I am using Anki to learn German vocabulary. It is great for keeping words memorized once I have them at least 30% down, but for entirely new vocabulary I'm really struggling. Anki is especially lacking when there's more than one completely-unknown word in my deck- I memorize [the possible list of orphan English words in my deck] instead of connecting the German word with the English (my only goal is to read, so memorizing English->German isn't important). I go through 20 vocabulary words in a minute and then spend the last 5 minutes circulating through the same 10.
Things I have tried so far:
- Look up the word in context. All of my vocab words come from books I'm reading, so there's always at least one reference sentence. This kind of works, in that I often do remember the word once I see the context, but doesn't seem to make me better at recognizing the word in Anki. With at least some of these it's clear I've just memorized the whole sentence but wouldn't recognize the word.
- Writing novel sentences using the words. This would be a total win if I also wanted to learn to write, but I'm not otherwise building that skill, so I'm limited to simple sentences. I could add "learn to write" to my goals but that seems significantly harder to self teach, because checking my work is harder than looking up the same sentence in the English version of the book.