What will review burden be like with 10 new words per day

I used skritter a couple of years ago to learn kanji with the RTK method. It was very effective, but I ran into a problem I have had with other soaced repetition systems: the reviews became too many.

I find I’ll go through a weird inflection point. Things will be easy, easy, easy, a bit harder, overwhelming. Clearly, my intuition for how fast I can go is not good.

I’m learning another language right now, but thought I would restart the Kanji again, at a more leisurely pace. The trouble is picking that pace.

Is ten characters a day likely to be sustainable, or will it become excessive within 1-3 months?

Note: the issue is that by the time the review load becomes excessive, it is already too late. By then it is no longer the new characters which require effort: it is the accumulated mass of reviews.

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i add 10 characters a day (occasionally more) - my experience has been that i can review 100 items in less than 10 minutes and that i go through days where i can’t remember anything or where just my tone memory is lacking - some days it seems overwhelming, some days it goes easily - over time though, it balances out and i make slow progress at remembering things more easily - i’m only up to 500 or so characters but the daily review is not burdensome so far - at the end of a list i do wait to add another list and take a few days to just review what I’ve learned which may help - the nice thing about being able to set the number of added characters is that we can experiment with what works best for each of us

Use math to calculate. Divide the number of characters you have learned by the time from the stats page, and you will be able to calculate how much time it takes per character.

I have been adding 10 words a day (in chinese) since April 2017. I have raw squigs on, show pinyin off. My reviews take about 20 minutes per 100. Dividing learned / time, I can learn a character in 7-8 minutes.

I try to limit my study time to 1.5 hours a day and I think it has balanced out at this. Usually I have nearly 200-300 to do in the morning, taking nearly 45 minutes and I do the rest in spurts throughout the day.

From April until December I was able to add 10 items per day without problems. However in December I was able to add almost none despite spending about the same amount of time studying each day.

In my experience, the review load is affected by these things:

  • What you are studying. Have you seen it before in context? When I study words that people say in chats or have seen at least once in context, I learn them faster. Right now I’m doing HSK 4 words like “even to the point of” or “regarding/concerning” and its going VERY SLOWLY.

  • Do you have good health? When I caught a cold I couldn’t retain anything that whole week.

  • Are you focusing? Reviews while watching TV or taking care of children are less effective but still worth doing.

  • Are you making mnemonics? Learning requires that you relate it to something you already know. Focus and try to find relationships between the character and things you already know, or make up outrageous stories as a stop-gap measure is very effective.

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In simple terms: 10 words a day could be either extremely overwhelming or not a big deal at all depending on how long you study.

This is not Anki, you don’t need to commit to learning “X” words a day, you don’t need to start your session and instantly add 10 words. Just go through your practice, set your add/learning threshold at something you feel comfortable with, and get to studying. The words will add themselves.

The most important part for Skritter/et al to not become overwhelming is to be consistent.

It doesn’t matter if you study 3 hours or 10 minutes a day, just study roughly the same everyday. That way your practice is divided properly the adding rhythm will naturally settle into something manageable.

If your goal is 10 words a day, study until 10 words are added. Then do the same next day, and so on. How long are you studying at that point? Is that sustainable for you? If not, just start lowering your expectations.

What you should not do is adding a ton of words and putting yourself against the wall, deciding to sink or swim. Sure, I’ve seen a handful of people over the years who swam, but most just got overwhelmed, and quit.

Learning a language is a marathon, not a race. Pace yourself, have discipline, and as long as you don’t stop you’ll get there eventually.


Interesting thread. I had to put Skritter on hold because initially I was using it to learn Chinese vocabulary as well as writing the characters, and I found I wasn’t able to get through them fast enough when I was coming up to my first HSK exam (level 2, so required the first 300 words).

(FWIW I ended up using the memrise course HSK 2 - test by audio alongside a (printed) book of the full lists.)

My plan now is to learn the vocabulary first, and then use Skritter to help me learn the writing when I already know (more or less) the characters. I’d be interested to know how others approach this.

However, having not used it for several weeks now there are 1100+ reviews waiting which seems a bit foreboding, and there are some radicals in there and other bits of vocab from another textbook. Maybe I should reset and start again?

I’m guessing the design of SRS algorithms usually presumes dogged determination and constant practice on the part of the user, rather than allowing for people with real lives that get in the way sometimes.

Good replies. Thanks everyone. Just a small update: I’ve been doing ten Kanji a day for a little over two weeks.

And it’s been fine. No memorization issues, had enough time to get through everything each day.

But, I noticed it was taking up a bit more time than I wanted. I calculated dates. With 10 words/day, I would finish the 2200 Kanji I’m learning by mid August. I switched to 7 Kanji per day --> at that rate, I’ll finish mid November.

I think I’ll still be working on German, so the delay doesn’t actually affect my Japanese progress. Meanwhile, I’m freeing up more time and attention for other projects. I’m also ensuring that it will be much harder to derail my efforts this time, as the review volume will be proportionately lower.

So far I’m feeling quite good about the project overall.