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Video: Understand Your Favourite TV Series in 30 Days
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2012-12-09, 1:41 pm

AlexandreC

Senior Member

#1
Joined: Sep 2008
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I'd like to introduce a nice video that presents how to use Anki to learn to understand your favourite
TV series in 30 days:

Clicktoview

It's made by Judith Meyer (Sprachprofi on HTLAL), a hyperpolyglot who just started Japanese. She is
also the one hosting my page on pitch accent, for those who are familiar with it.
The video accompanies a very detailed post on her blog on language learning, which is definitely
worth a read (http://temp.learnlangs.com/step-by-step/...in_30_days).
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I suppose many of you are using a similar technique, but she also gives some insight on how to deal
with harder cards and the video (and post) will serve as a nice introduction to those who don't know
about this method.
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2012-12-09, 6:13 pm

EasyJapanezy
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This seems really interesting and it would be really helpful if there was a shared deck on anki to try
out with this technique.
By the way does she focus just on the understanding of the audio and not on the written form or
does she learn the reading for the kanji and the kanji as well?
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2012-12-09, 6:30 pm

kitakitsune
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Sorry but zero Japanese to understanding a TV show in 30 days is impossible.


The method might be solid but don't be surprised when you can't get anywhere near that level in 30
days.
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2012-12-09, 7:34 pm

prink

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An interesting read, but I have to agree with kitakitsune here. Listening comprehension is something
that develops over time. Even if someone were to learn all the words and phrases in a show, I don't
think it is likely the average beginner would be able to process it quickly enough. Sentence by
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sentence at a slow pace is perhaps feasible, but without a proper vocab and grammar foundation, I
think most beginners would end up memorizing the sentences and their translations rather than
actually being able to understand the Japanese behind them. I'm probably somewhere in the
intermediate to upper intermediate range of skill (based on JapanesePod101's standards), and I still
find myself doing that from time to time with the more difficult grammar points and faster paces.
Nonetheless, it's a great tutorial for people unfamiliar with subs2srs and the process of creating a
proper Anki deck using it, and I would not advise anyone interested in learning through television to
not give it a try. It's definitely a great starting point. I just think the author has unreasonable
expectations.
Edited: 2012-12-09, 7:34 pm

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2012-12-09, 10:23 pm

Inny Jan

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kitakitsune Wrote:
Sorry but zero Japanese to understanding a TV show in 30 days is impossible.

I didn't notice them promising that you will understand any TV show after 30 days. What I did notice
was that after 30 days you will be able to understand what is said in this specific show you put into
Anki.
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2012-12-09, 10:51 pm

kitakitsune
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A normal person without any background in Japanese is not going to be able to ingest (decode?) the
vocab, grammar, and general listening practice required to understand a TV show in 30 days. Even if
they are concentrating on one single episode.
Just not - going - to - happen.
Edited: 2012-12-09, 10:53 pm

Reply

2012-12-10, 8:39 am

delta

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Anyone who has learned any language to a decent level of proficiency knows that it's all about
vocabulary. After you have gotten + or - used to the grammar it's just a matter words. And that
doesn't take particular genius, just a lot of time.
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Basically, how fast can you 'master' ~10,000 relevant words?


Edited: 2012-12-10, 8:53 am

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2012-12-10, 9:09 am

Zgarbas

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That's a reaaallly odd choice of show she got there... Other than that, I don't see why this wouldn't
work. Shows tend to have the same vocab throughout (out of the 11 sentences shown as an
example there's a few words which show up more than once. and its variants show up 6
times!). That means that only a few pieces of vocab are needed. Grammar proves more difficult of
course, but again, if you only have a few words it's much easier to get the gist of it (
), though how well you'd fare once you get another verb is debatable. Since there's only a
limited amount of action going on, not getting the subtle differences is ay-okay, since as far as you
know there's only one word for everything and that word means enough (so, say, really
understanding the differences between and is not necessary, as all you need is
understanding them in the given sentences), et co. How she gets the kanjis/kana aside from the
vocab is beyond me, though...If that's her website then I assume she speaks Mandarin so that may
help? Or she's just using romaji/listening only and the subtitles just happen to be kana/kanji. Either
way. Really odd choice of a show =/.
Either way. Yeah, I could see it happening. Doesn't sound like she's claiming fluency or what not, just
a different approach to the crucial first month of learning. It still involves heavy practice, probably
rote memorization (I find that I learn little with sub2srs as I tend to just memorize the sentences by
accident instead of learning much...), and is going to offer little but the most basics of the basics. I
guess undersanding a tv show is a better reward than say, forming basic sentences, even though
you'd have pretty much the same amount of grammar/vocab knowledge as with the traditional
method.
By the by, I did actually meet someone who had a similar approach to language learning. He'd travel
a lot, and often lived for one year in a country and one year in another. At one point he decided that
the best way to learn a language was to read his favorite book, which he had already memorized for
the most part, in the language of the country he was living in. By the time he got to Romania it only
took about a couple of months before he could hold his own in a conversation, though obviously it
helped that he'd lived in Romance language speaking countries before. Not fluent by any means,
but enough to do business and talk to his coworkers in Romanian. If it worked for a language with a
gazillion tenses, cases, 4 types of verbs(each with its own conjugation pattern)+lots of irregular
verbs, irregular plural formation, little if no official learning resources, and a gargantuan difference
between formal language and casual spoken language, I think it can work for Japanese*.
*seriously, I wanted to start a Romanian learning blog at one point and had no idea where to start.
It's a really weird language.
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2012-12-10, 9:23 am

gaiaslastlaugh
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#9
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Posts: 857
Thanks: 23

Inny Jan Wrote:

kitakitsune Wrote:
Sorry but zero Japanese to understanding a TV show in 30 days is impossible.

I didn't notice them promising that you will understand any TV show after 30 days. What I did notice was that
after 30 days you will be able to understand what is said in this specific show you put into Anki.

Actually, no. Her blog article (http://temp.learnlangs.com/step-by-step/...in_30_days) says:


"This is a concrete step-by-step guide through which beginners can learn to understand the majority
of what is being said in their favourite foreign TV series in just 30 days"
Which is a bold claim. I mean, you'll pick up a lot of words and key phrases. But anyone who's gone
even from one episode of a show to the next can tell you that just because you understand episode
n doesn't mean that good chunks of episode n+1 won't fly right over your head. Maybe it's different
for an experienced polyglot.
I might actually try this for K-On!! for 30 days (of which I've already watched and studied up through
Episode 8) just to test what results I get...
Edited: 2012-12-10, 9:31 am

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2012-12-10, 10:13 am

#10

nadiatims

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Posts: 1,668
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Posting Freak

I don't think it really verifies that you know something if you understand it in exactly the same
context after learning what it means in that situation. You're kind of just triggering recall of the
translation you memorised.
truly learning words and phrases occurs when you encounter them again and again in different
contexts and are able to understand them.
I think you're better off going through a large volume of content even if you only understand it a
little than perfectly memorising one episode. I can vouch for the efficacy of watching whole series.
seriously watch all of a 200 episode anime series and you'll learn a lot.
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2012-12-10, 10:54 am

Zgarbas

Watchman
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In the blog post she says "at least 500 minutes worth of content". That's 25 episodes.
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2012-12-10, 12:51 pm

AlexandreC

Senior Member

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Two quick points:


1) She chose that series because she liked Go. Perfect way to motivate yourself.
2) The series tightly revolves around playing Go. This implies that there is a fair amount of
redundancy, which also helps maximize the efficiency of the work-out.

@nadiatims "You're kind of just triggering recall of the translation you memorised.
truly learning words and phrases occurs when you encounter them again and again in different
contexts and are able to understand them."
I'm not sure how else you are going to learn a word if it isn't in some kind of context first and
through some kind of memorization. She also specifically said that she was working on the same
verb (utsu in this case, closely linked to Go) in different forms and contexts, the point being that
you'd be able to deduct how the language works over time. But it's irrelevant anyway -- the goal
here was to gain a passive knowledge of the language.
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2012-12-10, 1:45 pm

blackbrich

Senior Member

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nadiatims Wrote:
I can vouch for the efficacy of watching whole series.
seriously watch all of a 200 episode anime series and you'll learn a lot.

+1
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My greatest progress came from watching a few months long marathon of One Piece from the
beginning to like episode 550. With the added bonus of if I ever need to go to Japan to become the
Pirate King I'm all set.
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2012-12-10, 2:31 pm

Thora

Posting Freak

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AlexandreC Wrote:
She also specifically said that she was working on the same verb (utsu in this case, closely linked to Go) in
different forms and contexts, the point being that you'd be able to deduct how the language works over time.
But it's irrelevant anyway -- the goal here was to gain a passive knowledge of the language.

Thanks again for posting some clear instructions on how to use sub2srs. (I copied it to a subs2srs
thread.)
One question: By "gain a passive knowledge of the language" I wasn't sure if you meant listening
skills or passive (implicit?) learning?
If you meant implicit learning: As you say, her method would involve deriving some rules of the
language through translated examples. This is still considered a type of explicit (inductive) learning
not implicit. How structured/specific/effective it is would depend on what she searched for and the
show's content.
If you meant listening skills: Listening still involves knowledge of how the language works, we're just
not consciously aware of it. So I'd say it's still relevant here even if the experiment doesn't involve
production. The question, as mentioned earlier, becomes to what extent 30 days is enough time to
move application of that knowledge from conscious to unconscious.
I expect she'd end of with a mixture of simply memorized utterances and some fuzzy knowledge of
grammar. After decades of debate, I think the consensus is that both memorized phrases and
grammar are good. Learners produce language using a mixture of known patterns and original
constructions.
[Edit: On second thought, I removed a couple paragraphs about how "explicit grammar learning
facilitates learning from input". It'd probably just steer us into another grammar debate. And I don't
think Alexandre was recommending this as an exclusive approach to language learning. And ...it was
more boring stuff. :-) ]
Edited: 2012-12-10, 4:30 pm
2012-12-10, 7:46 pm
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AlexandreC

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Her approach was clearly geared towards gaining a passive knowledge of the language, ie.
understanding the language, NOT producing it, which is another thing entirely.
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2012-12-10, 8:44 pm

Thora

Posting Freak

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AlexandreC Wrote:
Her approach was clearly geared towards gaining a passive knowledge of the language, ie. understanding the
language, NOT producing it, which is another thing entirely.

eh? Yes, I realize it wasn't about producing. So, you meant listening, not passive learning. In which
case, I said that knowledge of how a sentence works is still relevant to understanding (without
production) Otherwise, it's more like strings of sounds (which was nadia's observation that you
found irrelevant.)
The next paragraph (which mentioned speaking) was meant as a more general comment (for
anyone interested in this approach) on the role of memorized chunks vs. nuts & bolts of an
utterance in overall language learning. I guess that wasn't very clear.
Incidentally, I don't think listening and speaking are entirely different things. How one develops one
skill can affect the other.
Edited: 2012-12-10, 8:49 pm

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2012-12-11, 12:44 am

#17

nadiatims

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Posts: 1,668
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Posting Freak

just to clarify what my point was. I am quite bad at explaining myself...


My point was that after memorising the translation of a word/phrase within a given scene there
seems (to me at least) to be limited value in re-watching or re-flashcarding that same context.
Because you'll just remember the scene as the one in which character X say's something meaning Y.
You could do that again and again till the cows come home, but in order to truly learn words and
phrases, I think you have to up the linguistic ante so to speak and watch unknown content. When
you watch (or read) unknown content, and some word you learned in the past pops up again and
because of that you gain some better understanding of the content, it is at that point that the word
is learned properly because it is at that point that your brain is using the word as a native would, as
a unit of meaning for communication, to understand an unknown message. There is limited value in
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repeating the same context because the role of the individual word/phrase (what you're trying to
learn) in determining the meaning is diminished because you already understand that context.
That's why I the vast majority of my language learning time working through unknown content,
figuring out what it means based on what I have learned in the past and checking new
words/phrases as they pop up.
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2012-12-11, 4:41 am

Inny Jan

Posting Freak

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nadiatims Wrote:
[...] When you watch (or read) unknown content, and some word you learned in the past pops up again and
because of that you gain some better understanding of the content, it is at that point that the word is learned
properly because it is at that point that your brain is using the word as a native would, as a unit of meaning for
communication, to understand an unknown message. [...]

I think she recorded exactly such an experience on her blog:


LearnLangs.com Wrote:
Example Progression
I wouldn't recommend this method if I hadn't used it myself. In this case, I studied the Japanese anime "Hikaru
no Go", which is about the ancient Asian board game Go. I hadn't studied any Japanese before. Some examples
of what I was able to understand ON FIRST HEARING, without having seen these exact phrases before:
450 cards in
- You knew?
- Black has 68 points.
800 cards in
- Could he be someone really strong?
- You can do it, right?
- Hurry up and move! It's your turn.

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2012-12-11, 6:34 am

Stian

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It is true that some key vocabulary kind of repeats itself. After playing through Ocarina of Time, I
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hardly added any new sentences to Anki simply because almost everything that was said was
familiar, and I've got only about 2000 cards... (About 500 were from OoT)
And the sentences there aren't rocket science. I could probably understand all of those halfway
through Genki 2 (at ~750 cards), with the exception of the word . I'm pretty sure anyone halfway
through core2k would understand all that as well..
The translations seems kind of iffy though.
I acquired most of my passive English vocabulary by watching movies, playing games, etc. During
English classes, I mostly learn how to activate some of it...
Edited: 2012-12-11, 6:36 am

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2012-12-11, 10:09 am

Sprachprofi

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Hey everyone :-)


Since this launched quite a discussion, I thought I'd register an account and chime in.
So, answers to some questions that came up:
My cards are audio+picture on the one side, writing+translation on the other side. I put 100% of the
effort into trying to understand the audio. I didn't learn kana until later. When watching anime with
Japanese subtitles, I sometimes understand more because I recognize some of the kanji through my
knowledge of Chinese. However, my goal was listening comprehension and only that. Nothing
active. No reading even. Also, I did a bit of grammar study in the first week in order to improve my
ability to parse sentences.
Inny Jan Wrote:
I didn't notice them promising that you will understand any TV show after 30 days. What I did notice was that
after 30 days you will be able to understand what is said in this specific show you put into Anki.

No, I mean that you will be able to understand most of what is said in a different episode of the
same show that you put into Anki. I tested this using a clicker-counter, watching new episodes of
Hikaru no Go (which I had seen some years before but had not studied using Anki) and comparing
the number of sentences I understood to the number of sentences in the subtitle file.
If you have an favourite anime series and it's 100 episodes long, put episodes 1-25 into Anki and
learn useful vocabulary & phrases from them in the way I described.
If you then watch episodes 1-25, you will NOT understand 100% (unless you rote memorized every
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single phrase from them, which is not my method). However, you will be able to watch episodes 26100 of the same series without English subtitles. Or, if you do watch them with English subtitles, you
will learn more Japanese from them. When you know 5 out of 6 words of a short phrase, it is much
easier to guess the 6th.
nadiatims Wrote:
I think you're better off going through a large volume of content even if you only understand it a little than
perfectly memorising one episode.

DO NOT memorize the episodes, that's useless because then you won't understand the same words
used in slightly different sentences. Use the shows as a repository of n+1 material (material that is
just a little beyond what you can understand right now). At the beginning, all the sentences are
suspended. Then, you go over them and mark the ones that seem easy enough to tackle. Learn
those. Then, mark ones that seem easier now, given what you've learned before. Learn those. If they
turn out to be too hard, keep them for later or delete them. Don't memorize, try to understand.
Rinse and repeat. Even at the end of the 30 days there will still be phrases that are too difficult.
That's fine. I never said you'd understand 100%.
Zgarbas Wrote:
Doesn't sound like she's claiming fluency or what not, just a different approach to the crucial first month of
learning. It still involves heavy practice, probably rote memorization (I find that I learn little with sub2srs as I tend
to just memorize the sentences by accident instead of learning much...), and is going to offer little but the most
basics of the basics. I guess undersanding a tv show is a better reward than say, forming basic sentences, even
though you'd have pretty much the same amount of grammar/vocab knowledge as with the traditional method.

Exactly, I'm far from fluent in Japanese and very skeptical of any course that promises fluency in X
days. I only want to make the beginner stage more interesting.
I have now started to take private classes in order to bring my speaking skills up, but being able to
understand one of my favourite TV series in Japanese was a very rewarding way to start. Makes it
less frustrating to deal with all the grammar and vocabulary that is necessary before being able to
get anywhere in speaking. It also provides some anchors that I can attach stuff to now, if I learn a
new grammar point or expression and I notice that it explains how one of the sentences works that
I didn't understand before.
This method is similar to the 10,000 sentence method. I found that there are on average 10
sentences per minute in a TV show. So if you put 500 minutes' worth of TV shows into Anki, that
should give you around 5000 sentences. Some of these will be worthless (exclamations, repetitions,
...), but most are (or will become) great n+1 content that is interesting to you, that you have
emotional links to and that is highly relevant to the task you want to achieve (understanding more
of the same TV series).
If motivation is running low and frustration is high, I really recommend setting yourself a limited yet
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rewarding goal, like understanding one particular TV series, and then giving yourself licence to
ignore everything that isn't immediately relevant to achieving the goal. Then, with your success high,
you can get back to the grime and memorize some more annoyingly irregular words.
Reply
2012-12-11, 1:35 pm

#21

dtcamero

Joined: May 2010


Posts: 704
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Senior Member

this isn't a method, it's just using a program designed by cb4960 as it was intended to be used in a
way that people have been doing on this forum for at least 4 years now.
ya subs2srs is cool... congratulations on finding it...?
Reply

Edited: 2012-12-11, 1:37 pm


2012-12-11, 2:49 pm

jcdietz03

Senior Member
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Posts: 354
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kitakitsune Wrote:
A normal person without any background in Japanese is not going to be able to ingest (decode?) the vocab,
grammar, and general listening practice required to understand a TV show in 30 days. Even if they are
concentrating on one single episode.
Just not - going - to - happen.

If it's just one episode (and you have the subs), then it's just a brute force problem and can be done
in a day. This is assuming the person has an amount of grammar knowledge, which may not be the
case. In my opinion, vocabulary is the hardest part of Japanese. Looking up every word in a TV
episode in a day is well within the realm of possibility as most spoken words will already be known
even for a learner. Prose is much more difficult as many words will not be known and no actors will
read the words & lines for you.
Of course the whole show is another matter entirely. You have to watch lots of episodes before you
will know >90% of the words.
I will need to review the method in detail later.
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2012-12-11, 3:29 pm

thurd
Senior Member
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Senior Member

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dtcamero Wrote:
this isn't a method, it's just using a program designed by cb4960 as it was intended to be used in a way that
people have been doing on this forum for at least 4 years now.
ya subs2srs is cool... congratulations on finding it...?

Don't need to be so elitist about it

It's cool she posted some more explanations, if it worked for

her it might for some other people too, consider she's only focused on listening/speaking which is
an unusual approach on this forum.
I'm a Go player myself and I wish I had taken that approach a few years back rather than go with
RTK route. Less daunting and gives you a more solid base in vocab and grammar, besides you can
always add some kanji study later.
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2012-12-11, 9:19 pm

#24

nadiatims

Joined: Jan 2008


Posts: 1,668
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Posting Freak

why not just spend the 30 days watching the episodes with a dictionary in hand? You could watch
the odd numbered episodes with english subs, and the even ones with japanese subs. Then after
you've watched the whole series with 50% comprehension, you could re-watch it but use english
subs for the even episodes and japanese for the odd. You could even watch some episodes without
any subs.
My contention is simply that you're not fully training your linguistic ability, if you have preloaded
what each sentence means into your head before watching the episode. You want to be watching
episodes and figure out the meaning by using what you're learning.
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2012-12-11, 9:45 pm

#25

Zgarbas

Joined: Oct 2011


Posts: 1,509
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Watchman
Website

Yes, but that's much harder and requires more work than a beginner is usually willing to put into an
entirely new language

. Also, as she stated, the focus is on training listening skills from the get go;

it's hard to focus on both audio and subtitles on the go and watching an entire episode would take
hours, which can feel like more of a bummer than using sub2srs.
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Also, don't be a spoilsport; anki isn't that well-known of a program, and sub2srs is even less known.
Can't you just see it as someone advertising sub2srs/anki as a good learning program rather than a
learning method per se?
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