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SRS: Setting Up Your Decks For Success

July 29, 2011
By

You may have read some posts regarding the Lazy Kanjii Mod, which involves using a pre-set up deck of cards to learn Kanji. While that format somewhat falls in line with the topic at hand, this post focuses primarily on setting up a deck from scratch. Also, this is a more generalized setup that can be used not only for Kanji, but for sentences and other things as well.

The Cards

To begin, let’s first review the elements of each card:

  • The answer/target subject – this is what you are trying to learn for this card. It may be kanji, a sentence or even a word.
  • The question – the part that should trigger your response of the target subject/answer.
  • Notes/Clues – this can include any additional notes to help you remember the answer from the question. Perhaps a story, example or a link to audio/video/images.

From here, we have two sides for each card:

Front Side

This is the side that the question goes on. Notes should also be included on this side. For sentences, you may want to include part of the sentence/words here as well to serve as a reminder (though keeping in mind not to be a dead giveaway).

Back Side

This is where the answer resides. This would be the kanji, word or phrase you are trying to remember.

Some Additional Things to Bear in Mind

Here is some additional advice I have run across over the years with other subjects that may help things stick:

  • Don’t be afraid to include lots of detail. Having a clear image in your mind can help avoid getting confused when you run into something similar. Just don’t go too overboard – remember that you’re learning the target subject, not the story behind it.
  • Use colors. Yes, color-coding things helps them stay in memory as well. It’s more of a subconscious thing, but find a color coding system that works for you. For instance, Kanji that represent nouns could be colored orange, while those representing actions/verbs could be blue. Rare/confusing kanji could be green, etc.
  • Use Heisig Numbers (Kanji). Somewhere on the card, use the index number from RTK. It’ll help if you ever need to re-reference it in the book. Don’t focus on memorizing this, though. It’s only for reference when needed.
  • Include examples/stories. These can help fuse the subject in your mind a bit more effectively.
  • Make it fun. This is a biggie: don’t be afraid to make your definitions funny. For instance, you could remember 女 (woman) as a woman with a huge set of… well, you know. 🙂
  • When possible, simplify. If you can readily recall a kanji/sentence/whatever without the story, or recognize a kanji without needing a story, then get rid of the story. If you don’t need it, get rid of it.
  • If needed, write it out. If you’re struggling remembering a Kanji, try physically (yes, with pen and paper) writing it. This can help solidify the image in your mind. Just don’t resort to drilling, that doesn’t help anything in the long run.
  • Delete cards when you have them down. I mean, come on. How many times do you need to review the kanji 一 (one)? If the next review is 2 years away, I’d say it’s safe to remove from your deck. 🙂

More posts on this topic coming soon.

Further Reading:

 

 

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