Home > Plans > Rewriting the long-term study list

Rewriting the long-term study list

The long-term study list is a feature that I added in the first quarter of 2009. It was an attempt at the so-called spaced repetition learning technique  for remembering kanji. I added it in a hurry because I was planning to take the then 2 kyuu of the JLPT (which was later renamed to N2 in 2010). I knew less than a 100 kanji at the time and had 10 months to memorize the required 1000 kanji to pass. The long-term study list was a success and I finished remembering around 1300 kanji 8 months later, and also passed 2 kyuu.

Actually this feature turned out to be just another way to test the student’s knowledge of words. The main difference between this test and the previous word tests that already existed in zkanji at the time is that the student should use it daily, and that the program automatically picks the words to include in the day’s test. Another difference is that the words in the long-term study list come from example words previously selected for kanji (by the student), and the daily test result influences when the words are picked again. You could say that so far this doesn’t sound like a way to study kanji at all, but it worked for me pretty well. Even though it only handles words, all of them have to contain one or more kanji as they come from kanji example words. Also because these words are first selected for kanji, many words that are asked at their first inclusion contain the same kanji.

After using the long-term study list for over a year I have found several flaws in its (that is my) design. First of all, adding 20 words to the list every day (so I can memorize the required number of words till the JLPT) made the automatically picked amount grow above 300 items on some days. Even with the average 150 items the test took me 2 hours to complete each day, not to mention that I had to finish the whole test on the same day or no result was recorded. So even though the study was successful, testing myself with the long-term study list have become a burden, and I have stopped doing it altogether.

To prevent forgetting everything I have learned so far and also to be able to learn new words I have decided to completely rewrite the long-term study list based on my past experience. The new test will still concentrate on words, but it should be able to automatically add new words to the test depending on the student’s aim. (Eg. taking the N3.) Other planned improvements include:

  1. ability to stop the test and still save the results, so the effort won’t be wasted
  2. giving several options for the student to decide when the tested word will be included next – this will not only give more control over the interval, but also free up time otherwise spent with the test, because some words are just too easy to remember to test them so often
  3. adding words to the test that don’t contain kanji – as many are required by the JLPT but are also useful in themselves anyway. There is no use for limiting the words that can be tested either.
  4. testing the meaning of words based on the written form (containing kanji) and reading (only kana) – this is not so useful to me, but was requested by a friend

What makes the whole rewriting business difficult is that the previous test results shouldn’t be lost. Unfortunately I found no way to keep the past statistics meaningful, but it would cause problems to just throw them away, so they will probably be converted to some garbage. Unless I find a good method.

I don’t want to compete with programs like Anki which can be used for studying so many different things, but I have to admit that I’ve always hated its user interface. Otherwise I might just make a way to export decks to Anki from zkanji (which could be a useful feature actually).

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