A lot of people talk about the Core 2000. If you go to the Anki shared decks, you can find a variety of decks for the Core 2000, Core 6000, and even the Core 10,000. Many people on Japanese forums who are studying for the JLPT will talk about the Core 2000. Although it may sound like some fancy ab workout, the Core 2000 has quite a history within the Japanese community, and is still a prominent method of study for many.
The Core 2000 began on a website called Smart.fm. After its controversial shift to iKnow, the Core 2000 community largely moved to Anki. To this day, the Core 2000 is still a debated topic amongst Japanese language learners.
But before we talk about that, let’s take a peek at what’s inside.
The Core 2000 is based on learning vocabulary words. The idea is to learn 2000 essential vocabulary words. There are several different types of cards within the Core 2000. For one vocabulary word, you will have three vocab cards (which only have the vocabulary word on them) and two sentence cards. For the vocab cards, there is one listening card, one production card, and one reading card per word.
The first card you will encounter is a listening card. The front says “Listen,” and the word will be spoken. The back has the vocabulary word in Japanese and English as well as a picture to go along with it. Here is an example:
The production cards are based on the E-J method discussed recently here on JALUP. They have the picture and English translation on the front, and you are expected to “produce” the Japanese word that matches it. The final vocab card is the reading card, which has the Japanese word on the front and the English translation and picture on the back.
In addition to these three cards, there will be two sentence cards meant to solidify your command of the word. The two sentence cards are similar to the listening and the reading cards, but this time you will see the vocabulary word used in a sentence. Here is an example of the reading sentence card:
So is the Core 2000 worth using?
While having Japanese sentences, English translations, audio, and picture all prepared for you would save you a lot of time in preparing Anki cards, I personally would not recommend using the Core 2000.
Now I don’t mean to hate on anybody’s study method; many people have used the Core 2000 and have had success. It is your Japanese quest, and you have every right to use whatever method is working for you. However, I believe that there are two major weaknesses with using the Core 2000:
1. Its reliance on vocabulary flashcards;
2. Its failure to change to J-J.
We have talked before about why sentences are more effective than vocabulary. Now, as mentioned before, certain versions of the Core 2000 will have you learn sentences as well as vocabulary. However, the time you use learning individual words would be better spent learning complete sentences. Even for a vocabulary based learning system, having five Anki cards for a single word seems a bit overkill. It’s not that the method is ineffective in teaching you vocabulary, but there are more effective uses of your time.
Additionally, many sentences sentences in the Core 2000 use words you have not learned yet. The above sentence is the first card in the Core 2000, so although you now know “それ”, nothing in the “はとてもいい話だ” would make sense to you at that point. It is ineffective to practice sentence cards if you only understand one word in the sentence.
The other major weakness with the Core 2000 is that it never shifts to J-J. Shifting to J-J is important; you are missing out on incredible learning opportunities without it. You are certainly making the switch to J-J too late if you complete the Core 6000 or 10,000, but even changing after the Core 2000 can be a bit late to shift to J-J; you should be able to change after about 1000 J-E sentences.
But what do you think?
Did you use the Core 2000? How has it prepared you for your Japanese Quest? Would you recommend it? Leave your experience in the comments below!