Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

The Cheating & Consolidating Method

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
136 messages over 17 pages: << Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 16 17
Senior Member
GermanyRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 6748 days ago

133 posts - 156 votes 
Speaks: Vietnamese, German*, English
Studies: French, Japanese, Romanian, Swedish, Mandarin

 Message 129 of 136
13 November 2014 at 12:12am | IP Logged 
Hi emk,
thanks for this thread. I actually discovered this thread after I read your blog post on studying one Assimil lesson per week in Ancient Egyptian.

I've been re-studying French with Assimil for a couple of weeks by now ( There's a a great shared deck with audio and all the sentences from the exercises). In the early morning I listen to the audio and read through the lesson in the book, and during the day I just do my sentences with Ankidroid. I have set the number of new cards to 10/day which seems like the ideal amount for me to study without stress. Because of this setting (and the fact that I just found the Anki deck last week), I'm basically always getting sentences on anki that I already know.

Before I found your post, I had thought about creating reverse cards for the "Assimil active phase". But now, that I've seen the MCD examples, I'd love to give cloze deletion a try. I've studied French before, so I'm more interested in testing myself on the grammar and tricky parts.

Could you write more about your workflow? Do you input the sentences and create the cloze deletions in one large batch on the weekend, or is it part of your daily routine? Is it possible to create MCD cards on the fly from your sentence cards?

That's the issue that I have right now. It looks as if you can only create cloze deletion cards when the note format is set at cloze note card.

Is it possible for me to review my sentence cards (front: French sentence, Back: Translation) everytime I find an interesting card, to simply add this card as a cloze deletion note?

2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 5126 days ago

537 posts - 1045 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin, French, Spanish

 Message 130 of 136
13 November 2014 at 3:17am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
I've recently decided to put this whole "cheating and consolidating" idea to the most extreme test I can imagine,
by starting a brand-new language with nothing, and
using the most excessive forms of cheating I can dream up.

I find that exaggerating. Learning Spanish after native English and good French is not learning a "brand-new langugage", your English and French are not "nothing", and I'm sure you can dream up even more excessive forms of cheating very soon :D

Also from an English and French background, back on my 3rd day of learning Spanish, I only missed the 5 underlined words in this sentence:

Hace mucho, mucho tiempo, en la época en la que la noche era negra, sombría e impenetrable ya que la luna no la iluminaba todavía, una joven llamada Bamako vivía en la aldea Kikamo.

I was using advanced textbooks by month 2, and reading Wikipedia smoothly by month 3. I felt I could reach B2/C1 by, what, month 4? But it turned out that the next few months weren't as easy as the first 3. What took the most time was listening. So I think you're on to a good start to approach Spanish from listening.

emk wrote:
I've recently decided to put this whole "cheating and consolidating" idea to the most extreme test I can imagine...

And again, no, your's is not THE MOST extreme, because mine has to be extremER. I'm cheating with Russian :D I mean to do some sort of experiment, but I haven't yet settled on one good cheat that's both systematic and reproduceable. I'm still just doing micro-cheating here and there, nothing to write on HTLAL about. We'll see.

Thanks for all that writing and screenshot you do.


Edited by smallwhite on 13 November 2014 at 3:18am

1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 5350 days ago

2615 posts - 8806 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 Message 131 of 136
13 November 2014 at 3:19am | IP Logged 
Thuan wrote:
Could you write more about your workflow? Do you input the sentences and create the cloze deletions in one large batch on the weekend, or is it part of your daily routine? Is it possible to create MCD cards on the fly from your sentence cards?

I haven't found a good way to create MCD cards on the fly while reviewing, though I agree that would be a very nice idea. I generally wait until I have a couple hours free, and make up a whole bunch of cards—enough to keep me busy for a couple weeks, ideally.

For working with native materials in French, I use a custom set of tools which allows me to capture sentences from ebooks and websites, add dictionary definitions and images, make clozes, and do bulk imports into Anki. I'm going to make these tools available to the HTLAL community one of these days.

I like working from especially fun or interesting native materials when I can do so easily—Assimil is a wonderful course, but it's more fun to work with quotes from native books or movies as soon as I can figure them out without too much work.

A few thoughts on MCDs:

- I like larger MCD cards, with more context and multiple clozes that turn into separate cards. Khatzumoto's "official" MCD style is quite good, and it creates a nice quantity of cards for minimal labor.

- There's an MCD approach that Khatzumoto recommends that's hard to create with Anki, but that I'd really like to try someday. For example, this would involve creating cloze cards that automatically clozed all Spanish verb endings—one card per ending, which hides all instances of that ending on that card. And the same for articles, prepositions, etc.

- The easier the better. I'm especially fond of "half-word clozes", where I only hide half a vocabulary word. Or sometimes I'll make two cards which each hide half. These work surprisingly well, even with horrible Egyptian vocabulary words that consist entirely of consonants.

- As long as I fill in the cloze, I count it as a pass. I read the rest of the card as needed for clues, or it seems amusing.

- As always, I delete any card which annoys or bores me, or makes me say, "Oh, no, not that card again." I always have far more cards than I need, and deleting annoying cards will rapidly make Anki far more pleasurable.

So that's how I do it: I create in bulk, I prefer longer chunks of text, I make several cards from the same source, I make things as easy as I can, I set low standards for passing, and I delete ruthlessly.
1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 5350 days ago

2615 posts - 8806 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 Message 132 of 136
13 November 2014 at 3:39am | IP Logged 
smallwhite wrote:
Learning Spanish after native English and good French is not learning a "brand-new langugage", your English and French are not "nothing", and I'm sure you can dream up even more excessive forms of cheating very soon :D

Well, fair enough. I spoke with too much enthusiasm. :-) But I do have another experiment with fewer cognates. It takes a bit more work to learn new vocabulary, and I appreciate the graded nature of Assimil more, but it feels pretty similar overall.

Personally, it doesn't really seem to matter why I understand something. Cognates and and parallel text and pictures work equally well. Similarly, inferring from context and looking things up in the dictionary produce similar results if they produce similar understanding.
1 person has voted this message useful

Joined 5838 days ago

15 posts - 23 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: French

 Message 133 of 136
07 December 2014 at 3:00pm | IP Logged 
I guess I use a similar method to this, but just on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer thing I've found the Simpsons is actually a great set of source material for learning French. DVDs are so cheap these days you can buy a whole season (25 episodes or so) for less than 30 euros on

I'm not a massive Simpsons fan or anything, but I've found it really useful for a number of reasons. First, the audio is far clearer than using a French film or a regular TV show - everything is pronounced very clearly and there's no background noise. Second, the French subtitles on the DVDs I've used are pretty much completely accurate because obviously the actors are just reading from a script (I've noticed you often get subtitles that can differ quite significantly from what's actually being said, which is a pretty big issue if you're using it to learn a language).

Finally the episodes are both short enough and entertaining enough to not make it a chore - whereas realistically watching a whole film, for instance, isn't something you can do every night with your dinner.

5 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5294 days ago

821 posts - 1273 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: FrenchB1

 Message 134 of 136
11 December 2014 at 2:17am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

Unlikely to Work: Overlearning a few beginner courses without moving on

Some people make great progress with a good beginner course, but afterwards, they
never move on to native materials (or to lots of conversations). Instead, they devote
a large amount of time to reviewing what they've already studied.

.... I don't know why, maybe it's the class-clown that isn't funny in me, but I have
to point out, this is definitely me. I must say I am managing to progress better than
ever now, but in the past I definitely reused the same courses over and over as i'd
come back from long periods of doing nothing and restart from the beginning.

I know this doesn't come as any astounding revelation that warrants grand attention,
but I just feel like sharing.... (I don't think i"ve really gotten used to talking
about myself on forums, although I seem quite good at waffling on once I get started).
Maybe I should learn to divulge more useful information to others than simply talking
back to myself. Oh, i'm very vain indeed....

Nowadays I'm certainly still fixated on courses and can't seem to let that go- i'm not
willing to actually - i'm willing only to solider through them. My main issue was
really procrastination which isn't entirely absent from my study patterns still, but
at least now i'm progressing further and not entirely reusing old material (yes still
some, it's going I swear... gradually). Can you believe it, I do actually have more
advanced courses to come (if I ever get there), and I am actually using native
materials now. But if anyone wants to learn something from my waffle - don't buy 750
different courses that you feel you MUST work through. If you're anything like me in
that respect, buy materials as you progress, this way you wont feel obliged to use
them all and take forever getting to your goals! Mind you C2 is a tough goal, and
using multiple courses does have some merits.

This forum has helped immensely to teach me the importance of native materials. And
emk... your advice and help to other learners like myself on this forum is incredibly
valuable, even if with stubborn ones like myself you only make a few inroads on their
flawed methods. Thank you emk.. just to clarify this isn't sarcasm, I do appreciate
your advice.
4 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 6415 days ago

9753 posts - 15779 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 Message 135 of 136
13 July 2015 at 11:14am | IP Logged 
some inspiring posts from Kuji <3
4 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 3230 days ago

136 posts - 149 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 Message 136 of 136
11 August 2015 at 2:55am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
Or How I Reached 99.8% Comprehension of (Some) French Fiction While Goofing Off

[I’ve said all this before, but I think it’s time to put all the pieces together in one article. This is a long article,
and it mostly covers passive skills. But you shouldn’t need lots of insider knowledge to make sense of it, and
it includes almost all of my favorite tricks.]

During the Super Challenge, I read over 10,000 pages of French, and I spent about 90 hours reviewing
sentence cards in Anki. By the end of the challenge, something really cool had happened: I could understand
virtually everything I read, easily, almost as if I were reading in English. I could understand most of the text
automatically, just by looking at it. Nearly all of the rest of the text was easily decipherable just by staring at it
for a few seconds. And only 1 or 2 words out of every 1,000 were completely opaque to me.

As best as I can figure it out, here’s how this worked, from the beginning up to today.

Opaque, Decipherable & Automatic

When I first started learning French, it was mostly opaque. Sure, I could guess a few words thanks to Latin
roots, and maybe I could get a very general idea of what the text was about. But I couldn’t actually read it.

Thanks to Assimil’s
New French with Ease
, I gradually reached the point where I could decipher a fair bit of French
text. (I’ll talk more about Assimil shortly.) Reading wasn’t easy—I read slowly, and I could only understand
about 70% of a typical page, even with guesswork. But I picked up aventure-langue-fran%C3%A7aise/dp/2764405618http://www.amazo
fran%C3%A7aise/dp/2764405618">La grande aventure de la langue française
, a 450-page history
of the French language, and spent a couple of months plowing through it slowly. But by the end of the book, I
found that I could understand more and more of the text automatically, without deciphering it.

Let me put this in visual format:

In the story above, text started out opaque. With various forms of cheating, it became decipherable.
(“Decipherable” corresponds to what the linguist Stephen Krashen calls “i+1 input”: something you can
understand thanks to context and effort, but which you haven’t fully internalized yet.) And with more
exposure, I could eventually consolidate this decipherable text into something I could read normally.

Note that all three kinds of input will typically appear together during this process: Parts of a text will be easy,
other parts can be figured out with some effort, and some parts make no sense at all.

Cheating & Consolidating: Assimil

I never would have gotten started in French without Assimil’s Assimil-Method-Books/dp/2700520130">New French with Ease. This is a great course, published
by a third-generation family company in France. Each lesson in this book contains:

1. A short text in French.
2. An English translation of the French text.
3. An audio recording of the French text.
4. Short explanations of how things work.
5. Some simple exercises.

The idea is that you read through the English text, and use it to puzzle out the corresponding French text and
audio. This usually takes me 8 to 12 passes through the material, focusing on the different versions in various

Each Assimil lesson is short, requiring 20 to 40 minutes, and there are slightly over 100 lessons. Starting with
lesson 50, the student is encouraged to start an “active wave”, which involves going back to old lessons, and
translating from English and to French.

So how does this fit into the model?

Cheating: Assimil starts out very simple French texts, with English translations and explanations. If I
made multiple passes through the lesson, this was enough that I could eventually hide the English, and
“understand” the French directly.

Consolidating: As the course progresses, Assimil repeats lots of common vocabulary and grammar.
Further repetition and consolidation was provided by my 8 to 12 passes through each lesson, and by the
active wave.

Cheating & Consolidating: Extensive Reading

Since I’ve started learning French, I’ve read between 10,000 and 15,000 pages of novels, news articles, bad
humor sites, and so on. That’s the equivalent of 40 to 60 short novels, or around 2.5 million to 5 million words.
At first, this involved a lot of fumbling around, but things got better quickly:

500 pages: I could read! In French! OK, I was slow and missed a lot.
2,500 pages: Reading got dramatically easier and faster.
7,500 pages: I could read about 40 pages per hour with an "opaque" word every other page or so. Not

Cheating: I discovered lots of fun ways to cheat. My favorites are (1) e-readers with pop-up
dictionaries, and (2) reading French translations of my favorite books, which I already knew by heart. Another
great way to cheat is to use parallel texts, like Assimil does.

Consolidating: Reading a few thousand pages will provide an amazing amount of consolidation.

Cheating & Consolidating: Anki Sentence Cards

Anki is a great tool for reviewing information efficiently. It exploits the
language-or-anything-else/">forgetting curve to get as much information into your head with as little
effort as possible. My favorite way to use Anki is to make “sentence cards” with short blanks to fill in. Here’s a
sample card I just made from Books/dp/2700520130">New French with Ease lesson 1:


Pardon, madame. [___] est le métro Saint-Michel ?
Excuse me (pardon) madam. Where is the metro [station] St. Michel?


Pardon, madame. est le métro Saint-Michel ?
Excuse me (pardon) madam. Where is the metro [station] St. Michel?

The card format was first popularized by Khatzumoto under the name
MCD cards.
It works best if you don’t worry too much about any given card, and if you delete any card which annoys you.
Remember: If something’s important, and if you read enough, then you’ll see it again soon. Keep things easy
and fun, and don’t try to learn more than 10 new cards per day for the first month—the reviews build up
quickly. Oh, and eventually you’ll reach a point where you don’t really need an English translation any more.

Cheating: Most of the “cheating” here happens when you make the cards, because you can look up
missing vocabulary and puzzle things over. But you can also stick an English translation or other hints on the
front of the card.

Consolidating: Anki will review these cards at rapidly increasing interviews, and most of the cards will
sneak into your brain like an annoying top-40 song lyric. Even hard cards will often become a lot easier
around the 30-day mark.

Cheating & Consolidating: Buffy on DVD

Once I could more-or-less read French, and once I could have one-on-one conversations with very patient
and sympathetic French speakers, I decided to do something about listening comprehension. After many
false starts, I discovered some online Buffy
and I bought a saisons/dp/B00BD7LI6E/">DVD box set. When I started watching, I could follow maybe 40% of the
dialog. By the end of the first season, I could understand 70%. By the end of the third season, I understood
well over 90%. I repeated this with several other TV series, and I could eventually understand the vast
majority of French television.

Cheating: For the first half-season, I read through episode transcripts, looked up unknown words, and
watched every episode twice. But even after that, television series offer many subtle ways to cheat: pictures
of the action, repeated vocabulary, and familiar voices.

Consolidating: Again, TV series provide an excellent way to consolidate your knowledge, because you
can watch season after season.

In a Nutshell

Find cool things to read and watch. Cheat any way you can until you can decipher them. Keep doing this until
your knowledge consolidates and the language becomes second nature.

You are encouraged to invent your own methods for cheating, as long as you remember to spend plenty of
time consolidating!

UPDATE: For another example of "cheating and consolidating" taken to an extreme, see
my Spanish
subs2srs log

Can you do this method with any language program?

1 person has voted this message useful

This discussion contains 136 messages over 17 pages: << Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 

If you wish to post a reply to this topic you must first login. If you are not already registered you must first register

Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum

This page was generated in 0.7637 seconds.

DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2024 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.