I’ve been noticing hints at a new trend in SRS language study: the decrease of actual SRS sentence entries and reps. A post at WooChinese made me think about my current study methods, which I will quote through a comment I posted on that same entry:

I think that is a perfect analogy, and calls back to your “Experience Repetition” post. Previously, I had been in the camp of SRSing would lead to fluency, keeping an all-Chinese environment around me when possible. However, I began to use the SRS as a crutch and as a way–perhaps the only way–to get the best results. That is, keep on adding sentences and reviewing the ones I had before would get me to my goals.

After being here (Taiwan) for a while, I’ve found that the opposite is true. In fact, I’ve stopped SRSing my sentences and have just been going along with media, conversations with friends, books, etc. as my source. I found that those acted as a better “Spaced Repetition” program than the software itself (harkening back to your own thoughts, perhaps?).

Here you’ve made a good point: an SRS is useful in “train” your “muscles” when you want to–and it’s similar to doing “8 reps” in one “set”, as with weights. I think the SRS is particularly effective here not for putting in complex sentences from news, books, scientific articles, etc. but rather fun pieces of knowledge from TV shows, comic books, friends, things of that nature. So I’ve been turning the SRS into a tool to enjoy past sentences, saving the serious stuff for my own reading. Trying to SRS the serious stuff was no fun and too tiring anyway!

The author made an interest remark in response, which I will also quote here:

Totally agree. I went through more or less the same process, though it seems like you went through the steps more quickly than I did (not surprising — I tend to be pretty stubborn about things like this). One thing that I found with inputting complex sentences into Anki, as opposed to just reading them when I encounter them in nature, is that I would pretty quickly memorize the sentence, so that I’d be a few characters in and know what the sentence was going to say, though I couldn’t actually recite the following words. I think this is just my brain seizing on performance in remembering the card and passing the repetition, rather than on language production and mastery.

Anyway, most of you “AJATTers”, or anyone that is following the “10,000” sentences method might think this is a blatant contradiction. “Shouldn’t we at least have 10,000 sentences [even as an imaginary number of varying value] in our SRS?”

This is the wrong mindset to have.

I now strongly believe that inputting and inputting and inputting into an SRS actually takes time away from what you should be doing–getting 10,000 sentences (media/songs/books/comics/news articles/movies/etc. etc.) in your immersion environment.

What I mean by this is, the SRS should just be for fun! Put fun entries in there; don’t bog it down with nasty technical stuff. When I read now, if I find something that I used to SRS, I just search-engine it and find more examples of it in context, rather than placing a single, unmoving, context into a static SRS entry.

I think the SRS is a great tool to get into the scripts of the language (kana/kanji/hanzi) and for really really interesting sentences; but other than that it can be a colossal time waster trying to plug entries in there that, ultimately, don’t really help!

But, hey, what do I know, what is more important is what YOU think!