Designing Your Flashcards
I want to show you the flash cards that I suggest using to learn simple vocabulary um there's basically two or three of them depending on what state you are in your language learning process the first two are mandatory in the third one is really handy in the beginning and then becomes really not handy later. So number one um the first blast cardoza comprehension card you have on the very front face the word you're trying to learn without any information, no context, nothing no article, this isn't lou lolly shot this is just shut you don't know anything about the gender you don't know if this is a verb, a noun you don't know anything and your job is to produce try to figure out what's on the back side of this card. Now I make a split here between things that you must know things that if you don't know, you should tell the flash card program and I didn't get it and things that would be nice to know in this case. For instance, if you see that word ch eighty and you're learning french, you...
should be able to say out loud shot if you say out loud chat and you turn the card over and use either see in phonetics in the epa if you're using you know, uh, analog flash cards you see shot or if you're using computerized flashcards and you hear the recording shot and you think, well, that sounds weird I was going to think chat then you tell the program I got this one wrong and you do it again until you actually think shot when you see that word second thing you must do if you see this word is you must think about a cat of some sort you must think about some image of a cat it doesn't have to be this image of a cat you may well think of other images of cats that you've seen you might think of if if you got this from google images and you were searching for what is the french conception of shot and how is that different from a cat? You may think of any of those other twenty, thirty or forty images that you saw about cats and then you'll see one reminder of the ones you did, but you do need to think about cats if you look at this world, you're like that's pronounced shot, but I have no idea what it means then look at it again. Those two important um I count grammar in this case uh gender as also essential if I can't think of this word as masculine if I don't explode my cat in my head, then I'm just gonna repeat it until I do gender is such an essential part of these words and classify ears too but less so classifieds are not as important as gender and gender is less important than languages like french and spanish then it isn't german but still I would count gender is a mandatory thing can't classify yours as a see how it feels if I can't handle class spires and beginning I'll add them later and start making the mandatory but in languages especially in the european languages if I don't know my gender I'll do it again and so the only thing on this car that's not mandatory is that I do not need to think about my childhood cat when I think shot I think it's handy uh if you remember it then great you can pat yourself on the back you will remember it better next time but for the moment if you turn this card over and you think I don't I'm not even thinking about personal connections I'm just thinking yes shot is a cat it's pronounced shot it's masculine great tell the program you're right and then when you flip over the card you see little you're like oh yeah that's a good shot question yes uh so I'm asking in the sense of uh if you're planning to learn multiple languages yes and uh remember that we shattered the cat yes for uh german yes right but here it's masculine in french so how do you choose a new good very good question you choose new images I would not use shattering burning and melting in french if I had already learned german we're using those stry I picked three completely new ones I'd used you know electric electric shock it's blues happy stuff on dh you know x blood everywhere like just spontaneous blood everywhere no one thing actually I forgot to mention there's this wonderful quote at the end of time joshua for his book moonwalking with einstein where he talks about monix on its this quote from some priests and like I think the seventeen hundreds who's talking about weak what is memorable because they all used this stuff they all use this stuff to memorise bible passages and things like that I mean they memory was a lot more important back then that it is now we have google now it's like we don't need to memorize anything no longer not actually true this is one of the last things we actually have to memorize but there were a lot better at it than we were I mean in terms of on average and there's this wonderful quote talking about the things that are memorable to a man's brain or whatever to a person's brain and basically they said he said that you know excuse me for saying this but the only things that are memorable are sex and comedy and to that I would add violence on by those three ten to be or some combination of those three sex comedy and violence tend to be the most memorable things now why are all mine montana monix violent because I don't actually want all of my flowers and cats and floors and grandmothers all fornicating in some particular manner I mean it would work and it would be memorable but I find violence a lot easier comedy works fine, I mean just sort of jumps on its head works I mean there's, you couldn't do anything I mean this is a creative thing you come up with whatever you want, it's one of the fun parts of the language learning processes you designing the monix just being like what do I want my my flowers to do? I'm starting a new language what I want all my you know uh, this prefix to do in this word no, I used this prefix on certain verbs it changes the meaning of them I'm going to choose something for that prefix I'm gonna choose the water bottle why not? And you you're designing this language in your head it's it's a lot of the fun of the process but yes to answer your question you would change them you don't use double up pneumonic between languages they always choose some other verb, some other pictures, something like that good question card one card too is a production card it's the inverse of the first if I see a picture of a particularly french cat my job is to produce the word shot the thing that is necessary is that I say the word shop I would loud and it sounds right that I don't say out loud oh yeah that's that chat word this should be shot you should think the gender it should be gunshots to be masculine and if you get the spelling right if you remember c h a t great pat yourself on the back but the most important thing is that you should be able to look at a cat and think immediately the word for that is shot and if you could spell it great we'll talk about spelling later that's the third card if you can also remember oh yeah the shy chose for for french was lily great pat yourself on the back. You will remember that card again better later but the main thing is you need to do if you see a picture of a particularly french cat is spit out the words shot and know that it's masculine is the mandatory things your spelling these cards are optional but I love them uh basically you have a recording of the word it says shot out loud or if you have analog flash cards you have the fanatics written out um you have a picture of a cat and your only job is to figure out how do you spell this word? What these cards are in practice um they are extremely helpful in the beginning as you you are still trying to form your foundation for sound and after one hundred two hundred three hundred words they really suddenly become boring. I mean, is this the sudden shift where you're like oh, yeah yeah I can't remember that shot that ch that was what? Okay, no c j t and you get it and then this happens for every single word and then there's this very, very like point where you look at this carny like I hate this I don't need this I know this and that he's not making them you just it's it's a personal thing. As soon as you assumes that happens you have internalized the whole spelling system of the language you don't need it anymore and so you stop making those cards in terms of in practice you will still see some of your old cards. Uh that's fine. Whenever you see cards that are really easy and hunky remember that button on the far right that says this is easy I don't want to see it anymore if you hit that button once or twice you're going to see the card again in two years I mean it pushes the cart so far back that you never going to see it it's not a problem and I don't and sometimes every once in a while I get back a hungarian spelling card and I spell it wrong by accident and it helps reinforce that just when I needed all these cards in the same deck yes. Okay so there is no okay these air always always mixed and generally you will see all three cards in the same day. Okay, generally I like to keep groups of cards together and so your training different things in the same day the first time and then eventually what's gonna happen is they'll start splitting off depending on what you need if you start having a problem recognizing what what this word the t word means that we'll start showing up more often but if you if you have no problem looking at pictures of cats and saying shot shot shot that's a shock uh then that will show off that would be delayed more and more into the future they do tend to split up and you do tend to have different things that stick and that's exactly what you want you want them all to kind of mix together um another thing here in terms of uh you should be able to spit out the spelling this is a spelling card if you could spit out the grammar great again if you could spit out the personal connection also good there's a few special cases where you're going to run into some challenges something where you have to actually strategize a bit the first one is what happens when you have multiple definitions this is a bar that's where you get drinks I have mo's from the simpsons is my personal connection for bar this is a bar and this works fine is a flash car there's no problem with this I should be able to look at that and immediately say bar but what on earth is goes on the back of this flash card the golden rule of flash car design at least on this bethan is that when you are right you are right if you look at this word and you think oh yeah those are delicious you're right if you look at this car do you think oh I know a really good one of those you could get really good gins and tonic there you're right great your job is not to be able to spit out every possible definition for a word your job is to say what is this thing does this bring anything to mind and if you look at the back side of the card and it says something different it says you think chocolate and it says drinks and you think oh yeah that's another definition of that word great you've learned something new you've expanded that idea of the word and so that is the golden rule in terms of what you put in the back honestly doesn't matter that much you can put one definition you could put two uh you have as as you wish generally I tend to put sort of the main definition on the back of my flash cards if I'm going to choose if you want to choose a word I will I will sort of make the first word as the main one the most frequent one and then I'll see other cards that new definitions but if you have some some word that's really evenly split, sometimes it means this sometimes it means that I'll often choose this the second thing but honestly doesn't matter you will know because these were in your flashcards whether you're right or wrong this isn't this is how you solve that issue there's the reverse of this what happens about what do you do about synonyms? This is a dish I mean dish means this I have a thanksgiving dish uh plate this is how you make those flash cards late in back of it looks the same, but what you put in the back of this now this is sort of the same and that when you're right you're right if you look at this and you think dish great if you look at this new thing plate great however, and again you can put whatever you want on the back you can put either one or both definitions on the back, but the main difference with between this and multiple uh definitions is that you shouldn't learn synonyms in the beginning I would really recommend avoiding synonyms as long as you can and the reason for that is that there are almost never rials synonyms in a language dish is that thing and plate is that thing but you can't you don't like plate out revenge or like the words are suddenly different always if you're trying to learn the dip like what is a policeman look like and what does a cop look like? They look exactly the same but they're not the same word you used cop in different contacts cop is informal policeman is very formal and these kind of subtle, subtle distinctions between your words these were things that are better learned later when you can have when you have the vocabulary to handle them when you can look into a dictionary and say okay, well, what is a cop and how is that different from policeman is your dictionary entry will say that the police it is this is a policeman but isn't used in a more informal contacts uh at the point where you can handle a monolingual dictionary, you can get all this stuff and you learn a lot more so I would really recommend avoiding synonyms as long as possible if you learn some word and then your textbook keep using another word like alright, I might as well make a flash card for this yeah learn them like this but if you can just avoid synonyms not useful no one's gonna stop you on the street and say give me the ten words for this thing like this you just don't need it um there are a few in this group of six hundred twenty five words there are a few categories this thing's like tia, which is the german word for animal so the cards look like this now if I were to give you these cards, if I made these cards and said here learn german with my flash cards this would become very challenging you know, if I have a picture of a cat an elephant on a card I say cats, elephants dot dot dot how do you know that animal as opposed to memmel as opposed to a bag of meat that is sometimes gray as opposed to anything? I mean, how did object that is between, you know, five and three thousand pounds this could be anything really I mean, yes, it's probably likely animal, but the reason that you actually know what each of these cards means is because you've made them you've decided I'm gonna learn the word tia and I'm going to choose what my animals are that are going to represent to you for me and because you have gone through this process of making your own flash card, you will never forget it there's never I've never encountered a point where I have made a category card I've tried to describe something like animal or the mammal or something like that where I've looked at those those animals and thought, oh, I have no idea what this is because I've had the process of making it I've gone through a chosen pictures I've had experience of looking at twenty pictures of cats and choosing the one I wanted another twenty pictures of elephants and choosing the one I wanted that's not a forgettable thing s o these end up not being problematic in anyway these end up being very, very, very robust cards one other last thing is what happens when you deal with similar looking concepts how do you deal with that? What the difference is between a niece and a daughter you have two options here. The first is about using a personal connection you can either grab a snapshot of your niece this is in fact my niece from facebook or whatever way talked about using image of screen shouting in the past by this harvesting facebook for all of its information um so that works uh you can also just choose any old picture of a girl not a devil and right in their name underneath like this for me this is a picture of a girl it has my niece his name on it this is this has to be finished there is no other option um and so you can use this and this works very very well it also forces the personal connection right in the beginning it makes it very very memorable word um option two is that you can use other words in your target language is a kind of simple definition use other words plus math symbols inamoto plus blake picture of a mother and a daughter what could it be it has to be taught and so and also as you choose the definitions you say how am I going to define father for me how am I going to define granddaughter um that this really sort of in grains the word as because you have to sort of strategize against herself yes you're going to say I told you not to learn these uh so if again in the learning multiple languages aspect of things uh say like I only have one father right and I only have one mother so how how do I how do I go about to learning that father and father day and like dada with the same guy right? Yes it's what I would do in general is I would look on google images and see what they think of bothering. Okay, I would see how that differs from what I expect to see, and I would choose an image that just sort of gives me the sense of what? What makes father in spanish different from father in english or father in mandarin, different from father, in spanish or english. I would try to get that sort of sense because that's super interesting and fun, and I would get a picture of that. And I would say, oh, we're like all the all the fathers there for some reason chinese, when I looked up with in mandarin, how strange and then I would also add the personal connection, and I would say, okay, yes, generally, when someone is thinking in mandarin, they think of someone who is asian. Duh. And then also this is also your word I would use for my own father when I would stick that on a flash card. Ah, and if if there are areas where I'm trying to tell the difference between old man and father, then I would put that on the front side of the flash card and I would have my own father's name on the front, and I would still have a a picture of asian father figure in mandarin, good question. Um one last kind of flash card type this is just for no monix and this is just if you start getting addicted to them generally you can memorize uh used to have burning I forgot it used to be burning but burning an exploding kind of people have got them to close, so I switched them in into two shattering these are a couple of cars just to sort of keep track of your new monix if you have two of them for masculine and feminine. If you have three of them for masculine feminine neuter, you probably don't need these flash cards. You can probably keep track of that just fine. But in my case for hungarian, I've chosen the monix for, um every single verb prefix I've chosen a monix for every single, uh, spelling combination I've have, I think probably around a hundred no monix, maybe two hundred hungarian these cards allow me to keep track of every single one of them. Um so these air kind of handy to have around all they basically do is say, what's the pneumonic for this concepts for feminine noun is for er irregular past tense is that looked kind of like this for this particular prefix, and we'll talk about that more in terms of getting into grammar uh, and then I have the demonic on the back but I have another car just saying, well, what happens when something's shattering what happens when something explodes? Like, okay, that's, masculine just keeps keeps track of these things, so yeah, I think, um, in terms of word lists, uh, generally, what you're going to see in grammar books are lists of similar words. Ah, you're going to find now we're gonna learn all of the numbers. Now we're gonna learn all of the colors, let's, learn members of the family. This sort of thing is a very comfortable way to learn. This is you feel like you've accomplished something you feel like ok, today I learned my numbers. No. Tomorrow I'm gonna learn all my family members it's like this really comfortable process? Um, the problem is that it is brutal for memory. I still have problems differentiating six from seven in most of my languages. Actually, that just dragged make nuts because anne and the green and yellow I always learned them right after each other, and they just start getting mixed up, jonah, that I'm like, I still have problems knowing which ones, which when you learn similar words the same time, you don't have enough cues to figure out which one's, which because you see this flash card you see this this this color on the flash card you see? Ok, this is a yellow things is what french people think of when they see yellow and you look back in your memory you're like oh, yeah, I remember I learned this last week that was I was either shown over there. Okay, uh, well, let's see, I I learned it the same. It was a type of color that's either john john or very uh, eye and you just have you don't have enough cues. What turns out is that if you memorize something in groups of if you memorize in this way within groups of similar words and you compare that to memorizing words that completely random you suffer a forty percent penalty to how long it takes you to memorize those words and how long you will retain them. Forty percent it's huge that's that's for random. And I say random, all gesturing in alphabetical because generally what I recommend is I have I have this this list of six hundred twenty five words on my web site it's free go there fooling forever dot com it'll be under the book area like download things in the syllabus, and I haven't a few different arrangements I have it in groups of similar words because then I can have notes like when you're learning numbers do this when you're learning pronouns do this, but I don't recommend learning in that way I recommend taking the alphabetical list, pulling out a phrase book only planet phrasebook they're not paying me they should um and you go to this list you go to the tiny dictionary in the back they have this tiny two thousand word dictionary in the back that will have six hundred out of those six hundred twenty five words I mean itjust will because those air really common words and these a really common words and you go through the alphabetical listing you go tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick and you just made a little pencil mark next to each one. It takes you twenty minutes to translate six hundred words and at that point because you've translated them, they're no longer in alphabetical order in any language and so now they're random and you've just randomized your words you just translated all of them and random izing gives you a sort of forty percent boost how quickly you can remember them. There is one thing that is better than this then doing things that complete random or in alphabetical order, which is another kind of random and that is in groups of similar themes this is there's only one or two studies on this, but what they've seen is a boost of around ten percent of next, around ten percent easier, faster to memorize and you retain around ten percent longer is that if, instead of learning words a complete random or learning words in groups of similar words like I'm gonna learn, you know, ripped, I'm gonna learn frog and snake an alligator and crocodile and learn all those at the same time like we know this is bad. What if instead I learned frog and then green and then slimy and then pond and then wet, then flies and to eat if I learned little groups of words that are related in theme that I could actually figure out what the connections between these words and how they kind of work, I could make a little story in my head he's end up being around ten percent easier to memorize. Um, this ends up being something that you can't do for yourself because you don't have the words like, if you don't already and if you're ready knew the words you would need to learn them, and you don't know the word for a frog green, slimy and pond in the target language now you could translate them, but it would be a pain. It's it's just in terms of your using your time well, the idea of I'm gonna translate an alphabetical list and I'm gonna go through that list again and then find the connections between each word and then group them into new groups and then learn all of this it's just too much but I have been working on this challenge and I've been developing wordless uh that are in this style um and so I've taken these six hundred twenty five word groups and I've broken them up I think of the ninety stories and thanks to the kickstarter folks hi guys, you guys are awesome you've allowed me teo even get these things illustrated and so I have little stories of like have the frog actually the frog is on the cover I have the frog with the pond and all that but I have these stories of how do you learn the word too in a context of a bunch of other words that actually relates to the number two oh, and you know something? I have something like boy august fifteen like sorry boy august fifteen birthday cake yellow teo eat like delicious or something like that and with a picture of this boy just eating this cake and loving and I had all these aren't I had a commission ninety ninety paintings of these things and it's just like it's becoming this wonderful wonderful tool um and so you know all the words air they're listed in thematic or listed in groups of similar themes with their gender with pronunciation all this stuff so it's it's so thankful to the kickstarter folks for allowing me to do that I was not planning on making this happen but but it got funded really well so we did um yeah question uh these uh photos that you have commissioned um can you use these photos for multiple languages or would only be effective for one good question um this is the questions come up before I would not use the photos I used the photos to strengthen the connections between the words I use them to see the whole story happening to see this that the fact that the frog and the fly are all in the same place and so that strengthens the connection between those words when I learned them but the photos actually used to make the flash cards I will do the google images thing I will look up what is what is makes a a french frog french because it's gonna be on a plate and like that's totally different and like that's it's you know what makes the pond you know spanish what what what what what is this a pond in spain or in men I felt like what makes this different from the english conception that process it never stops because that's key at central, uh, these illustrations are there just to kind of remind you that yes, there is a spanish sense of what a pond is that is totally new and totally novel for you. Yes, there's a spanish sense of what a frog is that's totally new, but frogs and ponds do kind of interact a lot and that's what that picture is, therefore, it was the only point of the picture. I think there are a lot of people were like, okay, I can just use those to make my flash cards that'll be easier like, no, no, no, don't do that. Please don't do that, you're going, you're just robbing yourself of the fun and the learning experience, like always, always, always figure out what this word means and how it's different from what you think it is. Uh, so in, couldn't you come up with, like, take words from from the most frequent used words, lest come up with your own thematic story and take those keywords and then take the phrase book and find the words that you find there and come up with your own? Absolutely the only track. The challenge is that when you're looking upwards and you're not looking them up in alphabetical order, it takes a long time. That is the only problem with that it is just a time thing, but it absolutely works and it will ingrained those memories very, very well it's just a matter of how you're gonna you know is that time better spent actually just learning some words I mean is that is that saving you time over just learning them in alphabetical order because it's all I mean it is a bonus and a ten percent bonus is significant, but it is just ten percent I mean alphabetical is already very, very good and it's tons better than learning them in the in the sort of order that you'll see in your grammar book, so try both it's the kind I mean, this is the sort of thing that you all the way through afghan questions of like well, what if I really like like listening to dictations and french and sort of writing out french like should I be doing flash cards instead? I'm like the flash cards they're good, but if you're liking something and you're learning from it, do it like this is a process where you need to keep reacting to how you're feeling about this if you're looking at flash cards and you're like I would rather be watching a movie in french and I would actually like to understand it if you understanding it we'll talk about movies later um don't do that, like you should be doing things that you enjoy. The if this process is constantly enjoyable, you will actually progress towards fluency and that's. Actually, what I'm intending to do here is making a process that's, consistently enjoyable, every step of the way. But if you run into a challenge, we're like, I hate this. Go around it, like I'm looking upwards, and I keep looking. It takes make seven hundred years to get through this dictionary and keep finding all the words and thematic order because it's supposed to be slightly more efficient and just do them alphabetically, then, er, it's, a thing where you really just react to your own experience.