Edit [March 20th, 2013]: The tip below still applies, but I just got done doing a much more comprehensive post on what Anki is and how to use it complete with a video demonstration (by me) that I highly recommend you see here: My Most Important Language-Learning Tool: Anki – What it is, why it’s awesome, and a video on how to use it!
So, I just got Anki and started messing around with it (it’s SRS for those not familiar, and quite popular with language learners), it’s awesome and does precisely what I would want it to do but I’ve just got a quick tip for those thinking about using it:
If you’re going to use Anki, if at all possible, start doing it right when you begin learning a new language, because if you do you can likely download a premade deck of words/verbs/idioms/whatever to memorize and you won’t have to make your own initially if you don’t want to.
I can’t do this. Why? Because I’ve been working on Spanish for a couple years now and I’m well into the intermediate stage and the pre-made Spanish decks you can download all start off with really, really simple stuff like “el” = “the”, “de” = “of”, “si” = “yes”, etc. I’m not going to waste time wading through all of those (probably at least a few hundred) to get to the ones I don’t know yet. I’m at the point where I just need to make my own based on any words, expressions, or grammar rules I encounter while in the process of reading actual Spanish material that I don’t already know.
Just a tip, in case you’re just starting in on Spanish, or any other language, and you’re thinking “Meh, I’ll get around to trying that Anki thing in a few months or something…”: you probably shouldn’t, you’d be best off starting right now because those pre-made decks they’ve got start at the very beginning which is perfect for you now but not something you’re going to want to mess with once you’re a few months into the language.