Holidailies 9: Flashcarding, how I play the game

11 Dec

Last time I talked about how I create my flashcards and I also talked a bit about why I think it’s useful. This time I’ll talk about the other aspect of it, how I play the flashcard game. There are multiple ways of learning with flashcards and I will talk about a few of them here.

Just remember that even though I assume you have a foreign word on one side and the translation on the other side you can also use this for other things than learning languages. This is just to keep it all simple.

1. Sight reading.

This is my most used technique. This basically means that you repeat the flashcards as often as it needs that you read the foreign word and no longer need to think to know the translation. Sight reading is one of the reasons why I can quite quickly pick up a language by reading because you can grasp a lot of context of a sentence if you can understand the key words. It’s not a lot of use knowing a word if you can’t sight read it easily (barring of course words that are just plain difficult no matter if you’re native or foreign, those don’t count).

To make sure you don’t need to keep repeating the words that you already know you can always put the words you had wrong to the end of your stack and keep repeating them until you have them right or until you have just one card left in your hand. Then repeat again with the full stack, just to check if you really know them all.

When learning Japanese I use this for the first couple of rounds, so that I can make the connection between the kana and the sound of the kana.

DSCN0369<- not the way I actually do it since you can too easily cheat by checking which cards you’ve already had, but I didn’t want this point to be boring. Also, you can see both sides of the cards here.

2. Writing until your hands bleed

A bit dramatic but it gets the point across. This part is where you only look at the translated side of the card and write down the foreign words. And you repeat this until you’re absolutely sure you know all the word. The technique is largely the same as above, only that you don’t just check if you can come up with the word, you write the foreign word down before you check and then see if you spelled it right.


Here you can see how I do this. Because hiragana are only small I fold the lines back over so I can’t look at my last round of practising when I can’t come up with the right kana. This stops me from cheating and using a lot of paper when not needed.

A regular session of practising for me starts with sight reading the kana I already know, then I run through them the other way around and write them all. Only when that is finished I start a new set of cards. Remember to always learn new words in sets of 5 to 15. Otherwise there are too many new ones and it gets really hard to keep track of them all. If you keep the sets small it is a lot easier to make all the practised words add up.

Well, that’s it. Those are my 2 ways of practising a language.

Learn on!


DSCN0380 <- my folder with practise sheets and flash cards.


Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Holidailies, Japanese, learning, tutorial


2 responses to “Holidailies 9: Flashcarding, how I play the game

  1. Kristine McKinley

    December 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I used flashcards in high school to learn Latin. I haven’t used it in so long I’ve forgotten a lot but it really helped at the time.


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