Highest level achieved through flashcards alone?

What is the highest level you can achieve through flashcards alone? If one can get to a B1 just by using flashcards, then I’d just use Glossika until I reach B1, provided it has enough vocabulary (and how many lemmas would this be? 2000?). And then I’d switch over to LingQ.

Has anyone here used Glossika exclusively or mostly, to reach at least a B1 in their target language? If you used the French course as an English speaker, for example. Apparently it can get you to C1 (which I just think of as B2), but I’m doubting that. I’m thinking it should at least get you to a solid A2 though, if people can use Anki alone to get to an A2 (can they?). And if so, I wonder how long that would take, if you used it for 4 hours a day. I’m thinking that if you have the patience for it, it will get you to A2 faster than if you just used LingQ alone.

Is Anki (Glossika is apparently a better system, besides the fact that you can’t write your own sentences in it), provided you have the patience for it, the most effective way to acquire a language at the early stage?

1 Like

Glossika seems as a good choice for getting to A2.
But Glossika is more like as the sentence by sentence mode on LingQ with SRS of some kind and with predefined materials.
Whereas Anki is a flexible system of creating and storing cards with the spaced repetitions feature. The Anki cards could be organaized in any way, even as something like Glossika, if you have time for this. Or you can create only basic cards like term/translation. I save 2-3 sentences around a new term usually.
At a1 and a2 levels it’s frustrating to go on your own, both the levels essentially are an introduction to the language. And the best choice (in terms of effectiveness) would be to chose either the system with everything predefined and trust it completely, until you actually got it done. Or the person who you trust. It would work for what you’re asking here.

But don’t get caught in the hypnosis of these a1 a2 b1, etc. Nobody gonna get the difference between, say, b1 and b2 in the real interactions. For many reasons.

The simple Beginner-Intermediate-Advanced model is much more useful, imo.

Beginner is when you’re overwhelmed by the difficulties, but proud of yourself, when you can have a dog also in the foreign language!

Once you’re Intermediate, nothing can take you further, but you. Just because of the amomunt of work ahead.
Intermediate is like when you’re beginner. But as a beginner, you’re overwhelmed knowing that you know nothing, while as an interemiate you’re even better aware of how little you know, but now you don’t give a s–t :smiley:

Advanced level is when you’re at the intermediate level for several years and your friends are asking you, why are you still intermediate, what are you limited? Then you decide it’s the time to call yourself an Advanced.

I like your Beginner-Intermediate-Advanced model. :DDD


It depends what are on these flashcards. If it is just words and their translations into a language you already know, I would no imagine you could get far at all using only them. If it is sentences and their translations plus the odd grammar explanation then for sure you could get much further.

It’s probably not quite what you are asking, but realistically I doubt many people would even get to an A1 using flashcards only since they are likely to find the reviewing fashcards so tedious and boring that they will give up very quickly.


I have a question though: why would you want to do this? Anki and Glosika are in the word/ phrase memorization space and linqg actually does a much better job in this space. Learning connected to a meaningful context (i.e. a story or text) is many many times as likely to stick with you for the long run and this is demonstrated through research. The vocabulary and sentence fragments are much more “findable” within your memory when you need them. And furthermore, it is totally incorrect to imagine that you can learn a word from “a” (not being familiar with it at all) to “z” (being able to flexibly and correctly use it yourself) via a single example! You will have to encounter this word multiple times in different contexts, ideally paying attention to it when you see it.

So why would you spend hundreds and thousands of hours using a method that‘s 8 times less efficient (according to one study I saw) till you start using a more effective method?

The areas that I think are lacking in lingq are: (1) an organized look at the structure of the new language (which you can get through a high-quality language teaching book) and (2) output practice (which I do from the start because it’s extremely motivating for me via regular private online language lessons, using said language-teaching book for material).

The winning formula for me is dividing my time between the three to get the best of all worlds. A suggestion anyway. :wink:


Because as a total beginner it’s more efficient. You need to repeat over and over very small segments. I imagine LingQ is really inefficient for total beginners to Arabic or Chinese, coming from English. You need to repeat very small sentences over and over, building up an arsenal before starting to read longer material. That’s why I think LingQ is best used in the high beginner to low advanced stage.

Once you reach that high beginner or even low intermediate stage, LingQ then becomes more efficient than something like Anki. You can actually afford to look at longer material. You don’t even have that ability in the beginning, if you’re learning Arabic for example, as an English only native.

I think LingQ would be SO much better if there was an interlinear translation option + an inline translation option. Sure, you can click on the word and see its meaning with any notes attached to it in a split second, but that still adds up to a lot of time when you don’t know most of the words.

1 Like

They are sentences, and you would have to analyze their grammar.

Yes that’s the thing, it’s so boring, which is why I said “provided you have the patience”.

1 Like

Hi there! I’m came into lingq from Hungarian, which is not quite as difficult as Arabic or Chinese but in the same ballpark, and I came in the end of the A1 level. And I don’t quite have the same perspective.

Personally, as a beginner I would always use a language learning textbook along with a tool like lingq (ideally a high-quality textbook designed specifically to teach whatever language you’re learning using a communicative approach). While exposure to and natural absorbtion of language is great and a super important addition, as an adult learner, I think I’d be making things much more difficult on myself if I relied solely on deduction and occasionally randomly attempting to find grammar explanations online.

As to vocabulary learning, I don’t believe that drilling disconnected vocabulary using translations is at all effective or efficient….I once used to do it, but now, on my fifth language, I finally got out of the business!

I think the problem for beginners is getting super simple and understandable text… If I were starting right from scratch, I’d probably type the little dialogues from my textbook into some translation tool (to correct the typos), simultaneously getting exposure and practice that way, and from there, I’d import them into lingq…

Also, note that there pretty well is an inline translation option. You look at the texts in sentence mode, one sentence at a time, and then if you don’t understand the sentence (which happens often for me) you click on the translation button and also listen to the (mechanical) single sentence sound which gives you a good-enough idea. …


I’ll further mention that I don’t think the goal of vocabulary review in lingq is to ingrain previously unknown terms or phrases deeply in your brain so that you then know them forevermore.…This is a mechanistic model or language-learning that doesn’t correspond to how we humans actually absorb language. I think the goal is to get you to pay attention to words and phrases you yourself chose. You get to “play” with them in various ways and by the end they’ll be somewhat further along the “known” spectrum. If they’re important, they’ll come up again and then you’ll either recognize and understand them (or be able to retrieve and use something like the word you need), or you won’t….The latter isn’t a failure, it just means that you need to use aids to find the meaning/word once again and play with it some more!


Obviously as a LingQ fanboy and maybe a bit of a LingQ simp, I would disagree that LingQ is inefficient for total beginners.

I don’t know if you have to do that but for sure that is a good way to get into the language and LingQ is an excellent system for doing that kind of thing. You can take any of the simple texts in the library for your target language (assuming your target language is one of the ones with populated libraries) and treat them as a set of small sentences that you can repeat over and over, either by reading and listening to them many times, or by saving the phrases and studying them in flashcards.

1 Like

You wouldn’t want to be using SRS/Flashcards alone. If you are going to learn through SRS. Make sure that you only put things in it that you consumed somewhere through reading and listening. Not a readily made one as it lacks context, unless there’s a story involved as a supplement.

1 Like

To be clear, any classification of A2, B1, etc. would mean that you can read, speak, listen, and write at that level. So I think the technically correct answer to your question would be that flashcards alone would get you to A0, since they would not provide you with the speaking an listening practice – and I would argue, not even the contextual reading comprehension – to be able to pass an A2 test, no matter how many cards you’ve learned.


I don’t think it’s possible to get an across the board high intermediate in all domains of language learning just by flashcards (and especially not just individual words).

I am in fact that person.
In my case my primary method is anki with mp3 words with linq and watching youtube to stop me slitting my wrists from boredom. I’d argue that after six months of russian I’m likely close to B1 in listening comprehension. I think I got to higher listening comprehension in French in six months (maybe b2) by almost entirely anki and youtube. Maybe my Spanish helped my French a lot though. Because in my subconcsious Spanish and French are basically mirror images of each other.

I cannot, however, read in Russian (even though I’ve been using lingQ). I just clicked on the words to hear the sound. So I’m illiterate. Less than A0 in reading. That said, I did this with Spanish a long time ago using a precursor SRS called supermemo and there were no mp3 words so I just learned to recognize individual written words. So likely it is possible to get to B1 reading. I can read French decently also. B1/B2? Don’t know.

In Russian, my speech is something similar to that of a toddler, a few words strung together with no grammar. I can speak and I can be understood but yeah A0 or A1 maybe at best.

Writing? Fuggedabout it.

So end result. IMHO I think you can get far in listening and/or reading by using just SRS words.

Glossika? Who knows. Maybe?


This is an interesting debate. My own experience supports what you are saying.

Twice now I have spent 2-3 months just brute force memorizing individual words in mp3 in anki as 80% of my time before in the second half of the six months dropping anki back to 30% and focusing on lingQ and watching videos.

I firmly believe there is a threshold of comprehension that needs to be reached before you can take off the training wheels. You can google the “general service list” and a whole other bunch of studies talking about word frequency lists to read the science supporting my assertion.

Anyhow IMO the reality is this: if you stick at it long enough no matter what the method you use, eventually you will have memorized enough of the language that you have crossed the threshold.
Some methods are quicker than others depending on what you’re looking for, reading, speaking, listening, writing.

I beg to differ. It is both effective and efficient. It is just highly boring so I believe most people give up since the feedback is so delayed into the future. That said, memorizing words alone will not get you all of the way there and it certainly will NOT teach you to speak coherently. IMO once you reach a threshold (IMO 3,000-4,000 head words) you will see diminishing returns unless you start using natural language (either reading if that is your goal or listening to videos or speaking/shadowing/whatnot)

That said, me saying that memorizing words works is not the same as saying your method does not work. I personally believe all methods work given enough time.

I’m on my 4th language at this point.

1 Like

I personally think glossika might help solidify grammar structures in your active memory. Unsure though. You could as you seem to be pointing out, replicate this in anki. As far as levels go yeah I’m more or less in agreement with you. Beginner you can’t string a coherent sentence together nor understand what you’re hearing. Intermediate is when you can mostly understand what you’re hearing and carry on a conversation. Advanced is when the language is like a part of you.

For me, Spanish is advanced. When I speak and hear Spanish it feels to me like English. It just flows and is natural. I can watch movies and TV in Spanish the same as I can in English with no issues.
French takes more effort, it’s not quite as natural and it doesn’t flow. I have to stop and think sometimes and I can’t understand netflix mostly. I can understand almost everything on youtube in French but I can’t understand everything in movies or netflix.
Russian I’m at best low intermediate in listening and I don’t know what I am: a toddler? in speaking.

I now have to figure out how to move forward with the speaking piece for Russian and since I’m not immersed in Russian on a daily basis (unlike the second six months of Spanish) I’m not quite sure how to improve my speaking abilities. Glossika looks interesting but I don’t want to put the time in unless I know it will work.

1 Like

I’m curious about this. What do you mean by efficient?
As in, how long do you think you would need to get to say intermediate 1 if you just used lingQ alone? And would you be able to understand spoken language as well as read?

My gut feel is that lingQ is highly efficient to teach you to read the language.
The mini stories are highly efficient at forming grammar patterns.

But if all you do are those two things I doubt strongly that you would be able to just suddenly watch youtube content at a B1 level and understand it after having reached intermediate 1 as determined by lingQ.

PS don’t take my opinion as an attack (if that’s why you haven’t answered), I’m genuinely curious as to your position in things.

I believe that you can get decently far by just memorizing words because that is precisely what I do first.

Sentences are far too difficult to memorize on the contrary. Though I believe sentences could be used similarly to what glossika appears to do if you are just repeating them instead of trying to recall.

Your second paragraph nails the reason why most people fail. It is incredibly BORING and requires a massive amount of patience. In my case I know it works so I keep at it. But it is definitely very difficult to keep the motivation going for 2-3 hours per night for 3 months straight with no immediately obvious reward and then only small incremental rewards for the subsequent 3 months.

I see what you’re saying here and I’d love for you to elaborate further of the paying attention, playing with aspect of what you’re saying.

I will say, however, that your phrase “if they’re important, they’ll come up again” is mathematically equivalent to what you do by just picking the important words ahead of time in a frequency list and brute force memorizing them. Am I wrong?

This is of course true. I think most of us were thinking about getting to an A1 as meaning getting to an A1 level of general knowledge of the language and not necessarily having the specific skills needed to really be considered A1.