Posted on | August 13, 2009 | 6 Comments
The other day Kev posted an excellent question in my previous post. He asked:
If you spend progressively more and more of your time on reading and listening (as you should), wouldn’t the amount of time you spend on feeding/reviewing an SRS fade to zero? Therefore, is it worth spending any time at all on an SRS?
My short answer is ‘yes’. The amount of time you spend on feeding/reviewing an SRS should eventually fade to zero, but it still worths investing time in SRS-ing before you reach this point.
SRS and other flashcard methods seem artificial to many ‘natural’ learners. But if you use them properly, they become extensions of the natural approach. Here are the 2 rules you need to keep in mind all the time:
Always build your vocabulary on comprehensive input
You should only add new vocabulary you have encountered from your reading and listening, and not from dictionaries or other people’s decks. When you are reviewing your words, think of yourself as reopening the book you have read or the podcast you have listened to, and reviewing the original sentence where the word first appeared. I see this as a natural way to remember the word. Only with SRS, you can do it more efficiently.
Always connect with contexts when reviewing your vocabulary
When reviewing, you should at least recall one place where the word appeared in your past reading or listening. Some people even go one step further to look up how the word is used in other places (e.g., google the word).
SRS works extremely well for beginners and intermediate learners. I once tried the ‘natural’ way to absorb new French vocabulary, and my progress was slow. Then I started using SRS and that made a huge difference. Now, I know enough French words that I can effectively pick up new ones just by reading. So I have stopped SRS-ing for French.
Kev’s 2nd comment was about showing/hiding translations when working on your SRS. Some people have problem seeing the translations. They find them disturbing. They are if you really treat them as direct translations. I never have any problem since I always think of them as merely hints to the actual meanings.