It's funny how you start out on a journey sometimes. I dug deep into the philosophy of AJATT (as I saw it (which wasn't totally correct)), and Stephen Krashen's comprehensible input theory. It was all new and exciting and I thought I understood it all. But none of that theory really matters without practical real world experience to go with it. I feel like now that I've been at this for a few months and the novelty has worn down, I've found a good groove for myself. I've made some mistakes though, but I'm glad I made them early on and hopefully learned my lesson. I had to take a timeout RTK, and stopped adding cards for a few weeks, just focused on reps. My last post about building better stories wasn't really the problem (building good stories is important, but it's a skill that comes with practice) - I was simply adding too many cards a day and wasn't being honest with my reps.
I was trying to rush RTK at first because I viewed it as an annoying chore that had to be done before I could start the real AJATT process. I thought I knew better. I thought the no-more-than-20-a-day rule was for some people, but not me - I could handle more. I'm just glad I wasn't adding a ridiculous amount that I couldn't recover from. I was adding 35 a day and I was passing cards that I should have failed. But I didn't want to increase my reps too high or else I wouldn't be able to add my 35 that day. Stupid! I can see how mentoring new AJATTers could be extremely frustrating. Sorry MattVsJapan I should have listened! I owe you something. I don't know what, but in the meantime I upped my pledge, I hope it helps.
I don't view RTK as a chore AT ALL any more. I thought that sentence cards are how you really learn Japanese - and thus RTK is just a stumbling block, or right of passage - but that's just plain wrong thinking. I realize now that sentence cards are a tool for immersion to be more comprehensible - and I fully admit that this may be totally wrong since I have zero experience with sentence cards yet. All I know is that I'm amazed at the progress I've made through quality immersion. It's not a lot, but I can actually follow the very, very basic plot of an anime - I'm currently watching SAO and it's really good!. I mean, I can see how sentence cards will help, but I can also see that it's really through immersion that the language is acquired. I'm actually glad for how RTK slows things down at the beginning. There's just so much foundation that needs to be acquired. I almost feel like if I had the English definitions to these basic high frequency words, it would just slow down my progress since my brain would be trying to translate everything and I would end up missing a lot as a result.
I'm glad I didn't feel the need to reset my whole deck or anything drastic like that, but I pretty much hit the breaks and went a few weeks without adding any new cards at all. I got really strict with myself and failed a lot of the cards that I should have failed earlier on in the process but didn't because I HAD to hit my 35 a day. During my timeout I spent a lot of time tweaking stories and considering synonyms or graphically similar kanji. Synonyms are definitely annoying, but they're actually a double edge sword since I'm now mentally reviewing the kanji/keyword along with any synonyms I can remember, which really helps with reinforcement.
I feel like I've recovered and leveled out after my timeout, and I'm back to a healthy rhythm of quality (and honest) reviews while consistently adding new cards. I'm coming up on 1500 kanji (I'll probably add the 1500th tonight) which puts me at 50% of RTK 1 and 3. My Anki stats for days studied is 81 of 81, which is interesting because that means my average right now is a little less than 20 a day (18.5 to be exact) which is what I should have been doing from the beginning.
I should have listened to the advice I was given, but luckily there wasn't too much harm done, and I've learned from my own experience to slow down. I'm pretty sure I can keep this pace going, which means RTK will end up taking me about 6 months to complete, and I am perfectly OK with that. It just means more time for foundational immersion before I hit sentence mining and active study.