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  • How long does making cards take?

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    Today I got a chance to try and answer the question - ‘How long does making new cards in Anki take?’

    I’ve tested this out in English before, timing how long it took me to find pictures and add them to Anki for a bunch of color words (cardinal, violet, indigo, etc), and that came out to 12 seconds per word, and 6 seconds per card (One card with a picture on the front, word on the back, and the other card reversed).  You’ll get periods like this in the beginning, when you’re filling in the base vocabulary that’s particularly easy to do in Google images.

    Today I got to time how long it takes when the words are more complex.  I had run out of new Russian cards earlier this week (around 2200 cards learned in a little more than 3 months), and so it was time to make some new ones.  I had already skimmed through my Frequency List and marked the cards I still needed, and put extra marks next to the ones that were relatively easy to portray.

    Sitting down at 2:30 and taking a few small breaks for Email and Reddit and a bit of browsing some of the Russian articles that showed up for some of these words, I got 110 cards done in 1.5 hours.  It’s about 40 words from the frequency list, since I learned a fair number of verbs, which I split up into conjugations and perfective/perfective aspect (7 cards for some of the more irregular verbs!).   If I kept going for a while longer (say, another hour), I’d have enough to keep me going for a solid week.  So in real-world conditions, working with a frequency list, one can expect to need 2-3 hours a week for card creation to maintain a 25 new cards/day habit (although the first thousand cards are substantially easier, and you can make them in probably half the time!)

    It’s interesting comparing my Russian experience to my French.  I didn’t use a frequency list for French, and I just picked whatever words seemed sort of relevant and easy to image and stuck them in my deck, so adding cards went a lot faster.  But for Russian, I’m only a bit past 3 months in (at ~30 minutes a day of Anki reviews), and I’m beginning to understand quite a bit from a monolingual Russian dictionary.  The words take longer to input, but they seem to have a disproportionately large effect on my comprehension, which is what is supposed to happen.

    That’s all!

    3 thoughts on “How long does making cards take?

    1. David Conaty


      I’ve just downloaded Anki and find it great. I am learning Lithuanian as I am visiting their in September; my girlfriend is from there and her parents don’t speak English.

      I can find pictues for the vocabulary, but I was wondering how do you go about constructing grammar cards? Also, what pictures would you use for actual sentences? Thanks!

    2. Chinchou

      Hi, I recently started trying your methods of “no translation” with Anki, and I think it’s working great. I first put the picture/definition on the front, and the word I’m learning on the back, and then also the reverse. However, I’m not quite sure if I should keep making reverse cards since I don’t find them quite as helpful as I thought, because I’d only be trying to come up with a vague idea when I see the word, something I don’t think I usually do when speaking or writing. What would you say about the reverse cards?


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