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What do you think of using MCDs to train production?

October 27, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

MCD is the card format Khatzumoto came up with in 2012 or so. On an MCD you have a large chunk of text, spanning multiple sentences, on the front of the card. There's one word hidden. Your task is to recall the word. You don't have to read the whole text to do that, just enough to be able to recall the word.

Essentially they are just cloze cards, with the emphasis put on having a whole paragraph of text on the front. Because MCDs require active recall, they can certainly be used to train production. When it comes to writing practice in particular, they should work. But I think MCDs are not the best for training production.

When using cloze cards for language learning, there is always an infinite number of answers for any given "fill in the blank" question. For this reason cloze cards stop working once the intervals grow big enough. You either memorize the card itself, and your mind goes, "oh, it's that card, so the answer should be this." Or you just guess the word that goes in the blank. So I can't imagine a good application for MCDs and cloze cards in general when learning languages.

If you want to practice writing, do production TSCs. On a production TSC you have the desired word spelled in kana, and your goal is to write the kanji version. Having context helps you tell apart words that sound the same, and you can't put in a wrong word.

If you want to practice speaking, flashcards aren't really used for this, or at least they're not effective. Instead people rely on getting massive amounts of input, shadowing exercises, writing essays.

Tags: faq