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

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I Quit: 2+ Years of Anki and the (Near) Impossibility of Learning Languages

Language learning sucks. It sort of sucks for kids, but it certainly sucks for adults. This is my journey trying to learn Korean, and slowly coming to the realization that our current learning tools are simply not adequate for the job.

I don't have answers, although I certainly have ideas.


For the past five years or so, I have been studying the Korean language. I began in 2010 as I was preparing to be a Fulbright Researcher in South Korea. (technically, I started studying months before hearing back from the U.S. government that I was actually going — call it youthful confidence).

Since then, I have spent hundreds of hours studying Anki flash cards, reading books and articles, taking classes, getting tutored, watching movies,

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