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realmayo

Who else goes both ways with SRS?

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feihong

I should clarify something: I use my English to Chinese cards mostly to practice my writing. Therefore I have zero problems with synonyms, because the pinyin is also on the front of the card. But I don't practice writing because I like to write characters by hand, I do it because it helps me remember the characters.

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icebear
Therefore I have zero problems with synonyms, because the pinyin is also on the front of the card. But I don't practice writing because I like to write characters by hand, I do it because it helps me remember the characters.

Yea, that reminds me to clarify also - going English to characters I allow myself to listen to the sound of the word and then write it - I grade myself only based on how well I remember the strokes for that direction.

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realmayo
I would love to hear (more) experiences of people who stopped doing production cards and instead went recognition-only.

I stopped doing production somewhere between the 5000 and 10000 mark (I think): it was just taking too long.

I've since restarted production simply for individual characters, because although I don't expect to ever have to write anything by hand, I feel that being able to do so gives me more confidence when it comes to recognition -- this is the case for me but not for most people I think.

Currently, then, it's only the single-character deck which is production, the vocab one is all recognition.

But, I'm thinking to restart some production in the vocab deck, though certainly not for all the vocab in the deck.

Even if you're not doing any SRS you will have some vocab which you can produce in conversation and so on, and some vocab which you can only recognise. It seems to me that there should at this moment be a chunk of vocab which is not too easy and not too difficult which it would be worthwhile me SRS-ing on a production basis. If I was speaking Chinese every day there might be no need for the artificiality of SRS, but I don't normally speak Chinese these days.

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Ludens

Thanks for the input everyone! It confirmed my inclination to change my srs habits. I think I will go with a model similar to that of Realmayo, so now the next step will be figuring out how to convert my vocab production cards into single character production cards without losing scheduling data.

They (flashcards) are a means to an end, and even when I tend not to be extremely harsh with them they seem to be doing a reasonable job at that. Still, I think rounding that corner towards 'natural SRS' is important and hope I'm ready for it in the not too distant future. It sounds like you may be nearing that point also (5000 items - is this 5000 words or 2500 words?).

That's almost 5000 words (which translates to 10.000 cards now), using just over 2600 characters. I think it would be possible to keep up with my current model for another 5000 or so words, but it would take so much time that I hardly have time to study reading, listening and speaking (which is the main problem now already).

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icebear
That's almost 5000 words, using just over 2600 characters. I think it would be possible to keep up with my current model for another 5000 or so words, but it would take so much time that I hardly have time to study reading, listening and speaking (which is the main problem now already).

Exactly! At 4000 words/2000 characters I'm able to manage all my SRSing in around 30 minutes a day, which is reasonable in my opinion. I don't plan on significantly increasing that amount of time, however; I'd rather invest more time in reading, TV or conversation. Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees...

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imron
I hardly have time to study reading, listening and speaking (which is the main problem now already).

If you read enough material, and read regularly, you will cover the vast majority of words in your flashcard deck in probably at least the same amount of time or earlier than they were scheduled for revision - especially for reasonably well known cards. This means that as long as you are doing regular reading, you can probably discard most of the cards in your deck without any real loss of knowledge.

At 5,000 words and 2,500 characters you should definitely be looking to branch into native material.

Personally I wouldn't remove the production cards. That's where I find the real learning occurs (or rather the learning that makes me really grasp the word). If it's taking too long I would say the problem is more too many cards and not enough supplementary activity that allows you to reduce the number of cards without any negative impact.

Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees...

This.

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Ludens

Imron, I get that you are promoting the deletion of cards instead of building an ever growing deck. You might have a point there, but I'm not ready for that yet psychologically :-)

Out of curiosity, how do you decide a card is ready for removal? Especially with production cards, which you seem to use, it would be hard to know when you can do without the artificial repetition of srs for more obscure words (which you don't 'produce´ regularly in daily life).

Deleting my production (vocab) cards will hopefully free up a lot of my time, so that more can be spent on actual production (and consumption) of the language. If I feel the need, I can then always use your method of temporary production cards alongside my recognition deck.

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imron
I get that you are promoting the deletion of cards instead of building an ever growing deck

It's not so much that I promote the deletion of cards, but rather I want to promote regular reading and usage of Chinese as having a stronger focus than SRS reps. Regularly deleting cards is just a means to accomplish that end.

Out of curiosity, how do you decide a card is ready for removal?

That's easy, I simply delete everything once revisions start to regularly get over 1/2 an hour an day :D

The logic is as follows: If I know the card well, deleting it will have no negative effect. If I don't know the card well but the card is useful for me, it will show up again soon enough in my reading and I can decide to add it back to my current list if need be. If I don't know the card well, but the card isn't useful for me, then there's no point me spending my time learning it and it can be safely deleted. 'Useful for me' is defined as likely to be encountered during my usage of Chinese.

For production cards, I do them because I find them a useful way to ensure the word is firmly entrenched in my mind, not necessarily because I'm going to actually produce them myself. More often than not I will only encounter them in a recognition context during my usage of Chinese. I've found that learning them as production makes this recognition faster, because I know the word more thoroughly.

People always worry about obscure cards, and if they delete them, they may never see them again and they'll be losing that knowledge unless they keep it using SRS and so on. To me that just indicates someone who doesn't do enough reading, because something I've found through regular reading is that even obscure words aren't really all that obscure. For example, I try to read about 1/2 an hour a day. For me this currently equates to about one book a month. The average book in China contains about 250,000-300,000 characters, so a book a month equates to over 3 million characters a year. Plug whatever frequency statistics you like into that figure, and even really infrequent words/characters are going to show up a couple of times, and I'm always surprised at how words I thought I'd never see again turn up in completely different books written in completely different styles by completely different authors.

For example, have a think about how many characters out of the 2,600 you know are ones you would consider obscure. Plugging in the Junda frequency data for imaginative texts, at 3,000,000 characters a year, the 2,600th most frequent character is likely to show up 63 times, or about 5 times a month. That's almost certainly more than you would see just doing SRS reps for that character, and that repetition helps keep it fresh in your memory.

Even if your reading speed is much slower, say 100 cpm, if you read regularly (1/2 an hour a day, everyday) it should still be possible to cover over 1 million characters total in a year. (Note: that's 1/2 an hour spent reading, so time taken to look up words should be outside this figure). At that rate you'll still see the 2,600th most frequent character 21 times year, or just under twice a month. Your reading speed will also certainly increase over that time if you are doing it regularly.

At 5,000 words and 2,600 characters, you might still find novels require a lot of dictionary lookups, so comics, and newspaper articles might be a better place to start, although whatever content you choose you'll still require a fair amount of dictionary lookups in the beginning to account for content/genre specific vocab so don't let that put you off. Simpler novels like 《活着》might also be suitable.

The other thing to make sure of, is to make sure you limit the amount of new words you are adding per day to a reasonable amount (5-10 works well for me), even if you encounter many more new words than that during your reading. This helps keep the burden of learning new words low, and as long as you are reading enough, you'll encounter the useful ones you leave out on one day soon enough on another day.

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