You want results fast. You want Japanese skill now. You want to be watching your favorite anime already. Learning Japanese is a very result-focused process and because of that it’s natural to want to get those results as fast as possible. I couldn’t wait till I was able to use my Japanese for what I wanted. I always wanted to go faster, do more, and reach that finish line asap.
When it comes to speed, the easiest measure is how fast you go through a deck. Or more specifically, how many new cards you learn a day. 1, 5, 20, 50, 100+? Once you reach a certain number, you enter the realm of rush.
How fast is too fast?
My official answer is pretty boring and based on averages I’ve seen over the years. This resulted in the magic 5-15 new cards/day I recommend on the Jalup app and Anki. The goal of this range:
- Prevents too slow a speed, not giving you enough progress, and ultimately decreasing motivation
- Prevents too fast a speed, which can cause burnout or start/stop studying.
- Finish each level (Beginner, Intermediate, etc.) in around 3 months, and finish the Jalup series in a few years.
People that know me know that is not what I did, as my range was closer to 20-50 cards/day. And that’s nothing compared to the author here who did 166 cards a day for a week. However, these numbers mean nothing – really. What’s important is understanding the pros and cons of rushing, and then weighing them to form your own personal choice.
The Rushing Guidelines
1. Your opinion is all that matters
Any time you tell a group of learners you plan on doing a rush, expect some kind of backlash. Their opinions are based on their experience. Your opinion absolutely needs to be based on your own.
2. Most people don’t rush
If you think most people do, it’s because you are reading too many outlier internet stories. Rushers are in the minority.
3. Rushing annoys other learners
When people see a successful rusher, it is easy to feel down. You worked your ass off at 20 cards a day, struggling every step of the way. Now someone comes in and triples that, talking about how easy it was for them. Don’t expect smiles.
4. Rushing is actually a strategy
It may not be a common strategy. It may not be the best strategy. But it is a strategy that has worked for people.
5. Rushing is really just a re-arrangement of study time
Let’s assume you finish 1000 cards in 10 days, at 100 cards a day.
You’ve spent a ton of short-term time to get this done, but once it’s done, you’ve seriously level up. That’s much better than taking a full 3 months at 10 cards a day… right?
Rushing pushes back your study time into the near future, despite the appearance you are getting things done first. This is because rushing naturally has a much lower retention rate. Unless you are a memory unicorn, a surge of new information can’t all be maintained. After your 10 days, expect a long period of reviews, forgetting, remembering, re-learning, and other challenges a non-rusher doesn’t have. The rusher doesn’t necessarily gain the time advantage long-term.
6. Forget Zeroing out
Rushers have trouble enjoying the power of zero. When you finish a rush, and are getting daily reviews of 300+ a day, keeping that beautiful 0 is hard.
7. Rushing is risky
Rushing is done because you want results as fast as possible. It puts you in a high paced mindset, where if you don’t succeed, it can be hard to accept having to go back to a slower pace. Unsuccessful rushers burn out fast. The risk is real, and it’s not small.
8. Rushing is not all or nothing
Just because you want to rush a little doesn’t mean that defines you. Maybe for a week you want to do 50 new cards a day. But then after that you want to drop back to a more standard 10 new cards a day.
A temporary rush can be a fun challenge. Everyone changes their speed and gets bursts of motivations. Mini-rushes are not only great, but inevitable.
Have you tried rushing? How did it work out for you?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.