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WestTexas

How big is your Anki deck and how many leeches?

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WestTexas

I'm not really sure why but this is something I am curious about. Right now the main deck I use for studying Chinese, which is mostly Chinese words with English answers, is 5268 cards with 68 leeches. I'm curious how many leeches different people have.

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anonymoose

So you want to know who has the biggest deck? :unsure: I currently have about 6500 cards, with a backlog of about 3500. :o I haven't had many leaches (half a dozen maybe), but I reactivate them immediately anyway.

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Iqbar

What's a leach? I'm very new to Chinese, my deck has around 750 'facts'.

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WestTexas

If you miss the same card 16 times it will give you a leech message and then you won't see the card anymore until you reactivate it. Those are the default settings, at least.

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dnevets

My deck is now over 11,000 cards. I've turned off leeches - my theory is that if I have a card in my deck, it's because I want to learn it... so what's the point in 'removing' it? If there's a word/character that you seem to be getting wrong again and again, why not put MORE copies of it in your deck, then you'll see it more often, and you are more likely to start remembering it! Not just more copies of the original card of course... I mean, take the word and put it in a couple of short phrases or sentences. Works for me. Of course, another important factor is not letting your backlog of card reps get up to 3500!!! :lol:

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Gleaves

My main deck right now is in Pleco. It is 2000 cards, sort of a catch-all of the vocab I am looking up while reading. Pleco also lets you filter out cards if you've gotten them wrong so many times, but I don't bother using it. If I get something wrong a bunch of times (say five) I delete it. Flashcards just don't work for me on some vocab items. I'll re-add it later if it continues to pop up, but then I am seeing it in context again.

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Silent

Size doesn't matter:) Quantity does:)

My problem is I'm getting too many decks.... At this moment I've 5 decks that I actively study. Two HSK decks, A character frequency deck and 2 Decks with phrases. I started out with two. A HSK deck and character frequency deck. Then I discovered that regularly I recognised all the characters but still had no clue what it was about. So I added a deck with phrases. Later I added another deck with phrases that has sound clips. The most recent addition is a second HSK deck as I studied (=but not yet know) all the cards of my first HSK (Old HSK basic) deck.

At this moment I'm wondering how to consolidate my decks, how to proceed. All those decks are a pain as I have to go through them daily. At the same time I feel I should add at least another deck for listening as in my perception words/characters, sentences and listening demand a somewhat different approach and can't be done properly in one deck. I also struggle with a wish to start creating my own facts for things I come across in the 'wild'. I suspect that if I add them to one of the downloaded decks these facts will not get the priority they deserve.

But end of the rant, I'll answer your question. The combined decks have roughly 50 000 facts (smallest about 1000, biggest about 22 500). I studied about 4000 of them and I've no leeches as I revive them virtually immediately.

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feihong

Consolidating decks shouldn't be too painful, as Anki supports both import and export functions. I don't think it makes sense to have separate decks, and but it is nice to differentiate between types of cards by using tags.

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Silent

Consolidating itself is no problem. I agree with that. One of the decks I use is already a combination of other decks. I disagree however that it makes no sense to have separate decks. Just the way I have it now makes no sense.

At least, I don't know how to achieve my needs with a single deck. In my opinion I need:

- Characters/words, best learned by standard SRS.

- For sentences it should take a long time before failed cards are shown again. Else I recognize most of them based on a couple of keywords without having a clue what it's really about. I achieve this by a high number of new cards, review failed cards last and maintaining a backlog of failed cards.

- For listening I'm still thinking what would be the best way to do it. I'm however pretty convinced that this should be done on phrases that you know. Due to all the homophones it makes no sense for single characters and words. Listening on phrases you don't know makes probably little sense too. I mean if you don't know the word, how will you be able to recognize it in speech? Unless of course you don't care about meaning and only want to write it in pinyin. I guess it means creating a new deck and importing the sentences I learned sufficiently. How else do I study a different selection of facts? Change the settings several times a day?

- Then there are vocabulary/phrase lists based on 'projects' you may want to be able to prioritize these facts so you can learn them and read the text, watch the movie or whatever. I'm still thinking what would be the best approach for this.

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joshuawbb

My deck is coming on about 19,000 cards now, (I put everything in one deck, organised with a lot of tags) and am in agreement with dnevets - I turned off leeches a while back; I prefer to keep at learning something and not have it just removed from the deck, and I'll change strategy if there's a word that just doesn't get stuck in properly, e.g. add better examples to it, or a) split the two (or more) hanzi into individual new cards for studying each hanzi, and then put the word in each to card as a reminder, 2) if the cards already exist, I add the word to them if not there, c) take the example sentence containing the word, find the cards for every significant word in that sentence, and put the example in those cards.

For example, if the word you keep forgetting is "发展", and your example sentence also contains "城市", "社会" and "政府", then copy it into the cards for each of those three words. The ever-forgotten "发展" as well as its example sentence are now in 8 flashcards (recog. + recall) instead of just two. You'll be reminded each time the example comes along and you haven't had to make a new flashcard for the same word, so the fact count can still be an accurate vocab count.

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WestTexas

Well, it looks like I do in fact have a problem with leeches. I was curious if other people have a similar number of leeches as I do, as I feel I have too many, but this appears not to be the case. I think I'll try to put some cards in with the words used in a sentence and see if that helps.

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imron
My deck is coming on about 19,000 cards now

Out of curiosity, how much time do you spend each day revising and maintaining this deck?

By way of contrast, how much time do you spend reading newspapers, books, or other native material?

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joshuawbb

It's not as bad as it sounds, really. I do indeed get a lot of reviews to do each day but have gotten into a solid study routine with them. I'd say on average days without buildup or too many to do, I spend about an hour to hour 30mins going through the flashcards, making sure to write them and glance over the example sentences. Occasionally I get a very high amount of reviews, say 1000+ and I go through them more quickly, writing only the ones I'm less familiar with, and can do this in about the same time or a bit longer. The only trouble is that a few days or so off from study causes a big buildup. Sometimes 2 days can turn into 2,000 reviews, and that takes a bit of strain to climb over. My deck has so many because I have a habit of adding literally every studied word into the deck for statistical purposes. Easy words get pushed quickly into long intervals.

Most of the time Anki takes up 25% of my study time, and I do spend most of the time studying native material, etc. Adding cards takes up a lot of time though, but I can plan time to do that, so it doesn't take up a disproportionate amount of time. To be honest I put myself under pressure but that's only really because during full-time study I have enough time to do so, so pressure's good. When I take the old advanced HSK in October I'll see whether I've been doing well or pulling myself back, so far it feels like it's going well.

Sorry, been a bit too long-winded here.

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imron

Well, the important thing is to have something that works well for you. Good luck on HSK.

Adding cards takes up a lot of time though

That's one of the things I really like about Pleco - instant addition of cards with more or less any combination of front/back.

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Silent

Imron, I hope you forgive me that I ignore your advise.

I absolutely admit that my approach has many flaws. I want but struggle to improve it, my needs change with progress. Despite the flaws I see huge benefits to this approach too. The biggest one is motivation. I started learning languages (Chinese and others) on my own before. I always dropped out pretty soon due to (perceived) lack in progress and consequently lack of motivation. Due to Anki I can objectively measure that I learned. Another motivator is that with a few hunderd characters under the belt I can read significant parts of native text. There's still too much in between to make much sense, but it gives me the feel that reading Chinese within a reasonable time is achievable. Not long ago I had the opposite opinion.

Despite all the imbalance and flaws in my study approach I feel I've done something right. I managed to stick to learning Chinese for about half a year now, three months of them fairly serious study. My studies even survived an inactive month where I went on vacation. And most importantly, I objectively learned something. Not just Anki says so, I also can understand some (parts) of native material, last week I sent my first e-mail entirely in Chinese and in a self evaluation test of Michigan Virtual University I scored such that I could skip two 18 week courses!

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imron

Haha, well you're neither the first nor will you be the last person to ignore my advice so I'll not take too much offence :D

You might want to store it away in the back of your mind somewhere though as you never know when it will come in useful.

I suppose the key point I'm trying to make is that SRS and flashcards are merely tools used to achieve an end goal, that is, being able to read and use Chinese characters. If you find that the tools have become more important (or more dominant in your studying) than the end, then it's always worth reassessing how you use such tools.

Incidentally, there is nothing about my advice that prevents you from objectively tracking progress.

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renzhe
Despite the flaws I see huge benefits to this approach too. The biggest one is motivation. I started learning languages (Chinese and others) on my own before. I always dropped out pretty soon due to (perceived) lack in progress and consequently lack of motivation. Due to Anki I can objectively measure that I learned.

My experience was similar. I crammed the most common characters and words in an effort to jump-start my Chinese learning after years of stagnation, and it worked.

At the same time, I agree with imron that reading is important. I split my time between flashcards and reading, and it increasingly shifted towards reading as time passed. At some point, I had a huge backlog of flashcards due to ignoring Mnemosyne for many months (major stress at work). But I found that I didn't really need them anymore -- the core vocabulary sticked. I should start using flashcards again, for useful words I encounter (and everything else I don't remember), but I am not going to use "Water Margin" as a source, for many obvious reasons.

I think, in retrospect, that the initial memorisation of common words and characters helped me get started, and was crucial, but reading was just as important, probably more.

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Silent

I absolutely agree that flashcards is only a tool and that practical use is far more important. Exactly that's why I'm struggling. When starting out it's fairly simple. Everything you learn is good and flashcards are fairly efficient to build a vocabulary. When in the flow it's easy to continue vocabulary building forever. But then, what's the point? When is the vocabulary enough to shift to practical use? How to bridge the gap between plain vocabulary and practical use? At this moment every practical use is very exhaustive to me. No way that will work, so I try to balance it out. Easy vocabulary building, intermediate sentence flashcards and short stints of more practical use. And of course regularly evaluate to see what way I should proceed.

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renzhe
When is the vocabulary enough to shift to practical use?

You don't learn vocabulary, and then make a switch. Practical use comes from practicing. You try to use it immediately, and gradually shift towards practice and away from dry exercise. As soon as feasible.

Most people find that reading and listening are easier to develop, which is why imron is recommending reading -- it will give you loads of context and information that will make it clear when and how to use words.

Writing and speaking also come with practice, but good listening and reading are prerequisites, IMHO. Practice whenever you can, but exposure to native speaker materials should have priority.

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