Limiting New Cards vs Limiting Reviews

tenki's Avatar


09 Feb, 2015 10:17 AM

I have been wondering about the benefits and drawbacks of both regarding efficient learning and keeping review time sustainable.
Under regular circumstances (e.g. systematically learning new material), limiting new cards seems like the way to go.
However, my situation is slightly unusual.

I organically learned and am fluent in conversational Japanese with a large specialised vocabulary due to my work and partial upbringing in Tokyo.
However, my reading skills for texts outside of my profession suffer drastically from the fact that I was never forced to learn basic words that Japanese people understand in English. (e.g. "パシフィックオーシャン" instead of "太平洋")
This creates no problem in daily conversation, but makes non-work related text unreadable.

To remedy this, I am reading simple literature and gradually adding words I didn't know to an Anki deck.
This creates a problem with limited reviews as books usually centre around a topic and a too extensive queue of not yet new cards will mean that I am finished with a given book before the cards enter Anki's rotation.

On the other hand, adding new cards as I run into the words and capping reviews at something like 200 may lead to a lot of words being sub optimally spaced out.
So I am looking at choosing between losing context/immersion (by limiting new cards) or losing accurate review timing (by limiting reviews).

Does anyone have experience with a similar situation?
Any experience report or general input would be greatly appreciated.

  1. 1 Posted by mnhende2 on 09 Feb, 2015 10:59 AM

    mnhende2's Avatar

    @tenki: I don't have a recommendation, others might. My comment is that
    you have understood the situation and the choice well. Getting through
    the new words in a quick manner, or seeing those words at an optimal
    schedule later. Ideally you want both, but if you can't do that, then
    there will be some type of "cost." I'd say go with whichever choice you
    personally feel is least costly.

  2. 2 Posted by etapley on 12 Feb, 2015 06:35 AM

    etapley's Avatar

    I teach Spanish using very easy (purpose-written) literature. I make decks for my students, some of whom use the decks. But none of them use the decks daily. So their situation works out to be similar in some ways.

    I puzzled over the issues in this until I realized something. Whatever topic you're reading about, the most important words will first appear, on average, earlier in the book than the less important words. If you learn as many words as you can from the first part of the book, and then don't worry about the rest of the words once you run out of book to read, you'll improve your vocabulary quite nicely. No, you won't learn everything in your book, but the most important words that you've missed are likely to turn up in another book, eventually. And as you study, there will eventually be fewer new words per book, so you'll be learning the words deeper and deeper into the book.

    In your first book you might only learn the words on the first twenty pages, but in the second book it might be twenty-five. Of course, this will depend on lots of factors such as the relative difficulty of the books and how much vocabulary you had to start with—but nevertheless the effect is real.

    So that's my suggestion: keep adding new words at whatever pace is comfortable and sustainable, but when you switch books, go ahead and add word from your new book, rather than feeling obliged to enter every single word from your old book.

  3. System closed this discussion on 23 Feb, 2016 12:01 AM.

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