Discussion in 'Language Learning Logs & Super Challenges' started by BAnna, Apr 19, 2014.
¡Ay qué bien!
Das ist gut!
I'm dabbling with Anki again in an effort to improve my Russian vocabulary. Perhaps I should post this elsewhere, but if anyone happens to read this who has been successful with Anki, do you have suggestions for improvement? I'm doing Russian one side and German/English on the other. So far I've managed to do Anki for over a week this way (a record for me, usually I give up after just a couple of days).
Just about everything about my Anki use and beliefs in general can be found in the I am a teenage Anki whore thread. Your card looks very similar to mine with the example sentences, except I put a blank line before the sentences start. Also I set off any general prepositional uses just below the main word as well with just the word + preposition + case. Creating good cards is just as time consuming as actually reviewing them, more so in the beginning. Are you noting the stress in some way, like with a fat (bold) or colored letter? And are you putting aspectual verb pairs on the same card? Probably both good practices.
Thanks! That thread is actually what inspired me to give Anki another shot...
I have created some with verb pairs, but only included stress marks for words that give me trouble. Definitely part of my Anki allergy is my not wanting to spend the necessary time actually making the cards themselves. At some level deep down, I'm not fully convinced the time put in as worth it, but so many people have been successful using Anki, I'm really trying to put my skepticism aside at the moment and give it a full chance, although Anki is still not enjoyable for me yet. I much prefer looking at my handwritten notes/lists or just re-reading parts of the dictionary or grammar book. Maybe I'm just hopelessly old-fashioned.
I wouldn't describe my daily Anki use as enjoyable. It's a grind. But the results are enjoyable. Just a little over a year and I have learned or partially learned over 10K German words. Even with slacking on grammar it has taken me to a level to where I can easily understand most documentaries (NDR is my fav), most newspaper articles with a popup, and am increasingly understanding soaps and dramas like Tatort. Since the gain from each individual word is so (very, very) small after the most common 3-5K words or so, it simply takes a LOT of new words in the hopper to keep moving the needle.
As always, Anki or wordlists are not ends in themselves, but aids to making native sources comprehensible. By carefully choosing material that is not too difficult for your current level, which is often very difficult itself, you can reinforce the vocabulary learned by Anki, which should help push those cards ever further into the future with the review queue.
Don't burn yourself out though. As I said, after a steady dose of 30 words a day for a while where my daily review totals start rising, I often back off for a couple days or so and let it settle down to where my reviews don't take much more than 40 minutes or so, and definitely not more than an hour.
Again as you also note, making good cards is a time suck. But you are going to keep using that card in the future, so it is kind of like an investment. As I mentioned, I often watch something in German in one window while adding new words and looking up their definitions in other windows.
Good luck with your studies and Anki!
I posted this already at HTLAL, but it can't hurt to post it here since it's more relevant to previous posts here:
"After reading the article Iversen posted about the ineffectiveness of learning vocabulary from context and an
article on Vocabulary Myths, I've completely rethought
my not actively studying Spanish or German, and decided I do need to occasionally do some formal study (not
sure about the ratio: maybe a half an hour to an hour a week should be enough?)
I've signed up for a weekly C1 conversation class in German, and am going to revisit working in my Spanish
workbook. I'm way ahead of where I need to be to complete the SC, so I think some study time is warranted. I
also saw a video by Anthony Lauder where he said that language learning is like learning a musical instrument:
you need both practice time and play time. To paraphrase: "If all you do is play, you don't get any better. And if
all you do is practice, you can't perform". And while extensive reading/listening does develop an ear for correct
language, I think short grammar/vocab sessions will cement those patterns all the more. Speaking of vocab, I
gave Anki another shot with Russian. I did it for a little over a week, then stopped and also took a break from
Russian for a few days. I think I will go back to my handwritten lists and cards for vocabulary learning. What I
didn't like was the structure/timing of Anki. With my handmade lists and cards, I can do them whenever and
however I like, and I think the writing out by hand actually helps me learn the words. I'll post my Russian stuff
on my polydog log...that is, my polylog? "
So, for my "polylog" my Russian summary follows. However, along the lines of above, I am going to temporarily focus on studying Russian and put native materials on the back burner for the moment, although I am pretty hooked on Sherlock Holmes...
Виктор Пелевин в программе "Главный герой" -No subs
бибисева-various podcast episodes -No transcripts
Кухня-2-once without transcript, then with
белоснежка-Snow White -No transcript
принцесса на горошине-Princess and the Pea-No transcript
Улица сезам-various episodes-No subs
Тротро-Trotro cartoon various episodes-No subs
Каникулы Бонифация-мультфильм - subs
библия дла детей - No transcript
Паровозик из Ромашкова-subs off,then on
Шерлок Холмс-камень ножницы бумага (rock paper scissors)-subs
приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона-Корль Шантажа-subs
приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона-двадцаты век начинается-subs
Read parts of (typically a handful of pages):
Священная книга оборотня-Sacred book of the werewolf (side by side with English version-only read about 20 pages in Russian, then finished the book in English)
книга лдя первого чтения-reader for learners of Russian
Двенадцать стульев-story online
начинаем читать по-русски-reader for learners of Russian
отлично-reading supplement to German-Russian textbook
О ЧЁМ ДУМАЕТ МОЯ ГОЛОВА-children's story
агент 0007-A1 reader from Russian as 2nd language for German schoolchildren
шкатулочка-reader for learners of Russian
Откуда взялись колибри-children's bilingual English-Russian book
Graded Russian Reader vol 1
рассказы из коробки-reader for learners of Russian
Anki is not for everyone, though if you stick with it you will end up with a love-hate relationship with it. And while I only use it on my desktop, you can use it on Ankiweb and thus use it anywhere with a smartphone or other device.
Using either Anki or physical cards or Iversen style wordlists is only the method. The crucial concept is just how much vocabulary is needed, which is in the 15-20K word range. So whatever method is used, it behooves one to study lots of new words regularly and not take a decade to learn 15-20K words. It can even be done in spurts, i.e. learn 30 words a day (or more) for a month, then back off for a month, then start again. Two years to acquire the necessary minimal vocabulary to read and listen with ease is a lot better than ten years in my book. Otherwise self-learning, apart from convenience, has little benefit over years and years of university courses (after which one still comes up short).
And I agree with what you're saying - it's best to do some grindage. Pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. A little bit of grindage makes you progress much faster. Meaning 10% grindage, 90% listening and reading is much more effective than 100% listening and reading. But too much grindage will create a massive bow wave. I personally don't like a huge anki deck with a high percentage of words I can't quickly produce when I converse. I hope you will be able to find a comfortable balance.
I've been staying off the forums and focusing on my languages, mostly on German since I'm taking a C2 level class, which is great but requires a lot of work (multi-page essays, reading a novel, etc.) Russian has taken a back seat for a while, but I'm planning to do the August 6-week challenge in Russian (since my German class will be on break).
What I did (not much) in July with Russian:
(I'll post Spanish and German progress sometime soon on HTLAL)
Watching, mostly Sherlock Holmes overdose:
Шерлок Холмс-любовницы лорда маулбрея
Приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона-смертельная схватка
Приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона-охота на тигра
Приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона-собака баскервилей
Улица сезам 6 серия
Шерлок Холмс-Обряд дома Месгрейвов
как я провел этим летом
Read a few pages:
T Розыск Лорны
Graded Russian Reader vol 1
Pimsleur up through I-Lesson 27
Russian for Everybody currently in Chapter 11
Russian World 2-Lesson 30
Penguin Russian Course, finished Chapter 11
Stalled out with Assimil right after Lesson 29, but plan to get back to it in August
As a follow up to the topic of Anki: I've done some thinking and it could be that I just don't know how to adjust the settings properly or optimize its use.
Problem 1: Specific to Russian: it took me a couple of hours to make 50 cards with sentences in Anki, partially because I cannot type quickly in Russian. When I have made handwritten lists of 25 words/sentences, it only takes max a half an hour or so. Anki did help me improve my skills using the Cyrillic keyboard... I'm not in the situation where I have too many reviews to do, quite the opposite. It was so much effort to put the words and sentences into Anki, by the time I had done it, I actually knew over half of the words pretty well, making review almost superfluous. Yes, I could have then deleted those words, but ouch, all that work...To save time, I could just make one word cards, but that seems less than optimal in Russian because of cases, prepositions, etc. It seems much better to have example sentences. Putting 30 new words with sentences every day into Anki would be too time-consuming for me to be a good vocabulary-learning strategy.
Problem 2: If I look over a list or physical cards, I can quickly sweep with my eyes over known or partially known words (thereby getting a tiny reminder) and then focus on the unknown words, but with Anki, it feeds me a certain amount of words per day that I then have to make a decision about: how well do I know this and when will it come back? If I am too conservative about knowing the word, because of the limits, I don't get to some other known words for a while and waste time on a partially known word that I actually know pretty well. If I'm overconfident about knowing the word, I push it out too far when I really need reinforcement sooner.
Problem 3: Some days I have lots of energy and sharp attention and others I'm distracted or tired, but Anki treats every review session the same and there is a limit to how much it lets you do unless you want to mess about with custom settings. I tend to not want to do much fiddling with the settings and I'm not sure how to optimize them. With cards/lists, I can more easily control how much I do in a day and how often I review as well.
Problem 4: I actually enjoy vocabulary study directly in a dictionary quite a bit (looking at connections/words forms and example sentences that lead me to other interesting words), so Anki takes the fun out and feels very robotic to me. I do not expect study to always be enjoyable, however it seems to me I will keep coming back and do more of it if it is interesting rather than something akin to flossing: do it because it's good for you. I would do Anki religiously if I were convinced it was the best way to learn vocabulary, but I just haven't drunk the Kool-aid on that idea. I have enjoyably spent hours immersed in a "500 verbs" type book and an hour or two flies by for me even when I do grammar exercises, but when I imagine an hour doing Anki, it seems horrible.
Speculation: Anki could be useful for me in German and Spanish in which I have a pretty large vocabulary of known words already, but need to focus on specialty, low frequency words. I can type quickly in those languages and already have about 98% or better comprehension on general subjects. I think Anki could be an excellent tool for learning something along the lines of musical terms, types of birds, or engine parts, where I could actually add images to the cards (something not easy to do in handwritten lists/cards).
I am of an age that when I was in high school very few boys took typing. I was one of 2 in a class of otherwise girls. And got laughed at by my fellowes as a result. But touch typing has served me in good stead my whole life. Perhaps what would be helpful would be to find a Russian typing course and maybe even get a 2nd keyboard with cyrillic keys or at least stick-ons.
(Ah the memories of my typing teacher barking out her commands!: "a-space, a-space, abc-space . . .")
Obviously how conservative or liberal you are in the subjective determination of how well you know a words affects greatly the number of future reviews and thus total daily review time. You seem to limit Anki to presenting only so many words a day, which I don't. That decision has its effects as well. I wouldn't get too anxious over trying to perfectly assess every word. You can always fail it later. And concern for review time is somewhat exaggerated too, as failing a partially known word still results in a future review that takes less time, and only seconds. However 10-15 seconds per word is just too much. Just fail the damn words and review them again the next day (or later that day as well by a filtered deck for missed words that day). It will actually take less time that way instead of staring at the screen when you clearly can't remember.
Normally I don't listen to or watch anything when doing my Anki reviews, but occasionally I will just to see how that affects my recall. It does interfere somewhat but I am recalling under less than perfect conditions which is what one meets in the wild.
Obviously we all do better the more focused we are, and I have found for me, provided I got a good night's rest, that doing my Anki reviews early in the day is very helpful. But if I feel less well-rested, then I am better off taking a short nap in the afternoon and reviewing them later. Also one can just break a session into shorter mini-sessions. Over time it all works out, and again I wouldn't place too much emphasis on individual words or individual sessions. Anki's job is to take care of the long-term, so my advice is to let it and not be concerned about the day-to-day.
As I have said before I too find Anki tedious and a grind. But I like the long-term results and the time-efficiency of it compared to hours of extensive reading a day. Also as I have mentioned in another thread, my obsessive nature allows me to endure that tedium for the sake of the future gain. I am unwilling to take years and years to learn a meaningful vocabulary of 15-20K words (which even 4 years of college classes don't seem to give learners), so I put up with it. I imagine that athletes don't enjoy their daily training all the time either, but they put up with it to reach their goals. Hard work is hard work. But quitting is worse, so if you or others just can't stomach the daily Anki grind (or Iversen lists or GL), then doing something else that is more enjoyable if not quicker and efficient, is better.
What a nice log for Russian! I still need to get back and read everything, but meanwhile I wish you all the best luck (the one that's missing for me hehe)
Thanks for the good wishes, Big Dog and Expugnator, and for the thoughtful comments re: Anki, Peregrinus. I think with Anki I just don't know how to adjust the settings to optimize the number of words, repeats, length between reviews, etc. I definitely do use my own strange variation of wordlists, but usually do reliably pick up and recall about 50% of the words upon adding them to the list (or Anki for that matter). I did Goldlist pretty consistently for German for a while, and tried that for Russian, but had a hard time reading my own handwriting in Cyrillic. The idea about the keyboard is a good one if I am to focus on typing in Russian. It did get me thinking about my goals related to Russian: what do I really want to do with the language? Do I want to type in Russian? Hmm, I've got to figure that out and focus on developing that area. Not sure.
Peregrinus, I need to think about the comparison of exposure with Anki and reading with noting of vocabulary. So I think you are saying 5 seconds per card, so that would appx 120 words per hour? Would all be completely unfamiliar or maybe 10-20% somewhat or definitely known? So say 110 words or so are completely unknown per hour. I'm thinking aloud here, so please correct any false premises/bad math/etc. :
If I were to spend an hour reading in German or Spanish, that would be about 50 pages x 250 words/page =exposure to 12,500 words and if I have a 98% comprehension, I would "meet" 250 new words that I would write down with a translation. After doing so, I recall about 50% of them, so about 100-120ish. Roughly the same as Anki? The time creating Anki cards would be used instead in looking up the list words.
For Russian, it takes me an hour to read 12 pages, so 3000 words, of which 300 might be unknown but my recall is also worse, say <30%, again about 200 or so new words, assuming I pick texts that are easy enough for me to understand at least 90+% of what I'm reading...
On day 2, with Anki I get exposure to the 100 unknowns from day one + 20 more unknowns from day two. With reading + lookup each day I would get mostly new words and some repeats of words previously looked up, then forgotten (and massive exposure to a lot of other known or incompletely known words in the context of reading, not to mention).
Looking at return on investment, I would think 1 hour Anki + 30 minutes of creating new cards would be roughly equivalent to 1 hour reading + 30 minutes of looking up words. It's been a long week and I'm tired, so I could be missing something here...
I definitely need to go read the thread on Anki, wordlists, etc. I hope to get some time this weekend for that.
It's hard to compare accurately because the weak point of Anki is initial learning. So one starts from zero knowledge of words, unless they were gleaned through reading with a lookup perhaps. And for myself, I don't find the act of creating a new card helps too much in recalling it the first time I review it in Anki. This is why I am doing my hybrid experiment of using Iversen's method to begin with, and then Anki to follow up (using a digital version of Iversen's lists in a spreadsheet).
ER can either be intensive or extensive and anywhere in between. Not just quickly looking up with a mouse over or popup, but also recording new words to use in Anki is more intensive, and something I have never done, but may do in the future as a source of new words. Also the question is whether just free reading is used with no intention of rereading a given text, or whether one will go back and reread those texts after studying the new vocabulary in Anki. Usually with just pure ER one might quickly do a lookup if the meaning can't be deduced (hopefully accurately but not necessarily) from the context or morphology, and then just move on, with no intention of returning to that text.
When I was studying Spanish, even though I used Anki for words from a couple courses, I did a lot of reading with quick lookups of newspaper articles. When I got to the end of the article, I would quickly skim it again to see if the new words stuck, and if not look them up again and then move on never to return. The problem is with low frequency vocabulary and how long it takes to come on a word again, and how many such exposures and repeated lookups it takes for a word to stick. Anki artificially alters the frequency to help learn less frequent words, though with no guarantee those words will be encountered in free reading instead of others.
Comparing pure Iversen lists to pure Anki to pure ER, my estimates given in another thread show that Iversen's method can be 3.5 times as efficient time-wise as ER (with quick lookups but no recording), that Anki is slightly less efficient the way I do it (but giving ER a lot of benefit of doubt as to number of exposures needed), and that my hybrid Iversen-Anki method looks to be 1.5 times as efficient as ER. But since I actually doubt the subjective assertions of advocates of ER like Linguamor and Dr. Arguelles as to it taking 4-5 times seen to stick due to studies on the matter showing far more exposures are needed, I actually think even my current way of using Anki is more efficient, and it guarantees I learn every word with no attrition rate as with Iversen's method or Goldlist (or ER for words that come up so seldom they almost never stick).
I would be much more willing to rely on ER alone with repeated lookups for Spanish or a Romance language or Dutch after German, than for other languages after completing a couple courses and learning through them 2-3K words. But not for German or Mandarin or Russian.
Once you vary from a pure implementation of any method, it becomes difficult to compare, even though non-standard or hybrid methods may easily be more efficient. Also it matters a lot as I mentioned above, whether a text is going to be reread or not.
Yes, very good points. I need to read the threads and check out your latest experiment with modified Anki. I already see some weak spots in my late-night calculations, and of course it's very hard to compare since there are a lot of variables. Just for fun, I ran through my entire Russian anki deck that I hadn't looked at in over a month: 12 minutes total for 60 cards (with review of 10 that I wasn't sure of, though guessed right for 4 of them). So tomorrow I would only have ten to do. Most of the cards are prepositions, which was probably a bad idea.
Haven't done anything more with Anki for now. I am continuing with large amounts of native materials in German, Spanish and Russian (part of Super Challenge). In future, I *think* I will not formally study German and Spanish any more, since I am at a pretty comfortable level (approximately around the C1 level that BigDog recommends as the threshhold for maintenance.) Recently I was taking a C2 class in German where people were preparing for an exam and briefly contemplated taking an exam in German and/or Spanish, but came to the conclusion that it is not necessary for me to develop either language to a truly advanced level for my career or personal goals, and I would have to learn lots of low frequency vocabulary and complicated grammar in order to pass a test. I hope I'm not deceiving myself: I think I'm being practical instead of lazy and taking the easy way out.
Instead, I will focus on continuing to study Russian, and to begin the study of Turkish. What, didn't see that one coming? Neither did I... We have a houseguest staying with us from Germany whose family background is Turkish, so she's been teaching me some basic expressions. She speaks 5 languages fluently and reads Latin as well. I need a brain transplant .
In the Super Challenge, I'm happy with my progress in German (57 "films" and 51 "books"-of 50 pages) and Spanish (52 "films" and 44 "books". With Russian, I've managed 32 "films", but my reading stamina is still quite low, I've only made it through 3 "books". It is getting somewhat easier, and comprehension of films is definitely improving. There's lots of old Soviet films with English subtitles on youtube and newer films available either on Netflix or via my local library. I'm probably nuts for adding Turkish to the mix, but at least it uses Latin script. For the time being (rest of 2014) I plan to only dabble in Turkish, but if I can power through to the SC 100/100 goal in German and Spanish by early 2015, at some point I'll let up on those two and really focus on Russian and Turkish for the rest of 2015. Time will tell. This year I seem to keep constantly changing my goals, whereas last year I almost exclusively focused on German. There are also some good learning resources for both Russian and Turkish in German, so I'll experiment with learning L3 /4 through L2 as well. I really should wait until my Russian is better, but Turkish is cool too! Ah, temptation...
That's awesome! Didn't that happen pretty fast?
Umm, I wouldn't say fast: A bit over 4 years for German, and for Spanish ~40 years of not studying (which changed this January to actually paying attention to grammar and more sophisticated vocabulary). I still make dumb errors, but get along pretty well. My definition of pretty well: if you dropped me into a completely L2 environment for either one I could visit the doctor, take care of my basic needs, read a newspaper or novel, exchange pleasantries with my neighbors, and more or less navigate the bureaucracy about as poorly as I do in English. I base the "approximately C1" on my German class experience and a placement test for Spanish through the Cervantes Institute. Since I haven't taken an actual exam, I don't really know the true level (and it's probably different for the various skills of speaking, listening, etc, but definitely in the C1 or worst case, high B2 ballpark).
I'm facing the law of diminishing returns at this point. I realized this recently while reading some texts in Spanish and German for which I was looking up the unknown words in English and they were things like "aphonic", "frock-coat" and "adduced". If I were going to do university studies, move overseas or work in the language, I would undoubtedly keep pushing to a higher level of mastery, but I'm just a garden variety hobbyist as far as languages are concerned and am satisfied to read popular novels, watch films and chat with native speakers. Especially since I need time to work on Russian and Turkish, where I can't do any of those things. Yet.
I plan to do things in Spanish and German for fun, such as do skype chats with my German friends and watch Spanish TV with my husband, and of course I will pleasure read in three languages. Joy! Then again, I could change my mind and become obsessed again with striving toward perfection. Anything is possible.
What keeps you from bumping those 2 langs up to advanced status? Is it lack of productive activities?
Re pleasure reading do you read literary fiction? As I mention in my log it is a whole different ballgame vocabulary-wise.
actually, this is what I was eluding to. When she joined here, these were intermediate. Now they are advanced (I assume from her previous post), and I think going from B to C in a few months, even if it's B2 to C1, is pretty quick
Separate names with a comma.