Do Anki flash cards work?

Just created a bunch of practice sentences on Anki for the first time.
Is Anki worth the time? I want to use it to improve my speaking. Is this a good idea? Has anyone else tried it before?


You can read about Tom’s experience regarding adding German vocabulary in Supermemo/Anki.

Matt vs Japan on the usefulness of SRS:


I think it depends on how you use Anki. Personally, it helped me a lot while I was living in Korea. I was able to comprehend and start speaking pretty quickly.
All of my cards focus on audio. I basically use them to practice pronunciation (through shadowing) or listening.


I did it before I got on LingQ. I had mine set up so I had a sentence in Polish with one word in English. I had to supply the missing word in Polish. It even had a picture on it to help with context. When I “flipped” the card over, I saw the whole sentence with the correct Polish word in it and it would automatically read it aloud for me, so I also heard it.

It was a step up from Duolingo, but after 6 months or so, I had so many cards, it was overwhelming. If I took a few days off (like at Christmas, when I was busy), it became almost impossible to catch back up. Also, I grew bored with it. I needed to make new cards to add variety, but at the same time, when I was struggling to catch up, I didn’t dare add more cards.

Also, when I started on LingQ, I found that a lot of the words I had known well on my cards, I didn’t know well on LingQ. I think that was because I learned them only in the context of one sentence, so when I saw them elsewhere (especially as they might have a different ending, as Polish has cases), I didn’t recognize them. Likewise, I found I could repeat the sentence that contained the word I was learning, but I frequently couldn’t bring up the word when I wanted to speak it, but in a different sentence. I think I was memorizing the sentence, not the word.

The only way you can get flashcards to work, I think, is to make several sentences with each word so you can maybe learn it reliably in different contexts. At which point, you might as well just be reading on LingQ.

I have used the flashcards on LingQ to try and practice some of the most useful words, but anything that I elevated to “learned” through the flashcards, I have ultimately had to put it back down into learning because I don’t recognize it when I get it in a new sentence. Words I’ve learned in stories tend to stick better, it seems to me.


I used Anki when I was learning French, and now again with Spanish. To me it’s a critical tool in my learning process. It’s powerful and almost infinitely configurable. Spaced Repetition is proven to work.

I’ve used it for cloze deletion, simple phrases, sound and images. Currently I use it primarily for Spanish phrases on either A or B side, and English on the other. The Spanish side is setup to use macOS TTS, so it “speaks” the phrase as it appears. I collect phrases versus individual words, as I find that I learn the word faster with the context.

A frequent concern with Anki is there is no way to pause a deck, however, you can change various settings to control how many new cards, or reviews you have, as well as how fast they mature. If you fine tune it to your needs and available time, it is quite manageable.

100% they work, you just have to use them effectively. The reason why Anki is so popular is because they are completely customizable to make them effective.

For example: I am learning Hebrew. I am currently working on two decks: one for the roots (shoresh) and a master verb conjugator, hopefully I will have the 1000 most used verbs on there. I have the cards set up where I put in the verb conjugation in one card, and it makes them separate Hebrew/English cards for EACH translation. This is working for me. There are also several decks on the shared deck page here: Shared Decks - AnkiWeb

In all honesty I do not like how the Lingq importer works. The format that lingq sends me the Anki file is awful and I almost never touch those decks.


I’m still undecided about the whole SRS thing. First of all, in my experience, the stuff works. I mean it works even in the simplest form. If you learn or do something, repeat in the next day and then leave it and return to the same thing 7 days later, you will see some good results probably, even though you don’t touch it for a week. It doesn’t have to be a piece of knowledge you’re trying to remember. You can listen to a mini story/describe the same picture/translate the same few sentences to your TL/discuss the same topic/etc. within the same time frame (day 1-2-9). Best see for yourself if you like that sort of thing.
Anki saves you the trouble of keeping up the schedule and it lets you fine tunes the intervals (by the way I think you should change the settings in order to have fewer reviews. It is created for people who use just this program to review stuff, but most people who use LingQ rely more on reading, so you don’t have to revisit words so many times). Unfortunately there are huge downsides. Creating your decks is seriously time consuming. That’s time well spent, don’t get me wrong, but it gets in the way of your plans. You wanted to learn Latin to read through the whole library of classics? Well, once you decide you want to put every new expression to Anki, you can forget about it for a long, long time.
Anki is many different things for different people. As I think of it now, I don’t believe that’s a suitable tool for complete beginners. There’s no reason to “prep” before taking up content intended for natives. There’s no reason to learn the most frequent words, because you’d easily learn them from engaging with your content. But, once you have 10-15k known words, there’s still a metric ton of stuff you don’t know and it doesn’t crop up that often. If that frustrates you, doing Anki for a month or two might be exactly that you need.
One thing that helped me tremendously is to set up your Anki in such a way that it shows you the time of next review under the buttons. Do ask yourself “When do I want to review this word” and not “How well can I recall this word”. Our brains are programmed to assume we’re going to remember new information for ever, but of course we’re build to forget.


Yes, SRS is worth the time if you are focusing on the same content. Such as I reading National geographic magazines so my SRS show flow with my content area that I am actively learning. When I am watching Cable Girls I SRS words and phrases from the show.

If you go into your LingQ lessons you can review individual lessons, by date, or by how well you know the words. take some time and you might realize that the SRS with LingQ is worth learning.

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Basically you’re asking:

  1. does memorizing things work.
  2. can I memorize things by making flashcards
  3. Can I make these flashcards digitally
  4. Do I have to review these flashcards every day or can I do it the first day, then again the next and then maybe again the week after in order to remember it all (i.e. SRS).
  5. If I do this, will my speaking ability improve

Memorizing through flashcards works if you want to memorize things. Anki is probably the best product on the market for this.
For me personally, I find it’s biggest use in when I want to speed things up a bit (e.g. especially in the initial stages of learning a language to memorize several hundred words or so).

For speaking it will probably also help you (check out: I Learned to Speak German from Google Translate - YouTube) ; but if you’re looking for efficiency, I think you would be best off booking some Italki classes.

I used Anki to brute force 1000 basic sentences for my Japanese and after 8 months of using it I decided to try out LingQ and I pretty much had to relearn all the words I thought I knew. Of course some words were easier to remember if I had already seen them in Anki, but yeah with all the time spent in Anki and having to supply new cards frequently, you might as well just read more on LingQ or whatever reading material you have. Reading is a natural SRS and it’s normal in the learning process to forget a word and have to relearn it over and over. Eventually words and structures start to make sense by reading enough. I was never able to really fully get a good Anki routine when it comes to making new sentence cards but if people like using Anki then I don’t see that as a bad thing if it keeps them continuing with their Target Language. Anki just wasn’t for me though since I find reading more enjoyable.

Why not find it out by yourself. Just keep doing it for the first three months. I will do so.
Like yourself, I also created a deck “GermanVocab” yesterday as I have more free time at my disposal. No academic exams and as such. So let me give it a try as well.
Today I reviewed my first 20 sentences. I really enjoyed the experience. I noticed that words are sticking easily and I can easily see how grammar structure is used in a sentence. My front field contains a “German sentence” and the back field contains its equivalent sentence in English.
Overall, reading German sentences does not seem like an uphill task so I wonder memorizing certain words with Anki at an intermediate level is not a bad idea. However, I am not going to devote more than 1 hour to adding sentences so I will be very selective with which words I add. Immersion will be my main activity throughout the day.
My first review day today was not bad at all. I will keep observing if reviewing words with Anki helps with my active vocabulary.

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I believe it is a good tool to use to boost some word/sentence learning. especially if you want to learn the vocabulary that you like from different topics adding 10 words per day for example.
maybe tip from me would be that be aware of not getting too deep into it. Meaning using it like max 30min or max 1h per day depending of course your goals. It just can easily expand the time from 1h to 2h or from 2h to 3h and so on… or at least it happened to me, in which case i set myself a timer for max 1h of it per day on target language, i add more words if i can without crossing the time limit and it does not go over 1h.

I hope this is helpful, English is not my first language (it`s Finnish)


Today I had a speaking session with an old lady for a couple of hours in the retirement home where my student hostel is located. The mere fact that I started my Anki collection a couple of weeks ago and I was able to recall a couple of words from the Anki collection as well as from reading during the conversation. This is my first observation so I will keep adding words to Anki and further keep observing how my brain is reacting during spontaneous conversations.


I have been using it for 1 year. It is an helpful app to note down, practice and revise new vocabulary. I find it is so useful and it is worth the time. I have made my 2 own Decks on it and kept practicing up to now.

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I am creating a new deck with my current flashcard wall. The words from my flash card wall have been takene from the tv series that I am watching from spain. I am re watching the shows and adding the words or phrases I struggle with. Many of the words that I built my wall with will come down and go into Anki. When I build a new wall I will create a new set.
I watch the first few seasons of a show and collect phrases or words, review lessons on LingQ, and then create an Anki deck and watch the show again. I focus on the same content over and over until I pick up enough of what I need or want.


I use anki for rapid acquisition vocabulary. I try to get to 2,000 words of vocabulary before starting to watch videos. I haven’t tried it with sentences but I feel like it might be harder with sentences than for individual words. Warning though: if the language you’re using isn’t close to English (e.g not spanish, french or german type languages), anki will be much harder to use to accumulate vocab. That said, it’s still usable.

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Yeah exactly. Anki has severe limitations as a “use only this” tool. But it absolutely shines for fast vocabulary acquisition.
I always use anki to cram the first 2,000 words of a language then go on to other tools like lingq once I have the “base” of 2,000 words. Somewhere between 2,000-3,000 words video becomes intelligible to me.

Interesting. I find learning sentences a waste of time on anki. I use it only for single word vocab.

100%. Using it with audio vocab is nothing short of awesome. It’s doable to use it with written words only but if the pronunciation is very different than what it looks like, it’s a total disaster for listening comprehension.

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Even with German starting right off the bat is hard I think it is better to listen to a lot of easy material, mini-stories work your way up. Now I think I have sort of reached intermediate level, therefore, reading German sentences in Anki is no longer an exhausting exercise. I am sort of enjoying it now. Still, immersion is my core activity.

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