Simple Word Flashcards

The Gallery – Phase 2

Simple Words – Picture Word Cards

Note 8/23/2022: This is an older blog post containing information about using the Anki software to create flashcards for language learning.

Fluent Forever now offers a proprietary app that automates flashcard creation, letting you concentrate on your learning progress. Check out the 13 languages available in the app, and download it now to start your journey to fluency.

These flashcards are designed to teach you basic vocabulary. You’ll use these to form a vocabulary foundation in your target language that’s based on pictures and personal connections with each word, rather than translations.

Before you start, you’ll need the following:

  • A list of basic words that are easy to visualize (words like dog/chair/policeman, not to be/and/from). Generally, I recommend that people use my list of 625 basic words, translated into your target language. If you grab the alphabetical list, you can use the small dictionary in the back of a Lonely Planet phrasebook to quickly translate the whole thing. Otherwise, feel free to skim through your grammar book and pick out the easy-to-visualize words.
  • Recordings of those words. I like to use
  • Pictures of those words. Search in your target language and use the translated version of Google Images.
  • Personal associations for each word (If I’m going to learn ‘dog,’ I’ll include my dog’s name, Belle.)
  • (Depending upon the language) The gender or counter word for each noun you learn.
  • (Optional) International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) transcriptions of those words can occasionally be handy. You can sometimes get IPA transcriptions from Wiktionary.
  • You should know how to add sound files and images to Anki flashcards. If you’re not confident at that, go to my tutorials on Anki.

Let’s start making these. You can either use this video tutorial or follow the instructions that follow it.

Anki Tutorial 4: Learning simple words with the model deck

What the flashcards look like

• Card 1: Comprehension (What’s this word mean? How do you pronounce it?)

Front Side (the word without any context)

Front side (the word without any context)


Back Side (Plays a recording of the word)

Back side (plays a recording of the word)


• Card 2: Production (What’s the word for this picture/concept? Can you pronounce it?)

Front side (Just a picture)

Front side (just a picture)


Back side (Plays a recording of the word)

Back side (plays a recording of the word)


• Card 3 (optional): Spelling (How do you spell this word?)

Note: I find these cards extraordinarily useful in the first month or two of learning a language.

They focus your ear and train your eyes to handle spelling automatically. In my experience, after making and reviewing these optional cards for my first 100–300 words, they’ll suddenly become very easy (and boring). That’s your signal to stop making new ones.

Front side (You'll hear a recording of the word)

Front side (you’ll hear a recording of the word)


Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 2.55.26 PM

Back side


How to make them

  1. Click the ‘Add’ button on the top of your Anki window.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 4.49.31 PM
  2. Click the button on the top left, next to where it says ‘Type.’

  3. Select ‘2. Picture Words’ from the list and click ‘Choose’ on the bottom right.


    Change this...

    Change this…

    Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 3.46.05 PM

    …to this.

  4. Click the button on the top right, next to ‘Deck.’
    Select ‘[Your deck name]::2.Everything Else’ from the list and press ‘Choose.’

    Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 5.32.45 PM

    Note to advanced Anki users: I do this just for organization. Feel free to skip this step, as long as you’re not using the 1. Minimal Pairs deck – that deck has special settings that you won’t want here.

  5. Now you can start making flashcards. To make the chien flashcards above, here’s how I filled out my flashcard info (click to magnify):

    Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 2.55.39 PM

    Note, I made flashcard #3 (the optional spelling flashcard) by filling out the ‘Test spelling?’ field. If you don’t want that flashcard, leave that field blank.

  6. Click the ‘Add’ button on the bottom to make your flashcards.

Make your flashcards faster

If you want to save yourself ~30–60 minutes of time making your first Anki flashcards, then visit our shop for a number of resources you can use to speed up the process. And there are other ready-to-use Anki flashcards in various languages that you can check out.

Don’t forget that we now also have our Fluent Forever mobile app, which doesn’t use Anki but can be way faster. Download it right here!

To speed up your language progress even further, check out these 11 pro tips for the fastest way to learn a language

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