How to Use SuperMemo to Study Japanese

I assume that you have read the following:

I also assume you are using SuperMemo 2006.

Using Categories

Although the SuperMemo documentation downplays the use of categories, for studying Japanese you may find them more useful. Categories are groups of items (flashcards) and topics (articles) within your collection. What I do is very simple-- I make a category for each area of my study and each "section" or "lesson."

For example, I have categories for each textbook I am using, and sub-categories for each chapter. I also have categories for each Japanese class I take, and subcategories for each day. I have a giant vocabulary category that includes a subcategory for TV, which includes a subcategory for each program I watch. But don't get too hung up about making categories-- it doesn't take too much time, and it's not something you have to pay much attention to once you get in the habit.

What good are categories?

  1. You can selectively review specific categories if necessary for a test.
  2. You can adjust the priority for categories. So, you can put the JLPT categories much higher than the categories that include words you learned from the TV.

So, you only need categories for things you either plan to review later or might want to drop or increase the priority of as a group.

To create a new category in SuperMemo, click Contents on the main window. Right click somewhere in the tree diagram that appears and choose New-> Category. Fill out the requested information. You can now drag and drop the category, along with topics and items.

Caution: Every time you create a new category, SuperMemo sets that category as the "root" category. When you click "Add" to add a new item or press ALT+A, that item is added to the root category. To change the root category, click "Contents", find the category you want, right-click on it, and choose Category -> Set category root.

How to Make Items (Flashcards)

As the knowledge formulation guide suggests, items work best when you only have one thing to remember per item. So, if you have a kanji compound like 太陽 (たいよう, sun), you should make separate cards for the reading and meaning. You may be tempted to make just one item for both, but if you do this, SuperMemo will not be able to help you when you forget the meaning and not the reading, or vice versa.

Japanese Support in SuperMemo

You shouldn't have problems adding items and topics in Japanese to SuperMemo. However, when you are reviewing your items, the headings in the title bar (the bar at the very top of the window) will be screwed up. This is a problem with Windows and cannot be fixed; however, it has no bearing on actually using SuperMemo so it can be safely ignored.