Your beginner course should eventually start running out of “easy wins” with the grammar. These are very common aspects like verb conjugations and noun declensions, articles, and prepositions.
The more similar the language is to your native, the less time you will need to spend learning grammar. With Dutch, for example, that period of time is quite small, but you can expect to be dealing with grammar for much, much longer with Arabic or Russian. Once this core grammar is covered, you can cease to study grammar in a systematic manner.
After that point it’s still recommended to continue to use your course or some other book or website as a reference of forms to take note of when you are using content.
The advantage of continuing with grammar in a structured manner is that you will have a wider knowledge base that will let you recognise forms you might miss otherwise. If you have a strong dislike of grammar, you can get away with using it minimally.
And flashcards are essentially how we “cheat” our way into repeatedly encountering new words more often than normally occurs in our study.
The best flashcard programs use spaced repetition. This works by automatically spacing out your revision using something called the forgetting curve. You are ﬁrst shown a word multiple times and asked to recall its translation.
Once it deems you to have learned the word, the algorithm will then increase the interval between revisions.
The algorithm attempts to get you to recall a word just before you forget it. Eventually, after a lot of revisions, you will have been prompted by a word enough times it will be safe in your long-term memory.
There are three ways information can be shown on flashcards:
1. Single words
3. Word plus an example phrase
We recommend learning the word plus an example phrase. Phrases provide useful context and language that can help you recall words and teach you about how the language is used.
Words in your target language will not be used in the same way as they are in English, so learning simple word-for-word translations will not help you speak. Phrases can also provide a useful prompt to aid recollection.