Reader Q&A: What to do when - How to use a pronunciation guide, daily routines, custom Anki models, immersion goals

Part two in Reader Q&A, we’ll talk about the order that you should learn things.

Q: I got one of the Pronounce it Perfectly Books.  How do I use it with your approach?  Should I learn the base vocabulary concurrently?
 I’d follow the book and put the spelling rules into my Anki deck  (so words ending in ‘ou’ are pronounced /u/, and words ending in û are pronounced /y/, for example).  At the point where you can easily hear the differences between words (between roux and rue, for example), and you know what to expect from a given spelling, then start adding words to your Anki deck in a hurry.  At that point, you’ll know how to say 95% of the words you encounter, and if you look a word up in a dictionary and discover that it has an irregular pronunciation, then you can add that pronunciation to your Anki deck.  Also, feel free to add the example words from the Pronounce it Perfectly book into your Anki deck, as long as you can figure out a decent way to represent them without English.  (And if not, then skip them for now and add them later, when you’ve picked up more grammar and vocab)

Q: I saw that your personal decks have a lot of custom models templates.  Should I set up custom models right from the beginning, or start with the basic model and build from there?
A: I’m becoming a big fan of custom templates, at the very least a 3-field template where one field is always on the back side of any card.  Then I can make almost every fact forward and reverse and have extra info, like the word stress in Russian or example sentences on the back side for reference.  As for the more complex verb templates, I’ve totally changed those around, and I’ll probably do it another few times as I learn new parts of each verb.  I think verbs can be learned in a few different ways and so the specific template isn’t so important.

Q: Is there a pre-made deck I can buy with pictures for the top 1000 words in _____?
I don’t think so, though my personal decks are available on the site.  Something that’s important to consider is that the building of the deck is a pretty vital part of the process; that’s where you actually learn the words.  The reviews are where you review what you taught yourself while building it.

Q: What’s your daily routine?  How much time do you spend studying, and what are your priorities when you have limited amounts of time?
 I spend 30-60 minutes per day on Anki and it’s my top priority.  If I miss a day then I have to do two days of reviews the next day and it’s uncomfortable, so I try to avoid that.  Extra time is spent reading and making cards.  If I’m home and doing Anki on my laptop, then I’ll make additional cards while I’m reviewing to strengthen anything I’m getting wrong often (by adding a new sentence that uses a difficult word, for example).  I never stop and go back to English; the more Russian I learn, the easier it is to define complex words in Russian.  I’m almost at the point where I can use the Russian Wiktionary definitions in my deck (I understand about half of them now).


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4 Responses to Reader Q&A: What to do when - How to use a pronunciation guide, daily routines, custom Anki models, immersion goals

  1. Dylan says:

    Hey Gabriel

    How exactly does one find your personal decks? I’m on ankidroid and not sure exactly what I’m supposed to search for. I’m specifically looking for any Italian ones you had/used.


  2. Dylan says:

    Another question Gabriel,

    I know you would spend quite a bit of time on anki each day, but did you ever go and browse your cards after you completed your review (say, later in the day) just to practice even more without officially reviewing?

    Or do you think reviewing is reviewing and anki should only be used for the official reviews?

    • gwyner says:

      Part of what makes Anki work well is the increasing amount of time between each review. It’s like weight-lifting; it always has to get a little bit harder, so that each fact gets deeper into your memory.

      If you review all your cards all the time, then you’re losing that advantage, and your Anki reviews will be too easy. I let Anki take care of reviews and only look at the deck when I need it as a reference (it becomes your personal dictionary/reference book pretty quickly).

      Extra time depends on my level:
      Beginning: Assuming pronunciation base is solid, then working through my grammar book, adding associated grammar and vocab cards
      Intermediate: Writing example sentences with new words from my frequency list and getting corrections from Lang-8 (and putting those corrections into Anki), reading books, maybe watching movies
      Advanced: Watching movies, reading books, skype exchanges, writing, etc.

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