Community Tutor
A question about using flash cards.

It is true that you should use difference learning strategies for difference stage of English learning. For vocabulary improving, flash cards are recommended by most of teachers. Two years ago, I did use flash cards for a short term. Over time I found using flash cards is not an effective way again. One of the facts is that I can remember some words for a short term but I cannot use those words effectively. When I come back to write something, still I use those very common words. It means that I don't internalize those words in my mind. 

When I was a beginner two year ago. using flash cards was very helpful for me. It was very helpful to remember those basic meanings of words. One the biggest results was that I can read more and more. 

When I google my question, I do find some suggestions about avoid using flash cards for a intermediate English learner. 

I want to know:

1. If you are intermediate or advanced English learner, how do you do for improving vocabulary?

2. If you are a native speakers, how about you? I know there is a fact that only 5% new words  on average are improved for native speakers after they graduated.

Apr 15, 2018 2:25 AM
Comments · 5
I think your flash cards should develop together with you. 
Earlier, I had written down a new word on a card, now I write down whole phrases. 
But those words from flash cards are still in your passive vocabulary, whilst you don't use them in speech.
April 15, 2018
At your level,  I'd recommend you find some reading material that you like that is just a little bit higher than your present level ~ and have fun reading it.
April 15, 2018
Lawrence, I just dont' do anything in particular. I'm lazy.

But: if you have some specific vocabulary you want to internalize using flashcards... A very straightforward way would be just usung them in your wiritng and in speech. I don't know.... print a list? Set a task  - to use 10 words from the list in your messages today. Something like that.

I also thing, writting a post in Chinese and then translating it in English will suddenly reveal many weaknesses. This must be informative - not as learning exercise but for control. I think translation must have some place in learning. Just some. Like everything:)
In general, trying different activities you find that one of them is productive in your current siutuation, not because you are b2 or a2 - but because you used to neglect this kind of things.

And there is passive stuff, aimed at making it comfortable rather then 'forcing' anything. Audio-books is great thing, may be a novel already familiar to you, may be even a bilingual edition. I mean, a book in hands and audio in headphones. Depends on your level.
Not necessary original English, can be a translation. When it is supported by audio, that's better.

As I told, I'm lazy:) these are just ideas. Except audio-books who are common practice.
April 15, 2018
I do not avoid using flash cards because it works very well for me. 
I use Ankiweb app which is based on the space repetition approach which allows me to retain words in a long-term memory. I always try to learn a new word as a whole expression or sentence in a real context which I have come across and it must be connected to my life, opinions or my real experience. I usually don’t learn more than 5 words/expressions/idioms per day.  It’s the best way to get a solid passive vocabulary in order to read whatever I want to. Then I usually spend any spare time, for instance when sitting on the bus, waiting at the doctor  etc. memorising them through this app.
Reading regularly helps me as well. I just read without trying to memorise new words or expressions. 
To have an active vocabulary I should speak a lot or write a lot and that is a big problem for me beacuse of the lack of  opportunities or discipline to do that. Fortunately speaking or writing is not my current priority although I’d like to improve my casual conversation abilities to built my confidence. 
April 15, 2018

One thing that I noticed about using flashcards is that when I study them everyday, I am more likely to recognize and understand when someone else uses the words I add to my deck.  But it is really hard to recall those words and use them in my speech.  

What helps me to use newly learned vocab in my speech right away is to practice making sentences with them.  Also, I try to use new vocab words right away.  If I am talking to someone in Vietnamese, and I learn a new word during that conversation, I try to figure out a way to use that same word right away.

April 15, 2018