I have been learning English for over a decade now, and my ultimate goal is to reach level C2. With that in mind, I use Anki as my base of vocabulary.
A very specific problem has been haunting me ever since I started adding words with multiple meanings. The not-so-neat solution I came up with can be seen on this picture:
Information I have on most of my cards include:
- concrete word or expression
- part of speech
- meaning in my native tongue (Hungarian, in case you are wondering)
- a short definition in English
- notes: verb complementation, typical usage (e.g. formal or informal, used mostly in passive structures, etc.)
When studying these cards, I have no difficulty in remembering them as long as there is only 1 meaning associated with them. But most of the time, a word has several meanings. Remembering those cards looks like listing all of those meanings, which becomes painful after a while. An exception to this might be when the Hungarian meanings are closely connected (the word 'kísér' in some form or another), and that particular Hungarian word is used similarly in my language.
It would make sense to create one card for each meaning, but that could pose additional problems:
- When reviewing cards, if I encounter the verb 'accompany', how am I supposed to know which meaning is on the back?
- Synonyms: I may think of another word which fits the description, like 'see sb off' (also means 'kísér' in Hungarian)
- It would lengthen the whole process of adding cards and reviewing them. It takes more time to go through 3 cards instead of only 1.
- Redundant cards: This is where the previously mentioned exception comes in.
As you can see, not only the meaning, but also the verb complementation is the same throughout. Why should I make 3 cards for this verb when it can easily be compressed into 1 card?
- Sibling cards: These cards would be added separately, therefore Anki would not mark them as siblings. This could lead the program to show me the different meanings of 'accompany/inherit' one after the other (or during the same session), from which I could guess the word without effort.