Buried by vocabulary

This post is a rant about vocabulary.  I recommend you skip it.  Really.  

The good, the bad, and the ugly.  I promised I would share.  I am in a state of frustration at the moment, so I can’t see the humor in it.  Hopefully my readers will have more of a sense of humor.  I am totally open to helpful suggestions.


I have yet to settle on a way I am comfortable with to keep track of the vocabulary I am learning.  I have tried a Word document, Excel spreadsheets, Memrise decks, and LingQ.

It is all spinning out of control, honestly.  I could see from the beginning that it was going to turn into a major data management issue.

Turn back now.  I am going to launch into full rant mode.  You’ve been warned!

Memrise is good for getting me to work on learning terms, but once I feel like I know them, I want to not have to keep seeing them.  I want a way to say, enough already, I am sick of this term/phrase, don’t show it to me for a few days.

My experience with the 166 terms in the 1000 Korean words deck is that the burden never feels lighter.  It is 30 more terms to look at every time I go into Memrise daily.  good for the people who can breeze through 10 words a minute with flashcards.  My experience is it takes a lot longer.  I haven’t timed it, but I must be spending 40 minutes a day on just the 1000 Korean words deck.

I also have a a deck for telling time, a deck of Korean Digital Academy terms and sentences, a deck of Glossika sentences, plus decks that other KDA members have created. Working my way through all of that is feels like work.

LingQ just doesn’t work for me as a flashcard system.  According to LingQ, I have 1028 known words and 468 words I am learning (“lingQ’s”).  These are crazy numbers, because a word to LingQ is a string of characters.  It has no logic for separating out the particles, politeness, or conjugation.  It can’t handle words that have multiple meanings.  It’s dictionary look ups are often wrong, or it asks me the novice to come up with a definition if the word isn’t already in their database (which is often the case).  So LingQ flashcards are madness.  Perhaps 20 percent are words I would want to put on a list to learn.


I thought to export the words from LingQ, but this function does not appear to work correctly for Korean, because of the Unicode I suspect.  Known words seem impossible to access, but LingQ’s can be printed.  You can see the PDF files here. lingq_list_page1 lingq_list_page2 lingq_list_page3 The phrases that LingQ picked are mostly garbage and the definitions unreliable.  Plus random things creep in like English and http links.

At this point, I may just have to print out the PDF files, highlight which terms I want to learn, and manually type them into an Excel spreadsheet.  Phew.  That will be a lot of work for 468 words.

What seems to be my best option at this point is to take all the words I am learning for all the different sources and combine them into one uber-list in Excel.  I’ll end up programming the SRS functionality and known word tracking myself plus add in the extra information I want in my dictionary of terms I am learning.

I predict it will start out in Excel, migrate to Microsoft Access, eventually become a SQL database on a website.  We’ll see.  All more programming and data entry than I want to do just to learn a language.

However, the thought of trying to manage 1500 paper flashcards for all this?  Frightening. It obviously needs some kind of automation.


So here I am.  Faced with a ridiculous amount of data entry which my dyslexia makes difficult to keep error-free.   It sounds pretty far from a fun learning activity.  I can understand now why people just reach the point of dread when it comes to working their flashcard decks.

OK.  This will all resolve itself.  Just because I do not have an answer today doesn’t mean I won’t find an answer soon.  I will just have to push through the parts of this language learning that seems like drudgery to get to the point where I have control over my vocabulary lists.


I feel better already having had my rant.  What are you still doing reading this?  I warned you it was a complete rant!  Go do something better with your time than listen to me!  haha


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4 Responses to Buried by vocabulary

  1. Naahh says:

    When I read what you said about LingQ one thing just popped in my mind… Did you try “Learning With Texts”?
    It’s quite similar to LingQ, it’s free and easy to use. Some people think it’s not easy to install but since you’re a programmer, I really don’t think you’ll have problems 🙂 As far as I know, you can easily export words to Anki with the translation, the full sentence, the romanization (if you want it) or even create a PDF with the words so you can print and read them on paper or read on Kindle or another e-reader… It’s very useful and I think you should give it a try ^^


  2. Evita says:

    I noticed you didn’t mention Anki in your rant. Have you checked it out? Memrise is not a true SRS program but Anki is. Besides, Anki is way more customizable. You can import and export the words into spreadsheets. You can also suspend words that give you too much trouble and unsuspend them later. You can simply delete words that you already know and don’t want to keep reviewing. Even though it may feel like work, not games, Anki is the most effective tool for learning vocabulary. Just go here and start: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/4066961604 It’s the deck that I made with 3500 words, you might find it useful. Or you can create your own deck by importing data from your spreadsheet. Either way, Anki will solve both your problems – keeping track of your vocabulary words and also learning them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jreidy17 says:

      I have used Memrise enough to know it’s strengths and weaknesses. Now, I think I should try using Anki. I have done the Anki tutorial videos from “Fluent Forever” site. Thanks for the recommendation.


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