Taking the world less travelled

Learning Vocabulary: jMemorize

Posted by on Mar 27, 2007 in Language | 0 comments

There are many ways to learn vocabulary. One method I use is Flash Cards. Electronic flash cards. I like the Leitner System which puts cards into different boxes. When a box is full, you review the cards in the box, moving the ones you know to the next box and the ones you don’t know back to the first box. The idea is spaced repetition, the higher up the boxes the longer it takes to fill them and the longer the time between reviewing. The idea is to help you move things between your short term and long term memory.

I use an electronic system, which is the same but the cards in a particular box expire after a set time frame. There are many programs about but the one I use is a java-based application called jMemorize.

On the front side of the card I put a word in Japanese, and on the reverse I put its English equivalent. One day I would like to make the whole thing Japanese only, but I’m not up to that stage yet. I usually test from the Japanese to English, but jMemorize has the abiltiy to flip the sides to learn from English to Japanese. The thing is, of course, there are many Japanese words I can read but are not able to recall to speak. I believe this is all about Active and Passive memory, which I am currently reading up about.

Anyway, I want to periodically update my progress in this blog with screenshots so you can all see how I am doing, and in the comments feel free to share your own techniques and progress in vocab learning.

I think I will celebrate when I know 1000 words. :)


So far I have 422 words learnt with 111 words unlearned. I am also in the process of cleaning out a lot of words because I do have some duplicates (such as some added with kanji, some without) and I also have some sentences in there (I am going to make a new database full of sentences, learning in context as suggested by the All Japanese All The Time blog). So, I don’t have quite as many words as I’d like to think (plus I do know words that I haven’t added, obviously).


A screen shot of my history in using the program. This is a new feature, so it’s only been around since I upgraded to the latest version (around three-four weeks ago obviously). It shows how many cards I learnt and how many I got wrong, as well as the time it took to do them. Learning 300 words seems to be fairly consistent and a nice number to aim for each week. (Obviously this isn’t 300 new words each week, rather reviewing 300 cards.) I’m trying to keep the number of cards I get wrong down, but if I don’t know the word, I don’t know the word.

I am finding that this method is working for me. My unlearned pile is quite large, but a lot of the words are on the tip of my mind. I am often kicking myself when I flip a card – I should have known the word! I have words now in my third and forth deck that took me forever to learn. Or so it seemed. I’ve got cards in my unlearned pile that I’ve reviewed ten or more times (without success). But I know I’ll get them eventually.

Anyway, can’t wait for my vocabulary to grow :)


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