I must confess that the first time that I formally encountered flash cards as a formal mechanism for learning is when I came across Kanji or the pictorial characters in Japanese.
The Kanjis are formed of many strokes and each Kanji has more than one possible reading (based on the Japanese reading and or borrowed Chinese reading as Kanjis were derived from the Chinese writing system). This makes for a lot of confusion in trying to identify the word or its reading.
So we were encouraged to use flashcards with the kanji on the one side and the reading and meaning on the other side. I even tried making my own cards on paper but my efforts fizzled out. I remember cramming about 100 kanjis on the evening before my N4 exam last year.
And then I found the Kanji flashcard sets on sale at White Rabbit Press- an online website from where you can order a lot of Japan related stuff- from food to manga to flash cards. And that’s what I did – I bought the beginner set of flash cards (thanks to my sister who actually ordered this as a birthday gift!). Delivery was fairly quick in about a week and a half.
The flash cards were really as good as they were advertised. Made out of firm glossy plastic, they are easy to read. The way the content is organised is also quite good- on one side you have the Kanji, the stroke order and a few words using the Kanji. On the other side you have the readings.
I even bought a small holder so that I can carry a bunch of these cards in my handbag wherever I go. I haven’t been using them as much as I’d wanted to but I feel that I’m making slow progress.
They ask you not to be ambitious- they ask you to only focus on one aspect of the card- either just learn only one reading or just the stroke order. However the sky is really the limit.
One thing that is surprising is that the kanjis are not arranged in order of perceived simplicity- so the deck doesn’t start with the Kanji for 1 (as all other textbooks normally do)- a single horizontal stroke. This makes for an interesting combination- rather than having to slough it through the numbers before having to move on to other words.
Here’s the link for White Rabbit Press
And the Kanji Flash Cards
Have you ever tried learning with flashcards? How did you like it? Did you find them effective? Do share your thoughts.