Learning vocabulary through subs2srs and Anki

This post reports on a way to learn vocabulary using your favorite film or TV show. You need two programs subs2srs and Anki. I first saw the reference to subs2srs via a post by Olya Sergeeva, a great read by the way.

subs2srs allows you to cut up your video file by its subtitles. Then you can use the resulting files to import into Anki. I won’t go into detail about doing this as the user guide for subs2srs does this well. I will just post some screen recordings to demonstrate how it appears as you use it. In my case I am using it learn more conversational and idiomatic French via the TV show Les Revenants.

The first recording shows what happens as you use Anki with your subs2srs cut-up file. Near the end of the recording I demonstrate one of the features of Anki which allows you to hide/bury cards you don’t want to use:

The second recording shows how to browse cards in a deck and tag them for use in a custom deck:

The third video shows the use of a custom deck made from a particular tag:

A post by polyglot Judith Meyer shows how she used it to study Japanese vocabulary. Most of the instructions for subs2srs in that post are dated but further down she has some nice advice on how to use any Anki decks you may make from subs2srs.

I am not sure how efficient this method is since after about a month of occasional use I have only really learned one expression – je peux pas aller plus vite que la musique/I haven’t got wings! But I feel being able to have the audio is helping.

One thing to be aware of is to make backups of your Anki collections you use on your phone otherwise you risk resetting all the cards you’ve been studying when you add say a new film or episode that has been converted by subs2srs onto your mobile version of Anki.

Thanks for reading and feel free with any questions you may have.


Alternative program to subs2srs for non-windows systems – youtube flashcards

6 thoughts on “Learning vocabulary through subs2srs and Anki

  1. Another gem! Every time I read one of your posts about learning vocab. I think “I really must bring all these threads together.” Any chance you can give us some lead on this?

    1. hi Geoff
      thanks. are you asking for a “lead” on how to teach vocabulary? if so that’s a biggie 🙂

      i was reading your last post about lexical approach and a researcher i like a lot at the moment is Anna Siyanova-Chanturia she puts up most of her stuff on Academia;

      there is one where she reviews some work on multi-word expressions (MWE) and highlights the evidence that such lexis is not learned as wholes but are in fact broken down

      she does support the view MWE are important for language learning though as ever we teachers need to work out how to apply that in class 🙂

      does that help at all?

      1. Hi Mura,

        Anna Siyanova-Chanturia writes some good stuff. Her article “On the holistic nature of formulaic language” (put the title in Google & download the .pdf file) is the one you’re referring to. This is an important matter – which I mention in the latest post. Peter Skehan did some god work on how L2 learners unpack then re-pack formulaic language, but I can’t remember the article, or maybe it was in his book A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning.

        Anyway, I was suggesting that you give us a guide to all the posts you’ve done on vocab. learning, and then tell us what underlying principles make them a coherent set. By Friday? 🙂

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