Deck Styles

Since I first found out about SRS programs, I’ve found that styles can change a lot depending on how you learn, and for the content that you’re learning. What may be good for Bob might not be good for me and so on, however today, due to many requests, I’ll let you see all the various types and styles I’ve tried out that were beneficial, and ones I’m currently using.

I learn really well with visuals and sounds over words. They’re a lot slower to make, but I’m rewarded by a more enjoyable experience. So for starters I’ll show you my cards for Visuals.

Visual Card Layouts

I really only have two, here goes! The first style asks a question about the image (all in Japanese). Never ask a question that isn’t obvious to a middle schooler. You shouldn’t be asking something so difficult, or something obscure in the picture that isn’t pointed out. Arrows, outlining, and coloring should be indicators. Of course it goes without saying, that if your Japanese is more basic, you might need to get help, or simply stick to super easy questions.

As you can see the question about what’s in the picture is obvious. If you have different focal points, you can always use the different indicators like, over there (near question asker), over there (away from asker), or whatever. There is limitless possibilities.

If you noticed in the answer section I have lots of answers. I don’t have to answer those all, rather, if I answer with any of those, its correct. Yeah, that even means if I don’t wanna write the kanji out, I don’t, and I still win.

How I use the card is simple. When presented the question, I verbally say the answer, write it out, hit show answer. If I got it all right, then good, if I messed up any, I hit the 0 (I use anki) I’m strict like that simply because of the variety of correct answers. I could even say, pink and white kittens, or say fluffy well drawn cats, or a drawing of cats, ect, depending on the level of your Japanese. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.

The second style is just a tad bit different and usually is hand in hand with some close deletion. Basically the image is what gets inserted into the missing part of the sentence. So here, there usually is only a few right answers. Same as the other card too, you only want to use images that make sense. Confusing and uncertain cards will only create more issues for you in the end. Just think about a year from now, if you hadn’t seen the card since then, you don’t want to stretch your brain just training to remember which part of the image you’re suppose to be paying attention too.

Often you can use the same image a few times to create some variety. Often you can use the same picture of say a map, and just use the different parts (which saves a lot of time versus making a new map image for each area). Answering this card is like answering any other type of card for me. I simply verbally say and write out the answer.

Do not, and I mean do not use boring images. Use visually appealing images, raunchy images, you name it. Don’t choose some normal girl to describe, use a hottie! Or, use someone so ugly it makes you laugh. (i know cruel right? but hey, you’ll remember how to describe them a lot easier this way than choosing normal looking people).

So that’s the styles I use for my cards. I showed you two really nice looking cards, but a lot of mine have images like this…yeah, I don’t even spend that much time on it, just little doodles really and so long as its to the point and obvious, it works. Don’t worry about being an artist. But I like to do a lot of image searches in google in Japanese, and I always get pertinent images to what I’m trying to make a card for. I’ve had these styles for a while, and they’ve never let me down. It also helps get rid of English from the process of thought.

Both of these styles are not meant to be reversed.

Audio Card Layouts

Since showing an audio card doesn’t really work, I’ll use good old fashion font to show you. 😀 I have a few styles of audio cards that I actively use.

Basic Transcribing:

Front: *sound, lets say its a Japanese woman going ‘あ’*

Back: あ

This one is simple, hear something, transcribe it, and I usually repeat the audio. I have simple audio to complex, but generally never really long, since I write it out by hand. These sound cards can be reversed.

Open Ended Questions:

Front: 何時ですか?/ *sound file of question*

Back: *The current time*

These types of cards leave a lot of correct answers. Of course, answering in English is…/cough acceptable /cough, but really you should be answering in Japanese instead. Cards like these really help to solidify dates, days, hours, money, counters, description of events/items and so forth. I’ve personally taken out the text because I want to build my ability to hear and respond, since its a harder skill to develop.

The fun things about these is you can ask yourself, what’s your favorite movie, what movie did you see in the last week, describe a show you watched recently, What movie are you looking forward to seeing and why? and so forth. I try to make the cards set up to where I have to think on my feet about something new every time. I also do not grade these cards normally. I grade them on my ability to speak, sure, but I never hit failed button, and I usually never hit the perfect ability. I always answer it with 1 or 2.

I also look up stuff when I look at these cards. I do not feel that is cheating. These decks are held separate from my other ones because the nature usually messes up the whole ‘timing’ to answer things and well I like having statistics. Sure these cards are different and most wont be able to do them, however I feel that it is an awesome set up that really gets you use to answering questions directed to you. If you want to have friends, you have to be able to talk about the things going on around you and how you feel about them. That’s 101, so these cards can help do that, get you there, so you don’t freeze up when someone asks you how you like a show.

Of course, these cards are not meant to be reversed.


Front: lyrics

Back: *clip of music*

This is similar to style one, except that its to make your singing better. This style was easy to use, and I used it for a long time, but I kinda got tired of it as the clips were small, songs would get jumbled and ultimately I could sing songs around my yard and back easily. It can be reversed. I never used English, and I usually did practice with the song extensively before turning it into cards. Cards were more for review than for learning.

Text Style Layouts

Simple Clozed Deletion:

Front: べっど、きれいに直して。make the bed

Back: べっど、きれいに直「なお」して。


Front: べっど、きれいに####。make the bed

Back: べっど、きれいに直「なお」して。


Front: べっど、###に直して。make the bed

Back: べっど、きれいに直「なお」して。


Front: ###、きれいに直して。make the bed

Back: べっど、きれいに直「なお」して。

I use a plugin for anki that automatically makes a field on the back of the card that shows the furigana over the kanji. So I save a lot of time not having to worry about that. Since for me, I only make cards that has 1 new concept, I generally never use dictionary definitions since the sentences help me figure it out instead. As you can see for this one sentence I use 4 versions for the simple clozed deletion. I never cloze delete what isn’t obvious.

When reviewing the card I say the sentence, then write out the missing part, sometimes I even write the sentence out. Then I grade it like the normal anki way. I personally find this to be awesome for small sentences. Its my new choice for single sentence absorption. I don’t try to memorize anything, but rather use logic of my knowledge of words and grammar to create these cards. Sound can be used too, even images, you can combine to make a lot of variations of this.


There are already so many examples all over the web now that I don’t think Khatz will mind (if you do let me know plz and I will remove it). I’ve not gotten into the Massive part of it yet, since I still do 1-2 sentences, but I have found as I’m learning more and more that sometimes its harder to get a word to make sense in the context of one sentence, and here is where the Massive comes in handy.I’m going to show you what I do with a fake example, yeah I’m naughty like that, but I don’t know your level of Japanese, so easy it is, 猫!Wiki is a great place to get a lot of words, and reading practice, but you can use any source from anywhere! News articles are also really great as they tend to describe the subject/word multiple times.

Front: 青い眼は白#####とシャム系のネコ(ポイントのあるネコ)に多く、白####の場合は高い割合で聴覚障害を持っている。白###の場合はオッドアイと言われる、左右の眼の色が違う場合も多い。この場合、青い眼の側の耳に聴覚障害を抱えることがある。

Back: 猫 「ねこ」

Many concepts can be covered here, and really I’ve not tweaked the process much since I still use mostly smaller sets of clozed deletion. These cards however get you exposed a lot to reading. And really the more you read the more you’ll get comfortable with reading and the faster you’ll get and so forth and so ON TILL THE WORLD EXPLODES.

So anyhow, there is a style I urge you all to look at if you do like the idea of reading as a form of study. I personally don’t use this method, but I was told by the one who does them that he’s recieved a lot of benifit from them. He called it Literal Translation Looped Reading.

I also deleted my old standard sentence deck, as it became a bore to me, content was too simple, and so forth. You might like it so here goes.

Standard Sentence:

Front: これは何?

Back: これは何「なに」 What is this?

RTK Deck:

Front: 一

Back: one[link to RevTK story]

hehe I know right? So simple, so to the point. I didn’t find any other way any easier than anything else so this is the one I used. I also kept my stories on the RevTK site and if I forgot my story, i could simply click on the keyword and it would bring up the page where its story was on. Made it fast and convenient.

So really that’s all that I use and I hope this post was of some use to you guys. I personally use anki/anki mobile, and I’m not afraid of getting rid of cards, and decks, and what not. I’ll post another if I ever figure out that new style I’ve been experimenting with, but I see no point in wasting your time with the rejects, lol. Also, as a side note, I do use color changes and stuff in anki to see things quicker in the longer cards.

Comments, question, you know where to put em!

3 Responses to “Deck Styles”
  1. Daniel says:

    Ah the post I’ve been waiting for! We have to discuss this on the Facebook interwebs soon!

  2. Lan'dorien says:

    This was an interesting point for me:

    “Since for me, I only make cards that has 1 new concept, I generally never use dictionary definitions since the sentences help me figure it out instead. ”

    I think since most people start with cards that have definitions in them, it’s easy to assume without ever thinking about it that a sentence card just has to have a definition. But you’re quite right, it doesn’t; as long as you have one new item and enough context to more or less figure it out, or even just to remind you, the definition is quite optional. I haven’t been adding much at all to my sentence deck lately (mostly doing incremental reading and a vocab deck), but the sentences I do add are simplicity itself: front is the sentence, answer is the same thing with furigana. If I somehow still don’t remember I can always look it up.

  3. e_dub_kendo says:

    Nice. I rather liked the idea of cards where you basically do output in order to answer a question on the card. That’s a clever idea there! And thanks for the plug, btw.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Read More or Die! 2011

    _2011 End Results_
    Total read for Tadoku:
    __433.3 pages!__
    Placement: 115/188
    October 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 97/120
    End Tally: 59.2
    July 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 86/142
    End Tally: 195.6
    April 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 62/106
    End Tally: 154.5
    January 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 84/99
    End Tally: 24
    August 2010 Contest:
    Placement: 20/41
    End Tally: 160

  • Read Or Die 2013

    Goal: 600
    Total: 906.26
    blew my goal outta the water!

    March 2-Week:
    Goal: 125

    Goal: 250
    Total: 314

%d bloggers like this: