[Question] How do you learn foreign language vocabulary, beyond Anki?

I am us­ing Anki to learn Ger­man vo­cab­u­lary. It is great for keep­ing words mem­o­rized once I have them at least 30% down, but for en­tirely new vo­cab­u­lary I’m re­ally strug­gling. Anki is es­pe­cially lack­ing when there’s more than one com­pletely-un­known word in my deck- I mem­o­rize [the pos­si­ble list of or­phan English words in my deck] in­stead of con­nect­ing the Ger­man word with the English (my only goal is to read, so mem­o­riz­ing English->Ger­man isn’t im­por­tant). I go through 20 vo­cab­u­lary words in a minute and then spend the last 5 min­utes cir­cu­lat­ing through the same 10.

Things I have tried so far:

  • Look up the word in con­text. All of my vo­cab words come from books I’m read­ing, so there’s always at least one refer­ence sen­tence. This kind of works, in that I of­ten do re­mem­ber the word once I see the con­text, but doesn’t seem to make me bet­ter at rec­og­niz­ing the word in Anki. With at least some of these it’s clear I’ve just mem­o­rized the whole sen­tence but wouldn’t rec­og­nize the word.

  • Writ­ing novel sen­tences us­ing the words. This would be a to­tal win if I also wanted to learn to write, but I’m not oth­er­wise build­ing that skill, so I’m limited to sim­ple sen­tences. I could add “learn to write” to my goals but that seems sig­nifi­cantly harder to self teach, be­cause check­ing my work is harder than look­ing up the same sen­tence in the English ver­sion of the book.