Haupz Blog

... still a totally disordered mix


2022-07-27 — Michael Haupt

At the beginning of this year, I took a two-week intensive course to learn some basic Chinese. The intense vocabulary and letter memorisation that came with this refreshed my interest in flash cards. Preferably in an electronic form that synchronises across devices.

Thankfully, there's Anki. Note that this is an unpaid and unsolicited ad. I'm just very excited about this.

Anki runs in the browser, on desktop, and mobile. It synchronises flash card decks across all of these seamlessly. It has a price tag on mobile, but it's worth it.

What makes Anki really strong is that the design of flash cards is up to the user. There are HTML and CSS templates. It also automatically generates multiple cards from any entered content; that is, if you have a note describing a front and back side of a card, it'll generate two cards so that you can exercise the memorisation both ways. Of course, the note formats are also editable.

In my case, with Chinese, my notes have three aspects: the German word, the Pinyin transcription of the Chinese word, and the Chinese letter. I've built three card templates - each of the three aspects can be the front side so that I can memorise everything in every way possible. When I add a new piece of vocabulary, three cards will be generated, and next time I go through the deck, I'll be given those three questions.

The spaced repetition logic in Anki, too, is configurable, of course. The amount of daily new cards is limited to a low number at first, but it can be changed for times of super intense learning (like these) to have a higher limit - and that's even possible to configure per deck.

Anki is a bit idiosyncratic at first, and takes some getting used to, but it's a true power tool. Definitely worth the price. Did I mention it has a plugin interface?

Tags: the-nerdy-bit