Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kaufmann on SRS and sentence mining

Respected and outspoken polygot Steve Kaufmann posted his thoughts on spaced repetition and sentence mining the other day, which I found particularly interesting. 

For those who don't know, Mr. Kaufmann is fluent or near-fluent in nine languages and is the founder of language learning site LingQ, as well as an advocate of learning through reading and listening primarily, as well as an adversary of traditional classroom language teaching. Always interesting to read through his articles and blog posts, as this is obviously a guy who's had an incredible deal of success in his life with language learning.

...they are deliberate learning tools or tasks, that take us away from listening and reading or using the language.
The deliberate review of vocabulary represents less than 10% of my language learning time. Since I have, on average 50 minutes a day to spend on language learning, this means 5 minutes a day on vocabulary review.
Very interesting statements, but not entirely surprising and reinforces a few of my own core beliefs. It certainly seems to me that most folks of the AJATT school of learning tend to apply far too much reliance on SRS (not to mention the systematic mining of learning material), without regard to what they're actually studying. 
I can only take so much SRS at a time until I just can't take it any longer. 60 minutes is my limit, but more commonly I'll top out around 30-45 minutes a day of SRS study. The rest of my "study" time is spent reading (2ch,, manga) or listening (news, dramas, audio books). This seems to be a pretty solid recipe for success, in my mind.

Don't get me wrong; Anki has done wonders on the way I learn language and it's one of the most vital tools in my repetoire. Personally, I don't believe that SRS will necessarily take us away from listening or reading or using the language. But I absolutely cannot fathom going by cramming sentences into my SRS alone in order to reach a higher level of fluency. It's a trap that I think a lot of people fall into, and a very easy one to fall into, at that. Remember why we use SRS and sentence mining in the first place. Remember why we're studying this language in the first place.

1 comment:

Kerubin said...

I have never come across Kaufmann's blog before, thanks for that.

In terms of SRSing I most definitely see a point where I will be doing less and less and more reading etc.

As a beginner I feel the SRS is my best bet to kick start my grasp of the basics and to acquire a descent amount of vocabulary to send me on my way, but I sure don't won't to become an SRS slave.