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Active mastery and passive recognition – Also called “production” ability versus “recognition.” Being able to understand a word when you hear it or read it is passive recognition. Being able to recall the word when you create your own sentences in the target language, either when speaking or writing, requires active mastery of the word.  One of the biggest challenges of flashcard study is trying to achieve both of these.

Cycle elimination – Cycle elimination is best understood if one thinks of its paper equivalent. When a student reviews vocabulary words for a test, they flip through their paper cards. When they are confident that they remember a word, they will probably leave it out of the pile as they continue to master the remaining cards. They continue to remove cards from the pile each time they cycle through and get more and more cards correct. When they have removed all cards they can be said to have memorized those cards in the direction studied. Cycle elimination is an essential feature for effective memorization thorugh the graded slideshow.

Direction – The direction of a card is determined by what information is chosen to be on the front of the card. If you are testing your ability to remember the Hungarian word for “frog” and therefore actively master a vocabulary item, then the direction of study should be from English to Hungarian. English will be on the front of the card and its Hungarian equivalent will be on the back. If you are testing your passive recognition of the Hungarian word for frog, then the direction of study will probably be from Hungarian to English.

Entry/Card – Usually a single vocabulary item and its translation. An entry consists of multiple fields. 

Field – A field is one component unit of information in a card. One field might contain the German while a second the English. A more complex card may have several more fields, for example, one for the gender of the word, or the conjugations of a verb. 

Feedback – When a learner is going through flashcards in a software application, feedback is the way they indicate to the software that a word was known, memorized, or learned. This is often done by pressing a “correct” or “wrong” button. The statistics from this are usually recorded. If the software implements cycle elimination, the correct words will be eliminated from the next cycle.

Field Template – Some flashcard applications allow users to create multiple templates for the way fields are displayed in study, ie. which side each field is on, and its general appearance.

Graded Slideshow – This is the digital equivalent of studying paper flashcards. The “front” of a card is viewed with usually only one field of information, then one or more fields of hidden information on the “back” of the card are displayed. A student then gives feedback to the software about whether they were able to correctly guess the hidden information and if there is cycle elimination that card will be removed from the “pile” and is not included in future cycles through the cards being studied.  See the Basics page for an explanation of why this is the best of the three most popular modes of study.

Interval Score – This is a numerical representation of the progress of any given entry that is studied in interval study. When you mark a card correct, their interval score is incremented. When you mark words incorrect their interval score may be decremented or completely reset, depending on the application. The higher the interval score is, the further along it is in the TTF schedule and thus the greater the interval of time before the card needs to be reviewed again.

Interval Study – Interval study is also known as spaced repetition or the Leitner method. It is based on the principle of the “forgetting curve.” A learner can remember something learnt for longer and longer intervals each time they review a piece of information just as they are on the verge of forgetting it. Software which implements interval study keeps statistics for every card studied, incrementing or decrementing its interval score, which determines how much time can pass before the card must be reviewed again. The software will prompt the user to study the card again once the appropriate amount of time is passed. Interval study is not just about maintaining statistics on progress, but about managing the entire study and review schedule of the learner.

Keyboard Input Source – When entering vocabulary, a learner often has to switch to the appropriate keyboard in the OS. Switching to Russian, Chinese, Korean, Arabic etc. requires going to the language menu or cycling through available input sources using a keyboard command. Good flashcard apps keep the keyboard input source consistent across like fields in entries to save the learner from having to constantly switch.

Set – A group of entries. There might be multiple sets in a flashcard file organized, for example, into the lessons of a textbook, or categories of word.

Study on Demand – This most common mode of study allows a user to select a group of cards or a set and study all of them in flashcard mode, usually using cycle elimination, in order to memorize the words in one sitting. This is often done in preparation for a test or to review key groups of vocabulary.

Truancy – Truancy is a measure of how often the user forgoes the recommended daily review of information in the application. If a user does not use the application for a long time, applications using interval study will often prompt them to study a huge amount of information and a good developer provides some method for managing the smooth return of users who have engaged in flagrant truancy.

TTF Schedule | Interval Schedule – The “time to forget” schedule is based on the principle of the “forgetting curve” wherein learners review information when they are on the verge of forgetting it. Each interval score assigned to n entry corresponds to a particular interval of time. A card marked correct for the first time, with an interval score of 1, may have an interval of 1 day, and thus needs to be reviewed the following day. A word which has been labelled correct several times with, say, an interval score of 4 may not need to be reviewed for 7 days. A TTF schedule is based on the principle of increasingly spaced repetition and may take the form of a static schedule (for example 1,2,4,7,11,16,etc.) or a more complex formula such as the various formulas developed by Piotr Wozniak in the pioneering interval study application SuperMemo.