One of the first programs I’d like to introduce is a simple flash card program. I only recently heard about this program through Derek Sivers of Sivers.org where I believe he mentioned it briefly on one of his videos stating that he was using it to help him learn Mandarin and Ruby (programming language). Curious, I thought I’d check it out. I was immediately impressed. It is a small, easy to use program that has all the benefits of real Flash Cards, with a whole host added on. It will sync with an online server so you can run through your cards no matter where you are, as well as even running through them online if you don’t want to – or can’t – download the program.
If you used flash cards in school then you will find Anki beneficial; however take that with a grain of salt as I say that even though I never used flash cards in school. I do however now use Anki on a nearly day-to-day basis. I am attempting to learn Swahili through Anki and Rosetta Stone. I also downloaded a English roots in Latin & Greek deck that I really enjoy. Both Latin and Greek are immensely important languages in English and it has been interesting to learn various associations such as:
- -oid as in Android means “like” in Greek
- Acro- means Tip, Summit, Height as in Acrobat. One who goes about on Tip Toes.
Interesting stuff sometimes. An understanding of language isn’t necessary to most people, but I think it is a worthwhile casual pursuit. To quote from Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences
To discover what a thing is “called” according to some system is the essential step in knowing, and to say that all education is learning to name rightly, as Adam named the animals, would assert an underlying truth.
I also have started to make my own deck of vocabulary from books and articles I read that use a word I don’t recognize or I recognize but I don’t fully know he definition of. The process is very easy, I even added audio for pronunciation using a Google word definition search. If you want to do likewise, ask and I can show you how to do it. That personal deck is up to 25 words so far with words such as:
- Mien: A person’s look or manner, esp. one of a particular kind indicating their character or mood”
- Semanticist: a specialist in the study of meaning
I still think that the best way to increase one’s vocabulary is to simply just read more. Read older classics like Lord of the Rings and Alice in Wonderland. If you are feeling brave, go back further into something like The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Though that is a personal feat I have yet to accomplish (the ebook is free online at Google and Gutenburg).
But back to Anki itself. The program isn’t just a flash card program as I did say that it enhances on the original “manual” flash cards. It takes note of how well you answer cards so cards that you struggle with will come back every day, and cards that are easy may not show up again for a few days, or if you answer it easily every single time, it may be months before you see it again. This is an excellent feature allowing you to minimize the cards to the ones that really need to be worked on. There are definitely words that I struggle with in Swahili that show up everyday like Kutoka (to be from) where as something like Habari (how are you?) is something I say multiple times a day when I’m in east Africa. I need to practice Kutoka, but not Harbari, thus Anki shows me Kutoka every day or two, and Habari isn’t scheduled to be shown again for over a month!
Overall, Anki is worth checking out if you want help retaining anything; whether it’s pictures, music, names, vocabulary, … Check it out here, watch the videos if this post doesn’t convince you. 5 minutes a day, just before work, and you can learn anything! Truthfully though, the only downfall is the load time. It takes a few seconds to open up the program for unknown reasons.
As always, if you have questions or want help with the program, email me or ask in the comments and I will respond personally.