Why I’m Quitting Anki after 12 Years — 16 Comments

  1. Wow-congrats. I gotta admit, it made me a bit sad, since I know how studying can almost become like an old companion after a while-especially for us perfectionists. But, Japanese is still a part of your daily life, and you’ve moved on to an interesting and rewarding career. You’re an amazing teacher and always an inspiration. Looking forward to the programming posts; that’s a career I’ve started pursuing as well.

    • Yeah, it felt a little weird at first to stop doing them. But now whenever I have a few free minutes, I have Kindle ready to go :)

      But don’t worry, quitting Anki doesn’t mean I’m quitting writing about Japanese learning on Jalup.

  2. I recently decided that this will be my last year of adding words to Anki. I finally broke the mystical 10,000 sentence card barrier, and I felt like I’m done. 10,000 doesn’t gets you to fluency, far from it, but by this point there is minimal gain from new cards. These words often don’t come up in immerison enough to really stick. I get much more exposure to the language during immerison. A lot of the words I don’t understand very well until I see them enough in immerison. Sometimes I think I’m looking up a new word only to see it in Anki with a 5.6 month interval.

    Immerison is the best SRS, because it’s the only one that matters. If you only see a word in Anki then it’s useless. Why should the random fancy word an author used in their book haunt you years later?

    Which is not to say Anki isn’t useful. It is incredibliy useful in the beginning. But over time each new word is less likely to be useful. Once you reach a high level, your efforts are best spent elsewhere. It’s like training wheels, essential to the novice, but annoying to the expert.

    Yeah, 10,000 seems like a good cut off point, and hey, that’s around where the Jalup Cards are now.

    • Those random words from novels do haunt. In my memory I could pinpoint a sentence from an Anki card to a book I read 10 years ago. And then I would forget what that word meant and fail the card.

  3. Speaking from a point where I could probably drop Anki and be “fine”, I’m looking at a hybrid approach.

    I’m probably going to drop my JALUP sentence reviews, as they’re my oldest and easiest cards at this point (which is not to downplay the incredible value they had in getting this far). But I’m probably going to keep my self-made sentence review process going for the time being. A couple of reasons for this-

    1: I have a historical/emotional connection to the moments represented in these cards, and that makes them comparatively fun to review.
    2: I actually like picking up and trying to retain “fancy” words. I feel like I still get a meaningful return on this effort, in terms of making myself a better writer.
    3: I don’t have anyone I can speak with regularly (時差って最悪~), but I’ve always been in the habit of reading my reviews aloud, which is a nice way to shake the rust off. (I should probably work to build a better Shadowing habit >_>)

    When it comes to kanji (RTK in my case), I’m on the fence.

    -On the one hand, I’m over 400 reviews in the hole on my kanji deck and have pretty consistently failed to bring that number down. I’m unsure what my strategy will be to deal with this, but simply dropping kanji production reviews is not off the table.

    -On the other, I work in an industry that could easily see me spending time in Japan at some point, and I’d kind of like to try if the opportunity presents itself. This would mean a need for handwriting skills that I’d hate to give up on just to relearn later. I’ve also found that my ability to distinguish similar kanji has suffered as I’ve fallen behind on reviews.

    I think for now my approach can be summed up as “review smarter, not harder”, but I can certainly see the logic in dropping reviews entirely if you’ve got enough reinforcement built into your daily life.

    • For kanji, if you really want to practice handwriting, you might want to start a journal or something that you get more real practice writing.

      Because I can tell you from my RTK experience (which is also 12 years old), while I could write kanji in RTK (with more failures than I’d like), when I had to write an actual letter to someone, things didn’t go so well. This was due to having nearly 0 writing practice outside of RTK.

      It’s kind of like trying to watch an anime for the first time without ever having watched an anime before, even though you studied all the words.

  4. This is weird… I revisit this site for the first time in years with this exact topic in mind and find this blog at the top!

    I haven’t used Anki for Japanese for 2 years now. Anki used to have the exact same meaning for me as described here. Then I failed the N1/started my MA a week later surrounded by students with degrees in Japanese to compare myself to (my degree was not Japanese). I lost the sense of purpose in doing Anki reviews. My Japanese study has been pretty rubbish ever since. Which is why I’m back here- I’m still not sure what life after Anki really looks like?

    Last year I started using Anki again to learn Ainu. My Ainu deck feels like my Japanese deck used to feel. So I’m happy I haven’t completely fallen out with the program. But I don’t see myself using it for Japanese again.

  5. Very interesting! It reminded me of the choice I made to quit Wanikani / driven SRS a few months ago to go into Anki / self-made SRS. Similar to what you are saying about “I would have quit Anki in 2012”, I quit Wanikani at lvl 35 but I feel like I should have left it at lvl 20.

    What I would like to know because it doesn’t appear clear to me is, what was your level back in
    JLPT equivalent? Fluent? In the intermediate plateau? I guess you would suggest to everyone in this 2012 equivalent to quit SRS once we have developed a good “Japanese culture bath” habit?

    • I was fluent back in 2012, JLPT1+ equivalent.

      There’s no right or wrong time to quit Anki. This just for me felt like the time I would have done it, looking back in hindsight. Though if I tried to tell my 2012 self that, I’m sure he would object!

    • Unfortunately my deck info got corrupted somewhere over the years (once early on, and again during the switch from Anki 1 to 2). So the reviews and minutes are wrong…

  6. Did you end up getting fluent in Chinese? I remember that you had an article a long time ago talking about your experience learning the language, but I can’t find it.

    • I had studied for a year (2009-2010) with decent progress, but I was learning it for the wrong reasons and just wasn’t passionate enough about it to continue.

  7. I’m someone that’s admittedly starting Anki with my first self-taught language and it’s an odd one: Ainu. I’m going to use it in conjunction with the Drops app/website. Drops seems good at getting you to learn words with prompts, but it’s not good at getting you to truly remember them. Anki seems like a good tool for bridging that gap.

    Why such an odd, obscure language? Because I have a special gift with mimicking sounds and I feel like I can help in preserving the language somehow….

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