How to build an everlasting knowledge-pool I.

The key pillar of modern language learning

Bálint Gáspár

2/11/20237 min read

Anki card creation

PoV: You spend countless hours (years) studying for exams only to forget the information once you leave the school. Let's admit it. It's one of the most frustrating experiences we ever had.

What if I told you there is a tool to keep everything in your mind.
This software has been with us for 16 years and yet very few people know it. What a shame..... But don't worry, I am here to change this. 😉

Click on the pic for download Anki

The Memory Boosting Magic of Anki: When Forgetting is Not an Option

Spaced repetition is a powerful way to boost memory and retention, and it's exactly what Anki uses to help people remember the information they study. Here's how it works:

The program presents information to the user at increasing intervals. So if you got the answer right, you'll see it again later. But if you got it wrong, you'll need to start over and review it more frequently until you get it right.The beauty of this system is that it reinforces the information and makes it stick in your memory, instead of just relying on a one-time study session. The longer you use Anki, the longer the intervals between review sessions will become, because your brain will have a better hold on the information.

For example, if you first see a card tomorrow, you might see it again a week later, then two weeks later, then a month, and so on. This gradual increase in the time between reviews makes it easier for your brain to process and retain the information over the long haul.

However, here is a really important caveat: you have to pay special attention which button you choose. I want you to look at these cards not as chores but as opportunities for joy. What does it mean? Let's imagine two different scenarios. In the first one, you have 50 cards a day and you fail on 20% of these cards, because you chose always button 3 (wider interval=less repetition) which means you had 10 mini-failure for 40 mini-success. You need to create 10 new cards (more on that later in this article). Second scenario: you have 80 cards a day to repeat because you always pushed button 2 (narrow interval= more repetition), which means your success rate will be higher, just because you had less time to forget these words. Let's say you have 5 mini-failure for 75 mini-success. Your failure rate is less than 7%. You have 5 new cards to create, as opposed to scenario 1 where you had 10. You finish your study session with more success in less time. It took me 1 year to figure this out. 😅 You are welcome!

That's the whole gist of Anki. However, I have been using Anki for years now and I found out that this way is far more effective that the techniques you knew until this point, it's still not perfect. Let me show you my secret ingredient.

The visual clue as gif is quite straightforward

The text is basically the explanation or a pretty clear clue for the word

I use mainly this ,,fill-the-blank" card style, you see a sentence without the word we wanna learn, and a pic/gif under the text on the front and the answer and an audio file on the back. I highly recommend check the answer by your ears first. Type in the answer, close your eyes, and hit enter. This way you are going to pay special attention to the pronunciation. A trial deck will be attach under the article, if you download it you will get this customized template. In the next blog post I will elaborate how I create these cards. There are different methods and we are going to use all of them. If you wanna learn in depth about Anki flash card creation, I highly recommend to read the book Fluent Forever from Gabriel Wyner, however I will summarise the basics in a few articles and complement it with my own experiences in the upcoming weeks.

Remember! The answer is not to try harder, but rather try different

A game changer twist

I really like the idea above. Every challenging concept can be broken down quicker if you approach from a different angle. Why is that important for us language learners? A beginner Anki-user just fail and repeat, fail and repeat, fail and repeat ad nauseam. The card becomes boring and your brain just filters it out. More failure leads to more frustration, which means more card to repeat. And this is the biggest risk of repetition. You get frustrated and drop the whole thing. All right, got it, but how can we tackle this problem?

Let's stick to scenario 2, where we repeat 80 cards a day and we fail on about 5 cards. Instead of repeating them without changing anything, we are going to add a new card with a slightly different angle, for example different conjugation, tense, gerund or infinitive, imperative, even a different meaning. This way the word becomes even more memorable not to mention the additional repetitions what we get with this new card. With a couple of cards you build a lifelong memory. Imagine a word like a wooden cube. This cube is 1 card, for example the word break.

Our first card is a sentence like this. I need to take a ..... to clear my mind. ⏸. Let's pretend you could not recall this word. Instead of just repeating we are going to add a new meaning.

The ..... on the bike stopped working, so I couldn't ride safely. ( a device used to slow down or stop the motion of the vehicle, typically by applying friction to the wheels.) It is an intermediate card type. After the most frequent 2000 words, we have enough knowledge to use a monolingual dictionary, taking our language learning to a whole new level. But yet again we have not remembered this word. Snif-snif. ...🥲

Another opportunity to fashion that wooden dice into a wooden ball: You have to ..... the rules sometimes. (we are gonna use a ,,break gif" here. Actually for all of the verbs, we are going to use gif's) This is not only learning a new meaning, but also reinforcing the others. You build a lifelong memory here. When memories are associated with the word "break," they become interconnected within the same cluster of neurons, making them more difficult to forget.

white box on white table
white box on white table

A word with one card

... and words with multiple cards

The power of visual learning in language aquisition

The biggest mistake beginners make is not to connect new words with pictures, but with words in their mother tongue. To understand the root of this problem, we need to understand how our brains perceive written text. A picture is a copy of the reality, a written text is rather an encryption of reality, which mean the brain processes an image much faster than it decodes written text.

Believe it or not these fractions of a second, play a huge role when it comes to fluency. All right but is it really possible to learn a language without a proxy language? Ask the nearest baby to you.

Of course you can't learn complex concepts only with pic's and gif's (gif's are a different level to learn verbs though and yes you can attach to your Anki card.) but there are a couple of thousands words you can learn exclusively with images. To prove it, let's assume complex words with as few pixels as possible.

1. ✌️🕊☮️

2. ⌛️⏰

3. 🫶🏻❤️👩‍❤️‍💋‍👨

4. 🤢🤒🤧


I don't really want to talk about download and settings, you can find numerous tutorials about that on YouTube. I want to show you, how to use Anki properly.

How to make the most of this crucial software. Without further ado, allow me to change your life. 😁

There are two really important add-ons I highly recommend: an image resizer and an audio generator.

The first one helps us to keep our cards manageable even if we ,,steal" some huge resolution pics from Google. Don't worry about royalties, only you will see these pictures.

And the second most important tool is the audio generator or a TTS (Text-to-Speech) add-on. Although there are free versions available, I prefer to pay an extra 5 bucks/ month for having a human-like voice with intonation instead of a robot noise. I use AwesomeTTS ( I dont't praise. This is the official name..) It makes easy for you to learn the right pronunciation from scratch. You have the option to select from different dialects, female/male voices and I guess the service is free up to certain number of characters.

The Must-Have-Add-ons for Effective Learning