Some days have gone by, and nothing happened. Today some changes have taken place. It must have been two or three weeks ago, when I decided to set the session limit for my reviews to 2 minutes. When I started with it, I could review 8 or 9 sentence cards, and about 7 vocabulary cards. In the meantime, my speed has increased considerably, so that I became able to review up to 25 to 30 vocabulary and sentence cards. I do recognition cards only, reading the sentences or words out loud, and check for the correctness of my answer.
I don’t care for the translations, because I know the meaning of the sentences, after I initially learned them. By learning I mean typing off the sentence, and then adding the translation either by typing it off, or by copy & pasting it into my cards. Since many cards have unknown words in them, I also copy the words from my cards into a browser, to look the meaning up in Japanese or English. I then copy my findings back into a special field on my card, and then type in or copy & paste the translation for the original sentence.
I do this to prevent myself from falling into a routine, that could cause me to type everything off, and stop thinking because it became and automatic process. When I add vocabulary, the only thing I do routinely is to type in the word in Kanji and then Kana. From there, I either copy the audio into the field, add the reference number for Kanji on my cards, or the translation for the word. I also sometimes use Japanese words for words in English in the translation field, that Kanji Odyssey presents in brackets in English, to reinforce vocabulary.
The first change I made today was to lower the number of minutes from two to one. With only one minute, I could only review 4 or 5 sentence cards, before seeing the time is up screen. One reason for the very low number of cards is, that I was allowing myself to take more time to think about my answers, than I actually have. By having this very low limit now, I have to retrieve the information faster, I have to speak faster, and ultimately improve my recognition.
Before starting to write this article, I had to review 25 cards, and it went click, click, click. Not only did I get the reviews done in a very short amount, I even got cards right I had trouble with, when I still had two minutes, and more time to think about my answers. I had 643 reviews today, among which are 156 new cards, reviewed in 1h 56m. Some of them are done with the time limit still being at 2 minutes. This is why I am unable to say, how many I got done, with the one minute limit. But I can say that I am getting used to it already.
Because this works so well, I will reduce the time limit even further, after one or two weeks with the one minute limit. My next time limit will be 50 seconds, and for my final time limit I am aiming for 35 seconds. I don’t know if it makes much sense to try to lower the number even further. I can try, when I am ready to, but I don’t see how that could positively affect the speed of retrieval of learned words or sentences.
There is yet another change I made to my deck. In the past couple of weeks, I have been adding Japanese definitions to my sentences, for words I haven’t officially learned from KO.2001. Two or three days ago, I also started to add Japanese definitions to my sentence decks for words, I have already learned. The difference between adding definitions for unknown words, and words I should know already, is this. By having the definition in both Japanese or English, or a mixture of both on the front of my cards, I can always see the readings for those words.
I imagine that you are assuming that I am doing the same thing for my known words for the same reason. To cheat, and make it easy, because I don’t know the words I am adding the definitions for very well. In case you are no first time visitor, you might have read my articles about cheating, to make life easier. Even though the assumption seems natural, it is not the case this time.
I am adding Japanese definitions, and blank out the Kana reading, so there is really only the word in Kanji there, with its definition in Japanese. And if the definition is more complex, there is also some English there. Now you might ask yourself, why am I doing this? Well. The first reason for it is, that I am deepening my understanding of words, and the other is to have something to work with for my vocabulary cards. So far, I am only doing it for sentence cards, but I will extend this to my vocabulary cards as well.
As it so happens, there have been a couple of times when I was adding new vocabulary cards and I thought by myself: “Why don’t you look up the definition for the word, and add it instead of the English one?” I wanted to have the definition on the front of my card, and the official English one on the back. It became immediately became clear to me that this wouldn’t work. It would even destroy the purpose of having it there, because I haven’t processed the whole idea through, and so didn’t find a solution for the problem. I could have blank out the Kana reading, as I do now on my sentence cards.
This is a missed chance I have had all along. But, as the saying goes, better late than never. I will gradually add more and more definitions in Japanese only. And I will then simply copy and paste the definitions to my existing vocabulary cards. This will take quite a while, considering the amount of cards in my deck, 5110. Right now, I am looking forward to finish my Kanji Odyssey project, which is more important.
While I am at it, I also wanted to present one source of motivation, that has kept my spirits high during the time I did RTK. I call it my window to Japan. It is a web-camera, which is mounted at the grounds of Akita University in Tokyo. You can view a satellite picture by clicking on the following link. 秋田大学 You should have already seen an example of my window to Japan by visiting my blog, so here is also the link to the web-cam.