Learning German, the way I have approached building up my vocabulary for the past 1.5 years has been:

  • read an article or watch a youtube video,
  • for every word I don’t know, check how frequent it is wortschatz.uni-leipzig.de
  • if frequent enough, make an Anki flashcard with the word and its definition and/or an image if possible,
  • review the flashcards deck at the end of the word hunting session.

This works, but has its drawbacks. Here’s a few:

  • it gets pretty dry,
  • words have often multiple meanings, and trying to remember all/many of them when reviewing a flashcard just doesn’t work well,
  • the context of a word is important, but it is completely lost in this approach.

About a month ago, I stumbled upon the idea of “sentence mining”.

Instead of only taking the unknown word, one uses the whole sentence containing the word (and no other unknown words) for the card’s front, and the meaning of the word in that specific context for the card’s back side.

Using www.languagereactor.com with a nice Netflix series, sentence mining has made my sessions a lot more enjoyable, and more effective as well. Reviews are faster, and the words take more “personality”, they stick more.

Giovanni Carmantini @giov