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Who else goes both ways with SRS?


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realmayo

I've used the Anki spaced repetition software (SRS) for almost 18 months and can now read and write over 2,500 characters, plus a larger amount of "words". So it's safe to say I'm a fan of the software, and the principle behind it. But, from the start, I've always drilled myself on the flashcards both ways: that's to say, if I write a flashcard for 拼搏, Anki will produce two flashcards for me to be tested on, one Chinese -> English, one English -> Chinese.

Aside from the practicalities of going English -> Chinese (ie often I need pinyin, or some other hint, to distinguish one word or character from another which has the same English translation) this process means that the time I spend using the software is doubled. In fact, it's more than doubled, because "producing" the characters and words is more difficult than "recognising" them.

I'm not asking if in general it's useful to try to learn how to write -- as opposed to just recognise -- Chinese characters. My personal hunch is that it really helps me recognize them better.

But I'd like to hear from others using SRS who do everything both ways, ie recognition and production, with characters and vocab. Do you ever think time could be best spent doing something else? Should I move to recognition-only for newer, slightly less-common vocab? Or, if you only go one-way, do you have any regrets?

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I was going both ways (and had whole-sentence cards in addition), but became overwhelmed for whatever reason, and switched to recognition of words only. It was a tremendous relief, the mind being able to stay in one mode. But, I'd like to gradually reintroduce writing cards. Here are two ideas: 1. For writing, use Scritter (or something else) instead. This keeps your one-way system clean. 2. Keep the writing cards in a separate deck. More generally, keep every "mode" in a separate deck. I'm sure that would help some.

I don't regret switching to one-way. It was a compromise that freed a lot of energy to work on other things- a trade-off I felt forced to accept.

EDIT, 26APR10:

I now think going to recognition-only was a mistake. It let me push one aspect of learning to an absurd extreme. I should have simply slowed down. This year I'm having to go back and catch up in production anyway, mainly so far via full-sentence production cards, which seem to be working well.

This feeling, of being overwhelmed by the flashcard deck, should probably be taken as a warning to slow down and consolidate.

Edited by querido
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abcdefg

My (home-made) Anki deck shows me the Hanzi and I must answer the English and Pinyin, which are together on the other "side.". I've wanted to try going the opposite direction, but don't know how. I use ZDT in "Pinyin Recall" mode to be sure I've remembered the tones right. It makes me type them out.

Apologies in advance for asking something that is bound to be contained in the Anki video or its wiki or blog somewhere, but how do you get your Anki deck to show you the English first? I would like to review my words that way sometimes. Do you have to make your cards differently to start with before you can "reverse" them? If so, how? I make my cards using the "basic" model (in the "Add Items" menu.)

I readily confess to mental retardation and certainly don't mean to subvert your thread. If a moderator wants to move this post it's sure OK with me.

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anonymoose

I have Chinese sentences with a word (or phrase) substituted by English, and I write out the missing Chinese word by hand.

I figure that if I can write a word, I'll also be able to recognise it, and this seems to be the case in practice.

Of course this method is no good if you don't care about being able to write, but I've always paid attention to being able to write by hand, and this method seems to work quite well.

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recognition and production are different skills and they should be practiced separately (which is why right now I'm largely concentrating on recognition). Our passive vocabulary is way larger than our active, so if you would practice production, it should focus on the core vocab/characters.

abcdefg, I haven't found a way of doing this automatically yet, but you could just change the deck properties.

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I used ZDT to drill words into my head. After I've reviewed a set for about a week or two straight (once a day for 1 - 2 weeks), I'll throw them in Anki.

Anything that is 口语 related is tested both ways. Anything 书面语 is only tested one way (characters only).

I've only just started using Anki about a month or so ago, so I'm not sure how well it will work. I've just studied a bunch that I'll only see again in about 5 months, so once that point rolls around I guess I'll see whether or not SRS is really worth all the hype.

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I was going both ways for quite a long time (almost 2 years), but switched to recognition only about a year ago, as it was really getting over my head. I was having some regrets at first and pondered whether I was doing the right thing... but then again, the words I am adding now can't usually be categorized as a core vocab, they are mostly obscure 书面ish expressions a I would probably never be in a real life situation when I would really need to write them on paper. Also, I have not stopped practicing writing altogether, just not doing in SRS anymore - I occasionally fill characters in 字帖, when I feel like working on my 行书 style and we sometimes do this 听写 thing with a colleague of mine (we should do that more often though).

My recognition SRSing is not solely about recognition either. I try to add an example sentence or a collocation to a word whenever possible. When going through them during my regular repetitions I always try to recall that example sentence as well (with the headword characters being the only hint) and I would give myself the highest mark only if I get it completely correct or get reasonably close... well, that's about it, now I just have to get through that terrible backlog which I ended up having even after switching to "recognition-only" mode...

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animal world

We have had this discussion before and there's no really good answer. The way my self-made deck is set up it would be frustrating, to the point of uselessness, to go from English to Chinese. Here's a small example: I don't know how it happened, (maybe my reading is extremely morbid or it may reflect a Chinese cultural thing) but i have variations of "to die" in my deck kazillion times, all with unique questions in Chinese of course. So, i may have the correct answer in this reverse test even though the actual response may give me something different.

I've been toying with the idea of creating a category in Mnemosyne that is my custom-made Chinese Thesaurus of the words and expressions i already know. Out of space considerations, i would cut out the middleman (i.e. do away with the pinyin). In my answer i'm supposed to differentiate the nuances. It would go something like this:

Q: to die

A (ideally to be rattled off by me at supersonic speed): 死, 殇, 毙, 亡, 卒, 逝世, 丧亡, 作古, 归西, 无常, 大去 , 去世, 枪毙, 等等

The purpose of this Thesaurus category would be to overcome the inherent robotic nature of SRS and get a great vocabulary where you need it, i.e. at your finger tips instead of on the tip of your tongue or in the hinterlands of your brain. However, it would be a lot of work to generate this Thesaurus and this time would be much better spent actually conversing with someone in Chinese and just buy a Chinese Thesaurus :)

The characters i learned before Mnemosyne i know how to write quite well; the characters i learned since then i recognize but there are some i couldn't write accurately even if you were to hold a gun to my head. For seldom-used used characters, such as 挝 in 老挝, there's no point in knowing how to write them. Next year, i'm going to resume learning how to write characters because they will become truly your own once you know how to write them. Besides, i find there's something peaceful about the process of writing characters.

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yeah, that's why I have a comment section in some of my anki decks. Whenever I know a similar word etc, I put it in. There's a lot of chengyu with similar meaning, and to tell them properly apart is crucial...

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abcdefg

After reading this discussion, I think I'll leave my Anki deck alone and let it remain a simple tool that just helps me remember how to recognize and pronounce Hanzi and short Chinese phrases.

It sounds like the risks of creating some kind of hybrid "all in one" learning machine outweigh the benefits at my stage, plus it would be a whole lot of trouble.

Could wind up with a "handy dandy flashlight, bottle opener, hair dryer and ballpoint pen combo tool that's the perfect Christmas gift for Uncle Fred or Aunt Millie." Or I could wind up as Anki's slave.

I see SRS as a useful auxiliary, not as the center of my entire language-learning life.

I used ZDT to drill words into my head. After I've reviewed a set for about a week or two straight (once a day for 1 - 2 weeks), I'll throw them in Anki.

@kdavid -- That's what I do too.

Edited by abcdefg
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abcdefg
Changing around your deck properties to try it out is NOT a lot of trouble.

I have Anki open at the moment and just tried it. It seems that "Settings" >> "Deck Properties" >> "Models and Properties" >> "Edit" will let me change whether the "Front" of the card or the "Back" of the card is shown first. But it seems to only influence new cards that I will make in the future instead of influencing the way I can review the cards in my existing deck. What I'm looking for is a different way to review the cards I already have.

Maybe I need to go back and watch that sappy video again.

What I really wish I had done when I made the Anki cards was make them "three sided" somehoe so that I could be presented first with either the Hanzi, the English, or the Pinyin andI could review the material in all three different modes. I couldn't figure out how to do that, although I'm confident that there must be a way judging from what other users have reported here in the forum.

As it is, I'm using the "Basic" template, which does not apper to allow that. I put Hanzi on one side and the English definition plus Pinyin on the other.

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Well, you could just manually edit the Card Template.

So if your Question used have %(Hanzi)s and your Answer %(Pinyin)s, %(English)s etc, you would just move %(Hanzi)s to the Answer portion and swap it with whatever you wanted to be your new question.

It's not too elegant, but it works. But in the long run, if you want to do both production and recognition, I'd copy an existing deck first. You can also mix them by changing deck models etc., but this might be a bit more complicated.

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I know that this might also be somewhat off topic, however, I have a problem related to abcdefg's, so I felt it might be overkill to start a new topic.

I downloaded a deck called "Integrated Chinese 3rd Edition (Level 1)", being the book I use to study Chinese. The card consists of 'Basic' style cards and they only review from Chinese to English/pinyin. However, I've succesfully copied the cards, so the deck now also have all the English/pinyin to Chinese cards. However, when I review the cards all the Chinese to English/pinyin cards comes first (lesson 1 through lesson 20). It would be ideal to have the same words/characters for recognition and recall in the same review periods. Does anyone know how to get the cards sorted this way? I know all the lesson 1 cards (both ways) are tagged with "IC3_lesson_1" and so forth. I imagine thet might be a way to solve the problem, if it's possible to review based on the order of the tags. Does anyone have an idea how to do this?

Thing is, I'm new to Anki. The answer might be obvious or easily found in the FAQ, but I've been unsuccesful so far.

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There might be an option to do this, by ordering them in the way you want, but I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to accomplish exactly. It might also be a good idea to post on the anki forum about this.

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What I'm trying to accomplish is: reviewing the lessons continuously (starting with lesson 1 and ending with lesson 20), but having both recall and recognition cards each time I review.

I actually just did try to post at anki's forum (didn't occur to me before after having posted here), and there is a way to do this, although it's kind of a backwards solution. I'll post here in case anyone else have the same problem:

I started by copying the cards so I had front->back and back->front cards. The deck I downloaded is tagged by the lessons, so I suspended all the cards from the lessons I don't want to practice yet and then I can un-suspend new vocab each day. By choosing "show new cards in random order" the cards will be mixed, so that the front->back don't all come before back->front cards.

I hope that make any sence, I'm not sure how to explain it clear :) anyways, it seems to work for me now, so if anyone has the same problem as I did, but don't understand my explanation, I'll try to elaborate on it :)

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I tried this for a while. However, the only way this is useful for me is if I need to enter the character via IME. And I want the SRS stats to be kept separate from the Chinese -> English way, as, as other have mentioned, Chinese -> English is usually easier than English -> Chinese (or at least one wants to practice different words). And I haven't found any software that supports that.

@realmayo

Anki will produce two flashcards for me to be tested on, one Chinese -> English, one English -> Chinese.

When Anki gives you a flashcard English -> Chinese, how does it work? Do you enter the Chinese character via IME, does it give you a list to pick from, or does it just ask you "do you know this?"? [bTW, re: the title, was the double entendre intentional?]

@kdavid

I used ZDT to drill words into my head. After I've reviewed a set for about a week or two straight (once a day for 1 - 2 weeks), I'll throw them in Anki.

What benefit does Anki have for you over ZDT, given that ZDT also has SRS?

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  • 4 months later...
realmayo

After mulling it over for a while, and after thinking about others' experiences, I'm cutting back on my "production" side. When I add new characters, I will normally not test myself on writing them if they are not that common (ie outside the top 3000, or whatever). Also for most new words (words, not characters) I want to learn, I only add them for recognition. Plus, when I hit words that I've entered previously, which require me to write the Chinese, if I'm getting them wrong too often I just ruthlessly :twisted: delete (well, suspend) the card.

I know around 3000 characters now and although I certainly haven't neglected words, I'm at the stage where I can push on and learn many more words -- but forcing myself to test their production in Anki was just getting too time-consuming....

jbradfor: sorry, only just saw your question. I don't enter anything via IME, I just write the Chinese down on a bit of paper -- if I feel I need to -- and then compare it with the "answer". I never saw the point of entering via IME.

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  • 4 months later...

For words, I've only been doing it where the front of the card is the English, and the back is the answer in pinyin and characters with an example sentence or two.

For characters, it's the opposite, with just the character on the front, and the answer/definition on the back in English.

I'm going to try some different things with my 'word' deck. It would be a lot easier and faster for me to go through the new words where they had the chinese on the front and the english on the back.

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