Konnichiwa. Today we’re going to talk about Japanese study and how to do as little of it as possible. This isn’t because we’re too lazy to do Japanese study but because study, in all its forms, including SRS, is not the way to acquire Japanese. The way to acquire Japanese is by having fun. That’s to say, by treating Japanese as what it actually is, which is language, and using it for all kinds of activities: reading, watching anime, playing games, having conversations — doing all the things that we do with language. Now, when I talk about SRS, I think you know already that I’m not against SRS. I think it’s a perfect partner for massive input, massive immersion. We need it for learning kanji, because one has to have some method of learning kanji, and SRS is the least painful one available. And we need it for pinning vocabulary. So, massive input and SRS are ideal partners in many ways. But we have to remember the old adage: SRS is the thief of immersion time. This is a saying that was known to the ancients. Well, perhaps not in quite that form, but it’s been known for a very long time that time spent on A can’t be spent on B. And with a lot of vocabulary to learn, SRS can become time-consuming. Fortunately for us, there is the inverse ratio effect, which means that the more time we spend on mass immersion, massive input, the less time we need to spend on SRS. But a lot of people don’t really know that, and they don’t take a rational approach to reducing SRS in a pragmatic way. Now, some people go to the other extreme and say that we don’t need SRS at all, we can leave it all to massive input. And that may work for some people, but for most people I don’t think it does work very well. And while some people will say that’s because the input isn’t sufficiently massive, I don’t think that’s always the case. The thing is that SRS is rigged to feed you vocabulary in a way suited to helping you remember it, and wild input isn’t. So one can tend to forget words between natural exposures. Now, our use of continual audio input does a lot to counteract that effect. We use audio to feed ourselves comprehensible input from the anime that we’ve already gone over structurally with Japanese subtitles. So that’s giving us a lot more input of the same vocabulary that most users don’t have. And this is important because natural exposures are the real ground for learning. We encounter words as real meanings in real emotional contexts with their contextual nuances and knowing the kind of person that uses a particular word in a particular context. We aren’t memorizing all this, but we’re absorbing it. And this is what eventually amounts to knowing a word rather than just knowing its dictionary definition. SRS is simply a pinning device for holding words in between real exposures. And because SRS is the thief of immersion time, we want to prune it down to what we actually need and no more. How do we do this? The thing to remember, which gets very obscured in other methods — and this is a very important point, so listen carefully — is that abstract learning through SRS or anything else is a means to an end, not an end in itself. If learning words through SRS were an end in itself, then we would have to be much stricter about it. This means failing more words, which means bringing them back into play more frequently and increasing one’s daily SRS time considerably. Before I realized this, like many androids I took the view: 90% right is wrong. Only 100% right is right. And if SRS were one’s means of learning rather than a handmaiden to real learning, that would be correct. But providing one is doing at least reasonably massive input, then in many cases 50% right is right. Why? Let’s think about the end that SRS is a means to. And this may vary, but let’s take what I think is the most common case. SRS is a means to pinning words so that they will be recognized when we read them. Now, let’s take some scenarios. Case 1. We see a word on the front of the card in kanji. We know how it’s pronounced and we know that it can have one of two related meanings, but we can’t be sure which. What do we do? Usually we can pass this. Why? The question to ask is this: When I encounter it, will the context make it clear which of the two it is? If so, SRS has done its job sufficiently for its role, which is supporting real exposure to the extent of understandability. We’re not trying to learn the word from SRS. That is the job of massive input. So, case 2. We know the meaning, but we aren’t sure which of two pronunciations it is. What do we do here? Usually pass. Perhaps press the “hard” button. Fail only if one needs to get the pronunciation fixed at this stage for some particular reason. Why? If you’re using — and you probably will be at an early stage — mostly material with furigana or anime subtitles where you’re hearing the words, you’ll be reminded of the pronunciation on future occasions. Case 3. If you’re confused between two words and their meanings. I think this one quite often happens. For example, if you don’t remember which of these two words “pocchari” and “pochari” means “plump” and which means “splash”, you need to ask yourself certain questions. First question: If you read or hear one, what is the likelihood of not knowing which meaning is intended in the context? As an android I can tell you it’s precisely 0.037%. So, we can pass it on that question. Second question: How much do you want to be able to use one or both in conversation? If the answer is, “Not very much”, then pass it. Words enter passive vocabulary before they enter active vocabulary. You may have reasons for wanting to push a given word more quickly into your active vocabulary. If so, then you have to be more strict with it, but if not, you can let things take their natural course. So, case 4. We’re pretty sure of the general area of meaning, but we can’t actually define the word. Well, even this could be a pass. With context the word would probably be understandable. Now, I’m not telling you what decisions to make in every given case. I’m trying to give you the principles on which to make the decision. And these principles also apply to the question of putting words in Anki in the first place. I’ve done a video on the general principles of the use of Anki in organic Japanese and on some of the criteria we use for putting them or not putting them on Anki. So, if you haven’t seen that video, it would be a good time to see it after you’ve finished this one. But let me give you some extra principles here. As you get more used to kanji, you’re often pretty sure of the meaning and the pronunciation. This is especially the case if you’ve used the kanji hacks that I teach you in my other videos. So if you’re pretty sure of the meaning and the pronunciation when you see it and the context supplies the rest, you don’t need to put it into your Anki. You may want to, just to remind yourself that the word exists. And this would be for one of two reasons: because you want to use it yourself on the fly for output purposes and/or because you want to recognize it when you hear it with no kanji to help. This is reasonable and I do it sometimes. The thing to bear in mind is that this is a trade-off. You are trading expanding your SRS time for some immersion time. You are going to encounter the word again. And if you don’t, then you don’t need to learn it, do you? You’re also going to get better and faster over time at reconstructing the kanji in your mind when listening, even for unknown words, from a mixture of context and knowing what the on-readings are likely to be. And again, if you have the Sound Sisters hack, this is going to give you a lot of help in knowing what on-readings are likely to be in many cases. Now, Japanese people do this all the time, because thinking in Japanese means thinking in kanji. You don’t need to worry that everything will drop off if you don’t put it into your SRS. Some of it will, but it will get other chances. Some of it won’t, especially as you get more proficient and if you’re listening continually to comprehensible material that you’ve already worked through. Sometimes in output you’ll get words wrong. For example, even though you know the kanji components you might forget the order or misremember exactly which two kanji it was and use a similar concept kanji for one of them. Or use the wrong reading. This happens. It does improve over time. How much time do you want to invest in ironcladding against these little errors in the short term versus moving on with immersion? These are the kind of questions you need to ask yourself. I can’t answer them for you, but I can suggest that you ask them rather than simply assume that everything needs to be SRS-ed. Textbook Japanese tends to indicate an exam-based view that abstract memorization is an end in itself or a means to pass exams, which comes to much the same thing. The Anki-and-Heisig focus of the main AJATT-influenced online immersionist groups can ironically have a very similar effect, especially since some second-generation AJATT-related immersionists are prone to put more stress on the method than on the real immersion it was originally intended to support. And if either of these approaches is your preferred one, you should of course ignore what I’m saying here. If not, if you’re aiming for what I call direct or organic immersion then the thing to remember is that SRS is only there as a tacking stitch to hold things in place between exposures and shape your strategy accordingly. SRS is a good servant but a very bad mistress. The place to acquire Japanese is in real immersion. SRS and every other kind of study is nothing more than a handmaiden to that real immersion. If you have any questions or comments, please put them in the Comments below and I will answer as usual. I’d like to thank my Gold Kokeshi patrons, my producer-angels, who make these videos possible, and all my patrons and supporters on Patreon and everywhere. And I’d like to thank you for attending this lesson. Kore kara mo yoroshiku onegai shimasu. Class dismissed.