Alice in Kanji Land Deck

The Alice in Kanji Land Anki Deck was built alongside the book Alice in Kanji Land to create a complete kanji-learning system. This SRS deck is designed to cement the kanji, words and pronunciations (with audio) learned in Alice in Kanji Land into your long-term memory. It is available at no cost.

You can download the Alice in Kanji Anki Deck here.

Please note that the Alice in Kanji Land Deck should come as one zipped .apkg file. If your computer tries to unpack it into a folder of sub-files (mostly only a problem with a few older Macs) please ignore the unpacked version and use the original file you downloaded.

How to Use the Alice in Kanji Land Anki Deck

The following introduction and instructions can also be found in the Afterword of Alice in Kanji Land.

SRS (Spaced Repetition Software) works like conventional flash cards, only instead of being random, it exposes you to the cards at ever-lengthening intervals based on the way human memory works. So, essentially, it re-introduces a card a little before the time you would naturally be forgetting it, so that you strengthen your long-term memory of it.
If you successfully remember it, the next interval will be longer. However, the system also adapts to your memory and the particular words you personally find easier or more difficult. The whole thing is based on algorithms that replicate the way human memory works and passes knowledge from short-term to long-term memory.

About the Alice in Kanji Land Deck

The Alice in Kanji Land Deck is based on the idea that you will read one chapter of the book per day and use the deck every day (starting with Chapter 2).

If you get involved in the story and want to read ahead, that’s fine. If you want to read the whole book in advance, that’s fine too. The more you look at the stories and the information contained in them the better. But to use the deck you should make one chapter per day your focus-chapter.

Since the deck and your reading won’t sync exactly, it is best to keep your focused reading a little bit ahead of the deck.

The cards all give chapter numbers and reminders of the relevant story incidents. If you find you have forgotten a word and the information on the card is insufficient, go back to the chapter and remind yourself of that part of the story. Note that the book’s Table of Contents also lists the kanji introduced in each chapter, in order of appearance.

You don’t need to know all the information on the back of a card. Just the word’s meaning and pronunciation. The other notes are just there to help you if you forget something. Use them as much or little as you need.

And remember that this is your deck. You are free to personalize it if you want to. If you find yourself constantly forgetting a particular kanji or confusing two kanji, you can write a little reminder-note on the back (not the front — this is important) of the card to clarify things for yourself. Just hit the Edit button on the bottom left of the card. You can even drag pictures onto the back of the card if you want to!

If the deck is introducing new cards too fast or too slowly for you, go to Options → New Cards and change the New cards/day number up or down. If you want to slow down the pace or power through the deck, be my guest.

If you already know some of the kanji/words so well that you are sure you don’t need them in the deck, just go ahead and delete the cards (Anki calls them notes). No point wasting review time on things you really don’t need. You can also suspend a card if you want to stop reviewing it but think you might possibly want it back some time. You do both these things from Anki’s Browse screen or from the top-right drop-down menu on your mobile device.

If any of this sounds confusing, don’t worry. The deck will work fine right out of the box. You don’t need to do anything except review it.

Please keep up reviews even after you have finished the book. At a normal pace it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes even on the biggest days (they do vary) and as the deck stops introducing new cards, the review time will gradually diminish to very little.

About Anki

Anki is a free SRS system and probably the best and most sophisticated available at any price. It can be downloaded at no cost for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Amazon Kindle and Android devices (the Android/Kindle version is called AnkiDroid). The iOS (iPhone/iPad) version is not free, presumably on the theory that iOS owners are rich and developers need to eat. The second proposition is undoubtedly true.

You can also set up a free AnkiWeb account and sync your deck and its current progress, together with any changes you make to it, across your devices.

You need to install Anki on your device, download the Alice in Kanji Land Deck — link above — and open it in your Anki. In most cases you can just double-click the Alice in Kanji Land Deck file from your desktop to open it automatically in Anki. On future occasions you can just open Anki and it will be there.

Kanji as Words

The Alice Method is not about learning kanji “in the raw”. Kanji in the deck come as words, and the pronunciation of each word is reinforced by an audio recording on the back of the card that plays automatically (unless you turn it off or turn your sound down). The pronunciation is also shown in hiragana, so you don’t need to have the sound on.

If a kanji does not make a word on its own, one or more of its most basic word-forms will be in the deck. Two- and three-kanji words from the book are also included in the deck so that you can get used to on-readings (“glue-names”) and how words fit together.

How to Review

This will be largely obvious as you actually use it.

1. Open Anki.

2. Click the Alice in Kanji Land Deck from Anki’s start screen. (It may ask if you want to study. If so, say yes.)

3. Look at the kanji or word presented to you. Decide what it means and how it is said. Click Show Answer. (Or you can just hit the spacebar or swipe the screen of your mobile device.)

4. The answer screen is the “back” of the card. It shows you the meaning and pronunciation and also reads the pronunciation aloud. The extra notes give extra information and relevant passages from the story. This is useful if you have forgotten something.

It gives you four options (less on a first-time card).

A. If you didn’t remember correctly, hit the first button (Again or Fail). The card will return for another try in a very short time.

B. If you got it mostly right but found it difficult, hit the second button (Hard). This will bring the card back more quickly than normal.

C. This is the one you will be using most of the time and is the default if you simply hit the spacebar or swipe the screen of your mobile device. If you got the card right, hit the third button (Good). This will keep the card coming back at lengthening intervals based on how human memory works.

D. If the card was really easy, hit the fourth button (Easy). This will lengthen the time before the next review of the card. If you hit Easy on the same card a few times, it will start receding further and further into the future but it will still come back occasionally in case you should forget it.

5. Once you have selected your option for the card, the next card will appear. This continues until you have completed your reviews for the day.

And that’s it. Most of this will be obvious just by following the on-screen interface.

Note on Meanings and Definitions

If you look at dictionary definitions for some of the simpler words, they are very complex. This is necessary since, for example, someone reading a book will want to know what the word might mean in context.

However, on the cards these are cut down to the most basic meanings. To take a relatively uncomplicated example, the dictionary defines(ue) as: above; up; over; elder (e.g. daughter); top; summit; surface; on; before; previous; superiority; one’s superior (i.e. one’s elder); on top of that; besides; what’s more

In the deck, the card simply gives the definitions above, up and over. These are the basic meanings of the word, and all the others are derivative of those concepts. The before meaning, for example, means higher up the page in a written text. The on top of that meaning is exactly the same metaphor as in English. The best way to learn is to get the basic meaning firmly fixed, rather than try to memorize a sprawling and apparently chaotic list of meanings from the beginning. A little later, you will start to see how the extended and metaphorical meanings derive naturally from the basic meaning.