As I am digging into vocabulary, I am finding my weakness. It’s easy to hear a word and say what it means. It’s easy to look at the Kanji and say what the word means. It is not easy to look at the Kanji and know how to say the word in Japanese. To help fix that, I am using StickyStudy. (StickyStudy is not free, but I think the price is only around $4.00 or so. StickyStudy also makes a dedicated Kana app and Kanji app, and those cost a few dollars each. There are plenty of free ways to learn the Kana and Kanji.)
StickyStudy describes itself as a spaced repetition flashcard app, but it is quite different from the SRS app to end all others: Anki. Anki will spread your cards out over days, weeks, months as you learn them. StickyStudy won’t do that. Oh, and Anki is free.
But, instead of talking about what it won’t do, let’s see what it will do.
First, it is prettier than Anki.
StickyStudy uses a color coding system to describe how well you know a card. It starts out red. Everytime you tell SS that you got the answer right, the color changes, until it eventually makes its way to green. You can reset the colors and start over at any point.
Here’s a close up of an individual card. What is above the line it what shows up first. What is below the line is the answer for that card and only shows up when you click on it. At the bottom you see how many times you have studied that card and how many times you got it right and wrong. Below that is the number of cards in the deck and how many of them are at each color.
You can create flashcards in quizlet and then download them right into SS, which is pretty nice because it means that making the flashcards is easy, and, of course, there are already lots of premade decks on quizlet that you can download as well.
The thing I like about StickyStudy is the ease of use and the look and feel of the app. I also like the fact that, when I finish a deck, I can immediately restudy it by resetting the colors. I can also flip the deck so that the back becomes the front and run through it in reverse. StickyStudy is my go-to app for a small deck that I want to run through several times in a day or over a few days. The way I use StickyStudy, I would keep my decks at probably 50 cards or less. Preferably less. If I wanted to study a longer list than that, I would break them up into multiple decks.
In other words, for long term memory I use Anki. For getting stuff in my head quickly or for things I want to review repeatedly over a few days, I use StickyStudy.
As an example: I ran through my vocabulary on Anki today. I picked out about a dozen terms and/or sentences that were giving me trouble. A little cutting and pasting and I quickly had a new deck in quizlet with just those terms. I dropped that deck into StickyStudy and will go through it a few times today, something that you can’t do as easily with Anki. When those terms pop up tomorrow on Anki, I will have them down. It might sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. Making the deck took a matter of minutes. Because the deck is small, if I have 15 minutes free, I can run through it a couple of times. If I do that a time or two, I’ll have it.
StickyStudy will read you the terms in a robot voice. The voice is fine for English, but…umm…how shall I put this diplomatically…considerably less good for Japanese. (Mind you, I am a native English speaker. Someone else might think the English robot voice isn’t so good, either. I don’t know.) That’s okay. Since my goal is to see the character and know how to say it, I’ll be using the cards with the volume at 0 so I can’t hear the robot voice anyway. (Kind of a relief, really. Yes, it’s that bad.) On the front of the card is the Kanji. The answer that shows up is the reading and the meaning. 朝飯前
朝 = morning (あさ) 飯 = meal (めし) 前 = before (まえ)
So, あさめしまえ (asameshimae) means something that is so easy you can do it before breakfast. Or, as we might say in English, piece of cake. (By the way, see how knowing the meaning of the Kanji can help you work out what a Japanese word means? Nice, huh?)
So, there’s StickyStudy. For me, Anki is the backbone of my study system, but StickyStudy can be a useful adjunct.
Oh, and I sent a message to a CafeTalk tutor today, so I guess I’ll be jumping into my first Japanese Skype lesson later this week. Wish me luck.