When can one stop using flashcard system?

#22
Hi Francois,

You are a very dedicated language learner! I think you set a high, yet attainable, goal for yourself: being as good at the language as a native speaker. Remember, it takes about 18 years for native speakers of Chinese to reach university level Chinese.

As for stopping flashcards: you can stop using them when you don't really care too much if you remember a new word or not. For example, I'm a native speaker of English. I usually look up 2 - 3 English words per week, but I make no real effort to remember them. It might be years before I encounter those words again, so I make no effort to remember them. However, when I was preparing for the GRE (to get into grad school in the US) I looked up, wrote down, studied, and memorized lots of English words, and did quite well on the verbal section of the exam. I just don't bother with English words anymore, except for the rare word I want to add to my active vocabulary. So I would say maybe when you know the most frequently used 5,000 - 7,000? (8,000?) characters, and the 詞 in which they are used, you will see little additional utility in learning yet another Chinese word. It could be years before you would encounter that word again, and most native speakers will not know that character either.

Here is some further food for thought: I noticed you said you like to read "tough" books, but you can only read a few pages before you need a break. Let me suggest that you try reading "easy" stuff instead. If you read easier material, you will be able to read much, much more. That means you will be exposing yourself to more Chinese. The quantity of material you will be able to read should more than make up for it being "easier." You will see the words you are learning more often because you may be reading 3 or 4 or even 5 times as many pages of "easy" Chinese as you were reading of "tough" Chinese. This, of course, assumes you can find "easier" reading material that interests you.

This method might also help increase your reading speed. Reading speed increases with practice. You need more practice reading. How does one read more? Read easier material!

Cheers,

Bawanglong
 
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#23
hi @Bawanglong, you are right, I would probably read more and faster reading easier material...
But I feel I would not improve that much if I kept reading easy books. I wouldn't add much new vocabulary.
Sure, I would read more pages, but those pages wouldn't contain much vocabulary, so the reading speed is faster, but the new vocabulary is less. I am not sure what strategy is better here...

I don't know if there are studies about that. That is an interesting topic.
So I chose to focus on learning a lot of vocabulary as fast as I can, with the hope that soon enough I will have seen most of the common words to be able to read the same kind of books that I would read in my native language.

It is very difficult to quantify which strategy is good. But I make some statistics every week, where I write how many new words I learned (based on pleco's statistics data) and what material I have read.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17hhgjqkVR0VgTpFKVM0TWyblt43a-DW5AAQwClm--a4/edit?usp=sharing

If I could get the same kind of statistics from somebody else who keeps learning in a different way, that would be extremely interesting to compare.
 
#25
It is very difficult to quantify which strategy is good. But I make some statistics every week, where I write how many new words I learned (based on pleco's statistics data) and what material I have read.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17hhgjqkVR0VgTpFKVM0TWyblt43a-DW5AAQwClm--a4/edit?usp=sharing
Interesting (and impressive) stats, what's your definition of "learned" in Pleco? IIRC the default is "score >=400".
If I could get the same kind of statistics from somebody else who keeps learning in a different way, that would be extremely interesting to compare.
These are my Anki stats, soon after I abandoned it in favour of just reading + flashcarding words I had too look up in Pleco 2 or more times (initially it was 3 times but there are so few of those). Cards were one-way. Anki's definition of "mature" is "next interval > 21d, which in default Pleco settings would equal to score>2100. Of those 5200+ words there's a full HSK1-5 set plus maybe 500 of HSK6, other ~2k are non-HSK. I'll flashcard HSK 6 vocab if/when I get to do the test. In Pleco probably, especially if the 4.0 comes out ;) Several people advised me to stop flashcarding after 4k-5k words anyways.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1iKkS-NE9ZLX7KwqKY2WT4LwOtGjLrylm

There is probably a bug in the stats part in Anki or in a plugin re "average review time/number" - IIRC time was half an hour to a whole hour a day (an hour is too much for my rather short attention span, likely the reason I abandoned Anki) and the number of reviews 200-300 a day (again, over 250 is too much for my liking). I was simply removing leeches as a way to keep the time and the number of reviews manageable, not studying them in some additional way. After all, I'll get all the important ones from reading! The threshold was 4 lapses for non-HSK words, 6 - for HSK, I have about 150 total leeches) to a different deck, so they are not even in the total notes count.

On "learning in a different way" - this is how I learned until a few months ago http://www.surrendercontrol.com/2017/11/a-nerds-progress-on-learning-chinese.html.

I noticed that all this flashcarding (I think this was flashcarding - perhaps it's an early OCD symptom!) resulted in a slow reading speed. I got into a habit of figuring out every word I didn't remember well, instead of skipping over non-crucial ones. Or perhaps this was because Pleco OCR is so useful! :cool: Did you have this problem and if you did, how did you get over it?
 
#26
Wow, those stats are incredibly detailed!! Are they provided by Anki, or did you compute them? That gives a lot of insight on one's learning!
For my stats I indeed define "learned" as >= 400. I personally think 400 is not really "learned" as I will still forget it one or two times before I really remember it.
But 60% of my cards are in the 25000-52000 range, and 35% are in the 3000-12000 range. So in the end I have quite few small score cards.

At this moment, I agree that I have a slow reading speed. For a general novel book, I can read 20 pages per hour, VS my Taiwanese friend can do 100. I'm not sure if it is directly related to flashcarding or simply that I need to focus on speed reading. I also like to check every word that I don't know. There's a good and bad side about it. I definitely gather more vocabulary by doing so, but it makes my reading slow.
I think I'm going to try to focus on reading faster this year, trying to get the habit of reading "whole words" instead of individual characters. That can make a big difference.

Last weekend I actually passed the TOCFL exam, it was C level and I barely got the C1 one (C1 or C2 depend on your grade at the exam).
- The listening part is incredibly difficult for me, the dialogues are so long, talking about extremely various topics, and then the questions are super specific about details... tough!!!
- The reading part, well, I am too slow to read, clearly. I understand most of the texts so my answers are probably correct, but when time's up I still have like 5-8 questions left which I have to randomly answer...

The good thing is that I have less and less flashcards to repeat every day, it used to be 250 per day, now it's about 140, so I don't think I need to stop using flashcards yet. It doesn't take much time and I feel it is really useful for the memory.
 
#27
Wow, those stats are incredibly detailed!! Are they provided by Anki, or did you compute them?
Not Anki per se (Anki's are at the bottom of the screen, the crude ones), most of it is via plugins - https://github.com/agelastic/Anki-plugins if you want to know (they may or may not be available on Anki addon exchange, plus I recall tweaking some a little). I guess these particular results are the joint effort of More_Decks_Stats, Review Heatmap, Chinese_support and 21EaseFactorHistogram plugins. Hanzi Stats is a separate one, it just counts per-character stats and splits chars you "know", or rather seen as a part of a word, by HSK level, frequency etc. Separate stats screen for that one.

For listening I'd recommend putting ChinesePod as you (commute) podcast, it helps a lot. My score for HSK listening is always rather high, but the reading one keeps going down :(
 
#28
Pulling up this old thread to give some updates.
I started this thread mid-2017 and it is now early 2019.

I am still studying almost as hard as before (or at least that's what I tell myself), but after I passed the 12k flashcards mark, my daily pleco flashcards practicing time clearly started to slow down a lot.
I read books, but I know most of the words, so I don't add so many new words in my flashcards. I used to have 70 new words per week in 2017, but these days it is more like 20 to 30.

So as a result, I only have ~130 flashcards repetitions to do every day. Compared to 300 in 2017, that is much more doable.

I think that is actually a good thing, because I can spend more time on reading, talking, practicing, and less time on memorizing new words.
My pleco stats tell me that I'll be at 15k known flashcards soon. Would that be the end of the tunnel?
(As long as I don't start investing time reading classical chinese books, maybe)...
 
#29
Pulling up this old thread to give some updates.
I started this thread mid-2017 and it is now early 2019.
...
I can only admire your perseverance! I'm aspiring to be a professional translator (having studied both Chinese studies and Chinese translation separately) and I can read most things thrown at me in both character sets, but I do need to use the dictionary a lot, and many times, my understanding is based on educated guessing (only in leisure reading, of course). I wish I had kept the habit of practicing with flashcards every day. But at some point after a few years of study, I felt it wasn't any longer efficient, because my database only had words where I needed the words in context (sentences).
Also, I used to test for writing ability only, which was very good, but now, since I hardly handwrite anymore, this ability has more or less vanished.

Anyway, kudos! Keep it up, and keep us mortals posted for inspiration!
 
#30
Hello Wan,

I have to congratulate you on your openness! Both of us are surely still quite advanced. As I've written in the forums a while ago, I've partly lost my curiosity for the way the Chinese language works. Studying more feels like more of the same to me, being able to communicate in Chinese has never been my primary goal. The way out for me is to find Chinese books/texts whose content really interests me. But that isn't so easy, because:

- Newspaper articles are mostly boring, not profound at all.
- Modern prose texts with a lot of cultural references are either still a bit too hard to read and understand fluently, and/or not interesting.
- I thought translations of Western books into Chinese are a good choice, because their content often interests me, but the translations I've seen weren't done with any care at all.
- I like the language and vocabulary of Chinese Wikipedia/Baidu Baike articles, but they are just a bit too short and can't be read long-term.
- Watching movies with Chinese subtitles, recording new words along the way, can be fun, but it also can't match a well-written book on a narrower topic that I'm interested in, mostly because of the context jumps.

I'm looking for something I would also want to read if it were written in English/German, and not older than 50 years. Maybe I will find something if I look harder, and tell you.

Perhaps I'll just try to get a good Chinese nonfiction book that I can learn from, in a scientific field, thereby killing two birds with one stone.

Best wishes,

Shun
 
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