Easy Vocabulary Improvement with Super Flashcards

VocabularyShop is a smart vocabulary flashcards management system or an intelligent vocabulary builder.  It contains 98,790 customizable, multifunctional, multidimensional,  flashcards and a modern cognitive psychology base learning system, as well as many other support functions.

smart flashcards

The core function of the system behaves like a self-driving car.  It takes away your study related management burden, enabling you to concentrate your energy 100% on your learning.  After you decided which words you want to learn, the system will put you on an automated learning process.  That process will optimize your memory utilization and let you learn and memorize a large amount of words quickly and easily.

VocabularyShop will dramatically enhance your learning efficiency and make your vocabulary improvement journey simple, easy, and successful.


How Your Brain Remember Information

The key challenge in improving your vocabulary is not to find word information, but to retain that information.  You can find detailed information for almost any word instantaneously with just a few key stroke or mouth clicks.  But you simply cannot remember the information permanently on the fly.  Your brain has its own rules of remembering information.  You have to follow those rules if you want to remember any word information permanently.

multi-store memory model

Researches in psychology have found out that human brain remember information following a Multi-Store model. When you study a new word, the information will only stay in your short-term memory (STM) for a while. The same information has to be rehearsed at different time interval to evoke the information encoding process in your brain.  That process will move the information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory (LTM).  If the rehearsal does not happen, you will forget that word.  Word information stored in your long-term memory will take long time to forget.  You can find more information about memory and learning from here and here.

VocabularyShop core function operates according to this human memory model as well as other brain function rules.

Plain Flashcards are Not Your Best Friends

plain flashcards have many problems

There are several hundreds of Vocabulary Building software and apps on PC, MAC, and various tablets and smart phones.  They are plain flashcards based tools.  They offer convenient ways for you to store and retrieve word information.  But there is no intelligence to guide you to learn and remember word information.  They supply the contents in various format.  It is up to you to decide how to study and remember these contents.

Following are some common issues you may have when work with plain flashcards base software and apps.

Management Burden Came with Plain Flashcards

burden of plain flashcards

Suppose you plan to add 1,000 words to your vocabulary.  After studying for two months you will face at least 3 sets of flashcards:

  • the new word set, which contains words you have not studied yet
  • the learning word set, which contains words you are currently studying
  • the learned word set, which contains words you have learned and remembered

Whenever you conduct your study, you will  have to stop your learning from time to time to make different study management decisions.

Which Learning Flashcards Need to be Reviewed Today

You may not want to study all flashcards in the learning word set.  Because the progresses you made on different flashcard are different.  You remember some words better than others.  If you tread every flashcard equally, you will waste some time and forget some words.  You may divide your learning set into multiple subsets.  However, you need to decide how to divide it, how many subsets to use, and how to move your flashcards among different subsets.

How Many Flashcards to Use Each Time

If you work with a small group of flashcards, it will take you shorter time to finish several iterations.  You may feel you have remembered all words in the group, when you actually did not.  If you work with a large group of flashcards, it will take you longer time to finish just one iteration.  It will take you even longer time if there are more new flashcards involved.  Therefore, you need to figure out how many flashcards to use to balance the quality of your study and the time you plan to spend on each study session.

When to Add New Flashcards to Your Study

You want to make sure you don’t forget words you already invested your time in.  So, you should give enough time to flashcards already in the learning word set.  You also want to make progress in your study.  So, you should add new flashcards to your learning word set and begin to study them when possible.  The size of your learning set is changing constantly.  You need to make decisions to keep the balance between quantity and quality as the size of your learning set and your available study time change.

How Much Time You Should Spend on Each Flashcard

Going through a group of flashcards, you have remember several words correctly now.  But you are not sure if you will remember them next week.  Should you put these flashcards aside or let them go for one more iteration to reinforce your memory?

Whether the Study on a Particular Flashcard Can be Completed

After you finish studying a flashcard, you need to decide what to do next with this flashcard.  Does this flashcard need more study in the future or it has been remembered permanently and should be put aside to the learned word set.  The tricky thing, again, is that you never know if you can recall this word next month. You don’t want to waste your time on a well remembered word.  You also don’t want to waste your time by forgetting a word you already invested your time and effort in.

Deal with Ads from Online Flashcards

ads from online flashcards

There are many online flashcards on the Internet and they are free to access.  But the real purpose of these sites is that they want you to read their advertisements, or get your email address to sell to marketers, or use other ways to make money on you.  Today’s technology enables them to analyze you and send personalized ads to target you.  For example, if you are a young man, they can send images or videos of sexy young women to you to lure you to click their ads.  You have to deal with such distractions if you want to get anything done.

Time Cost of Plain Flashcards

time cost of plain flashcards

The above tiny decisions can be hard for you.  Because there is no clearly defined rules and criteria for you to follow, and everything is changing constantly with the progress you are making.  You only rely on your feelings to make your decisions.  Although each decision will not matter much, all of them add together will have a larger impact on the result.  One wrong decision may cause you to waste a little bit time or forget one word.  However, many wrong decisions can cause you to waste lots of time or forget many words. You don’t want to make too many mistakes.  Therefore, you need to take some time to think it over, and try to make the best decisions possible.

Some apps require you to manually input contents of your flashcards.  If you use online flashcards, you are likely to click on those useless ads sometimes.

Your time is not spent 100% on your study, but on study related management tasks, on creating flashcards, and on checking ads from time to time.  Such time costs are not trivial.

Psychological Cost with Plain Flashcards

psychology cost of plain flashcards

The reason you spend time to make study management decisions is that you want to save time and use your time efficiently.  You are facing a dilemma of spending time to save time.

You want to concentrate your attention on your study. But your study is being interrupted constantly.  You have to stop your study from time to time to make various management decisions.  The circumstance is like you want to drive straight to your destination with a powerful race car. But there are many traffic lights, stop signs, and school zones on your route.  You have to stop and slow down repeatedly.  Your race car never gets a chance to go faster than an old, big truck.

The above situations will persist throughout your study with plain flashcards.  Constantly switching between study mode and decision-making mode not only reduces your concentration and your learning effectiveness, but also cause frustration, fatigue, and stress in your brain.  The stress will reduce your ability to memorize information, reduce you interests in learning, and have negative impacts on your result.

If you use online flashcards and cannot resist the ads, you will feel bad about yourself.

Super Flashcards in VocabularyShop

vocabularyshop works like a genie

Flashcards in VocabularyShop are completely different from conventional plain flashcards. They are multidimensional, multifunctional, and highly customizable.  They provide far more information than plain flashcards can.  The flashcards are formed dynamically at the time of access, and the contents and presentation can be different when accessed from different functions.

Dictionary Dialog of the Flashcards

All Flashcards will contain a Dictionary Dialog which has the following components:

  • Dictionary definition of the target word from the embedded dictionary.
  • Dictionary definition of the target word from an online dictionary of your choice. You can get more information by browsing the Internet from that page.
  • An optional image of your choice to represent the target word
  • Your optional personal notes for the target word, can be a few thousands characters, and can be any language.
  • Your optional choice of the primary definition for the target word

Flashcards in Study Function

Study- Basic Format

When you use Study function, the flashcards will be seen as dynamically formed multiple choice questions for the target words first.  Contents for the Dictionary Dialog will be prepared for you at the same time.  But you can access the Dictionary Dialog only when you give a wrong answer to a multiple choice question.  The multiple choice question page will also provide you with your current study progress information for the target word.  That information includes

  • How many times (round(s) of study) you have studied the word,
  • The most recent date the word is studied,
  • Number of total answers you have given to the multiple choice question so far.
  • Number of correct answers you have given to the multiple choice question so far.

Flashcards in Browse Function

Browse Flashcards - Pick a Word

When you use Browse function, a flashcard will be seen as an assembled information for the word you chose.  The information will include the primary definition of the target word, your notes, the image you attached to this word.  You can click the Dictionary button to open the Dictionary Dialog to see more information and to customize the flashcard.

Customize Your Flashcards

My Notes tab of Dictionary Dialog

You can customize your flashcards in the following ways

  • Choose a different online dictionary. This configuration is global.
  • Replace the primary definition of a target word.
  • Add or replace a image to represent a target word.
  • Add your personal notes to a target word.

You can find detail information on how to use the Study function, Browse function and how to customize your flashcards from the User Guide.

Self-Driving Style Learning with Super Flashcards

self-driving style learning

Many features in VocabularyShop can improve your learning productivity.  But the major productivity boost comes from the cognitive psychology based study management system.  That system transfers your vocabulary improvement journey from a laborious undertaking to a simple routine, from a chaotic guerrilla warfare to a well organized adventure.

Below are the simplified descriptions of the operation of the core function of the system – the Study function.  You can find more detailed description of the algorithm used in this function from the Algorithm section.

This article will only discuss this Study function, because it is the key difference between VocabularyShop and plain flashcards based software and apps.

Active Study Mode

vocabularyshop study function operation flow

When you enter the Study function of VocabularyShop, you will see a series of multiple choice question presented to you one after another.  If your answer to a multiple choice question is correct, the next multiple question will follow.  But, if your answer is wrong, a dialog box will pop up giving you the correct answer and asking whether you would like to go to the Dictionary Dialog.  If your answer is no, then the next multiple choice question will follow.  Otherwise, the Dictionary Dialog will pop up.  You can study the word using the embedded dictionary and the online dictionary.  You can customize this flashcard by using a different primary definition, adding sample sentences and your notes, and attaching an image to help you remember the word.  When you close the Dictionary Dialog you will be moved to the next word. The process will continue until you quit or no more new words for you to study any more.

Intelligent Management

While you are conducting your learning, the Study function is working quietly in the background.  It takes care of various management tasks for you to make sure your study is conducted in the most optimized manner.  That function dynamically creates multiple choice questions for you and monitors and updates your study progress on each word.  In the meantime, it decides whether a particular word has been studied enough and should pass the current round of study.  Furthermore, it decides what to do next for each passing word.  Whether that word needs more study, and when that study should take place.

The Study function also decides which words you should study at the current session and whether to add another word to your study when a word passes the current round of study and is removed from the current study session.

With Study function your study is a simple, smooth flow.  There is no time spent on managing your study, no any interruptions and distractions. Your energy is concentrated 100% on your learning.  Your productivity becomes higher.

Clearly Established Target

VocabularyShop created clear targets for you to achieve on each step of your study process.  Each word need to pass 7 rounds of study to complete the learning process and to be considered as learned.  At each round of study, the same word will be randomly selected for you to study at least 3 times.  You must give correct answers to the dynamically created multiple choice questions for that word at least 2 thirds (67%) of the time to get that word pass a round of study.

If a word is new or difficult to you, you are likely to give wrong answer to the multiple choice questions.  To reach 67% correct answers, you will have to study that word more and answer the multiple choice question for that word a few more times.   On the other hand, if a word is easy for you, you are likely to give correct answer to the multiple choice questions for that word.  You will reach 67% correct answers with fewer multiple choice questions.

Furthermore, if a word is easy for you and you can remember a word well after only 3 or 4 rounds of study, then the additional rounds of study will cost you very little time.  You can pass each of those rounds of study with just 3 mouth clicks.

These criteria remove ambiguities from your study and create clear targets for you to reach.  As a result, you will automatically spend more time on difficult words and less time on easy words.  Your study efficiency is improved.

Your Brain Oriented Information Rehearsal

Form the above Multi-Store model, we know that in order for the information to be encoded in our long-term memory, rehearsals must happen multiple times at different time intervals.

In VocabularyShop Study function, a new word needs to pass 7 rounds of study to become learned word.  The intervals between these study sessions are 1 day, 2 days, 4 days, 8 days, 16 days, and 32 days.  The shortest time span for a new word to become learned word is 64 days, if you study every day.  Learned words will be schedule for you to review every 180 days unless you move them to the Known List using the Select function.

The reason for the increase time interval is that your memory for a word is weakest after the first round of study.  The information rehearsal need to happen earlier to restore your memory.  As that word goes through more rounds of study, your memory of that word becomes better and it will take a longer time to fade away.   It is this fade away and restore back process that stimulates your brain to encode information into your long-term memory.  And it is easier to restore your memory before the information fade away completely.

This interval arrangement optimizes your time and memory utilization.  It ensures you remember every word with least possible time spent.


To improve your vocabulary, you will spend lots of time with you study tools.  The tool you choose will have great impact on the result.

Plain flashcards based software and apps are passive information storage and retrieve tools.  The best they can do for you is to let you organize your information in many different ways.  The helps they can provide are very limited.

VocabularyShop applies the modern cognitive psychology principles to your study.  Instead of throwing a bunch of flashcards at you, it created an automated learning system for you.  That system releases you from your study management burden, and lets you spend 100% of your time on your study.  It actively manages and guides you through your learning-memorizing process, and optimizes your memory utilization at the same time.  You will achieve the highest possible efficiency in your information-memorizing process.  With VocabularyShop, your vocabulary improvement endeavor will be thriving, rewarding and successful.

Download a free Trial Version of the program today and see for yourself.  Check out the Tutorials and User Guide to find out how to use the program.  Our next article will have more suggestions on how to use the program to maximize your learning efficiency.