Working With Premade SRS Decks and Textbooks

I recently made available the Yip and Matthews Anki decks I’ve been working on for the last few months. (If you want a copy, send me a photo showing the book(s) together with your email address written on a sheet of paper next to them; bear in mind that although it already includes 2500 cards it’s still a work in progress).

Someone asked though how useful it was to use other people’s decks. Here’s the answer: it depends on what the source material is. If all the sentences come from TV shows and books and whatnot – an “organic” deck, tailored to the creator – then it’ll be a waste of time for anyone else to try using it, because of the ordering of the sentences. It’s hard to see underlying patterns (of grammar/word usage) if all the examples are split up from one another.

If the deck is based around a grammar or textbook, then it’s worthwhile using someone else’s deck – after all, they’ve done all the hard work in inputting sentences. It’s easy to familiarise yourself with new sentence structures and the like because similar sentence types are grouped together (as you’d expect from a textbook).

So, what’s the best way of using a textbook and its accompanying SRS deck? I can only speak from experience, but I started out by working through Basic Cantonese, cover to cover – this gave me a good idea of how Cantonese as a language generally worked. This knowledge was enough to start to be able to make sense of dramas and songs. More recently I’ve been using the Intermediate book sporadically whenever I’ve come across a recurring pattern I couldn’t make sense of with my current knowledge (notably 都 and 到) – I’ve been working through the relevant chapters (in Anki) and then getting back to working on listening. Rinse and repeat.

This might lead to a slight problem for people using the deck I’ve put together though since the Intermediate book chapters are out of order. My suggestion would be to suspend all the cards in the deck when you first get it and unsuspend the relevant cards as you work through each chapter. Each card is tagged by chapter name so it should be easy enough to find what you’re looking for – the Anki browser has a decent filter system which can work by tag, so it should be even easier.

In other news: Eric (of When English Attacks) has forked his blog – he’s now also running Attack! Language which is a dedicated how-to-use for SRSs. (In other words, competition for me. :P) It’ll be interesting to see how it develops!

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5 thoughts on “Working With Premade SRS Decks and Textbooks

  1. Thanks again for the deck. I think it’s working fine. I see Anki has a mobile version for the iphone. It’s expensive. Do you use it?

  2. Cool, that’s good to hear. I haven’t got an iPhone 😦 but if I did I would probably get the iPhone version… it is slightly expensive, but personally I’d get it just to support the author (who works on it full-time now; the iPhone app is one of his main sources of income I think). The client looks really swish too – http://ichi2.net/anki/wiki/AnkiMobile

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