Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How I use flashcards

I am trying to read and understand the first book of Il-Fiddien trilogy.

I type it on LWT one chapter at a time, and translate it into English so that my husband can read it too.

When I'm finished with the translation (my husband is not very patient, and wants to know what happens in the chapter ASAP) I move the vocabulary from LWT on flashcards.

LWT treats every word that looks different as its own word. So qattus, qattusa and qtates are three different words. [Cat (masculine), cat (feminine), cats (plural)]. At this moment I don't care about that, I just copy mechanically the words.

I prefer to have flashcards of basic building blocks - glosses - and have four groups of words: nouns, adjectives, verbs and the rest.

So, I go through the pile of flashcards and
- separate all the forms of one word I recognize
- separate all verbs, nouns and adjectives I recognize
- leave the rest to be (for now.)
I do my best to find the basic form of all these words, remove the suffixes etc.

In a perfect pile of flashcards I'd have
- substantives and adjectives in form like "qattus, qattusa, qtates"- verbs in indicative (if possible) or - with Maltese - conjugated in imperfect tense (used as present/future)

I want to learn the grammar, that is how to modify these words to express the different meaning, apart from the glosses. I write these grammar exercises on separate papers and it is here I use sample sentences.
I don't like learning sentences by heart, except idioms and other such sentences and word combinations that are "building blocks" by themselves (like "good morning" or "s'il vous plaît").

Right now I am not advanced enough to be able to find many basic forms, and I know too little to be able to use the dictionaries in a good way.

I learn the flashcards by heart.

I have a pile of about 50-100 cards, that I go through until I know all of them from L2 to L1.
This is really mechanical this too. I look at one side of the card, try to understand/remember it, and then check on the opposite side what the dictionary definition of the word is.
After I have "guessed" right twice, I move the card in pile 2.
This means that there is less and less cards in the pile.
I usually end up with about 10 words that I simply can't remember.

At this point I change my tactics, start using mnemonic tricks or simply turn the cards around and try to remember them from L1 to L2.

Then I go through the pile until I remember them from L1 to L2, the same way. "Spaced repetition". The words I can't remember gets more repetitions than the ones I can. :-)

Then I let the pile rest a couple of days and go through it again. This time I remove the cards I find hard to remember to a new pile, and those I know go to a box.
I will go through that box about once every two weeks in the beginning, to be sure I know them, and then I'll just forget the box.

So - it's a bit like how Aaron does it. (or did, in 2012)

Now, this is just learning the vocabulary.
You have still listening, reading, writing, speaking, pronunciation and grammar to go through :-D

P.S: 8 ways to create better flashcards

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