Anki - Learning new vocab in two steps

October 28, 2009, 11:15 PM posted in General Discussion

First off I'd like to apologize if this is not the right place to discuss ways of learning with Anki. I could not find any other threads on this topic and this group seemed to be the best place...

I discovered Anki a couple of weeks ago and haven't been using it too much so far - that's because I couldn't figure out a good "strategy" or configuration that's working the way I imagine it.

Of course I installed some addons and Anki is set up to create flash cards with translation, pinyin, hanzi and so on.

What I would like to do with Anki though would probably look something like this though:

1. I'd like to enter all new vocabulary I stumble upon and which I regard useful to Anki. The flash card should then look like this: "Front": Pinyin, Hanzi; "Back": Translation

I'd like to be able to check my knowledge getting shown the translation and having to enter the pinyin.

2. So far I experienced, that I personally should not try to learn all the Hanzi that come with my new vocabulary and instead focus on some important and memorizable ones first. This is why I would like to have only some of the word that I entered before in my "second step of learning new words". In this step I would like to check knowledge by having to enter the Hanzi after seeing the translation.

Can anyone give me clues on how to setup Hanzi so that I don't have to create to individual decks? (How) can I manage to do this with only one deck?

What do you think about learning new vocabulary in these two steps and cutting out Hanzi that I "don't like"?

I'm thankful for any advice :)


Profile picture
October 29, 2009, 07:12 AM

I don't use Anki, so I can't answer that part of your question, but I can have opinions on the "cutting out han4zi you don't like". I think it depends on what your goals are.

If your goal is to learn some basic stuff to be able to read and write simple things right now, then it's a good idea (even if your long-term goal is to learn them).

But if your goal is to be able to read and write Chinese and you're not in a hurry, it seems like unnecessary work. You'll have to learn those characters sooner or later anyway.

Profile picture
November 05, 2009, 09:59 PM

Does anyone use Anki on the Mac? I've just downloaded it and was trying it out, but I can't get it to import semi-colon delimited characters. I don't really understand the whole thing anyway. I've got the pinyin toolkit plugin in, and like the neat way you can type stuff in and it finds the characters. However, how do you import vocab from text files without getting error messages?

Profile picture
November 05, 2009, 11:46 PM

Sebire, the text file must be encoded in UTF-8 format. I don't use a Mac, but on Windows you just open the file in Notepad, choose "Save As.." and choose UTF-8 as the format. Also, you should verify that you have an item for each field in your model (sorry I know that might not make sense; see below).

You should be using the Mandarin model. Click Settings -> Deck Properties. If Mandarin isn't in the list of models, click Add and select Mandarin and click OK. Then delete any other models from the list. Click Close.

By default, the Mandarin Model has 4 fields: Expression, Meaning, Reading, and Tags. Therefore, your import file will need 4 items per vocab term. Here's an example one I created:


You will notice that the fourth item was left blank because I don't use the Tag field, otherwise it might look like this:


You will also notice that each vocab item appears on its own line.

One final thing: on the Import screen, I recommend you select both Recognition and Recall in the "Cards" dropdown list so that it creates 2 cards per vocab item, one for recognition and one for recall. Also, make sure you have the latest version of Anki. Good luck!

Profile picture
November 06, 2009, 07:31 AM

Hmm, I managed to save stuff as UTF-8 from Word, but opened them up in Notepad and got boxes. Just realised I was saving them in Rich Text Format on Mac.

So I can import with line breaks? That's good, then hopefully I can just drop the vocab straight into a text file and it'll detect that tabs as delimiters.

The next area of confusion is how I sync the decks between computers. Maybe I'll just use Anki Online.

Profile picture
November 06, 2009, 05:04 PM

I use Dropbox to keep my decks synched. It's free and anytime a file in your dropbox folder is updated on one computer, every other computer running the dropbox software and synched to your account downloads the updated deck.