SRS / Anki and Declensions
October 5, 2009 5:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm learning Ancient Greek, and I'm exploring Spaced Repetition Systems as a learning technique. I've added all of my vocabulary to a deck in Anki, but I'm stuck with declensions. What's the best way to practice declensions in an SRS system?
posted by zenja72 to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know anything about Ancient Greek, but if I were learning a heavily conjugated language I would put, on the front of the card, the word I wanted to conjugate plus some cues -- either in English or in the sentence -- about how I wanted to conjugate it.

So, if I was learning the imperfect in French, I might make a sentence like "Pierre _______ when the doorbell rang (play)." And that tells me to put "play" into the imperfect.

So for a language with declensions, I might do a bunch of very simple sentences where it's clear that the case should be nominative, or genitive, or whatever, and put the correctly declined word on the back of the card.

Or, here's another option, if you want to be able to correctly recognize declensions but not necessarily decline every word you see right away: on the front of the card, put a very simple sentence where the noun is already declined correctly, and just do a TON of those cards, until you feel comfortable with the pattern. When I was studying Spanish, I got really stuck on conjugation until I had been exposed to enough sentences that I started to get a feel for it, so I think it can be a good idea to start with passive recognition before moving on to production.

(see also).
posted by Jeanne at 6:28 AM on October 5, 2009

What I used to do was make up flashcards with, say, "πατέρας" on the front and "father, accusative plural" on the back. And then I could start with either side and try to guess the other.

Reciting whole paradigms never did me any good. Needing to chant "πατέρες—πατέρων—πατράσι—πατέρας!" to yourself every time you want to translate a noun is a little like needing to sing the alphabet song every time you want to read something. YMMV. But from what (admittedly little) I know about SRSes, it sounds like the single question approach will work better there anyway.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:31 PM on October 5, 2009

I'm not sure I fully understand what you mean by SRS but when I learned AG, I would put the word in English and in the singular nominative on the front of the card and write out the full declension on the back. That way I could test myself on the declension while also reinforcing the meaning. I also made cards in which I put only the English on one side so I could test my ability to recall vocab. I found that this created a good backbone for my language skills but that I only became really proficient at vocab and declining when I started doing translations.
posted by Partario at 5:37 PM on October 5, 2009

Aha! I got curious and started reading about how Anki organizes things. It looks like you could set up each noun paradigm as a fact with a bunch of fields in it (nominative.singular, genitive.singular, etc...), and then have it generate cards for each pair of fields ("Here's the genitive singular. What's the nominative singular?" and so on).
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:33 PM on October 5, 2009

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