100-Day Deep Dive Challenge

This challenge took place from May 2020 to August 2020

After I finished my 150-Day LingQ Challenge, I was wondering what the next step was in my learning path. At this point, I was halfway through Genki 2 because of my Japanese class in college, which gave me a baseline of ~900 words and grammar that was scraping the bottom of N4 level. Basically, I was still an absolute beginner, and I knew that I can go faster than what the curriculum asked of me.

This, combined with the coronavirus decimating any outdoor activities, pushed me to take a closer look at incorporating the mass immersion approach of language acquisition more into my daily life. At that time, I was probably interacting with Japanese for a couple hours every day, but I wanted to increase that to at least three hours a day. That might sound crazy, but pay attention to my wording. I want to interact with the language. What does that mean? That means reading and listening. Studying can be a part of the interaction, but it is not the focus and shouldn’t take up the majority of the time.

The Method

So I was meandering about and trying to come up with some structure for me to do this with when I came across OhTalkWho’s YouTube channel and his Deep Dive method of studying. What it basically boils down to using subs2srs and MorphMan to quickly extract all the sentence cards from a single source material, and then reorder the cards using a frequency list generated from that material. You would then study this one source intensively for a period of time. The reasoning behind this process is twofold:

  1. You save a lot of time by not making your own sentence cards
  2. You’re mining frequent words from a source that you like, which is more useful than mining a more frequent word that doesn’t appear in your area of interest

Anyways, I had nothing to lose so I decided to give this a shot.

The Execution

I set up subs2srs according to the guide from BritvsJapan and MorphMan according to the guide from Matt vs Japan. I picked two anime that I really like, have useful vocabulary, and have near infinite rewatchabily for me. This turned out to be K-On and Wotakoi, since I am a slice-of-life fan.

So with my new anki decks, my plan was basically to binge these two anime for hours every single day, probably to my roommate’s chagrin. I set it as a 100-day challenge with 20 new words a day as the goal.

The Results

So as predicted by the simplest of math, MorphMan says that I gained 2000 new vocab words. The reviews never got too bad; I maxed out at 195 reviews a day which took about an hour. I didn’t make it through the entire anki deck, but I watched/listened to both anime so many times that I could practically recite the first few episodes from memory.

Although I don’t feel like I improved at all, the statistics provided by MorphMan says otherwise. I expect this is just a part of the delayed gratification and I would get it once I start immersing in more material and realize that I can actually understand more things.


What I Liked

After the initial setup, it is incredibly easy to make sentence cards. It only takes a few minutes to generate over 300 cards with an image and audio. It also sets a concrete short-term goal, which helps with motivation.

What I Didn’t Like

It’s a form of intensive immersion as opposed to extensive immersion. A lot can be said on this topic, but Stephen Krashen supports extensive over intensive to facilitate language and vocabulary acquisition. Along with that, I found that acquiring grammar through immersion requires encountering it through a lot of different contexts, and intensively studying a single source didn’t provide enough variety for me. A sentence that I couldn’t comprehend at the beginning didn’t get more comprehensible at the end of my studies.

Some Points to Note

The quality of these sentence cards produced is entirely dependent on the structure of the subtitles and the parsing algorithm in MorphMan. Although you can extract 300+ sentence cards from a single episode of an anime, a portion of them are rendered unusable because whoever timed the subtitles decided to split a sentence into two parts, and another portion that has new words would never appear because MorphMan tokenized the sentence incorrectly and thinks you know all the words.

Also, doing a Deep Dive according to OhTalkWho’s video means that you’re overwriting MorphMan’s master frequency list. This means that the frequency list is fine-tuned for your intensive study material, but if you’re also performing general immersion with MorphMan as well, those cards will also follow the modified frequency list. For example, if the word ‘chair’ doesn’t appear in your intensive study, it won’t appear on the frequency list and therefore MorphMan will hide it from you until it runs out of other words. Because of this, I would recommend disabling MorphMan’s reordering feature for everything other than your intensive study material.

Anyways, the next challenge is 100 days of extensive immersion without using subs2srs and MorphMan (damn, I need a better name for it). Stay tuned for that writeup once I finish in December.