EFA Cards are a powerful tool when used correctly. In this tutorial you will learn some general guidelines for studying your flashcards. You will also read some more tips to make sure you are getting maximum effect from your study time.
English First Aid offers 2 kinds of flashcards:
- Pronunciation Trainer Flashcards – for developing correct English pronunciation. These flashcards are pre-made. You can download them and use them immediately.
- EFA Flashcards – These flashcards are more complex. They are “unfinished” and CANNOT be studied immediately. You have to personalize the flashcards according to what you need and what you are trying to learn.
The English Pronunciation Trainer is a special flashcard deck that can help you learn or improve your pronunciation of all the sounds of the English language. Follow the instructions on the card. Practice reading the IPA symbols. Always use your best pronunciation with these cards. Listen carefully and copy the pronunciation. Replay the audio as many times as you need.
I recommend watching these videos to get more detailed instruction on how to pronounce all the sounds in American English:
- IPA – International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English: Sounds: How-To Videos
- American English Vowel Sounds
- American English Diphthong Sounds
- The AH and AW Vowel Sounds
- The EH and AA Vowels
- The EE [i], IH [ɪ], and AY [eɪ] Sounds of American English
- The UR Vowel
- The [ʊ], [u], and [ju] Sounds – American English
- The UH as in BUTTER and Schwa Sounds
- The [oʊ], [aʊ] , [aɪ], and [ɔɪ] Diphthongs
- TR Consonant Cluster
- Minimal Pairs
- STRESS: 2- and 3-syllable Words
- ESL: Reduction and Linking
- Different Ways One Thing can be Pronounced
The English First Aid Flashcards
EFA cards are based on the Antimoon Method. There are separate instructions for each type of card. Please see this tutorial to learn how to use each type of flashcard.
Unlike the Pronunciation Trainer, EFA Flashcards are not specifically for pronunciation. You can and should practice pronunciation when you study these cards, but it’s not your main goal. If pronunciation is not an issue for you at all, you don’t need to practice the pronunciation for every card. You can just read them softly/silently.
**There is one exception: the Pronunciation card. See Helper Cards for more details.
Checking your progress
After you have used Anki for one month, you can check your progress. See this tutorial.
Going too slow
EFA cards are meant to be studied quite fast. Remember to think about the right things when you look at your cards. For example, when you see a pronunciation card, don’t think about the meaning of the word. Just try to pronounce it, and then grade yourself. When you see a sentence card, don’t think about definitions of the words in the sentence, just ask yourself if you can understand what the sentence means. This is a good way to focus your brain power and learn quickly.
Don’t worry if you forget a lot. By using this method on a daily basis, you and your brain will create a pattern of effective learning.
Sometimes you just can’t remember certain words. Maybe you are not ready to remember it. That’s ok. You can always delete the note, or tag and suspend it to study later. Quite often, the reason you can’t remember something is because you don’t care. Don’t try to memorize things you don’t care about.
Be honest when you grade yourself
Each EFA card is a “test.” The only person taking this test is you because it’s a test designed just for you. Be completely honest when you grade yourself. These grades are not like grades in school. You can’t fail. You get to retry as many times as you need! These grades help Anki read your memory and teach you the new information.
It’s ok if you forget one card 15 times. Anki doesn’t care how many times you forget. Keep pressing AGAIN until you have remembered the sentence.
Don’t be afraid to press EASY.
Some people are afraid of this button because it can push your card back so far (1.8 months in the screenshot above).
When your card becomes too familiar (you’ve seen it too many times and you’re tired of it) you need to use the EASY button more often. Don’t worry if you forget it, Anki will find out!
Anki review takes too long
Your Anki review should not take a really long time. 1 hour is quite long. 2 hours is definitely too long. You don’t have to study Anki until it finishes. Decide how much time you have to study and set a time limit for yourself. When you reach your time limit, quit and start again tomorrow.
What if I fall behind?
Sometimes you can’t study. Sometimes you need to travel, you get sick, or you just get tired. That’s ok. These are our guidelines for taking a break.
Don’t take a break, SLOW DOWN.
This is our recommendation instead of taking a break. SRS (spaced repetition software) works best when you use it every day. Instead of quitting completely, just do 10-15 minutes of Anki review. Reduce or cut out your input time (reading/listening to English). Don’t add any new words to Anki. This will make your study time much shorter.
Most people can do this even if they are traveling or busy with other things in life because it’s only 10-15 minutes of your day. It’s much better to study 10-15 minutes/day for 5 days than quitting completely for 5 days.
Of course, reading is always encouraged. If you have to go on a trip, bring a book with you and read it during your downtime. You can skip collecting i+1 sentences WHILE you are on a break. Just enjoy reading 🙂
“I can’t study at all. I need a complete break.”
If you must take a complete break it will take you some time to catch up. The longer you take a break, the longer it will take to catch up. Don’t add any new cards in order to give yourself some more time for Anki review. Plan to spend some extra time every day until you catch up.
In order to catch up faster, you could reduce your input time (reading/listening to English). This gives you more time for Anki review. Don’t push yourself too much. If you normally spent 20 minutes with Anki, spend 30 or 40 minutes. After a while, you will catch up and your Anki review will go back to its normal duration. When this happens you will have more time for getting input (reading, watching movies, etc.) and adding new words/expressions.
“I want to catch up RIGHT NOW.”
If you have a lot of free time, you could study Anki all day to catch up. This is not recommended but it works if you have no other option.
No matter how you decide to catch up, remember this:
It’s always better to study for short periods of time frequently rather than long periods of time infrequently.
Don’t take breaks TOO frequently.
If you take breaks all the time, you will feel like you are always catching up and you won’t have fun. Make sure to keep yourself motivated with fun content all the time so that you don’t want to take breaks 🙂