Anki is a free language flash card program for Windows, Mac, Linux, and some mobile platforms which I turned to after exploring another one called Mnemosyne. For an overview of Spanish flash card programs, this link takes you to my first article in this series. I really liked Anki, but ended up myself with another program called VTrain, which I will review next.

After spending an hour or two with Mnemosyne, Anki was more complicated but I was able to ignore some of the advanced features to get started. I found its grading system easier to use than that of Mnemosyne, and I really liked that the program told you how long it would be till you saw the card again.

The series of short online videos — made by the creator of the program — got me up to speed right away. I like how the videos give you an explanation of what it’s all about before delving into details. Here’s a link to the first of the videos: http://ichi2.net/anki/screencast1.html

Below are three screenshots I made from those videos. This introductory one explains the forgetting curve, which I also discuss in my free ebook, Five Keys to Learning Spanish Rapidly, which you can get by signing up in the upper right corner of any page of this site.

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The reality of this forgetting curve is why software like Anki can be so very valuable in helping you learn to speak Spanish. Or Japanese, the language it was originally created for!

The next screenshot shows the situation when you are reviewing the expression “a corrupt judge” and have just had the answer come up in Japanese. As you can see on the bottom of the video, it asks how well you remembered, and your choice determines how soon you will see the card again. If it was difficult, you will see it in 17 days, which makes me think this is probably not the first review of “a corrupt judge” – the program is so sophisticated that it will tell you the times based not only on how hard you think the the question was, but also on how many times you have already reviewed it.

I liked the way Anki handles displays all this much better than I liked the equivalent thing on Mnemosyne.

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Here’s the last screenshot I took while watching the videos. It’s just showing how you can edit cards. The sample deck has over 4000 cards in it.

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These programs are designed to be used daily. If you get behind, Anki will show you the most important cards first, and you might have a good bit of work to catch up!

Well, I was pretty impressed after I played around with Anki and I might well have used it happily for a long time. But I decided to give VTrain a try as well, and ended up liking it better. I will review it next week.

If you want a free program, Anki seems to be the best there is, and if its features suit your needs, do give it a try. If you like it, there is an option to make a donation to the creator of the program, who has put thousands of hours into it and still updates it. But you are also welcome to use it for free.

I actually think a lot of people will like Anki even better than the one I chose, VTrain. partly because of Anki’s scheduling of when you will next see any given card.

The reasons I chose VTrain have to do with my particular situation…. if you are typing Spanish characters into a keyboard in Windows, you will be typing things like alt-162 where  the numbers have to be on the keypad rather than across the top of your keyobard. Well, it happens that with the ergonomic keyboard I use (Kinesis), there is no numeric keyboard unless I hit Fn-F12 before hitting alt- 162 or whatever, and then I have to remember to turn it off before I continuing.  Too much trouble for me! I know that making things simple is the key to doing them.

Anki can be found at http://ichi2.net/anki/ and there is a wiki about it at http://ichi2.net/anki/wiki/AnkiWiki. Links to the forum are on the site too.

Here is a long and detailed review of Anki.

If you use Anki, please come back here and let us know how it works out for you. My best guess is that it would greatly enhance your ability to remember Spanish vocabulary.

Filed under: Flash Cards