Anki is the ultimate flash program talked about to death on this site. Once you start using it it becomes second nature to you. However it can be a bit intimidating using and setting up for the first time, especially since it is designed to give the user as much customization and flexibility as possible.
But people like simple. They want simple. You want to download the program and start using it within 30 seconds without any thought or worry about what to do to get going. When it comes to learning programs, every extra minute spent trying to figure out how to set it up increases the likelihood of you never actually using that program. So before you give up because of this long intro, let’s start.
But first, what exactly is Anki?
A free, popular and powerful flashcard program which sets automatic timed intervals for studying. After reviewing a flash card, you briefly rank yourself (1-4) on how well you remembered the card. Depending on the number you rank yourself, you are automatically setting the next time you will have to review that card. This happens continuously, so when the card comes up for review again, you rank it again, causing the card to be pushed back even further (or not so far if you forgot it).
The idea is to create a synergy with your memory so that you are shown flash cards at the exact time you need to review them. Trust me, this is where the magic lies.
1. Download from the Anki site
Go to the Anki site. On the top and also halfway down the page:
2. Click on the Anki program icon to start it up
If you have a downloaded deck already, click on the “Import File” button and choose the location of where it is. If not, click “Get Shared,” scroll through the deck you are interested in, click download, and than import it the same way.
*Note: I’ll be using the Jalup Beginner deck as the example for this guide
3. Adjusting Important Options
There are three options which I think need to be changed immediately to adjust to how you want to study.
Adjusting New Cards
New cards/day: if you have a new deck of 1000 cards, the maximum number of new cards you can review per day is this setting. After you review a new card for the first time, it will go into “review” mode, which means that you will start building up more and more reviews due every day. You want to create a nice balance of new cards vs reviews. You probably want to set this higher in the beginning (when you don’t have many reviews due every day), and lower as time goes on.
Maximum reviews/day: this is the amount of reviews you do in a day before the program will tell you “Congratulations, you’re done for the day.” This is an artificial time stop, as the time intervals you are creating still exist, they are just being ignored. This feature was meant to prevent burnout to the user when they see a large amount of cards that are due. Set it much higher if you want better interval accuracy efficiency and lower if the due number is becoming a discouraging mental block.
The Leech function is designed to automatically suspend cards that you forget repeatedly, no matter how many times you are reviewing them. The idea is that the card is a leech on your memory, and it needs to be suspended (as it isn’t worth the time you are putting into it) or changed in a way to make it easier to remember.
I don’t like this function for decks that require each card to build off each other. Change Leech Action to Tag Only, and instead of automatically suspending the card, it will just tag it as a leech. So you’ll know that it has caused problems, but it won’t be removed from your reviewing. Then later, you can look at all cards tagged leeches and maybe give them some extra practice or figure out a new way or mnemonic to remember them.
4. Open your deck
Click on the deck name
Click Study Now
5. Start reviewing!
This guide covers how to review more in depth, but simply
a. Read the card out loud and try to understand the sentence (obviously if this is a new card, you won’t be able to do either)
b. Click space bar or “Show Answer”
c. Listen to the audio of the sentence (if the deck has audio). Didn’t hear it or want to hear it again? Press the “R” key or click on the “More” button and hit “Replay Audio”
d. Read the sentence repeated with kanji readings above the kanji (this card does not have kanji so there are no kanji readings above the card)
e. Read the English definition
f. Read the notes on the card (if there are any)
g. Rank yourself on how will you did, clicking on one of the three buttons (when the card comes around again for review, the ranking number choice increases to four, allowing you to set the interval even further back). The time interval above each ranking let’s you know when the card will appear again for review depending on what you click on.
Automatically goes to the next card after clicking the ranking button
This is the next card after the show answer button has already been clicked.
Note how the reading for the kanji is above the kanji. Also note how the definition is for the new word 鈴木. There is no definition given for the word you just reviewed こんにちは. This is the Jalup method of making the experience more like a puzzle and requiring you to put the knowledge you have to immediate application.
6. Searching your deck
You will often need to look at the cards in your deck. Click on the Browse button. This will open up the Browser and focus on the current card you are looking at. Here you can make adjustments to a card, add a note, etc.
The search feature is incredibly useful, especially with this type of deck where only the new word information is given. Forgot what the word こんにちは means? Do a search, and it’ll bring up every card that uses that word. You don’t even have to type in the full word, just the beginning (very useful for when looking up words that are in conjugated form, as you would only look up the beginning part of that word).
I like to organize the cards in the deck by the date created. This makes it very easy to scroll through the cards in their original building block order. To do this, right click while hovering over the deck field and click “Created”
This adds a “Created” field. Click on “Created” and an up arrow should appear). Note that under “Due” you see a date. This is the first card that you did, and the date it will be due again. New cards you haven’t done yet will just have a number.
And you are good to go!
Of course there are a lot more features. Like adding your own cards. Using tags. Installing plugins. Dealing with multiple decks. Combining and splitting decks. Recording audio. Adding in functions and codes. Looking and analyzing stats and graphs. But you are just starting. Keep it simple. Have fun. Don’t stress.
Now go Anki your way to success!
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.