Keep dates on your Chinese flashcards

The 19th rule in Dr Wozniak’s 20 Rules for Formulating Knowledge is a quick bit of advice: “provide date stamping”.

This is a small tip that goes hand-in-hand with keeping notes. It’s easy but worthwhile.

You should think of your Chinese flashcards deck as an ever-developing resource for your Chinese learning. It’s not static, and neither is it a fire-and-forget system. It needs updating and maintaining as much as it needs studying.

Keeping date stamps with your flashcards is useful for this long-term process. They can be actual dates, or references to periods of study. For example, you might mark years and terms in a course, textbook chapters or levels you are studying at the time you add the flashcard.

Having this information makes it easy to isolate those cards later. You might want to cram for an exam based on the content of a particular term or chapter. It can also be nice to reassure yourself that you still remember certain things from the early days of your Chinese studies. Having time-related information on your cards lets you do those things easily.

Note that you certainly don’t need to memorise this timing information. It’s only there for archival purposes. You may or may not want to make it visible on the response side of the card, but it’s not a good idea to display it with the prompt as it could become a crutch for that information.

Series: Twenty rules for learning

  1. Understand before you learn
  2. Learn before you memorise
  3. Build upon the basics
  4. The minimum information principle
  5. Cloze deletion for learning Chinese
  6. Use imagery to learn Chinese
  7. Use mnemonics
  8. Graphical deletion and audio deletion for learning Chinese
  9. Avoid sets
  10. Avoid enumerations
  11. Interference when learning Chinese
  12. 5 ways to optimise your Chinese flashcards
  13. Refer to other memories
  14. Personalise your Chinese learning
  15. Using emotional states to remember Chinese
  16. The importance of context in Chinese flashcards
  17. Why redundancy is good for language learning
  18. Why you should keep notes in your Chinese flashcards
  19. Keep dates on your Chinese flashcards (this article)

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