Anki

Six years ago, I learned 1000 Japanese characters (kanji) and passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level II (日本語能力試験).

Then, I didn't have exposure to Japanese for 4 years and forgot them all. (Well not exactly all, as I later learned, but I forgot some parts, retained others, enough for a big memory mess in my head)

Two years ago, searching for a way to re-learn the kanji, I stumbled upon Reviewing the Kanji, a spaced-repetition-software site (Reviewing the Kanji is a companion to James Heisig's book Remembering the Kanji).

Spaced repetition software (SRS) is based on the idea that our brains routinely transfer information from the short-term memory to the long-term memory, just like a computer. When the brain learns something new, however, it needs reminders that this info exists in order for the info to get transferred to long-term memory. SRS is a simulation of old-school flashcards with a twist. The user answers the cards and rates his performance - fail, ok, good, very good. The software will determine when this card will be reviewed the next time based on the user's assessment. So, if I choose ok, I may have to review the card in 2 days. If in 2 days, I fail, the computer will give me the card in a couple of hours. In this way, the reviews of cards that I know very well become more sparse - that information is moving into my long-term memory.

I switched from using Reviewing the Kanji to Anki because Anki was much more versatile.

In Anki, you manage information by creating a deck. A deck, just like a deck of flashcards, has a particular theme. So I spent the next two years with my kanji deck on Anki. And it worked!

The thing is that, Anki can be used to study anything. I have a deck for English vocab (I feel a bit inferior when I have to look up words I don't know when I'm casually reading), a deck for everyday Japanese words (I just kept writing em down while living in Japan, Jah bless all the patient Japanese folks), and decks for music. I would become easily overwhelmed if I had to keep on top of studying all this different information with traditional flashcards.

When someone starts to learn the guitar, they learn pentatonic and major scale box patterns from a book. I went this way, too, to some extent, but something was always off with referring to the boxes in my brain when I was playing. Many years down the line, I realized that what is missing is a simple understanding of the relationships between notes on the guitar. I realized that in order for me to get a feel for the guitar, I need to learn the interval relationships between notes on different strings.

I created a deck of intervals on the guitar in Anki.

This is how the actual flashcard looks.

The answer side of the flashcard is empty because I have my guitar on when I'm doing the reviews, and I simply play the interval when it pops up in Anki. Then I rate myself.

I've been reviewing the intervals since January 5, 2011 and have 260 cards.

I have experienced the usefulness of this approach by being able to identify intervals between notes as I’m picking out a tune.

Additionally, I have a common chord progressions deck in Anki. I test myself on common chord progressions that I've recorded (Anki allows you to add sound, etc) to flashcards.

One Response leave one →

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. | Mission for Mellifluousness

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS