Reviewing flash cards and speaking on

I have 2 questions

  1. is it actually important to review flash cards? I try to do many hours per day of active listening and following transcripts but gave flash cards up 5 months ago because I got lazy and it felt boring, however, the diverse content is what kept me interested. I have never ever used Flashcards in my cantonese studies ever, but can remember new words EASILY after only 3-4 listens to the word, but at the beginning of my studies I had to listen to it 100 times before I could vaguely remember, though never used flashcards. Hence I’m questioning it’s value here.

  2. I had my first spoken conversation with Marianne today. I am so ashamed at how poor I spoke after a consistent and strong last year of constant study of French. I had 100% input and 0% output of French last year, but find that I spoke like an idiot. In addition, my thought construction or ideas are for some reason blocked when speaking French, but not in Cantonese. Such that in Cantonese, I am able to think massive amounts of ideas and points on the fly or in advance without making any effort. The sentences come out roughly 99% accurately without any effort and my flow is completely fluid (forgot the accent). But I really don’t know why my French seems to not have the ability to converse fluidly with Marianne, though it was the 2nd time I have spoken French. So my question is, is it pointless to have 1 x 15 minute conversation per week with Marianne? or should I be beefing this up as I’m simply scared that no body can understand what the hell I’m saying since firstly (1) I have a horrible aussie accent (2) I can’t construct/organise my thoughts properly in French yet - I’m trying to avoid English to construct ideas which hence will prevent smoothness in the long-run (3) my grammar or conjugations wasn’t learnt deliberately and hence adds to my fear that I might be saying something wrong. When I speak or listen to Cantonese, I simply have this instant feeling something is wrong without needing to think, but in French I simply feel clumsy in general and don’t know why I can’t control the language even after ridiculous amounts of input!

Sorry for the long unstructured post.


This is up to the individual. I find flash card helpful, but I also spend most of my time on input activities.

It is important to speak, especially when you are at the level you describe in French. The discussion is an opportunity to discover your gaps and become more attentive to these words and phrases and to notice them in your ongoing input activities (listening and reading).

We sometimes feel that we do better and sometimes feel that we do worse in these discussions but that does not matter. It is the practice in speaking, and the opportunity to see where our gaps are that matter.

I would speak twice a week with Marianne and step it up to 30 minutes when you feel stronger in the language. As Vera once said, at first 15 minutes seems like a long time, and pretty soon even 30 minutes just flies by.

I don’t use flash cards every day, but sometimes review them if necessary. Main study is listening to, reading aloud, shadowing texts many times
And I listen to natural contents and read such as news, TV drama, films, newspapers and weekly magazines, etc.

I think seeing words in different contexts is a good way to learn.

PS I talk with Marianne on Skype, but sometimes it does not work well, so this is my way to do, when I cannot speak well, I try to write what I want to say and send my writing to Marianne, in my view writing (not academic writing) is easier than speaking.

I don’t like flashcarding much either. When I have time, however (or feel motivated enough!), I do the flashcards for the words that appear in a new lesson before I read or listen to the lesson. I think that helps me to notice the words more when I do read/listen to the lesson, and “noticing” a word is what makes me learn it.

And once in a great while I do the flashcards for my top 25 words and find it enjoyable.