Anki grows with time. Add cards and watch it amass size. More cards means more total knowledge you have deeply absorbed in your memory. But after acquiring enough, there must be a point that you never need to add a new Anki card again. Does that moment exist, and when?
Difficulty in adding new cards
As your deck expands, so does your Japanese ability. The more you learn, the less you don’t know, and the harder it is to find new material. There was a time, at my peak of Japanese “insanity,” where I was adding 30-50 cards a day, every day, for several months. Now my deck in 2016 maybe sees a few new cards a month.
No, but I can’t find new words I want to add.
Of course there are probably tens of thousands of words and phrases (if not more) that I don’t know. But for several years, I have abided by the following 5 rules for adding new cards that allows me to sanely keep that “study” element in my enjoyment of Japanese media.
1. The unknown word must come naturally from something I’m engaging in. This assures me that there is value in learning it. No dictionary or word list scavenging for new words.
2. It must be something that I can’t figure out from the context of what I’m reading. If I get it from context, it means that I’ll get it from context next time (even better than this time), and it isn’t worth the effort of looking it up.
3. It must come from something I’m reading (and now specifically, reading from my iPhone). This allows for minimal effort to look it up/make an Anki card.
4. It must be something I’m interested in or think I will need to know
5. It must not interrupt the flow of what I’m doing, so if I’m very engaged in reading something, it’s not going to get in there.
These 5 rules have allowed me to continue studying new material without ever feeling like I was tired of studying. Then again, sometimes even if all 5 are met, I may just look up the word, and not bother adding it. This causes streaks of months where I won’t add any cards at all.
Why keep Anki at all? Once you are fluent, can’t studying be finished?
So 11 years in and I still sometimes add new cards. I’m still reviewing cards. By normal standards, I don’t need to do anything to understand 99% of what I encounter.
So why continue? Because it requires the smallest amount of commitment to continue to grow.
It may come down to personality. Why do some adults continue to look up new words in their native language no matter how old they get? Why do people continue to expand their knowledge till they die. To me, this continued growth is rewarding, and worth that commitment.
Almost all your natural growth in the much higher levels (65+) will be gained without Anki (just continuing to read and listen to Japanese native media). But I occasionally like to add a little language fertilizer to the mix and adding new words allows me to do that.
So is there an end to new words in Anki?
Depends on who you are and what you want to do.
How about an end to Anki reviews?
For me, now, not likely. A minute or so a day is my daily Japanese teeth brushing for long term memory lapse cavity prevention. It also acts as a brain booster game. But then again, let’s talk in a few more years, as I may have dropped it completely by then.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.