How to build an everlasting knowledge-pool II.

The basic Anki card types

2/20/20235 min read

In my humble opinion, one of the best features of modern web browsers is the ability to create tab groups. Many of us have been using tab groups in some form even before they were a built-in feature of browsers. When we work on a specific task, we often need to switch between a few different websites, such as those for crypto, flat-hunting, studying, app development, and you are also going to have now a ,,Memory Master" for Anki card-creation. 😁 The first and most important tab is our friend: Google, to be more specific Google Images. The second one is a monolingual dictionary. Duden, Collins, Oxford just to name a few. Collins currently has 10 languages available, a pretty good choice if you are learning/maintaining multiple languages. And the third one can be Wikipedia, simple, yet magnificent. All the others you are going to collect along the way, grammar websites, blogs, facebook groups ..... All the tabs are tailored, as you progress in your language learning journey, you'll discover a variety of helpful resources.

Why relevance is the 👑 of language learning?

The answer to the above-mentioned question, in short, is that our brain is hard-wired to forget anything that is not crucial for survival. Let's clarify something right at the beginning and save you a tremendous amount of time. Shall we?

Real-life experiences are the most valuable assets in language learning, and as such, you have to prioritize them above all else. If you have read my other posts, you already know that I am a huge fan of comprehensible input, and the best kind of CI is always what happens in real life. For this very reason, I don't recommend that you learn more than 1000 words from a frequency list. After that, you should start communicating and building your own vocabulary. The rules are the same, of course: no proxy language, only visual clues, monolingual dictionary, Google and Wikipedia, whatever you need to have a sentence in which to use your word.

I highly recommend that you download an offline dictionary on your phone that has a search history feature. For this purpose, you can actually use a bilingual dictionary as well because you will only use it to collect your own frequency list and create a pool of your most frequent words for life. The other crucial component in this story is a burning interest. Believe it or not, that unpleasant, desperate long search for a word in a discussion is gold. Or, you can turn it into gold if you process it afterward and create a vivid, speaking flashcard of it with new additional context.

Let's say you are living in Spain, and your light bulb has gone out. You would probably search for the word 'bombilla' and, armed with this new word, go out to buy a replacement. This experience isn't just about learning a new word; it's a real-life experience that involves embarrassing moments, a bit of a scavenger hunt, and a sense of relief after successfully completing your mission, not to mention the light in your cozy room. This experience is so much more than just a word on a frequency list; you have your own story behind it. Maybe this word isn't even on a frequency list, but for you, it's quite relevant on a chilly, dark morning.

I use 4 different card types. The first one is the simplest. You see a dog or few dogs, you write the answer, close your eyes, hit enter and you hear the right pronunciation. Pretty easy, pretty straightforward. You create as many easy cards as humanly possible. All the objects in the target language and all the verbs. I suggest you to start with at least 1000 easy cards. That's your most valuable vocabulary. You can choose them from a frequency list or collect them by yourself. Then you set the region in Google to your target country.

1.After you set your region, look up the word you want to learn

2.Then pick your favourite ,,perros", if you happen to have one, you are going to use its photo

Add pronunciation with preset or manually

3.Add the correct pronunciation (you can choose gender/dialect)

4.Your vivid, talking ready-to-go flashcard . visual connection ✅ correct pronunciation ✅ native language eliminated ✅

Congratulations! 👏 🎉 🥳

The second type of card is a bit more complex, but if you have 1000 basic words under your belt, then this challenge is suitable for you. My suggestion is to rely on Google Images only if the picture helps in guessing the word or if the caption provides a useful sentence. For all other scenarios, it's recommended to use just Google or your monolingual dictionary.
In this card type the context let you guess the word. Let me give you an example. We want to learn the word weekend. I didn't find Google Images captions very helpful so I will ask ChatGPT to write a sentence and look for an example sentence in Collins or Cambridge.

1.Hey ChatGPT 🤖 write me a sentence with the word ,,weekend"

Although there is a possibility that it may generate incorrect sentences, based on my own usage, it is generally reliable when it comes to the most commonly used 3000-4000 words, and beyond that point, you can confidently evaluate whether the sentence it generates is accurate or not. Use at your own peril, only if you can judge the sentence is correct.

2.Now we can use Collins to have a clue in the target language

3.Add the correct pronunciation (you can choose gender/dialect)

4.Your vivid, talking ready-to-go flashcard . comprehensible input ✅ correct pronunciation ✅ native language eliminated ✅

Congratulations! 👏 🎉 🥳 Since you are required to type the answer yourself, you will learn the correct spelling from the very start.

In the final part of this series, I will introduce you to the other two types of cards I utilize and give you additional learning tips.😉