only a very positive side-effect. Language is working in real-time. Your conversation partner will give you time to think about your answers, for example when you can’t find the right words for what you are trying to say. In general it is a flow that goes A says something, then B, A, B, A which happens in seconds. So the real benefit of having this time limit is, that I am forced to think, read, recall information, and to speak faster. This will help me in situations where I am talking to other people. If not nervousness gets in the way or the lack of words at the right time.
You might now think that the improvement in reading speed, recalling information, and answering the cards in a matter of seconds is because I could have seen the cards numerous times. So I don’t really have to read it all to know what everything means. But it is really not the case as my deck contains over 4308 cards right now, that show up in random order, which can be both sentence and vocab cards. According to the rep stats, I have seen most of those cards 1 up to 14 times. And a handful few, 7 cards, 22 times because they were really hard for me. It is best to try it out for yourself, and see how you will improve, in both comprehension and speed of reviews.
Now I’ve been writing so much about reviews, more than I was planning to do, that I could publish this entry as separate article about efficiency of short time-boxing sessions with Anki. But I also thought to share some more resources to read about in Japanese. Because before I decided to write an article here, I was starting to sort my books, and read a bit in them. One of the books is called Sacred Mathematics Japanese Temple Geometry or 算額 in Japanese. The temple geometry is a mixture of art and mathematics, practiced when Japan was still isolated from Western influences. Experts in this art communicated by 算額 on wooden tablets, painted with geometrical figures, and displayed in Shrines and Buddhist temples.
Most of the tablets rotted down, but many survived the ages, and can still be seen in temples. Due to the lack of own pictures, I will have to refer you to Google Picture Search and the website of the official website of the City of 埼玉 to see some examples. If this is still not enough for you, visit the wasan website, and if you want to try to solve some of the problems yourself, visit this website or search on google for 算額の問題.