I’m glad you’ve decided to follow my advice and start using a spaced repetition system (SRS). Remember that this is a very simple concept that everyone can be successful with. Just put in the small amount of time to set up your SRS and dedicate some time to using it every day.
If you still haven’t read Part 1, then please do that before continuing.
First thing you need to do is download some SRS software. This is easy. There are lots of SRS programs out there on the internet; however, I’m going to recommend the one I use and believe is currently the best one. It’s called Anki and you can download it here. There isn’t anything complicated to the setup so just follow the directions and you should be good to go with the software.
The next thing you need to do is get some card decks. These can be found around the internet, but a good place to start is Anki’s database. You can also click File>Download>Shared Decks. So, just download a deck that looks good and load it up. Eventually you can make your own decks for your personalized study. It’s really easy to make cards with Anki for just about any language, and a lot quicker than making paper flashcards! When I read through a book on grammar, for example, I’ll just input interesting sentences into an SRS deck as I go. By the end of the book, I might have a thousand cards. This is a great way to reinforce what you just read. You can also add audio and pictures to your cards to help stick that information in your memory.
Anki has a lot of bells and whistles, which are nice, but don’t need to be explained for you to use the program. I’ve never had to tweak anything and don’t even find a need for most of the special features and graphs, but they can be nice to have if you want to use them. Just play around with Anki a little bit and you’ll already feel like an expert. If you know what a flashcard is then you’ll understand. Basically, the front of the SRS card contains a word or sentence in whatever language you’re studying, and the back has its meaning. So, you need to reproduce the meaning of the card from memory and compare it to the answer on the back of the card. Then you need to score your performance according to how you answered. This will determine the amount of spacing for your cards. You will have to make your own judgments on how you score yourself. Try not to be too lenient though. If I make any mistakes at all, I tend to score myself as low as possible by clicking the ‘Soon’ button. This will present that card back to me for review first so I can correct my mistake.
As you’ve probably already discovered, this is not complicated. The real work is done for you. The key to learning with SRS is dedication. You need to put in some time every day to study your cards. There isn’t any minimum amount of cards I think you should do and there isn’t really a maximum either. Just don’t burn yourself out with too many though. That brings me to another point. Like I said in Part 1, cramming won’t help us learn. We want to spread it out. That doesn’t mean you can’t go through a whole set of cards each day, but don’t save up all your cards and do them once or twice a week. That defeats the purpose. The number of cards you do each day and how long you want to spend on SRS is up to you. I work on three separate decks each day, which is usually about a hundred cards. I get great results with this amount and it doesn’t usually take more than thirty minutes overall. If you want to learn faster then do more cards. It’s all up to you and your own schedule.
I hope this introduction to SRS with Anki has been helpful for you. I promise you will see great results with this method. It won’t take long at all for you to increase your vocabulary and start spitting out sentences. So, go throw away your huge stacks of paper flashcards and get started.
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments. I’m here to help and I appreciate your input so I can better understand what people need assistance with.