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Use Your PC to Learn a New Language (Without Spending a Dime)

Photo By Steakpinball

A $600 language learning course may not be as good as a $10 learning method. We can even learn a new language without spending a dime with a free, easy to use, and rich feature flash card software.

A flash card is a simple card with that has on one side a new word in a language that you’re learning and on the other side a word in your mother tongue. Flash card is really easy to make, all you need is a pen and a paper and just start writing the the word that you’re learning on one side of the paper and the word in your mother tongue on the side of the paper.

There are plenty of good software, such as Anki ,that we can use to make flash card in Windows, Linux, Mac OSX, and iPhone. Anki has a lot of useful feature such as giving us access to a list of shared flash card decks. Let’s download a set of available flash cards to get us started on learning Japanese.

Anki has a strong of community that shares plenty of useful flash cards to get us started in learning a new language.Some of these flash cards even comes with sounds and pictures that helps us remember the foreign words that we are studying.

Using Mnemonics to Learn Foreign Words

Mnemonics are verbal cues such as short poem or special words that helps us remember certain words. Mnemonics techniques rely on associating easy to remember constructs to the foreign words we are learning, such as:

Memory for Images

Words are better remembered when they are paired with solid objects or events that are easy to visualize. When we want to memorize a Japanese word ‘Kore’ that means ‘This one’, We can try to recall a weekend when we went out to a shop and asked the shop keeper to show us his merchandise by asking him “Can I see this one ?”

Listening to the Words

Knowing how to verbally understand a foreign word is as important as understanding how to read and write it. Anki helps our listening skill by allowing us to attach an audio file to each flash card from its simple editing form to specify the foreign word’s meaning, reading, and images to a flash card.

Anki streamlines other methods of attaching audio file such as recording our voice by clicking the audio record button to record our voice to a flash card.

Studying Vocabulary with Anki

Anki randomly pick a card from our decks and ask us to rate each vocabulary with four options: ‘Again’, ‘Good’,’Easy’, or ‘Very Easy’. Each options indicates our competency with for each word, choose ‘Again’ if we can’t guess the meaning of the word, or ‘Very Easy’ if we can guess the meaning of the word instantly.

If we choose ‘Again’ Anki will show is in a couple of minutes, if we choose ‘Good’ Anki will show it to us within another 11 hours. The easier we rate each word, the longer Anki will repeat the words to us during a review session, allowing us to learn those words that we find difficult to remember more frequently.

Conclusion

Learning a new language does not have to be expensive. The most important thing on learning a new language is motivation and the passion for learning. A good study method and habit will also help us learn a new language faster. Flash card is only one of the available methods to learn a new language. There are other methods to learn new language and we should find one that suits our study habit and our budget.

Zainul spends his time trying to make technology more productive, whether it’s Microsoft Office applications, or learning to use web applications to save time.

  • Published 10/8/10

Comments (4)

  1. Denial

    “Without Spending a Dime” is a pretty bold statement. Great program, but word memorization is only one aspect of language learning. Heck, grammar, particles, and Kanji (oh Kanji!) is a pain even WITH books.

  2. dood

    I planning on learning Russian (since 90% at the place I work are Russians) and this method looks pretty, although I also have Rosetta Stone(borrowed from a friend), Its great to know there plenty more digital ways to learning a new language.

  3. zfranciscus

    @dood: Yup there is definitely plenty of language learning software out there. Let us know your experience with Anki if you decided to use Anki to learn Russian =)

  4. bill

    Rosetta Stone is good, but flashcard sfw fits in with it nicely for the things it doesn’t tell you, such as declensions and general grammar.

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