Learn new cards. Review old cards. Learn new cards. Review old cards. Mix in immersion. Mix in speaking. Mix in shadowing. Mix in fun. Repeat till victory.
This is the ideal. This is not what happens. This is okay. There is going to come a time that you are going to want to weaken the flame. Not because you don’t want Japanese bad enough. But because you are human, and need time to regroup. You need time to refuel.
It can be tough when this happens to you. You feel like a failure. You aren’t learning anything new. But this is not true. As long as you keep doing one thing:
Just keep up with your reviews
By solely doing this, you are doing way more than you think.
Let’s say you take several weeks or months off. If you do nothing, your Japanese is going to be chipped away at. Holes are going to appear. Knowledge is going to leak out. You won’t lose your Japanese, but it will exponentially get weaker over time.
So the least you think you can do is keep up your reviews. By doing this, you are saving your ship from sinking. You feel guilty, but it is better than nothing… The real truth though is that it is not only better than nothing, it is actually super beneficial. By keeping up your reviews, you are not just preventing more damage. You are getting better in ways that you couldn’t when you were going full blast with everything else mixed in.
1. Prevent burnout
First, the mental side. The worst thing you can do is quit Japanese. It’s very hard to come back to that. By slowing the burn, you can stop this.
2. Catching up – preventing overflow
The more cards you add, the more reviews you’ll have. This continues only until you stop adding new cards. Having time solely just to catch up on reviews solves this never ending cycle of increasing difficulty. It will prevent the need to knock out 500+ reviews.
3. Experience the magic of 0
When you feel like every day is a climb up a mountain just to break even on reviews, you get tired quickly, and you turn on “do reviews if I have time” mode.
Hitting 0 reviews every day (and not just because you artificially adjust a maximum count) brings with it unparalleled energy. I know it might look silly. You are just getting a number from high to 0. But we like numbers. We like 0. We like the feeling of “clear.”
If you get to 0 sometimes, it feels great and you want it more. If you get to 0 daily, for weeks and months, it’s total power. And you are able to accomplish this because:
4. Your reviews will permanently decrease
The more time you spend solely dedicated to reviews, the lower your number goes every day, permanently.
If you were used to 150 reviews every day, and take 2 months off doing only reviews, your new daily review count might be 70. Having 70 reviews a day vs. 150 reviews a day while trying to do everything else significantly changes how you feel about daily studying.
5. You are getting better
Now comes the most overlooked yet most important part.
Reviewing cards is not just about preventing loss. It’s about getting better. I need to repeat this as many times as I can because it is that essential.
Reviewing cards means you are getting better. It means you are getting closer to fluency.
- You are giving yourself time to process everything you’ve learned
- You are building new mental connections as you review cards in somewhat random order
- You get faster at reviews. Faster reviews means more efficient studying.
- You are truly learning cards that you only had a mere grasp of before. Sometimes it takes the 10th, or 20th review before you finally get a card.
- Your passive knowledge is getting converted into active knowledge
Thinking that reviewing is not improving is like thinking that sleep is just to prevent being tired.
Have you been through a regroup?
Did you find that you came back way stronger than you could ever imagine?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.