Tinycards vs. Quizlet vs. Anki: The Best App for Language Flashcards

Since the beginning of the year, I have been trying various flashcard applications to learn French, Mandarin, and Spanish vocabulary. These included Anki, Quizlet, and Tinycards by Duolingo. Anki is probably the oldest of the three applications with Tinycards being the newest, and all of them were recommended to me by friends actually using them.

Being a huge Duolingo fan, I fully expected to like Tinycards the most. But after using all three systems extensively, there was one app that completely won me over, and it was not Tinycards.

Below is a quick summary of the three apps, their advantages and disadvantages, and the “winner.”

Anki

Pros

  • Has an app for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 (including Windows 10 Mobile), and a desktop application for any version of Windows. These can be used offline. There’s also a web app that can be used for practice on any platform with a web browser.
  • After each flashcard, you can file it into one of three review decks: Soon (<1 minute), Good (<10 minutes), or Easy (4 days). These decks allow you to practice the hardest words (Soon) most frequently.
  • Allows you to add images to words.
  • Allows you to add voice recording of words.
  • Has flashcard decks that other people have created, that you can practice.
  • Allows you to import and export data.

Cons

  • All of Anki’s apps look very dated.
  • The web app has limited editing functionality.
  • Synchronization of the apps is slow and seemingly the least robust.
  • If you want to add images to words, you have to manually search for images first and then upload. There is no functionality to help you find the images in the first place.
  • While you can record audio to the words, it has to be something you have recorded (like your voice, or audio pronunciations you find on, say, Google Translate) yourself. I.e., Anki cannot read words you type out loud using some sort of voice robot.

Quizlet

Pros

  • Modern interface.
  • Apps for iOS and Android that can be used offline. There’s even an app for Windows 10 Mobile, but I have not tried it.
  • Allows you to add images to words, and helps you find the images in the first place.
  • Has optional test modes: multiple choice, or type the answers.
  • Can read the words out loud to you in a pleasing voice with good pronunciation and accent.
  • You can even type in Pinyin, and it will read the Mandarin words out loud perfectly!
  • You can “star” words that are most difficult to you, and review only those.
  • Has flashcard decks that other people have created, that you can practice.
  • Allows you to import and export data.
  • Resumes where you left off in flashcard sets when you go back to review them.

Cons

  • If you want to record your own voice or get rid of ads, you will have to upgrade to Quizlet Plus ($20/year).
  • Cannot use offline on Windows PC.

    Tinycards

    Pros

    • Modern interface.
    • Allows you to add images to words, and helps you find the images in the first place.
    • Has optional test modes: written questions, multiple choice, matching, spelling, etc.
    • Has optional game modes, like matching and “gravity.”
    • Can read the words out loud to you in a pleasing voice with good pronunciation and accent.
    • It tells you how recently card decks has been reviewed, which can encourage you to practice flashcards more frequently.
    • Has flashcard decks that other people have created, that you can practice.

    Cons

    • There’s only an app for iOS. For Android and Windows, there’s only a web app that cannot be used offline.
    • When there are more than, say, 50 flashcards in a set, entering new ones is painfully slow, even on my super fast workstation computer. It seems like the editing interface uses Javascript. Whatever the case, the UI cannot keep up with your typing.
    • You cannot “star” words or file them into “Soon” decks like you can with Quizlet or Anki, respectively. You are basically leaving it up to Tinycards’ algorithm to determine which cards to review first.
    • Supports primarily Western languages. Does not support languages like Mandarin.
    • Cannot import CSV files or export data.

    The Best: Quizlet

    Quizlet was the winner by a longshot. It has virtually all the functionality of Anki and Tinycards plus a lot more, including games and testing modes. It is the most modern and allows importation of word lists. It works offline (at least on mobile platforms) and can read Mandarin out loud. Quizlet is also the most fun to use.

    Tinycards had too many “fatal flaws,” including painfully slow flashcard creation, no offline support for Windows or Android (so you cannot use it on most flights, which is a perfect time for reviewing flashcards), or Mandarin support.

    Anki was great in its day but adding voice pronunciations and images is very tedious. It looks very dated.

    How to Migrate Tinycards to Quizlet

    While there is no native export functionality for Tinycards, I came up with a quick (but non-intuitive) method on how to do so using the Chrome web browser and Notepad++. See this article.

    Migrating data from Anki to Quizlet is easy because they both have functionality to import and export CSV files.

    Tinycards, Quizlet, Anki on red Surface Pro 4

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