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Why SRS Failure = Wins


People really hate failing. I’m not sure if this is a society led thing, or if it’s just normal born into human behavior. Either way its one of the most debilitating behaviors we have when it comes to learning. Learning is all about making mistakes, failing, and then picking up why we failed and turning it into passing, not making mistakes, winning. Not wanting to fail isn’t just limited to language learning either, but of course, this is where it really matters in this blog.

So when a lot of people hear that failing is what an SRS copes with best, a lot of people don’t like it. People don’t want to hear that they’re suppose to fail a bunch, because how does that show elite awesomeness of intelligence if you fail a bunch of cards. Well I’m going to show you why failure in an SRS is perfectly acceptable, and why you definitely shouldn’t be upset about it.

I could probably use a lot of famous sports examples, like Babe Ruth and Micheal Jordan, but I’m not. Rather I’m going to talk about those sneaky darn advertisers. I am a person who absolutely hates watching tv. (Yeah, what a weirdo I am lol) The reason I hate watching television is because there is almost no shows anymore, it’s all commercials. I swear its only4-6 mins of show surrounded by the same amount, if not more of commercials. And not a good variety, but the same darn ones, over and over and over. It’s enough to make me puke on em!

So, keeping this in mind, there was a statistic I read once that for every 47 McDonalds’ signs a person see, you’ll be likely to stop in one. For every 28th Starbucks or so you see, you’re likely to get coffee (apparently coffee had been more popular at the time and maybe still is). I bet every single one of you can sing the current McDonalds’ theme, describe in eerie detail the spokesman yet a good portion of America cannot sing the national anthem. Why? Simply because of exposure! That’s what an SRS is. Exposure. I doubt you sat down at the tele going, “every time I see that commercial I’m going to practice, ba da da ba bah, I’m loving it!” No, at least, not any sane person maybe lol. Instead it weaseled its way into your memory from simply allowing yourself to be exposed to it over and over and over while you Tried Desperatelyto watch your CSI show.

These big time advertisement companies realized this a long time ago. It hasn’t even worked its way into the daily life of a student though. That’s sad! But apparently everyone cares more about their greasy yummy heart attacks in a box than their cool sleek Japanese speaking skillz.

But think about how many times that commercial had to fail before you could recite it? How many times did it show you Ronald McDonald before you could describe him in detail. Can you describe his friends? How many times did Starbucks get looked over by a book store, or a clothing store before someone went, Oh Coffee! Need Coffee!? Lots. In fact they fail a lot before.

I mean, lets look at the stat from earlier for fun. 47 signs, and this includes billboards, but lets cut them out and just say the signs for the restaurant themselves and you’re doing a road trip past All of Them. I read that there were about 50k now give or take a few thousand. So even if they fail 47 times, and you go once, that’s still over 1k visits man! They had to fail 49k roughly to get that 1k, but hey, sounds like its worth it to me if they make roughly $15 a visit. And of course, that just one person.

I know I’m just number playing with random info off an unreliable web, however the gist is the same. The reality might even be more scary. Either way, approaching your SRS should be the same. The more you fail at a card, the more chances it has to pop up, the more you’ll see it, and the more you’ll remember it. You’re not suppose to be sweating bullets to remember your SRS cards either. That’ll be discussed more in how to use the SRS properly. Just remember, Failing is Okay. In fact, It’s what you’re going to do. I know, its okay *pat pat*.

When I first started out in the first 400 kanji of RTK I must say my failure rate was about 25%. That may seem like a lot, but it just means I got exposed more often to what I didn’t know, which now allows me to have a 98% pass rate on those first 400. Newer cards I’ve done have a worse fail rate of course because I’ve not been exposed to them as much as those first 400 so far. (I stopped in my srs learning to have my baby lol, that is why there is such a distinction.) I’m very strict about what constitutes as a pass/fail and I make myself have very strict timing on my srs. My memory is better because I’m not afraid of failing. I embrace it! Because in the end, all those fails turned into a big whopping Kick Butt Win!

Mikoto Neko

The Ring leader of multiple projects who is studying japanese and raising a family! Who needs time for sleep?
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