How do you memorize new English vocabulary words?
But sometimes, you just have to sit down, make some flashcards and memorize them.
Flashcards are an incredibly simple and effective way to memorize new words. You write the new English word on one side of the card, and you write the word’s definition—or its translation in your native language—on the other side. Then you pick up a card, read one side of the card, and try to remember what’s written on the other side of the card.
This forces you to actually remember the definition of each word. The more you practice, the better you remember each word. Combined with any other methods for learning vocabulary, flashcards are fantastic!
They can also be fun, thanks to flashcard apps for your phone or tablet. Flashcard apps make learning even more effective by adding many different features and options to reinforce your learning. In short, English flashcard apps are pretty awesome learning tools!
So put aside those flashcards written on paper cards. It’s time to go digital.
The Benefits of Learning with Flashcards Apps
Flashcards are pretty great, but flashcard apps are even better. Here’s why:
- They’re portable. That means you can take them anywhere, anytime. Many of the apps on our list are available offline, too. So you don’t have to worry about losing your paper flashcards anymore.
- They make learning a game. Many flashcard apps add features like achievements and mastery information (like a list of words you’ve already learned). These game-like features make it more fun to learn English words, and they encourage you to do even better next time.
- They keep track of all your learned words. Just because you learned a word doesn’t mean you can forget it! Flashcard apps remind you of your already-mastered words through reviews. You can also see how far you’ve come, so you will feel encouraged to keep learning.
- They don’t let you cheat. How many times have you peeked at the back of a flashcard to remind yourself of the word’s definition? Go ahead and admit it, we’ve all done it. Flashcard apps don’t let you do that—if you miss a word, or need to see a reminder, most apps will know and will note that you need more practice with that word. It’s like having a friend with you to make sure you don’t cheat!
Flashcard apps are a great companion for any English learner. If you’re working on learning some vocabulary, it’s a good idea to have one of these on your phone!
How to Learn English Vocabulary with Flashcards
While flashcards are a great learning tool, they definitely should not be your only method of learning. On their own, flashcards only help you memorize a word. Flashcards should be used in combination with other studying methods to be really effective.
You can also use a few tricks for making some really useful flashcards, instead of just studying a simple definition with each card. Here are some ideas for creating excellent flashcards:
- Include a whole sentence that uses the word, so you can see how it’s used.
- Use the built-in audio that many flashcard apps have, so you can hear how the word is spoken.
- Include a trick for remembering a word, like a picture, a silly rhyme or what the word “sounds like.”
- Avoid translating the word into your native language whenever you can, to help you think in English. Write all of the definitions and explanations in English.
Once you feel like you’ve learned a word thanks to a flashcard, you should go out and use it by speaking, reading, hearing and writing it. The more often you practice, and the more different senses you include—like seeing, hearing, touching and tasting—the better you’ll understand and remember your new vocabulary words.
The 10 Best English Flashcards Apps for iOS and Android
Learn English vocabulary by using flashcards, then reinforce that learning by watching videos of the words in use. By seeing the words twice and using your different senses (seeing and hearing), you’ll be making it easier to remember the words.
FluentU has hundreds of cool videos you can watch to learn English, including cartoons, music videos, movies trailers and more.
It also gives you the ability to instantly look up any word in any video—without even needing to leave the video!
For example, if you tap the word “brought,” you’ll see this:
FluentU is unlike any other flashcard app out there. Instead of just showing you a word and a definition (and sometimes a picture), this app’s flashcards show you the word in a video clip too.
Before you watch a video, you can review the words it will use by using flashcards. You can also use FluentU’s Learn Mode to learn phrases and words through questions picked just for you.
To keep learning more vocabulary, choose from the many pre-made flashcard sets or import your own. The interactive nature of the app will make learning any word very easy!
Memrise is set up as an adventure in learning, and it’s a great one.
Instead of traditional flashcards that let you see just the word and its definition, this app allows people to contribute their own additions to the flashcards. Choose a course with words you want to learn, and you’ll get to see the definitions as well as many fun pictures, memorization tricks and other help for learning the words. You won’t have trouble memorizing the words this way!
Memrise uses a quiz-like setup, testing your knowledge of a word by quizzing you on it. Once you’ve fully learned a word, it’s not forgotten: Memrise has regular reminders of old words, just to make sure you haven’t forgotten them.
You can browse through your words at any time, and you can even download them to view offline. You can mark words as “challenge words,” which are words you need more help with, and for an additional fee the app will quiz you only on your challenge words—to help you learn them better and faster. The only downside to the app is the inability to create your own word lists. Still, there are plenty of lists there to choose from!
Tinycards by Duolingo
Duolingo is a well-known English learning app. It uses a special teaching method that adapts to each user’s learning style. Tinycards is an English flashcards app from the makers of Duolingo, and it uses that same teaching method—making it a powerful learning tool.
Tinycards lets you choose from existing “decks” (groups of cards) or create your own with your vocabulary words. It then presents the cards to you one at a time and uses a game-like style until you’ve mastered all your words. Tinycards also lets you follow deck-makers and share your decks with others. This means you and your friends can play (and compete!) together to learn new words.
This app doesn’t look like a traditional English flashcards app, but it works in much the same way. The app puts the entire learner-friendly dictionary at your fingertips, but the best part isn’t the dictionary—the best part is the learning flashcards and quizzes.
When you come across a word you want to learn, just add it to your list and play. As you answer questions, fill in the blanks and choose the correct definition, the game records your progress and displays it to you at the end of a round. There are even achievements and a high score list. This game-like setup makes learning fun and drives you to do better every time. As you play, you can flip back any time to the definition of a word, just like a flashcard.
There are many vocabulary lists to choose from, or you can create your own by visiting the words on the dictionary and adding it to your “to learn” list. You can also organize your vocabulary words into categories and lists by visiting the Vocabulary.com website—the lists are then carried over to your app. Pretty simple! The conversational explanations of the vocabulary words and the interactive flashcard setup make this a must-have for any English learner.
Word Power Lite (U.S.)
Want to quickly learn the most common English words? Word Power Lite puts them right in your pocket with 100 flashcards for the most frequently used English vocabulary.
Every flashcard comes with an audio pronunciation from an American English native speaker. You also get pictures and example sentences.
But this app is also packed with tons of bonus features that make it stand out. For example, you can save difficult words in a personal word bank to review later. You can try the “word of the day” feature to learn a new, random word every single day. You can even mix up the types of flashcards you get (picture, audio, etc.) to keep yourself interested.
There’s also a British English version of the Word Power Lite app.
Want to take your learning up a level? These apps were created by the team behind EnglishClass101, a comprehensive English course where you can learn way more than just words. EnglishClass101 provides hundreds of video and audio podcast lessons, with fun hosts and tons of cultural information.
Quizlet’s app has more than just flashcards. The app also has a “learn” mode with word pronunciations from native speakers, a fast-paced vocabulary matching game, the ability to share your words with others and much more.
You can choose from flashcard lists made by other users or make your own. After you’ve studied your word list and feel confident, you can test yourself with customizable quizzes. The simple and smooth design of the app means no distractions.
Flashcards+ by Chegg
This simple flashcards app allows you to create your own vocabulary lists, then master them by going over them. You can place words you’ve mastered into their own category, so you can focus on the words you still need to learn. The app also has the option to use a different language on either side of the card, which is useful if you want to record the definition in your native language.
Please note that the app seems to function a lot better on iOS. Sorry, Android users!
Magoosh English Vocabulary Flashcards
Available: Android | iOS
(Note: The Magoosh link below is an affiliate link, which means that we’ll receive compensation if you make a purchase on the Magoosh site. By purchasing through our affiliate link, you are supporting our ability to provide you with free language learning content—so, thank you!)
Magoosh offers not just one but many English flashcard apps to choose from, depending on the kind of vocabulary you need to learn. These are perfect if you’re studying for a test like the GRE, the GMAT or a few others. The app tracks your responses, and helps you focus on the words you need help with.
The great thing about these flashcards is how focused they are. Each app comes with about 1,000 flashcards and is developed by experts in studying for that specific test.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a flashcards app that lets you make your own deck or choose between different word lists, this might not be the right app for you.
If you love these apps from Magoosh, you should check out their full English learning programs. They have a program to help you practice English grammar, and they even have a specific program for many major exams, including the TOEFL, GRE and GMAT.
Flashcards with Cram
Cram.com is a studying website with millions of flashcards to choose from.
This app brings the flashcards from the main website into a more mobile form that you can take with you wherever you go. Even if you’ve never used the Cram website before, you can find many words and lists to choose from on the app itself. Like other flashcard apps, this one lets you make your own cards or edit existing cards to better fit your needs.
You can use this app to review words or help you memorize new ones. A “memorize” mode automatically hides words you’ve already learned so you can focus on new words. Turn on “cram” mode to learn the words even better through repetition.
Even though this is the most expensive app on our list, this one also looks the simplest.
It does exactly what you need it to, and that’s what makes it a fantastic addition. Most people who try it love it. This app was designed by someone who wanted a good flashcards app, and the developer is always updating and improving it.
It allows you to make your own flashcards (with different visual themes), create flashcards with up to five sides (in case you want to include your native definition in addition to the English one, for example) and add photos and sounds.
Studying mode has a few different options as well, including the option to test yourself on your spelling using audio. Finally, the app allows you to upload a large number of flashcards from your own collection or connect to Quizlet to use any of their thousands of flashcard lists. It’s a complete, well-developed app that’s worth the price if you’re looking for a long-term English flashcards app.
Flashcard apps are an incredibly useful tool for English learners, and these are some of the absolute best.
With these awesome English flashcard apps, you’ll never go back to paper flashcards!
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