Tools Review: 7 – Paper Flash Cards Have Their Place

Once upon a time in a scary world where there wasn’t SRSs, people used bits of paper to record pieces of information on that they had to learn. It was a scary scary time as no one understood that they were making themselves dread their hand melting from overuse!

Ah, well maybe some people are still living in a more scary place right now. I remember not just 5 years ago in HS I was forced to make hundreds of flashcards for my French classes. I remember having to make hundreds of flashcards for my (shh!) marching band days. This just seemed the best way at the time because I didn’t know any better.

Also, lets just face it, we can’t take our iphones everywhere (or if you’re  poor sauce like me, you cannot even afford one!) and what will you do to keep your studying going?

Paper flash cards can fit in really nice when you absolutely cannot reach the better alternative to yummy mobile srs. There are multiple ways to do them and lots of ways to keep track of them.

So lets cover some basics.

  • Write neatly with pen (this is a must, if you can’t read your own handwriting, you could learn something wrong, pencil fades to fast)
  • print from a computer (cut and paste, or print on labels, this can be a great option if you really wanted to guarantee accuracy and it saves on the hand tiring problem)
  • do not waste a card with just one entry (do not put more than 6 either or it could get confusing)
  • do not be afraid to use pictures (who said you only could use black and white words?)
  • rubber bands, keyring (hole punched corners for looping), and flash card holders are nice for keeping your cards together and in order
  • you can buy premade cards (though this can spell better accuracy, their format maybe not right for you)
  • number your cards (if you’re following a book a numbering system could help you keep track of where you got the vocab word from in case you need more usage. IE: Unit 2 lesson 4 has 6 vocab, numbering like 2.4.1, 2.4.2, 2.4.3, ect.)
  • find a good size (nothing is worse than too bulky a card or too small a card that’s annoying to handle, or that cannot fit into your pocket/book bag/purse, ect.)
  • If writing by hand, write as you go (this can save on hand cramping by not loading yourself down with too much work at once)
  • Keep it simple (you’re not trying to write essays, srs card making rules apply here just as much)

Seems pretty easy enough yah? I know a lot of people recommend only one answer per card, but I find this to be a huge waste of time and energy and money! I never had a problems confusing entries, but if you’re not sure, then try both formats out on just two or three cards and see which one works better for you and your wallet.

In the end though, if you plan to card up all your vocab, or sentences, or whatever else have you, then it could prose a grand ol problem in terms of thousands and thousands of cards. If you’re just thinking Kanji alone, hello! that’s 3k right there bare minimum! I know that seems a bit daunting, which is why I think you should try to think of it as one card at a time only, and save the bulk of cards for your srs and only information that takes you a bit more to learn, or parroting phrases to take on the go.

I’m assuming that you are reading this through your own computer and internet connection, so using an srs once a day shouldn’t be to hard, and the paper flash cards can be kept to a minimum, for only using when you’re on the go without the ability of a mobile device. However, if you truly feel this is the best thing for you, then be one with the Force! Remember to take breaks from your handwriting!


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  • Read More or Die! 2011

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    Placement: 115/188
    October 2011 Contest:
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    End Tally: 59.2
    July 2011 Contest:
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    End Tally: 195.6
    April 2011 Contest:
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    End Tally: 154.5
    January 2011 Contest:
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