Using Assimil together with Anki

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Re: Using Assimil together with Anki

Postby Xenops » Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:45 am

I don't know, Gabriel Wyner feels happy to charge money for his decks (his model deck and his sound trainers). Is it because they have actual content, or because he has a deal with Anki, or?...
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Re: Using Assimil together with Anki

Postby Stefan » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:52 am

Xenops wrote:I don't know, Gabriel Wyner feels happy to charge money for his decks (his model deck and his sound trainers). Is it because they have actual content, or because he has a deal with Anki, or?...

The issue is copyright. I would basically be giving away a digital version of Assimil's material. The same concern was raised in the thread about sharing subs2srs decks. Vocabulary is one thing but full sentences with pronunciation guide and their written translation? I reckon that's definitely over the line.
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Re: Using Assimil together with Anki

Postby rdearman » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:52 am

scivola wrote:I'm very excited to see how this experiment works out for you. It was very effective for me, and I hope that is replicated for you.

Although, I just had a bit of a holy sh*t moment. I originally got the idea for the disappearing cards from a site called darkjapanese.wordpress.com. Whoever wrote that site was focused an learning Japanese and s/he wrote a whole bunch of dense, interesting, somewhat inscrutable posts, mostly focused on ways to massage anki into implementing whatever learning stratagies research seemed to indicate were most effective. He linked lots of research papers in his posts.
Decks have been removed from ankiWeb, sites taken down, etc. That's very disappointing to me, because I think I had only grokked a small part of what that person was on about, to my detriment.

This is the second time I've been at least a hanger-on in a community where somebody did this. I had been part of the ruby language programming community a bunch of years ago when a prolific programmer named WhyTheLuckyStiff did the same thing. He had a prominent blog, had developed a number a influential code libraries, etc, and suddenly he deleted it all and basically never communicated with anyone again. Just disappeared. That sucks.

emk, sprachprofi, rdearman, serpent, cainntear, and loads of others here, thanks for you contributions. I greatly appreciate them. If you ever get tired of learning languages, could you just please leave your contributions where they are? I still have a long way to go to reach my goals, and I could use all the help I can get.


Have you checked the way back machine for these lost resources?
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Re: Using Assimil together with Anki

Postby Serpent » Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:56 pm

The decks on ankiweb were probably removed by Anki :roll:

I was hesitant to reply but since I've been mentioned... :D My contributions aren't going anywhere :P

As for the original topic, I wish everyone good luck with your learning, but I have to point out that putting everything into Anki goes against the whole philosophy of Assimil. Your goal is not to know the Assimil course by heart. Your goal is to go through the course and switch to other things, and if you follow the original passive and active wave, you'll know most of the content already. I'm not a fan of excessive drilling in general, but Assimil is a particularly bad choice for it in my opinion :? If the words and expressions just won't stick, imo it's better to go through something like Michel Thomas, Pimsleur or whatever and go back to Assimil.

If you do use Anki with Assimil materials, you'll probably need to suspend some cards. Well, deleting works too, but after putting in so much effort I know I'd hate to delete anything.

Feel free to ignore what I'm saying, of course. But whatever you do, don't become a slave to Anki. It's a tool like any other.
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Re: Using Assimil together with Anki

Postby Xenops » Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:33 pm

Serpent wrote:The decks on ankiweb were probably removed by Anki :roll:

I was hesitant to reply but since I've been mentioned... :D My contributions aren't going anywhere :P

As for the original topic, I wish everyone good luck with your learning, but I have to point out that putting everything into Anki goes against the whole philosophy of Assimil. Your goal is not to know the Assimil course by heart. Your goal is to go through the course and switch to other things, and if you follow the original passive and active wave, you'll know most of the content already. I'm not a fan of excessive drilling in general, but Assimil is a particularly bad choice for it in my opinion :? If the words and expressions just won't stick, imo it's better to go through something like Michel Thomas, Pimsleur or whatever and go back to Assimil.

If you do use Anki with Assimil materials, you'll probably need to suspend some cards. Well, deleting works too, but after putting in so much effort I know I'd hate to delete anything.

Feel free to ignore what I'm saying, of course. But whatever you do, don't become a slave to Anki. It's a tool like any other.


I've been meaning to ask you: where on ALL or HTLAL do you have a log? I've seen that you're a great supporter of AJATT and antimoon, and that to me correlates with gaining passive knowledge through Anki. Is consuming massive content your secret?
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Re: Using Assimil together with Anki

Postby neumanc » Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:47 pm

Serpent wrote:The decks on ankiweb were probably removed by Anki :roll:

I was hesitant to reply but since I've been mentioned... :D My contributions aren't going anywhere :P

As for the original topic, I wish everyone good luck with your learning, but I have to point out that putting everything into Anki goes against the whole philosophy of Assimil. Your goal is not to know the Assimil course by heart. Your goal is to go through the course and switch to other things, and if you follow the original passive and active wave, you'll know most of the content already. I'm not a fan of excessive drilling in general, but Assimil is a particularly bad choice for it in my opinion :? If the words and expressions just won't stick, imo it's better to go through something like Michel Thomas, Pimsleur or whatever and go back to Assimil.

If you do use Anki with Assimil materials, you'll probably need to suspend some cards. Well, deleting works too, but after putting in so much effort I know I'd hate to delete anything.

Feel free to ignore what I'm saying, of course. But whatever you do, don't become a slave to Anki. It's a tool like any other.

If I might chime in here, I have a question. Why would it be a bad idea to memorize an Assimil course? If I remember correctly, Prof. Arguelles shadows Assimil so often (perhaps 200 times) that he can recite it under the shower. That's the key of his success. The same idea is behind the Schliemann method: to know a good "chunk" of the language by heart and, while doing so, learning the vocabulary, collocations, and grammar implicitly in order to give you a really good grounding in the language. There are only two issues that have to be addressed: 1) Is Assimil a good chunk of the language? The older courses are quite dated, the newer ones perhaps not good enough. I think they are not "practical" enough, so you have to supplement them, for example with a good phrasebook. 2) Is Anki really the adequate means to internalize the contents of an Assimil book? Doesn't this destroy the context of the (sometimes funny) stories in the Assimil books? Does this really further internalization? I my opinion, at least cards without audio would be a really bad idea.
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Re: Using Assimil together with Anki

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Sun Jun 11, 2017 5:00 pm

neumanc wrote:If I might chime in here, I have a question. Why would it be a bad idea to memorize an Assimil course? If I remember correctly, Prof. Arguelles shadows Assimil so often (perhaps 200 times) that he can recite it under the shower.


I never got the impression that Arguelles shadows a single lesson over and over, but rather that he absorbs content gradually through various steps of shadowing (possibly the entire course or say, one side of a cassette). So, while he's using another method (i.e. shadowing), it's still breadth first and depth later. Not perfecting each sentence, one at a time (nothing wrong with that, though).
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Re: Using Assimil together with Anki

Postby scivola » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:23 pm

I'm obviously biased here, but I don't see anything wrong with memorizing Assimil sentences. I think courses exist on a kind of spectrum. There are some courses which emphasize repetition. Pimsleur and especially Glossika fall into that camp. Others preach about not doing too much, just letting the language soak in, etc. Assimil and Michel Thomas are great examples of that approach. And I think this anki-ized approach to Assimil falls somewhere in the middle.

There have always been lots a questions about how exactly to approach Assimil. I've seen lots of posts of people asking whether they should review previous days' lessons, how many times they should listen to the current day's lesson, whether they should do more than one lesson per day, and so forth. This approach just systematizes such concerns.

Do one lesson per day, plus whatever reviews are due. Anki of course will schedule the reviews, so that requires no effort or worry on your part. Sentences you find easy quickly end up with their next review due months in the future. With hard ones you can make a choice. You can try to force the sentence into your head with more reviews, or you can just delete it and trust that you will encounter the same grammar point/vocabulary/whatever later on in your language learning, at which point your brain might be ready to accept it easily. Take whichever course seems to fit with your personality.

Really, the only issue I see with this approach is that the number of reviews due each day does increase pretty quickly. That is an issue that has also been discussed in regards to subs2srs. I believe in those discussions that emk has put forth a rule of thumb that says that if you study X new sentences per day, then over time your daily reviews will be 10X. Since there are 25-30 new sentences in each Assimil lesson, that really adds up. But even that is manageable by taking occasional days where you just do reviews and no new sentences. The plain-jane Assimil plan has a review day every 7th day, you could do the same thing in this method. Also, I would say that you should grade each review pretty leniently. That helps space out the reviews.

So that's my view. There's nothing magical about Assimil sentences that mean that you should never review them. There's also nothing that says you must review them in a masochistic fashion. If you think there is value in reviewing the sentences, anki is simply a great tool for managing that process.
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Re: Using Assimil together with Anki

Postby neumanc » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:47 pm

jeff_lindqvist wrote:
neumanc wrote:If I might chime in here, I have a question. Why would it be a bad idea to memorize an Assimil course? If I remember correctly, Prof. Arguelles shadows Assimil so often (perhaps 200 times) that he can recite it under the shower.


I never got the impression that Arguelles shadows a single lesson over and over, but rather that he absorbs content gradually through various steps of shadowing (possibly the entire course or say, one side of a cassette). So, while he's using another method (i.e. shadowing), it's still breadth first and depth later. Not perfecting each sentence, one at a time (nothing wrong with that, though).

I think you are right. If I remember correctly, he advocates shadowing the last 10 or so lessons, each of them in a different stage of his shadowing method, beginning with blind shadowing. In his own words, he "peels the language like an onion." I have tried this with less than optimal results. Perhaps he has an especially musical mind that allows him to learn languages mainly through his ear. Or maybe I didn't observe "proper form"?

Be that as it may, I think that it all boils down to memorization, not only of the contents (including implicit learning of sentence patterns), but also of the correct pronunciation and prosody (i.e. developing an "inner voice"). Any means that allows you to accomplish this is suitable. This could be Anki cards with audio, but it could also be repeating (echoing) or shadowing ad nauseam (or, taking the lazy route, doing Glossika spaced reptition files instead).

I lately experimented a little bit with shadowing again. I found that shadowing one and the same Assimil lesson over and over after having done a very intensive active wave (you might call this "overlearning"), seems to be very effective as a means of memorization of the lessons as a whole, so that the cue to come up with the next sentence is not the (often not so accurate) translation into the teaching language, but the last sentence of the target language (i.e. the context). Once memorized, you can rehearse anywhere and anytime, just by recalling the lessons from your head. It's also quite time efficient, because you can rehearse without any gaps and also without any help of, or disturbance by, the teaching language. Most notably, you don't have to undergo the troublesome process of creating Anki cards.

Side note: I gave up Anki after having technical problems losing all my cards. And I didn't enjoy the card creation process anyhow. So I thought there must be a substitute for Anki. I hope this is it. As of now, I cannot yet determine whether knowing the lessons by heart gives any advantage in developing fluency during conversations, but I think it should.

Another side note: I did also try the lazy way suggested by Assimil, first the passive wave with some repitions here and there and then the active wave, which, however, did not work, since I could understand the sentences really well but couldn't come up with them on my own, at least not after lesson 30 or 40 or so, leaving me frustated and tempted to give up Assimil altogether. I think this is no wonder, because learning to understand something does only bring you so far when trying to produce it, since much if not all of the little niceties of grammar that need to be applied while producing are not really necessary for understanding, so you don't learn them during the passive wave.
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Re: Using Assimil together with Anki

Postby Xenops » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:19 pm

neumanc wrote:
jeff_lindqvist wrote:
neumanc wrote:If I might chime in here, I have a question. Why would it be a bad idea to memorize an Assimil course? If I remember correctly, Prof. Arguelles shadows Assimil so often (perhaps 200 times) that he can recite it under the shower.


I never got the impression that Arguelles shadows a single lesson over and over, but rather that he absorbs content gradually through various steps of shadowing (possibly the entire course or say, one side of a cassette). So, while he's using another method (i.e. shadowing), it's still breadth first and depth later. Not perfecting each sentence, one at a time (nothing wrong with that, though).

I think you are right. If I remember correctly, he advocates shadowing the last 10 or so lessons, each of them in a different stage of his shadowing method, beginning with blind shadowing. In his own words, he "peels the language like an onion." I have tried this with less than optimal results. Perhaps he has an especially musical mind that allows him to learn languages mainly through his ear. Or maybe I didn't observe "proper form"?

Be that as it may, I think that it all boils down to memorization, not only of the contents (including implicit learning of sentence patterns), but also of the correct pronunciation and prosody (i.e. developing an "inner voice"). Any means that allows you to accomplish this is suitable. This could be Anki cards with audio, but it could also be repeating (echoing) or shadowing ad nauseam (or, taking the lazy route, doing Glossika spaced reptition files instead).

I lately experimented a little bit with shadowing again. I found that shadowing one and the same Assimil lesson over and over after having done a very intensive active wave (you might call this "overlearning"), seems to be very effective as a means of memorization of the lessons as a whole, so that the cue to come up with the next sentence is not the (often not so accurate) translation into the teaching language, but the last sentence of the target language (i.e. the context). Once memorized, you can rehearse anywhere and anytime, just by recalling the lessons from your head. It's also quite time efficient, because you can rehearse without any gaps and also without any help of, or disturbance by, the teaching language. Most notably, you don't have to undergo the troublesome process of creating Anki cards.

Side note: I gave up Anki after having technical problems losing all my cards. And I didn't enjoy the card creation process anyhow. So I thought there must be a substitute for Anki. I hope this is it. As of now, I cannot yet determine whether knowing the lessons by heart gives any advantage in developing fluency during conversations, but I think it should.

Another side note: I did also try the lazy way suggested by Assimil, first the passive wave with some repitions here and there and then the active wave, which, however, did not work, since I could understand the sentences really well but couldn't come up with them on my own, at least not after lesson 30 or 40 or so, leaving me frustated and tempted to give up Assimil altogether. I think this is no wonder, because learning to understand something does only bring you so far when trying to produce it, since much if not all of the little niceties of grammar that need to be applied while producing are not really necessary for understanding, so you don't learn them during the passive wave.


I came to a realization recently, which I have posted on my log (https://forum.language-learners.org/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3897&start=142 : I think Assimil and Anki work great for passive acquisition, which means you recognize when you see it, but it won't come to mind when you try to speak (at least, no initially) I think what shadowing does is it gives you speaking practice, prosody practice, but it also hammers vocab for easy reach when you speak "in the wild".
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