10 Tips for Learning a Language with Anki

Anki is a cross platform program for learning using spaced repetitions. It uses a “flash card” system with sophisticated scheduling so you can learn each card the minimal number of times that it takes to memorize it. The basic principle is that it shows you the “front” of a card. It can be a definition to a word (or the reverse), a picture, a question or all together. After you decide on what you think the “back” of the card is, you click on a “show answer” button. Then you tell Anki if you were right or not. You can use Anki to learn anything - languages, math, science, music, etc.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://amir.rachum.com/blog/2016/10/19/learning-a-language-with-anki/

In 4th Tip the picture isn’t displayed! Please correct it!

Hello! Is anybody here?

@Anki_Slug fixed, thanks for the heads up!

Hey! Thanks for this. Could you share a more detailed explanation on point 4. I’m trying to figure out how to set up similar templates for learning the various Spanish verb types but don’t quite get how to make the right note type(s) to get started. Thanks!

@bobloblaw I’d love to help - what exactly do you want me to get more details on? I’m afraid I don’t know Spanish, so I’m not sure I know what a good example would be for that.

Thanks Amir. I figured it out, though. I just had to play with the fields and then the cards and was able to produce ten cards for each regular verb by just inputting the infinitive Spanish form and the English translation. Pretty cool.

Great. Sounds awesome!

I have just been overwhelmed by the complexity of Anki and had the good fortune to “stumble” across Amir’s 10 Tips.
Having read his tips I’m now motivated to read the complete manual included with Anki.
Mazal Tov on your treatise.
Kind regards


Can you please explain TIP 4?How to define note type for verb conjugations? and how can anki pair up words to create conjugations?

Hi @arron, can you elaborate on what you’re having trouble with? You can read the manual on how to define your own note types. The example in tip #4 includes adding a new note type, adding custom fields called “Hebrew Singular”, “Arabic: 1st Letter” and so on. Afterwards, you can add cards generated by this new note type. Cards have a front and a back. In this case, the front looks like this:

<p class="qtype">פעלים</p>
{{Hebrew Singular}} - אַנַא

And the back looks like this:


<hr id=answer>
{{Arabic: 1st Letter}}ַ{{Arabic: 2nd Letter}}ַّ{{Arabic: 3rd Letter}}ְת

The {{FrontSide}} bit helps with keeping the question handy when displaying the answer.

Hope this helps, let me know if you need more details.

I am learning Norwegian. It has some verb conjugations. Your arabic example is a bit hard to follow can you perhaps explain it using some english prefixes and suffixes? That would i guess explain the point. Thanks

Hay can you show me how u did it please?

Well, English uses verb conjugations to indicate tense and many English verbs are conjugated in a standard way, so to learn English verbs we could create a note type “Standard Verb” with a “verb” field, e.g., “walk”. Then, we can create several cards, for example, one will have a front like this:

{{verb}} - future

And a back like this:



The present and future cards will be the same, except without the added “ed”. So to create 3 cards for a single verb, we just need to create one note with the base verb. Of course, other verbs in English have exceptions (e.g., did-do, was-be, ran-run, etc.) For these, we might make another note type for non-standard verbs where we have fields for all the different tenses and create a card for each, with the appropriate fields.

Thank you amir now i get it. But i need help with the following

I want to see a verb followed by it meaning then all the conjugations of that verb. If i say have 5 fields; Verb, Meaning, Present, Past, Past Participle. If i create two cards from this note i.e Verb and its Meaning then Verb and all conjugations, Anki will randomize the order later and I wont be able to know whether it is asking me Verb’s meaning or its conjugations when the cards show up. Is there any way around this problem? It is in a way the problem of a word having multiple definitions which one cannot have in a single field. I appreciate your help.

@arron, that shouldn’t be a problem - you can enter whatever text you’d like in the front of the card so, e.g., one of the cards’ front could say:

What's the meaning of the following verb?

With the appropriate fields on the back side. So there’s no chance of confusion.

I have solved the problem in this way

On the front
what is the meaning and past tense of verb {{Verb}}?

On the back i put two fields together like this
{{Meaning}} {{Past}}

It works perfect now. Thanks for the cue

Hi @bobloblaw can you show me how you produced the ten conjugations for the regular verbs in spanish

I just made template cards (10 for each regular verb (-ar, -er, -ir) for each of the endings (1st person, 2nd person, etc).

I honestly don’t remember how I cobbled it together. But here’s a screen short for one–just use that as a template for the others. Then you can choose that card type for the new words and it will make all the related cards. Hope that helps!

thanks a lot i didn’t think you would answer after two years but I’m glad you did, thanks