French Flashcards: Using Anki

When starting my french flashcard journey I was a little stubborn and unwilling to use a new program to create flashcards. I thought: “I should just stick to Quizlet, I already know how to use it and I like it, there’s no question.” Although after hearing a friend talk about how great it is, I decided to give it a shot. And yes in the end, I converted.

Quizlet is a great resource no doubt, but it doesn’t provide the speed and analysis that Anki provides. Using Anki I can see my progress, how much time I spent studying, my difficult words, and more. Going through the cards is also much much quicker! It takes only a few seconds to see the word, go through it, and get on with the next one. I was finding Quizlet to be a bit slow and their text to speech bot wasn’t perfect (albeit better than google translate’s french voice, gee sounds like a Canadian with a moose stuck in their mouth). It didn’t take long to transfer all my Quizlet flashcards to Anki. Follow the below steps and you will see.

Quizlet to Anki

The first step is to “export” your quizlet document. Click that export button and you will be brought to the following page:

It’s okay to keep the “between the term and definition” as a tab, but it’s my personal preference to make it a dash to avoid confusion.

Next you are going to copy that text there at the bottom and put it into the “textedit” software or a similar plain text software. In textedit you will go to the “Format” menu and click “Make Plain Text.” This will put it in a format that Anki can read.

Next you will need to save it as a Unicode (UTF-8) file and make sure the file extension will be saved as .txt

Before this next step, make sure you have Anki downloaded. Make sure you download the 2.0 version, otherwise you won’t be able to use the Awesome Text-to-Speech extension mentioned below. You will also need to set up an account on AnkiWeb in order to proceed.

Download the older version of Anki located at the bottom so you can install great extensions to help your flashcards be the best they can be!

In the computer program you can create a new deck, name it whatever you want (mine is still named Default, whoops) and press the button at the bottom that says “Import File.” It should bring you to the following screen:

Make sure the “Fields separated by” button is correct. Remember I used “-” to separate my front and back of the cards and you’ll need to correct that depending on what you used. If everything looks correct you can press “Import.”

Back on the main screen you can click “Browse” at the top of the screen, which will take you to this next screen (yes I know, a lot of screens). It will show you all of your flashcards. You can click the tab at the side “Added Today” to see all the cards you recently added and check that they were imported correctly.

Next we have to talk about Awesome Text to Speech. This is a great extension that automatically adds a computer generated voice to all of your cards, quickly and with only low effort. The Google Translate voice is popular, but like I mentioned, I think the french voice is awful. I instead opt for the voice that is provided with Mac OS X.

To download Awesome TTS start with this link: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/301952613
Otherwise you can view this screenshot and use this code: 301952613

Go the the Anki main screen and find the menu “Tools > Add ons > Browse and Install” and type in the above code in the pop-up window. Voilà! It’s downloaded, now you just have to add the speech to your cards.

Go back to that Browse button where you can see all of your cards. Highlight all of them and go to your top menu and it should say: “AwesomeTTS > Add Audio to Selected”

Make sure you have the correct voice set up! The first time I set it up I had very weird results because a Mexican voice was trying to say all the french words.

This is what should pop up. Make sure the sound is set to the front if you want the words to be spoken along with the text on the front. If you want to use Google that is okay, but there are many options available and you can test out the sound and hear which one you like the best.

You’ll see this screen for a while and when it’s done, you will have audio on all your cards. Magic! Well almost. From here you can start studying your cards and continue experimenting with Anki to add pictures, add animation, add your own voice, or whatever else you feel might be beneficial. There is even a subreddit dedicated to Anki, and it might be a good place to start looking and get suggestions from.

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