Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

How Anki works

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It was a struggle for me to figure out how Anki works even in a basic way, never mind the advanced capabilities. So I though it would be worthwhile for me to lay it out.

Which Anki

The name seems to be used for several programs. I am specifically referring to the Anki that you can download from this site: apps.ankiweb.net. It’s free.

Setup

After you download the program, click “Sync” at the right side of  the top-line menu. The first time, you’ll have to create an account with login and password. (It’s free.) This account is important, because once you have the account, the shared decks you use will be automatically updated should the deck author revise the deck (for example, by adding  new cards to the deck or correcting errors).

That account is at AnkiWeb, where the initial screen explains:

AnkiWeb is a free companion to the computer version of Anki. AnkiWeb can be used to review online when you don’t have access to your home computer, and can be used to keep your cards synchronized across multiple machines.

AnkiWeb is intended to be used in conjunction with the computer version of Anki. While it is possible to create basic text-only cards and review them using only AnkiWeb, to download shared decks, take advantage of multimedia features and so on, you will need to use the free computer version as well. If you have not used Anki before, please start with the computer version.

Get a shared deck

Shared decks are found at this site: ankiweb.net/decks/. That’s the site where “Sync” goes to create your account (with login and password).

When you first go to that site, you’ll se a page that offers:

Click “Get shared decks.” You’ll see links to some sets of decks, from which you can pick a deck to download and use, and you can search for decks in other topics — e.g., type “Esperanto” into the search field and press return.

“My Shared Items” keeps you posted on the decks you yourself have created and shared, showing you thumbs-up/down, number of downloads, and date of most recent update. If you’ve not shared any decks, this page of course is blank.

Some shared decks are only one way. For example, Esperanto to English ordered by Wikipedia Usage Frequency is, as the name implies, only Esperanto -> English — that is, only Esperanto prompts with English answers. However, you can readily modify your copy (that you downloaded) so that it goes both ways: gives Esperanto prompts with English answers and also English prompts with Esperanto answers. This brief video explains how, thought the video’s interface doesn’t quite match the current interface. Still, it gives you the idea, and you can experiment. (If you mess up a deck you’ve downloaded, just delete your copy and download it again.) The option to add a second card format is now in a dropdown menu at the upper right when you’re looking at the card template.

Also, make your own deck (and make decks your own)

In addition to any shared deck you download, create your own deck (using the Basic card type — see below). I call my own deck “Daily Words” and I simply add vocabulary words to it as I come across them or look them up. For example, I wanted to know the word for bush, so I looked it up (“arbusto”) and noticed the related word “shrubbery” (“arbustaro,” since “arbusto” means bush or shrub). So “arbusto, arbustaro” went into my deck, with the English side being “bush, shrub; shrubbery..” Using “Add,” I add cards to “Daily Words” as needed.

I also use “Edit” with downloaded decks to revise cards in the downloaded decks — to correct minor errors or to add more nuanced meanings. For example, one downloaded deck had English “free” on one side and Esperanto “libera,” but “free” in English has a couple of meanings. So I revised the card to say (on the English side) “free (political); free (of charge)” and then on the Esperanto side “libera; senpaga.”

Another example: one of the Duolingo decks I downloaded defined “loĝejo” merely as “apartment,” which is too narrow. I used edit to revise the definition to “accommodation, dwelling, residence, abode, apartment.” The basic meaning of “loĝejo” is “dwelling place,” so the word is much more general than merely “apartment.”

It’s particularly important to make your own deck if you want to acquire any specialized vocabulary (unless you’re lucky enough to find a shared deck that focuses on such a vocabulary — though even then you will probably find you will want to edit and add to that deck).

Use the deck daily

After you download a deck to your Anki program, you can use it with the app on your computer/iPhone/Android or using the website in your browser. The app and the website will stay in synch.

When you use the Anki program (on your computer), the top-line menu consists of Decks (displays list of downloaded decks), Add (a card to a deck), Browse (review the cards in a deck — note you choose “current deck” at the left of the browse display to see the cards in that deck), Stats (shows your study statistics), and Sync ( to keep your website decks synced with the decks in your desktop app).

In the Anki program, at the right of each deck in the list of decks is a clickable gear. That menu allows you to rename the deck, change options (e.g., how many new cards are brought into play each day), export the deck, or delete the deck (e.g., once you’re finished with it).

When you go to the Anki website (in your browser), you’ll see a list of the decks you’ve downloaded. The “options” dropdown at the right lets you rename a deck, share it (for decks you create), and delete (for decks you are finished with — the original stays available for others to download, of course: you’re deleting only your copy).

Use it daily. It takes only a few minutes, and it is amazing how quickly information becomes solid. When you’re presented with a new word. Watch this brief video, which explains clearly the use:

 

 

My Esperanto deck for Lernu.net’s course

Lernu.net has an excellent course in Esperanto, taking a somewhat more formal approach than does the Duolingo course, providing a more traditional approach to language learning.

I studied both courses and after about a dozen lessons in Lernu.net, I decided to focus first on Duolingo. I will complete the Duolingo Esperanto course and then return to Lernu.net and complete that. Anki has several decks for the Duolingo vocabulary, and I downloaded three and review those daily. In addition, I made a deck for myself I called “Daily Words.” I add cards to that deck when I come across or look up a word that I need or want to know. That’s not a shared deck, just a deck for my own study, and I recommend making such a deck for yourself, regardless of language. Use the “Basic” card style (see below).

Lernu.net introduces vocabulary and grammar in the context of telling a story — La Teorio Nakamua. It provides audio (look for the speaker symbol or the soundbar at the top of a lesson), and it provides a translation of a sentence when you hover the mouse over the sentence and of a word when you click the word. (See this post for details on using the course.)

However, the vocabulary is not presented separately from the story text, and new vocabulary is often introduced by the way, in exercises and examples. Thus, acquiring vocabulary can be rather hit or miss.

I decided to create a deck of Anki vocabulary cards for the Lernu.net vocabulary, going lesson by lesson (so you learn the vocabulary roughly in the order you encounter it in lessons). I have shared my deck of vocabulary cards for Lernu.net’s course in Esperanto. (For what I’ve learned about using that course effectively, see this post.) Take it for a spin: download it and start using it with Lesson 1 in the Lernu course.

As you use the cards, note that you can revise the text as you want, and even delete cards. I suggest, however, that you do not delete a card that you know. Just click “Easy” and you will see the card less often, and after a few times of clicking “Easy,” you will seldom see it. You also can add cards (see “Add” in the top-line menu. Thus if you encounter new Esperanto words in your general reading, just add them to your copy of the deck.

Anki is a program with many features. I have just scratched the surface, if that, but with the above you can find and use the decks for study.

And I have to say that it works — works really well.

UPDATE: When I first created the deck it showed only Esperanto prompts and provided English answers. That’s because I did not use the Basic card type when I started the deck, a type that will present the card both ways, using each side as a prompt. I was able to fix it, but to avoid the problem, I highly recommend this article. Anki’s own guide is incomprehensible as currently written. Perhaps at some point they will hire a good technical writer and revise (heavily), but right now it reads as though it were written by the programmers.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 May 2020 at 10:17 am

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