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Wow, thank you so much for this! I'm going through something like the same process as you, trying out Anki in the classroom and as an independent learning tool, and discovering its positives and negatives. I teach language, and it does help with learning words, though the way I use it is actually covert phonetics drilling. My students (Chinese, age 6-15) often simply haven't mastered the English sounds despite X years of learning. I set up Anki cards using words from a phonics textbook, so in the course of their Ankiing, whether individual or group, they have to distinguish between hem and ham, bad and bud, dog and dock, fuzz and fuss... There's the added benefit that they may remember the words, providing a working vocab to call on in grammar exercises. But I think it nicely illustrates the point you were making about learning concepts and patterns rather than the factoids themselves. What I really want early-stage learners to absorb is the phonics (the fact that the way you spell a word tells you what it sounds like, unfamiliar to many Chinese users because of Chinese characters); and the phonemes of English. Whether or not they remember what ham means is secondary.