Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Stop Forgetting Vocabulary and Start Using Flashcards

Virtual Flash Cards Application Development
Virtual Flash Cards App Development (Wikipedia)
by Erin N O'Reilly, PhD
Vocabulary memorization can seem like an overwhelming task for language learners.

Many opt for flashcards to help them remember, but still have trouble using them effectively.

Here are some things to keep in mind when using flashcards.

App or handwritten? You can choose from dozens of flashy flashcard apps, or make your own. Keep in mind that writing down the words can be useful.

Some learners find that the act of physically creating flashcards by writing the word or character they're trying to memorize on one side and the translation on the other is what helps them remember.

These learners discover that they never actually need to use the flashcards; creating the cards is enough. If you fall into this category, stick to hand-written cards.

Flashcards work if you use them. One essential key to successfully using vocabulary flashcards is to review them consistently.

Some flashcard apps have an algorithm built in to systematically expose you to words at specific time intervals (e.g., 20 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, 8 hours, 2 days, 5 days, 2 weeks, etc.).

This is called spaced review and is designed to move information from your short term memory into your long term memory. If you don't have an app to do this for you, you can mimic this process by using the times referenced above.

Another key to using flashcards successfully is limiting quantity. Attempting to go through a pile of 75 flashcards at once is not going to work. Instead, work through a stack of 7-15 at a time.

Rotate these stacks as you master them. Remember to go back and review the words you've learned.

Also, make sure to quiz yourself using flashcards going both ways, from your native language into the language you're learning and vice versa.

You'll find that going from your foreign language into your native language is much simpler. Don't make the mistake of taking the easy route and only going in one direction.

Speak up! When you're quizzing yourself, remember to say the words out loud. This connects the visual image of the word with its sound. Language learners who skip this step soon realize that they can read in the language, but cannot hear any of the words in spoken language.

Finally, flashcards are useful for lower levels of language learning, but may not be as helpful for the upper levels. When you have nothing, building a vocabulary base quickly is essential. Flashcards allow you to do this.

By keeping them on you - whether through a flashcard app or a physical stack of cards in your pocket - you can quickly review vocabulary several times during the day whenever you have a few extra moments.

Once you have a solid base, it may be easier to learn new words from context instead of cards. Be prepared to find a new vocabulary memorization strategy as your language proficiency improves.

Flashcards can be a highly-effective tool for language learners. Keeping these tips in mind can help you maximize your language learning.

Interested in learning more? Erin N. O'Reilly is a language coach specializing in second and foreign language learning strategies, helping learners at all levels reach their potential. You can learn everything about how to learn another language here:

Article Source:'Reilly,_PhD

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