Question about vocabulary card design

I wish to start using Anki for learning a new language’s vocabulary and before building my deck I’m curious what other language learners have found most helpful in terms of card design. The options, broadly, seem to be:

  1. Front = word, back = translation, with gender info if relevant etc.
  2. Front = word, back = translation, example sentence, possibly image and other information.

I can see the 2 will absolutely lead to better overall recall, but at the expense of time, as it will take a long longer to create each card. Also in many cases (e.g. Simple nouns), example sentences will not be necessary.

Would someone who uses Anki heavily for language learning be able to shed some light on this topic? Thank you!

You can create many cards from the same note by expanding on the “Basic (optional reversed card)” note type.

So for nouns, for example, you could have fields for:

Foreign-language word
English translation
Reverse? (if it is non-blank, with something like “y”, then create a reverse card)
Plural (if irregular, or leave it blank)
Pronunciation (if non-phonetic, or leave it blank)

So one card would have Word on the front and Meaning on the back. Another would have Word on the front and Gender on the back. And so on.

Images are nice, but they tend to be more trouble than they’re worth.

They’re only useful for concrete nouns (like “apple”) and not for abstract nouns (like “introspection” or whatever), and not for anything that isn’t a noun.

Also it’s surprisingly hard to find a really “iconic” image for a lot of things, without clutter or ambiguity. And there are copyright issues if you want to share your deck later and it contains random unlicensed photos from all over the internet. One possibility is to ask generative AI services to draw a picture for you from scratch.

The “reverse” cards (going from English meaning on the front to the original foreign-language word on the back) only make sense in some situations, like when there’s a very clear one-to-one correspondence.

Like, let’s say you’re French and you’re using Anki to learn English. So you’d have a card that says “small” on the front and “petit” on the back. But you’d have another card that says “little” on the front and also “petit” on the back. So neither of those cards would have Reverse enabled, because it would prompt you for “petit” and you wouldn’t know if the “right” answer it was looking for was “small” or “little”.

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OK, thank you for these insights.

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