Charlotte asks: "What's your opinion on removing English from flashcards altogether?
- Arguments for having flashcards entirely in the target language:
- Avoid translation
- Learn to think in the target language
- Increased exposure to target language
- "Learn like a child"
- Arguments for having pictures on your flashcards:
- Visual memory is stronger than auditory memory
- Wyner: "It’s much easier to learn a word off of a picture card you’ve made yourself than off of a translation card you downloaded in someone else’s deck." = false equivalence
My response to this:
- Translation is inevitable, and also very useful! (The more languages I acquire, the more I use contrastive analysis to learn faster.)
- Parallels with learning like children are misguided - we're not children, we have study skills
- Flashcards entirely in the target language are soon "learnt", thereby negating the benefit of any increased exposure.
- Visuals are helpful, but are so time consuming as to make the creation of flashcards a burden.
- Elaborate systems for flashcards misunderstand the purpose of SRS as a learning tool. Setting up flashcards with pictures and peripheral info in the target language, in an attempt to make them a kind of learning tool is not only highly inefficient, but also deprives you of time spent with the whole language
My thoughts on a smart approach to using flashcards:
- Flashcards are for practising output, not input
- In other words, flashcards are for practising the recall of stuff you've already learnt
- The role of English in the flashcards is as a prompt - your task is then to recall the word or phrase in the target language.
- Images are indeed powerful, but are best created in your mind (i.e. mnemonics)
- It's vital for flashcards not to become burdensome - Keep it simple!
- The potential for memory exists firmly within your mind - the extent to which you employ your brainpower and imagination when you attempt to learn new vocabulary determines how well you remember it.
- To that extent - the spaced repetition build into flashcards offers you an opportunity to reinforce the associations you have already made, rather than the source of learning itself.
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