How to Retain your Hebrew Vocabulary

October 27, 2010 15:21

Vocab! Vocab! Vocab!

ANKI gets its name from the Japanese term for "memorising". And indeed it is a phenomenal way to get your Hebrew vocabulary to stick already! I was told about ANKI on my daily walk to Ulpan last winter and I’ve been a huge missionary ever since.

If you’re one of those people who try time and again to remember certain words that continue to elude you, then ANKI is for you. The best part is that you can spend literally 10 minutes per day, and notice significant results within a week or so.

ANKI is basically free software that you can use online or download onto your computer, mobile phone or other portable device. It has been designed to help you remember ‘facts’ (for example, nouns such as furniture) easily, quickly and efficiently.

In short, it helps you to learn absorb a lot of information with minimal time and effort!


Flashcard / Spaced Repetition System

ANKI is a ‘spaced repetition’ / flashcard system. The flashcards can be almost anything you want – individual words or characters, sentences, audio or graphics. Using ‘spaced repetition’ ANKI helps you to increase your learning speed and retention by repeating the terms you don't know more often, and gradually decreasing those that you do know.

When ANKI presents you with a flashcard, you try to recall the answer (for example ANKI gives you the word ‘drawer’, and you rack your brain for the correct Hebrew term ‘megera’). You then click a button and the correct answer appears. After that you tell ANKI (honestly!) how easily you remembered the answer (from a choice of buttons). If you found it hard, then ANKI shows you the card again very soon. However, if you remembered it easily, ANKI waits longer until you are next tested on that card (there’s no point reviewing terms that you already remember).

Tailored to Your Personal Learning Needs

One great thing about ANKI is that you enter the data that you personally want or need to learn, structure the questions exactly as you like, and enter new data at a pace that suits you. You can choose to test your recall in two directions – guessing the answer from the question, and also guessing the question from the answer (i.e. test yourself from English to Hebrew and vice versa).

It is also possible to add graphics and even sound files into your decks. But even when you’re only using text, it is worth reading the questions and answers out loud if you can.

Keeping it under Control

One disadvantage of ANKI is that if you add too many ‘facts’ (e.g. by loading a pre-existing deck, or importing data from a vocabulary list) you can end up spending inordinate amounts of time clicking the “Again” button. Also, following a busy period in your life where you are unable to review your decks, overdue ‘cards’ will just keep stacking up. So it is ideal to review all of your ANKI cards on a regular basis.

It is also worthwhile setting a time limit on your ANKI session, to avoid feeling demoralised by lots of unfamiliar cards. This can also help indicate when you’re ready to add new information, if there aren’t enough ‘cards’ to keep you busy for your usual study time.


Click here to download the free software from (you can make a donation if you choose to).


Overall I strongly recommend ANKI to anyone who needs to memorise a lot of vocabulary in the most efficient way possible. Increasing your vocabulary can have a huge impact on all of your Hebrew skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing. And, of course, it works perfectly with English Hebrew by Subject where you can pick a topic and choose the words you personally want or need to learn.


If you have any questions, comments or feedback, please write to:

October 27, 2010 15:21

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