Episode 88

Q&A: Should I Give Flashcards Another Chance?


May 14th, 2018

29 mins 42 secs

Your Host

About this Episode

Today’s show is based on a question I have been asking myself. And that is…

“Should I Give Flashcards Another Chance?”

The way I learn vocabulary is always changing, and my methods and strategies evolve all the time. For many years, learning with vocabulary notebooks was my prime way of reviewing new words. But there are also other techniques, and recently I’ve started using a flashcard app, Smartcards+.

I review vocab with

  • Labels
  • Lists (hand written and regularly reviewed and condensed)
  • Flashcards

I have never used

  • Hand-written flashcards
  • Anki

Source Of Vocab

These places above are not always where I find Vocab, and it’s a huge success factor to bear in mind that in a way a list or app is your worst source unless the item is super rich.

One of the biggest reasons I haven’t used flashcard apps was the quality or relevance of the pre-written courses. Compare learning in class, in real life, in an engaged environment, to just seeing a plain word in a list. It’s arbitrary, and not everyone likes that.


Memrise does really well when you take one of their official courses. Partly because it does exactly that rich thing well, with videos from Membus. But there’s also a bit of low quality fluff on this platform and I’m sad not to see so many mnemonics anymore.


In this episode, I use the word "anghysbell" to illustrate how mnemonics work.


I don’t care if I can’t recall a word. I’ll see it very often if it’s relevant and important. Again, apps can be an issue here if you get bothered by seeing the same irrelevant term again and again. I do. In my Vocab lists, I am in charge.

And being in charge of your own learning is everything.


Learning and recalling new Vocab in a list or flashcard is nice. It’s pointless if you cannot use that word though.

Conclusion: Vocab is not Language

Really, we're worrying about a small part of the whole here. Sometimes I feel frustrated because the new wave of apps tells you “learn a language” when really you’re "learning words and phrases".

You need to learn a language over time and keep throwing new things in.

Support The Fluent Show

Episode Links