IWTYAL 105: Which side of a flashcard should you display first?

Wilbert asks: “I’m learning Portuguese with flashcards. Which side of the flashcard should I display first?”

In this episode:

  • If you display the foreign word first, you only have to recognise it
  • If you display the mother-tongue word first, you have to recall and produce the word in the target language – much harder to do

Resources mentioned in today’s episode:

  • Make Words Stick – a short video lesson about memorising vocabulary and not forgetting it

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How To Memorize Words In Any Language...And NOT Forget Them later!

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  • Iris

    Why not do both? Half of the art of speaking is understanding what the other person says, so word recognition is very important. Our passive vocabulary (words that we understand but wouldn’t necessarily produce ourselves) will need to be larger than our active vocabulary, so there’s still a need to learn words in the target language –> native language way.
    I have flashcards both ways, with some words that I only want to be able to recognise only in the target language –> native language. For other words I use flashcards both ways, also displaying native language first.

    • Hi Iris. Of course that’s fine – everyone has their preferred ways. However, if I’m working on recognition only, I’d probably prefer to read books than use flashcards.

  • dandiprat

    I’ve seen ads for your book on flashcards on Facebook, but it wasn’t convenient to buy. I subsequently tried to look it up afterward a few times, but I can’t find the link from your front page or other parts of the page.