Japanese-Language-Learning Tool: Surusu

Flashcards are an excellent way to review vocabulary and kanji, but making your own flashcards uses a lot of paper and time. If you have access to a computer when you typically study, you might want to consider using surusu.com, a smart online flash-card builder.

Surusu is the brain-child of Khatzumoto of All Japanese All the Time, and, unlike paper flash cards, is a rotation-based flash card program based on your ratings of how well you know the card. Cards you know well on the first try may appear again days later. Cards you struggle with will appear until you mark them with and 4 or 5, but if you’ve marked them with a 0-2 multiple times in one session, they will appear in the next day’s batch. If you know a card very well, you can delete it or “warp” it ahead, after which it will appear in a month or so. You can do more reps per day if you click on “more reps”–great for the night before tests or cramming for the JLPT.

The website may look low-tech, but much like the NES Legend of Zelda games, the packaging isn’t as important as the product. There’s a lot you can do with surusu–you can build multiple decks, edit the cards, and add repetitions. Reading Harry Potter in Japanese? Build a deck of magic-related words and/or unknown grammar as you read! Taking a JET Japanese course? This is also a great way to help remember the grammar, vocabulary, and kanji for the monthly tests. You can upload cards from files, manually input (or edit) cards, or copy and paste from online databases (Jim Breen, Japanese Grammar).

Personally, I’m using surusu to learn all the Heisig kanji that I don’t already know; study for the JET course tests; and learn the necessary grammar and vocabulary for the JLPT. Since I usually study on my lunch break or at home, it’s quite convenient for me. Also, I like to use example sentences and add Japanese definitions to similar vocab terms.

Wanna step it up a notch, you 1級 and 2級 hopefuls? Input definitions from a Japanese-Japanese dictionary!

As always, good luck with your studies!

Leah Zoller is a first-year CIR in Anamizu and uses Surusu on her quest to capture all the kanji.

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2 thoughts on “Japanese-Language-Learning Tool: Surusu

  1. Anki (http://ichi2.net/anki/) is also a good SRS system, and this one can be used offline with multiple decks. You can upload decks from others, like Hesig’s RTK or iKnow’s (www.smart.fm) vocab, as well as some common textbooks.

    Funnily enough, I do have a Harry Potter deck I’m working on in Anki…

  2. Hey Leah!

    Nice review of Surusu! I use it myself for my study of Japanese, as you know. And I use Anki for my German (which I had started before the decks features got implemented in Surusu).

    I generally favor Surusu over Anki, even though the presentation of Anki is pretty slick, because I feel like I have more control over my reviews (and because I use multiple computers).

    I also favor Surusu because it encourages only user-generated material, of which I’m a huge fan.

    Thanks for the post!

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