My journey with flashcards began when I read the Fluent Forever book by Gabriel Wyner (which I would highly recommend to anyone learning languages) where he talks about the benefits of flashcards and spaced repetition to memorise any language forever.
Initially, to create flashcards I used websites and apps, such as Anki and Flashcards Deluxe. These digital flashcards contained words, pictures and audio to enhance all areas of learning.
What I found… Anki allows for a lot of customisation in what information you want to include and generating multiple cards but the interface isn’t the friendliest. Flashcards deluxe allows you to pull together a spreadsheet and automate the cards you make using Google Drive or Dropbox which is also fun. The biggest downside is that both take a lot of time. For example, finding the audio recordings and images, downloading into a file and then pulling it all together onto the card before you can even start learning. Spending 2-3 hours and only getting flashcards that will last you 10 minutes of practice didn’t make me feel like my time was being used to it’s fullest.
Now, I have started a new journey with Icelandic, I thought I would try a new approach to help me learn the sounds from the land of Frost and Fire and go back to basics with hand drawn flashcards. WARNING – For all linguists and technical language people – I have not used the phonetic alphabet here, instead opting for the less accurate but much quicker method of using English words with the same sounds. I plan on learning it in the future but to start it now would mean that I have little to no chance of reaching my Icelandic goal for my trip.
The design for the flashcards I have created is similar to the old illustrations that were used to teach children the alphabet; A is for Apple, B is for Ball etc. I thought this was a very simple way of getting the idea across and it clearly worked teaching me the alphabet so should be simple enough for this purpose.
On the front of each card is the letter I am learning followed by a work containing the letter to show the context. The reverse has an English word with the corresponding sound but replaced with the Icelandic letters. I also drew a little picture for each sound to help visualise the sound in my mind.
Along with each card I am using Forvo to listen to pronunciations of each example word. Forvo is a fantastic website that you should add to your bookmarks now for easy access to a huge library of recordings from native speakers. A free app is also available on Google store and iOS. As I am learning the sounds I want to make sure that I am pronouncing them correctly so I have a solid grounding when I get to the next stage.
Once I am confident with these sounds I will move on to basic phrases and vocabulary to add into my ever growing Icelandic Deck.