Is "Anki" a necessity?

I make some pretty cool cards while learning Russian on Lingq. I write the English meanings and then Turkish (native language) meanings in the Note section. I also sometimes take grammar notes. I regularly do vocabulary reviews on Lingq.
Other than that, I use Memrise.
Also, I’m progressing at the most common words collection on Clozemaster.

But wherever I look I read that Anki is a program that works wonders for learning vocabulary, its algorithm is unique. I see people on Reddit forums talking about how they did vocabulary boost. Do you think it is necessary to use Anki in addition to all these for a good vocabulary? If we don’t use Anki, are we always missing a part? Or do we learn later than those who use Anki?
Or do you think the tools I used above are enough for our long-term memory?

Oh a final question: Do you think Lingq’s spaced repetition algorithm would be as effective as Anki?


There’s a lot to unpack here.

I would say that the more you do, to a point, the better. Anki and similar apps will help close gaps that may take you longer to find in LingQ or a similar program. However, when you speak a language, you never do it by imagining a series of flashcards and then putting them in order. You just use it. Slowly and poorly at first, sure, but you get better at it.

Also, flashcards are almost always out of context. It’s just a word on a card. If you can read authentic material, you will learn words in a variety of contexts.

So, I would say that Anki is useful early on when you’re still learning key vocab, but it’s really, really hard to learn more than maybe two thousand words using a flashcard app. At some point, I would either leave Anki behind entirely, or use it to focus on a particular set of vocabulary I need to know about a particular topic.

Just my two cents as someone who used Anki in combination with other apps and LingQ to learn Russian. Also, I basically never use LingQ’s flashcard review thing, or if I do, it’s specifically to focus on the “4” value, really important words. I mostly just keep reading.


seems like Memrise would be pretty similar to Anki-- it’s just which program you prefer.

I use it but it’s mostly when I don’t feel like reading I still feel like I touched the language. Not sure how much it helped me at the beginner level. Maybe a little bit!

Maybe it is good at intermediate levels to review words you don’t see very often.

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Yea, I’m not a fan of single-word Anki flashcards. Rather, I like learning “useful” phrases and sentences.

I’m still in the beginning stages of language learning. I’ve used Anki for the last 30 days, studying mostly phrases/sentences. Phrases like " Why did you open both of the windows?" " Why do you want to go there?" and others like " Did you write your letter with a typewriter…" :joy:

Other than the outdated cards, I have found Anki useful along with reading and loads of listening. I could be wrong, but I feel that since starting Anki my ability to recall has improved.

Do you think it is necessary to use Anki in addition to all these for a good vocabulary?

Memrise and Anki are alike. As hard as it may be, try and stay focused and complete the Memrise course you started.

If we don’t use Anki, are we always missing a part?

Back to the last answer. Stick with Memrise until you finish your course. Like we always say the grass isn’t always greener.


In my path I found Anki to be helpful at beginner and lower intermediate stages.
The more advanced I get, the less I find Anki helpful.
You’re trying to burn a very specific “clip” of the language, which is great when attempting to get a foothold in the language, but as one becomes more advanced, the less needs to be repeated deliberately.

Although the SRS in LingQ has been criticized, I prefer it, just 30 cards a day. Just for some repetition powering through but not caring about some complex Anki algorithm.
I could also continuously read the sentences of the vocab words I’ve looked up and written down in the novels I read. That would be like a random SRS.


Anki overwhelms me every time I try using it. Its algorithm doesn’t work that great on me, I just drown after a week of studying.
I think flashcards are good to drill down a limited set of vocabulary or useful phrases, fast. But they are not a necessity.


I’m no expert so take this with a grain of salt. I don’t think you want to memorise a language but attain it. I use Anki (for Japanese) to learn kanji and be exposed to conjugations. I think its better to learn vocabulary in context so that it’s tied in to a conceptual framework.

I’m also doing Spanish and tried Anki with it to learn the most common words. It didn’t help. I was divorced from every word and its relationships with other words or concepts etc.

I guess it depends on how you use Anki. If you can use it to help with intergrating concepts rather than storing all that information to memory, it can be useful. Generally though, people use Anki to straight up memorise, I don’t recommend that. I could be completely wrong though. I’m not confident in langauge learning.

Just my two cents.


Hi CanTaylan

I will probably be controversial here, but I’ve tried different review methods - Anki, Goldlist, manual SRS, LingQs own - and i have to say that they bore me silly, and I hate doing them…so I don’t. I don’t think that you NEED to do SRS, but if you LIKE doing them and theyt work for you then most likely any of the platforms will work for you. I’ve realised that the thing that matters is that you enjoy the experience…which makes you do it more…which gives you exposure…which then works.

In my opinion, the words that you need, and the phrases, will continually crop up when reading, and the only reviews of words I do are to click on the words in LingQ to advance them up my “known” level. But even then I forget them, and remember them, and forget them again, and them at some stage when my brain is ready, they stick.

So, to summarise…I don’t think it makes the slightest difference which one you use.

: )



“Do you think it is necessary to use Anki in addition to all these for a good vocabulary?”

People have been learning language long before Anki existed. In fact, you learnt your mother tongue without Anki, if I may be so bold to guess. No, it is not “necessary” to use Anki to obtain a good vocabulary. Grandmaster Steve does not use Anki nor the LingQ SRS.

There are certain uses of Anki or an SRS, which can be very powerful, while there are other uses, which are less so. The devil’s in the details.

Personally, I do not use Anki. I have in the past, but reading/listening everyday is a ‘natural SRS’ for me these days. Reading/listening everyday gives you large amounts of exposure to high- and mid-frequency words. You both learn these words and review them constantly through content. It’s the lower-frequency words, which you may have more trouble to review through the ‘natural SRS’ of consuming content. In that case, at an advanced level, it may be worth considering using Anki. But at a beginner and an intermediate level, it’s just not necessary.

But if you really like using Anki, enjoy life and rep away. :wink:


I recommend Refold’s anki decks as they’re used to help a beginner onramp into a new language while immersing. Worth the money but even they state that anki is optional in Refold and not a great way to acquire a language


Anki is not necessary and I believe at the late beginner stages and beyond it’s not the most efficient way…in my opinion.

I started my German “journey” with Memrise (their old A1 course that you can’t find anymore). I really think it was great for these beginning stages and I think Anki could certainly be used at this stage too. I think this is the best time for these SRS programs. A lot of the words are nouns and verbs so they’re easier to associate the meanings in these type of programs. These beginning words also typically have a simple straightforward meaning. As you get higher in levels, the types of words and the meanings behind them start to get a lot more complicated and definitely words can take on an entirely different meaning in phrases.

After my Memrise A1, I found LingQ and started importing easy news articles…my vocabulary skyrocketed. The problem with Memrise and SRS systems is that you spend all your time reviewing and never learning anything new (at least with my limited time). I didn’t see a future with this as I would simply not have time…LingQ was a saving grace.

As I’m getting into the advanced levels, I can perhaps see a place for Anki. Maybe. I doubt I will try though. I think I have better ideas…

If you really want to “review”, go through a lesson you’ve done. If you don’t want to re-read the whole thing again, just skip to the yellow words. Read the sentence and the word(s) in context. Try to guess the meaning. If you need more context, read the surrounding sentence. If you still can’t guess the meaning look it up. Move to the next yellow word and do the same. At least with this way you can see the word in context and you will likely get a better meaning of the word from that, as well as start to associate with other words which may help you learn the word better next time around. As someone has mentioned already, Anki or SRS with single words doesn’t provide this and it really gets hard to associate or remember the multiple meanings a word may have, just from looking at that word alone.

If you like doing Anki and SRS, by all means do it. There’s a lot of people here that do. There’s a lot of successful learners that do use it. I’ll admit I find it super boring so I will likely never do it for any stretch. One thing…I would limit its usage outside of the beginning stages to maybe at most 10% of your time with the language. I think input…reading and listening will better serve you. Of course, everyone is different. You may hate reading and listening. In that respect Anki may be the better fit…but I think it will be less efficient and at some point you’re going to have to read/listen anyway.


I practice “lazy SRS” in LingQ, which I find very effective:

I have it set to never have to type in the words as I loathe feeling tested in learning a language.
I pass every card no matter what.
I set it to 25-30 cards per session.
I set each session for the 1-4 rating of knowing the words/phrases
I set it to the “important” option, not creation date or status. As status biases cards with a rating of 1 and creation date has me only going over new words.
For each rep I listen to the word with the text to speech. Of which I never use for sentences but I don’t find it a problem (artificial robotic speech) for individual words and small phrases.

90% of all of these words come from a show that I’ve already watched, so each sentence chunk has a subtle memory to it.

So essentially I’m sentence mining with LingQ.
I’ve tried exporting these cards to Anki, but I’d rather just power through them with LingQ being able to hear each word.

The reader is fantastic for intensive reading but I find some mindless repetition to really accelerate things.


I use flashcards with sample sentences in different contexts mainly for pronunciation/speaking practice and to familiarize myself with the grammatical structures in the language. I focus more on the essential abilities to be developed and acquired than the number of words to be memorized. Once I become more comfortable deciphering more complicated text, intensive and extensive reading would be perfect for committing vocabulary words into long-term memory.


Absolutely not. I would say it is a potentially useful tool, but it should be used sparingly. Currently some language learners spend the majority of their study time with Anki. This is really not the best way to acquire a language.


I only spend 10 - 20 minutes a day on Anki now that I am at lower intermediate level. It is useful at beginner level to get a set amount of vocab under your belt and practice grammar. I used to add words/sentences every day and was spending an hour reviewing every day which felt really gruelling. If you want to spend less time on Anki, stop adding words so there is less to review.

I now spend 10-20 minutes on it every day which is enough to refresh what I’ve learnt but not overwhelming. Now i rely on reading and listening to youtube podcasts every day in Linq to pick up new vocab and learn about grammar in context. Much more fun! Don’t worry about forgetting words that come up in Linq, they will come around again and they will fix in your brain the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th time around.


Anki requires SO MUCH TIME… I think there’s better ways to put your hours into.
In spite of this, Anki is a great tool and it depends exclusively on you.

Honestly, I also used Anki for a long time, but I’m way better on LingQ. I’m loving investing my time here and I don’t intend to use Anki again…

I love both content-flexible audio readers à la LingQ and artificial SRS such as Anki because they “complement” each other quite nicely, esp. via LingQ’s export function for Anki.

“read that Anki is a program that works wonders for learning vocabulary, its algorithm is unique.”
I’d say that’s magical thinking without any basis in the realities of second language acquisition.

The important aspect in this context is “spacing vs non-spacing”, but the quality differences of the spacing algorithms (SuperMemo, Duolingo, Anki, etc.) seem to have minor or no effects.

That said, the “main problem” for becoming fluent in our L2s is in my experience neither the spacing algorithm nor the distinction “artificial vs natural SRS”, but the quality of the language learning material.

In other words, what language learners need, esp. at the intermediate language levels, is a lot of information about tens of thousands of collocations (including their use cases, i.e., oral vs written, slang vs informal vs neutral vs formal language registers, positive vs negative connotations, etc.).

Just randomly reading / listening and / or doing flashcards seems to be a “bad”, i.e. “time-inefficient” SLA strategy… so I’d say we need much better tools based on, e.g., collocation training, AIs (say “hello” to ChatGPT, etc.), corpus linguistics, etc.


A ‘natural SRS’ would be defined as having ‘random’ or ‘disordered’ intervals. If the relative internal has “no discernible impact,” as this study may imply, why not just use the ‘random’/‘disordered’ intervals of a ‘natural SRS’? This way you are also exposing yourself more texts and a wider variety of collocations.

(I can’t comment too much on the details of the paper, as I don’t have a subscription to the journal.)


Hi nfera,

There’s a misunderstanding here. By the expression “random,” I was referring to the nature of the learning material.

Simple example:
I “love” the subject of “Muslim Spain” in the Middle Ages (Spain - The Visigothic kingdom | Britannica).
I never get tired of listening to audiobooks / reading books about this period, esp.
in Spanish and English.

Does this help me improve my everyday English or Spanish? Not really. It’s simply the wrong learning material for this purpose.

It’s the same for audiobooks in general where speakers have a slow and clear pronunciation. This doesn’t help at all when confronted with natives who are the complete opposite: fast-paced, sloppy, using a lot of slang and contractions…

And even Netflix series, etc. aren’t good enough in this context because intermediate learners need more information about the degrees of (in-)formality, the social and temporal aspects of frequent collocations, etc.

ESLPOD, for instance, does an “outstanding” job by offering more than 2000 dialogues (including a lot of helpful explanations of what to use or not to use in what context!) related to everyday and cultural American English on their website.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find something similar in other languages such as Br. Portuguese.