How useful are flashcards for learning mandarin vocabulary?

Hi everyone! I’ve been using a hybrid approach to learning Mandarin for about a year now where I use LingQ for some of my study time and vocabulary flashcards for the rest. I wrote a blog post about my method and my experience here: How Useful are Flashcards for Learning Mandarin Vocab? – I'm Learning Mandarin
I’d be interested to hear other people’s opinions on using flashcards to learn languages and whether or not you’ve combined them with other approaches :slight_smile:

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Thoughful post. I think flashcards are certainly necessary in the beginning. As you suggest it’s likely they remain helpful through to the most advanced level but I have generally been quite lazy with them and focussed almost exclusively on listening/ reading immersion. I may start giving flashcards another go soon.

I started japanese with flashcards until I find Lingq. When I started using LingQ, my known words grew to intermediate very fast, but now I don’t see any progress using flashcards, once I can read/listen countless texts to increase vocabulary and comprehension. I am trying to learn German only by LingQ, and the first words where harder to memorize. For me, at least, flashcards are a great tool for beggining.

Yeah that’s also been my experience for Mandarin. I do wonder sometimes whether vocabulary acquisition might be even faster if I could be bothered to spend time doing flashcards in addition to mass reading on LingQ.

Flashcards are great, but with Mandarin, I’d suggest full sentence decks with audio (or using a good cloze text service); much easier to learn tones if one is shadowing complete sentences.

For Japanese (2016), I went through a deck to familiarize myself with the meanings-only of the basic Kanji. I felt the readings would stick best through reading and listening in context, not through single or compound characters vocalized and drilled in isolation.

It is also correct that flashcards can help at any level, but the drive isn’t sustainable for me once I’m at the level where I’m listening to content unhindered. Once I get there, all I want to do is listen and to a lesser degree read and speak.

This post made me reminiscent since I hadn’t opened any SRS decks in about two years. I opened up my Japanese core 6000 vocabulary deck yesterday while waiting in line and it was fun. I didn’t get them all correct, so it’s definitely worth running through a few reps during downtime in the future. But I’ll never let flashcards eclipse my listening time.

Lastly, I’ll comment that few individuals (within a couple) are able to hold frame in changing the original language of communication between them, even if the language learner eventually eclipses the English level (or other original common language) of the partner. The partner is unlikely to budge from English for any significant amount of time. Best to nip English in the bud before one unwittingly becomes a lifelong English tutor.