Posted in Analog Girl vs. The Technology Monster

Two for Tuesday: Quizlet vs. Anki

Hey y’all! Today, I’m doing something a little different. Instead of my usual battle with technology, I’m going to pit two different programs against each other: Quizlet and Anki.

Quizlet and Anki are both digital flashcard programs. If you are a teacher, chances are you’ve heard of Quizlet, and if you are studying a new language, then you might already be familiar with Anki. But which is better? Well, here’s my take…

Quizlet Pros:

  • Quizlet is free
  • It is easy to make and share flashcards
  • You can embed flashcards into a web page, so others can study them without having their own Quizlet account
  • You can practice flashcards using several different games…
  • Including Quizlet Live, which is cooperative

Quizlet Cons:

  • Pictures are limited unless you have a paid account
  • You cannot add audio without a paid account

Anki Pros:

  • Anki is free and open source
  • It is a spaced repetition system (SRS)–this means it keeps track of which cards you know better and quizzes you on those less.
  • Cards are highly customizable
  • You can include pictures
  • You can include audio files
  • Sync Ankiweb to desktop and mobile apps
  • The android mobile app is free
  • You can pick to study just one side or both sides of a card

Anki Cons:

  • The Apple app costs $25
  • The program is not always intuitive (for a short while, I was not even sure how to sync my cards to Ankiweb. Then again, my tech savvyness is somewhere in the medium-low range.)
  • Ankiweb does not support importing pictures (you can study flashcards that have pictures on Ankiweb, you just can’t make flashcards with pictures on Ankiweb.)
  • If you don’t want to use the basic front/back format, making more complex types of cards, while doable, can be difficult. (But templates can be found.)

Classroom Uses:

Flashcards are of great use in a classroom setting. The best way to learn something is by testing yourself on it. You can reread the information over and over, but quizzing yourself with flashcards? Better. Especially when those flashcards are a spaced repetition system. You can have students create and practice their own decks, you can create a class deck to share or practice together. Or with Quizlet Live, you can practice in teams.

Let me take a moment to talk about Quizlet live. I’m not a big fan of Quizlet, actually, but Quizlet Live is practically worth a review all on its own. Quizlet Live splits your class into teams in which they need to cooperate to beat another team. Each member of the team sees a list of words on his or her screen, different from the list of words on the screens of his or her partners. All team members see the same definition at the top of their screen, and only one of them has the answer, so they have to communicate to make sure they click the right answer. Because if you click the wrong answer, you have to start over. The first team to 10 wins. Not only have I seen students have a lot of fun playing this (and I have had a lot of fun playing this) but some groups really team up and work together. Also, it only goes a couple of minutes, so you can play it several times in the last 5-10 minutes of class (and chances are? you students will want to play it several times.)

Final Verdict: Tie

To tell the truth, I much much prefer Anki. It’s a spaced repetition system and it’s free. If it weren’t for Quizlet Live, I would argue Quizlet is nigh worthless. Quizlet is basically the same as analog flashcards, if not more limited. For example, my selection of pictures that I can put on flashcards isn’t limited by how much money I pay. Sure, analog flashcards aren’t totally free, and if I’m putting pictures on them, I’m probably printing and gluing them, so there’s some printing costs. But as someone who has made over 1000 flashcards for second language learning purposes, I would still argue that the cost is negligible. So what does Quizlet save you? Time. And space. I haven’t actually timed it, but I would guess that it takes less time to make flashcards on Quizlet than it does to make analog flashcards, especially if you are printing and gluing pictures. And obviously, storing flashcards on a computer takes up much less space. But Anki does all of the same things–takes less time, takes less space, and lets you put pictures AND sound–for free, so the answer’s a no brainer. I use Anki for everything. I use it to practice Italian. I use it to memorize poetry. I have even used it for my students to study vocabulary.

Why then, do I call this a tie? Let’s face it, it’s mostly because of Quizlet Live (and it’s worth noting this feature is free, though has more options if you pay). But Quizlet also has other games that allow students to practice independently, and as we’ve seen from my first post. I love games. (Though honestly, Anki feels like a game to me. Probably because you can watch the number of cards you have to study that day dwindle as you practice.)

So in the end, which program is best for you depends on your needs and your resources. If you know you are going to make use of the games that Quizlet offers, than you probably want to use Quizlet. Or if you’re mostly functioning on chromebooks, and you have any desire to put pictures on your flashcards, you will want to use Quizlet (Ankiweb is more for syncing and studying your cards than making them.) But if you’re not expecting to use the games and you can download the Anki desktop app, then Anki is probably the better program for you.

Have you ever used Quizlet or Anki? Let me know what you think in the comments below.


I am a poet, linguist, and ESL teacher who loves to play games.

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