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Archive for the ‘studying better’ Category

Today, I finally got a chance to sit down and read something that was not work related. On wired.com, I found an article about a guy named Piotr Wozniak who was struggling to learn English and ended up creating an adaptive program called SuperMemo. Basically, it’s a flashcard program that keeps track of what you forget and keeps stats for you. Now for anyone else out there who has a ton of stuff to memorize, something the knows what you don’t know is quite useful. Sure, you could just make two separate stacks for the things you know and the things you don’t, but how about if you have thousands of cards? Or how about the kanji you can read, but not write? Or the ones you can translate, but you don’t know the Japanese or Chinese reading?

This lead me to an open source program called Mnemosyne that can take that into account. I am trying it out right now, but I plan to write a little review about it. I will say one thing about the the program though: if you have a test next week, the techniques behind SuperMemo and Mnemosyne will not work for you. It’s made to put the info into your long term memory which usually takes time. Cramming is out, but once you go through the process, you should be able to remember the stuff for years. That’s a lot more valuable.

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Differences

Last Saturday we all met for our weekly Japanese study session. This time, we worked on a test from 1995 that Angeline was kind enough to find online and send to us. While going through the test, I noticed that for the most part, things felt pretty much the same until I got to the word usage part. In the old tests, they provided you with a definition, then you had to find the sentence where the word is used in the same context. In more recent tests, they give you a sentence where you can hopefully infer the meaning of the word and choose the corressponding answer.

I think that this change makes that section a bit harder because if you run into some usage you don’t know, then you don’t have anything to help you out. All you can do is look at the answers and check your gut to see which one feels right. That means that all those past tests will have lists of those alternative word usages making them really nice for studying. They hand everything to you and you don’t have to bother guessing, but you still have to be able to find the right answer.

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