Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$root.page}}

Vocabulary Tools

Flashcard Resources

Flashcards are a great way to learn vocabulary and practice forming simple sentences. Check out these resources:

Quizlet

Create your own study sets, or find existing ones. Then use the learning tools on the site to study the items in your study set. Note the “Long Term Learning” mode, which uses spaced repetition, and the games “Gravity” and “Scatter.” Free (or upgrade for more features and no ads). Their database includes translations and audio for a large set of core vocabulary. Use the search function to look for already published flashcards sets for your language!

Memrise

Uses spaced repetition and encourages you to choose or create “memes” [mnemonics] to help you remember words. Choose from existing memes, or make up your own. Create your own study sets, or find existing ones.

Anki

Free for Android, $25 for the iPhone app, Free for Windows download. VERY customizable, and uses spaced repetition ==> worth looking at if you’re interested in making flashcards suited to your particular learning preferences. It’s easy to customize the app, and easy to add images, audio etc. to the cards. Create your own study sets, or find existing ones.

Brainscape

Utilizes spaced repetition. Free web application and mobile app. Create your own flashcards, collaborate with others, synch your web application with your mobile app, and study smarter

Cram

Make 3-sided cards; the 3rd side is a “hint.” According to a user comment in the “Flip, Flip, Flip” article (see below), “it’s got a nice feature called Cram Mode that is very useful for spaced repetion work.”

Chegg Prep

FREE service students can use to find, create, share and study flashcards for any subject -- without a monthly subscription. In addition, thanks to their recent acquisition of StudyBlue, we’ve opened up a massive repository of 20M+ already-created-flashcards for students to study or use in their own flashcard decks.

How To Use Flashcards to Support Language Learning

Study in Multiple Short Sessions vs One Long Session

  • Research on vocabulary learning has shown that it typically takes as many as 5-16 encounters with a word for it to be moved into long term memory and that this works best if these encounters are distributed over a longer period of time. 

  • “Active” encounters with the word (e.g. forming a sentence, or testing yourself on it) are more effective than “passive” encounters (just writing/reading/listening to the word) – but “passive” encounters can be made more effective by consciously “noticing” the word. Frequency matters more than “depth of processing”: forming a complex sentence with the word is much less effective than spending the same amount of time doing multiple simple things like forming very simple sentences with it or testing yourself on it repeatedly.

  • Spaced Repetition: Research has also shown that you learn best by gradually extending the intervals at which you review a word/phrase. Flashcard programs like Anki can generate the ideal intervals for you. An overview is here, or you can check out this longer article, or the Wikipedia page.

  • It's recommended that you plan at least one 15-minute session per day for studying vocabulary. If you can, plan 2 or even 3 such sessions. Rotate between the current chapter and periodic reviews of earlier chapters.

Form Sentences

  • Form as many sentences as you can as quickly as you can with the vocabulary you’re trying to learn or review.

  • Combine this with flashcard apps by forming a sentence quickly with each word that comes up on the app

Make Meaningful Groups

  • Spend some time organizing the vocabulary into groups that are meaningful to you. Not every word needs to fit a category. This will make your mind actively engage with the words and this processing helps you remember. Ideas for categories: meaning groups (the most obvious); things you hate vs things you like vs things you are indifferent about; ugly words vs pretty words; short words vs long words; easy words vs hard words, etc.

Notice Cognates

  • Cognate means "of the same or similar nature". For example, 'accident' in English is 'accidente' in Spanish.

  • The act of consciously noticing the similarity to English (or other languages you know) may help you recall the word.

Color Coding

  • Color code the genders when you write down the words (e.g. if you make flashcards), e.g. every feminine word is yellow, every masculine word is blue, every neuter word is green, or whatever colors suit you. To save time, try to just see these colors in your head each time you see a new word.

Thank you to the Germanic Languages and Literatures Department for organizing many components of this page. For German language learners, check out their detailed Vokabeln section!

Image by AnnasPhotography from Pixabay