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Meet Anki - Your vocabulary learning friend

Meet Anki - Your vocabulary learning friend

20 Feb 2014 Mehdi Safavi
Have you heard of Spaced Repetition? It is a learning technique in which items are memorised by reviewing them at increasing intervals. The best intervals are: 5 seconds, 25 seconds, 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 1 hour, 5 hours, 1 day, 5 days, 25 days, 4 months, and 2 years. The idea was proposed by Sebastian Leitner in the 1970s and Anki is a great computer/phone app for this purpose.

The Leitner system

The Leitner learning system is based on spaced repetition. In this method, flashcards with new words on them are sorted into groups according to how well you know each one. Then you should look at the words on flashcards and try to remember their meanings.

Suppose you have 3 boxes of cards called Box 1, Box 2 and Box 3. The cards in Box 1 are the ones that you often make mistakes with, and Box 3 contains the cards that you know very well. You might choose to study the Box 1 cards once a day, Box 2 every 3 days, and the Box 3 cards every 5 days. If you look at a card in Box 1 and get the correct answer, you "promote" it to Box 2. A correct answer with a card in Box 2 "promotes" that card to Box 3. If you make a mistake with a card in Box 2 or Box 3, it gets "demoted" to the first box, which forces you to study that card more often.

The advantage of this method is that you can focus on the most difficult flashcards, which remain in the first few groups. The result is, ideally, a reduction in the amount of study time needed.

What is Anki?

Anki (meaning "memory" in Japanese) is a free program which makes remembering things easy. Because it is a lot more efficient than traditional study methods (the well-known Leitner box), you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn. Anki works on:

You can download Anki based on your operating system here.

Your Recommendation

Do you know any other flash card software for language learning? Please comment below and share it with other learners.