lundi 3 mai 2010

Flash cards and note-taking

Two current issues with my Dutch: flash cards and note-taking, which are basically related.

1) I'm not taking notes. The fact that I'm not used to taking notes for my schooling is only partially related here. I also want a way to collect the information I'm being exposed to as I jump around to the different courses.

2) Reviewing. I'm not effectively reviewing the material I cover.

I didn't really take notes in school, or at least not to the extent that they were worth reviewing. It was probably the act of taking notes that helped me. But of course, most of my courses were math and CS courses, and the notes I took for those are not the sort of notes I need to take for languages. Most of the notes were copying proofs off the board, and I don't want to just write out the textbooks.

The other thing I feel I'm missing is active studying. Even though I'm reading (and listening), my _recall_ and production aren't being tested. It becomes very easy to skim and your brain dulls to the material if you don't have to do anything with it.

Finally, I'm getting impatient with my Dutch. I have the GCSE Dutch wordlist I want to learn. I have two sentence packs with 1600 Dutch sentences. I have all the Assimil phrases and dialogs and exercises. I'm feeling frustrated that they're not coming as fast as I'd like.

So, I need to be actively creating content, even if it's just ripped from my courses or native materials. I need to review things. I need to memorize a large list of items.

It sounds like I'm convincing myself I need flash cards.

Now, the previous two times I've tried flash cards, they didn't really work for me. I've been trying to understand why. I've seen a couple more videos recently talking about how wonderful flash cards are and blah blah blah.

I think the biggest issue was that for the most part, I wasn't creating the flash cards myself. I was using other people's card sets, and massive ones at that. Second, I didn't have any previous exposure to the material. So, I was learning it the first time I saw the card. The huge numbers of cards that were basically unknown to me created a very oppressive feeling when starting Anki. The numbers were demotivating.

This time, I hope it will be different. I'm going to create all my cards myself. This means no massive imports of unknown items. I'll still keep my sentence packs for "later", but I think the smaller number of cards at the beginning will make it not so overwhelming.

I think the Anki downloads are probably overall a bad thing. They're too tempting and, at least for me, have no relevance to my studies. I don't "own" the cards or their content, so I feel no emotional attachment to learning them. I'm sure AJATT has written something like that.

As for which SRS to use. I'm going to stick with anki. I wouldn't have minded a Web2.0 solution (and there are many), but for now I want a known quantity. I don't want my excuse to be that the interface sucked. I also trust anki's scheduling algorithm. I think a lot of the other ones have probably put most of their effort into splashy javascript goodness instead of making the product itself "better" for studying. There is an online version of anki, though, and AJATT has Surusu that's probably worth taking a look at.

2 commentaires:

Blaise a dit...

Personal experience: The act of creating the flash cards, then re-reading the flash cards within a certain period of time, is definitely the key to success with them. Example: I was studying for my CISSP (a very dry, very high level security cert) and creating flash cards for each section. Then, a week later, i'd go over the flash cards. Passed with flying colours.

Fast forward 3 years and I've got to re-certify. Thankfully I have my good old flash cards (the material hadn't changed radially, which should tell you something about the usefulness of the cert) but just reading my own notes after 3 years was surprisingly ineffective. It wasn't until I skimmed the source material again that the contents of the flash cards not only made sense, but in fact would trigger recall of the rest of the material (even the ones I hadn't actively reviewed).

tricours a dit...

Good luck with the flashcards! Mine are still going strong, even though I'm not adding as much as I used to. I do have like 7000 cards though!