Graph Associations for Language Learning

I have had quite a few reactions to my post yesterday describing my experience studying Korean using Anki flash cards. The public ones can be read on the Korean subreddit, where the handful of comments tend to be quite critical. Some of that criticism is valid: I probably should use more images in my cards to reduce the need to translate from English, among other suggestions.

Perhaps the largest criticism was that my approach to Anki failed to fully use associations to make it easier for my brain to retain words. Word associations help our memories place words in different contexts, building up a “web” of our vocabulary. Connecting our words with sights, scenes, and sounds allows us to more natively recall vocabulary than simple rote memorization.

I completely agree with this. The problem is that Anki is a terrible product to try to build associative learning. Linear flash cards aren’t linked into any sort of web or graph, and so at some point, they end up pretty much being random flash cards. You can sort of fake it by adding associations to a side of a flash card, but that’s kludgy at best.

I am thinking how to address the problem more directly. How do you do spaced-repetition studying over knowledge graphs? From what I can tell, I can’t really find a lot of information on the topic, but I am going to keep looking. If you see something or know something about the topic, definitely give me a shout out below.

Image from Wikipedia