How to Use Flashcards to Learn a Language: A Beginner’s Guide

Vocabulary

When it comes to learning a language, the usage of flashcards is very important. You have probably used flashcards for school or university studies, don’t you? But when was the last time you used them? 

Flashcards may seem a little outdated, but, actually, they are not! Studying with flashcards is a great technique for reinforcing vocabulary and ideas. 

If you’re still not convinced, we have some arguments that might change your mind. Moreover, if you’re thinking about studying with flashcards or looking for an alternative, we’ve prepared some suggestions for you.

Advantages of flashcards for language learning

Flashcards are one of the most adaptive tools you can use for language studying. Although they were invented a long time ago, they still keep being one of the best and most popular inventions for learning any type of information, including language learning.

Children are learning how to use flashcards to learn a language.

Flashcards really work

When we read an outline or listen to a lecture, we passively consume information: some part of knowledge is retained in our memory, and some part flies out of our head. To remember information better, and more importantly, to pull it out of the “memory chambers” in time, we need to be engaged in active memorization, like when answering a question.

When we collect the answer ourselves and generate it, the brain works more actively. Therefore, anything we have spoken and imagined is memorized better than what we have just seen and heard.

This principle is the basis of learning with flashcards. We ourselves construct sets of flashcards with the necessary set of words, thereby already partially memorizing their meaning and spelling. And if you use modern applications for learning languages, their algorithm further checks your knowledge of these words through interactive and gamified exercises. This way the information is absorbed better than during simple reading.

a man works with language learning flashcards.

Flashcards are convenient

Another advantage of flashcards is that they’re easy to repeat. You don’t have to carry around your textbooks and notes, you don’t have to spend hours turning pages. The methodology helps to organize information and refresh it in your memory in small portions at a convenient time.

Be sure, a large number of sets can be contained in your small computer or phone. The only thing you’ll have to do is visit your favorite flashcard website.

Language learning flashcards: Learning with flashcards vs learning without flashcards.

Flashcards improve our memory

It is thanks to flashcards that you can actively develop your reading memory. Moreover, by repeating aloud exactly the set of words you need, you will definitely develop your pronunciation and language fluency.

Nevertheless, flashcards can really give your learning a whole new format, speeding up the process of gaining new information. In addition to improving your reading memory, you can also self-check yourself on the vocabulary you have written out in your set.

But if you want to develop more than just your reading memory, you should consider a complex word study, which is used in the Langavia Personal Dictionary app. The process of memorizing words was designed in a way that allows you to work on words from all angles: memorizing translations (forward and backward), learning to recognize words by ear, and working on spelling. And it’s all in the form of a game! Using it, you can develop several types of memory at the same time.

A brain and memory of a person.

Flashcards are very multipurpose

You don’t have to use the cards for just one language.

You can use them to learn almost ANY language at all, whether it’s Chinese, Arabic, Ukrainian, English, German, Korean… just about anything.

You can have several sets of flashcards in completely different languages and learn them. The algorithms of today’s applications have a universally effective structure that was created for a multilingual audience. So, for example, if you choose a rare dialect of Chinese, don’t worry – it will probably be in the language base of the app.

Diffrerent language learning flashcards.

Modern Flashcards fit absolutely everyone

You can argue a lot about the effectiveness of modern applications that offer digital flashcard functionality. Some of them may really be useless for most students, some are more useful.

According to many studies, success in language learning depends largely on the desire and high motivation of the student. Thus, 2 groups of students who use flashcards websites have appeared:

  1. The first group of students exclusively uses services that offer pre-packaged flashcard sets. These students simplify the process by simply studying other students’ pre-packaged sets of flashcards. It is important to note that when using them, the process of language learning with flashcards becomes less effective because the student does not spend enough attention and time searching for the information he or she needs. A person just flips through the ready-made sets of flashcards without any in-depth study or memorization. Such systems are designed for “lazy” students who do not want to spend their time figuring out their own vocabulary gaps by studying various materials in the learning language (books, movies, songs, etc.). As a result, such words are memorized worse, and the vocabulary expands rather slowly.
  2. Another group of students uses techniques based on self-teaching, and prefer services where they can create their own sets of flashcards, thus focusing on the words and phrases that they really want to know. Such systems have been designed for those who want to immerse themselves in the process of learning a language with flashcards. As a result, these students improve their vocabulary, discipline and language comprehension.

Langavia Personal Dictionary offers the system that combines both of these approaches. Still, we encourage people to actively form their own vocabulary by creating their own personal dictionary. This method is more personalized, so the student memorizes the words he or she needs faster and more effectively. And Langavia’s innovative algorithm will help you memorize more words in less time in a game-like, non-stressful way. If you try it yourself, you will see how effectively you can master the vocabulary you need with this system.

A student learns how to use flashcards to learn a language.
Overall, learning is a very personal experience, and the goal is to find out what works best for you.

How to memorize flashcards more efficiently

For the most effective improvement of your vocabulary we suggest you to use special techniques that can help you in this difficult matter. Here are 3 basic flashcard learning techniques that will help you learn new words faster.

Technique 1: Mix pictures and words

It’s a common fact that the use of visuals greatly improves memorization.

But that’s not all. It turns out that using both words and pictures leads to even more outstanding results. At least, so says a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning Memory and Cognition. Participants in the experiment were significantly better at memorizing words supplemented with descriptive images.

So in the process of making flashcards, add pictures to text. It is very important. Nowadays a large number of apps provide this functionality.

How to put a picture to a flashcard.

Here’s how you can put a picture to a language card in Langavia

Technique 2: Learn words in context

The essence of the method is that when you see a new word in a book or Youtube video, you don’t just write the word down, but add to the flashcard the context (e.g., the entire sentence) in which you met the word. This will help you improve your comprehension of the language, and it will be easier for you to apply such words in everyday routine.

How to make flashcards on the word properly.

This is how to make flashcards on the word properly (with context)

Technique 3: Learn flashcards out loud

Besides the fact that using multiple sense-perception improves memorization, it’s another way to get rid of the illusion of competence, only in a different format.

Sometimes when we notice a familiar question on a card, we say to ourselves, “Oh, I know that,” and skip over it before we can even remember the answer. So get in the habit of saying the answers out loud. Now you’ll be forced to focus on each card and you won’t miss anything important.

If you are learning words with physical flashcards, it will be better if you use the support of a friend and ask him to guide you through the cards you are studying. You will have no way out and will have to memorize absolutely everything.

If you use a modern app like Langavia Personal Dictionary, an innovative algorithm will help you instead of a friend. It will improve your vocabulary knowledge through a bunch of gamified exercises. So, don’t worry. Be sure, it won’t be boring. It’s like an online game with flashcards.

A woman learns flashcards aloud.

FAQ

Are flashcards effective for language learning?
Flashcards are a popular and easy method of memorizing information. In our case, they are also great for learning a new language. Instead of reading lists of vocabulary from a book, it's better to work step-by-step by writing down phrases and using visuals to effectively expand your vocabulary.
Are online flashcards good enough?
As we said earlier, there are 2 types of flashcards:

- offline sets;
- online sets.

Online flashcards are much more convenient than physical cards because you don't have to carry them everywhere. You can use them whenever you want, right on your smartphone or computer. In addition, services that provide online flashcard functionality have special algorithms that effectively teach you the words you have added to such services.
Where can I make free online flashcards?
Create your own flashcards and learn them effectively with the gamified training system in the Langavia service. We developed our app specifically for effective memorizing of words, not for useless flipping through ready-made sets of words. We have tested and thought through all the functionalities for your convenience and to make language learning easier and more fun.

Langavia Team

We help people to learn new languages and expand their vocabulary effectively.

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Add a comment

  1. Alba

    Thank you for such an informative article! I got motivated to keep studying English. But now with cards.

    Reply
    1. Alba

      Is it possible to add more than one language to one set in your application?

      Reply
      1. Langavia Team author

        You can create different dictionaries (e.g. “French – German”, “Spanish – English”, whatever you like) and add card sets inside them.

        Words in the Langavia app are learned not by simply cycling through cards in decks (as in many traditional flashcard applications), but by passing through special game exercises.

        Reply
Are flashcards effective for language learning?
Flashcards are a popular and easy method of memorizing information. In our case, they are also great for learning a new language. Instead of reading lists of vocabulary from a book, it's better to work step-by-step by writing down phrases and using visuals to effectively expand your vocabulary.
Are online flashcards good enough?
As we said earlier, there are 2 types of flashcards:

- offline sets;
- online sets.

Online flashcards are much more convenient than physical cards because you don't have to carry them everywhere. You can use them whenever you want, right on your smartphone or computer. In addition, services that provide online flashcard functionality have special algorithms that effectively teach you the words you have added to such services.
Where can I make free online flashcards?
Create your own flashcards and learn them effectively with the gamified training system in the Langavia service. We developed our app specifically for effective memorizing of words, not for useless flipping through ready-made sets of words. We have tested and thought through all the functionalities for your convenience and to make language learning easier and more fun.