Unable to Recall Multiple Parts of One Card
You thought you learned a card well. You did. But when it comes up in a review, things start to unravel. You didn’t just forget one thing; you forgot three. Now, on this ordinary review, you are refreshing yourself on 3 parts of a card. This takes time and builds up frustration. All for just one card. But at least when you finish it and push it forward things will be better the next time it shows up…
Until that card does show up, and this time you can’t recall 2 parts. A step in the right direction, but you must now spend the time to review those 2 parts again.
Is this the best way to deal with this common situation?
When you have 100s of cards to review, chasing that 0, it’s natural to feel some pain. In order to soften that pain, card reviews need to be painless on an individual basis. This requires a test of as little information as possible per card.
In principle, this is how it starts. You are only learning one new piece of information per card. This ideal setup quickly changes. When you forget other information on a card besides your target, you have to review/re-learn multiple words, per card. This can make 100 reviews feel like 300. You start to feel the spiral of suffering, as you try to go faster to make up for this. The faster you go, the more you forget.
Set a limit on your cards with multiple unknowns
There is one major solution I’ve found that saved me from this. The process works as follows:
1. Read a sentence in my reviews, discovering three words I can’t remember.
2. Before discouragement starts to set in, I immediately flip the card.
3. Rather than sit there going through all three unknowns, I review only the first one.
4. Once I am refreshed of the first item, I move on, skipping the latter two.
You passed a card that you didn’t fully understand? How dare you?!
One of three scenarios happens from here:
1. I see the parts I forgot somewhere else (immersion and/or other cards), and it naturally restores my memory in them, before I get to that card again.
2. I see them in just that one card again later, and due to good timing or memory freshness, I was able to recall what I couldn’t before.
3. When I get to that card a second time, I can’t recall those two missing parts I didn’t review on the first pass.
Scenario 3 is the most common. Regardless, I continue the path. Upon the return of that card, I review the second part I didn’t remember, moving on (this time skipping only part 3). Then when the card comes around yet again, I focus on the final remaining part 3.
This looks like it would take more time. Re-learning/reviewing all 3 parts at once would seem to be quicker than doing them one at a time.
However, in addition to making for a painful review, trying to refresh yourself on 3 new things in one card is prone to failure. You forgot those 3 parts because they weren’t firmly cemented in your memory yet or were slightly tough words. Attempting to fix all 3 issues at once will most likely lead you to forgetting them again later on your next review.
So why waste the time now all at once, if you’re going to have to relearn them again anyway? Might as well separate them out, making your life easier.
Dealing with multiple fails
This is how I approach it. How do you handle multiple fails on one card?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
Do you have any tips on remembering kanji during reviews? I’m using NEXT and am only 50 or so cards into Kanji Kingdom. Some kanji click, but other ones I just can never recall, even when I write them out.
For kanji I still use radical names and pnemonics or stories to remember them. Like rtk or wanikani. Otherwise i have to force remember it by just seeing it a million times. The benefit for me using kk is I get to see the kanji a lot so I end up knowing them very well so it’s a lot of practice. But for me remembering them still requires radical names to come up with stories. Sometimes.
I used Wanikani for a bit but couldn’t afford the price. I might get back to it when I save up, cause I remember the mnemonics helping most of the time. A lot of the kanji in KK I can usually make up some way to remember it, whether by radical or its shape or something. But other times I just draw complete blanks haha.
You are still early on, so over time you’ll find them sticking better. Most people create their own little personal mnemonics as they go through them (based on what they think they look like).
There are a couple things I’ve found that help me (which may or may not help you). I try to pay attention to the stroke order when I’m learning the Kanji. I don’t grade myself on it on subsequent reviews though. I write them down multiple times (but not more than 3 or 4 times each, don’t want to get carried away). I study them in the groups they are presented. What I mean by that is each Kanji Kingdom card has a set of 3 or 4 Kanji grouped together. I make sure I learn the entire group before I move onto the next. I grade on a sliding scale depending on my mood and energy levels, which means I don’t always expect perfection and don’t beat myself up if I can’t remember.
It sounds like you are a beginner and if so, keep that in mind as you progress. It will take time before all the shapes become familiar and you start seeing them over and over. You are also planting the hooks to which new vocabulary will grasp onto in the future. With that said, it is possible to learn Kanji using other methods, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t use a couple different methods by the time you reach your goal. Enjoy the journey.
Thanks for the replies :)
If the problem keeps happening I might suspend the card first, and when I have time, create a new card for each troublesome individual word. Next I’ll make a new identical card to the problematic original and delete the old one. I might even edit the content to remove a word if I’m confident enough the sentence will still make sense afterwards. This effectively resets the card and gives me the tools to understand it. I might sometimes just delete the card if constantly failing it is starting to get on my nerves!
I think I’ve actually tried that once. I kept forgetting 2 words in a sentence and no matter what I did they didn’t stick. I struggled so much that I just gave up and focused on a single word. It really stuck in my mind and when I saw that sentence again there was only 1 word I didn’t know. At the time I didn’t really pay attention to that method. I don’t think I ever used it again. Maybe that way of doing it is more useful than I thought.
I found some information about this very problem in an article on the website of an Anki competitor, but basically, with flash cards the most effective thing to do is limit the amount of knowledge you are trying to remember per card to only one thing. So in the example Adam gave, you can do that by making three separate cards for the same sentence; for each individual card you could highlight the word you are trying to remember and then put on the back of the card only the meaning of that one word, or you could make a cloze deletion card (blank out the word you are trying to remember and put that word on the back).
I’ve found that when I am having trouble with a flash card I made, it’s usually either because 1) I am trying to remember too much information all on the same card, 2) I don’t know one of the kanji used in the word yet, or 3) I know the kanji, sort of, but the word I’m studying uses a less-common reading of that kanji that I’m not familiar with (or I sort of know the kanji but in a hazy, not fully-cemented way). Once I find what the problem is that’s making it hard for me to learn that word and fix it, then I can memorize the word.