Mnemonics Suggestion for Lingq Chinese

Hours and hours wasted trying to learn Chinese by rote have enlightened me to the fact that it cannot be done, at least not in any manner that might be considered efficient. Combined with custom Anki flashcards and day-to-day conversation, I like the Lingq method despite initial misgivings.


I still think, even though I understand the logic behind it perfectly, the Lingq method is a bit too rote-like and could be made more efficient. I have too many yellow lingqs that remain yellow for far too long. You shouldn’t need to read hundreds of instances of a character before it sinks in, surely. How about implementing a feature whereby we can create and share mnemonics for each Lingq. Personally significant ones are optimal, of course, but sometimes it’s difficult to see how an abstract concept can be illustrated by a mnemonic so sharing it can help give learners a nudge in the right direction.

Anyway, just a suggestion. Apologies if this feature exists already and has been overlooked.

Hi Edward! Two questions.

What’s the state of your listening comprehension and spoken Mandarin? Are you learning spoken and written language together right now, or are you already ahead in the spoken language and are trying to catch up on the character side?

What kind of translation/information came with the character in your flashcard systems? The meaning in English, the pinyin, an audio with the pronunciation, mnemonic suggestions, example phrases, or all of these?

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There are a lot of opinions about studying Chinese characters, but rarely do you see people actually back them with studies.

Some links to studies:

Also Lingq thread - “How do I learn to read and write characters?” my response : How Do I Learn To Read/Write Chinese? Do I Just ... - Lan...

If I was to put a wishlist to lingq developers it would be to display pinyin over hanzi, for the whole text, as an option, for the user. No more, no less.


Tommy, I’ve been in China for five years so my spoken and listening skills surpass those of my reading and writing by a long way. My foray into Chinese began with Pimsleur and I later delved into material produced by the US State Department but, for a variety of reasons, I only recently began to turn my attention to reading and writing. I’ve been using the Mastering Chinese series of Anki flashcards which have been very useful, though they don’t feature mnemonics either so I’ve had to go through the often laborious process of breaking each character down into its components to form my own. This has been really good practice, however, and I can now produce similar mnemonics for characters I encounter elsewhere.

Iaing, I appreciate there must be numerous studies out there dismissing the value of mnemonics for long-term retention. My own experience, on the other hand, illustrates plainly that they at least work for me. Without them to allay the excruciating tedium of trying to look at and understand characters for which I have absolutely zero reference point, I would have given up long ago. I do agree, however, that Pinyin over Hanzi would be an excellent enhancement to the Lingq learning process, which at the moment seems almost as though it is half-finished and in beta stage.


Then again, the Zhongwen extension for Chrome is ideal for this ^^^

Iaing, can you expand upon the success you’ve had with the pinyin-over-hanzi method? Given that you’ve accumulated 24,011 words on here, I’d imagine you’d be speaking and comprehending at an enormously high level. Was that achieved using the method you’ve described? I’m willing to have my mind opened to this but, I must admit, it barely sounds credible. Wouldn’t rote/mnemonic-based learning of at least the 1,500 most common characters in the beginning stand a student in good stead for constructing the myriad words and phrases from which they stem? This isn’t an attack on you, I’m just curious because I feel my progress so far through Lingq has been mediocre at best.

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Thanks for your suggestion! I don’t know that this is something we would do in the short term, but we are adding Pinyin support in the mobile apps, and will have the same available on the site hopefully in the next little while.

With your spoken Mandarin way ahead you should have an imense advantage over someone like me, who is learning the spoken and written beasts paralell.

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Hi Alex! The only thing the app lacks now to be perfect would be the 0.5 speed option for the audio. Here on the site the half speed really helped in Chinese to get that insane speed down. But when I’m on the app I have to stop after every line or phrase to have my aching tiny Chinese processing unit catch up. And this is a good deal less pleasant than being able to have it flow and read along.

It’s a very minor thing, but I’m sure that would be a desirable feature for anyone learning any L.

Sure, that’s definitely something we can look into in the apps as well :slight_smile:

“so my spoken and listening skills surpass those of my reading and writing by a long way”

I’m in the same boat with Japanese. Can be frustrating when one isn’t a beginner, but one’s "known words count’ is low, simply for lack of character recognition. Oh well :slight_smile:

I don’t know what type of mnemonic you are looking for, but you can type in anything you want for a character. Highlight the character, save it, edit and add your mnemonic. After that, when you fly over the character you’ll see your mnemonic. You can leave characters yellow all the time; it doesn’t really hurt anything. Others will be able to use your mnemonic too.

Anyway, regarding the “Lingq method”. Is somebody here telling you to learn Chinese without using mnemonics, writing characters, etc? I don’t see the conflict.

I can almost see someone using furigana over kanji to help them read in the very beginning, although I think it’s faster to learn without. Japanese is much harder due to multiple readings. But pinyin over hanzi is ridiculous overkill imo. It’s not hard enough to justify. I suppose if you are trying to avoid writing completely this additional step might help, but I sure wouldn’t recommend it.
Bottom line - If you’re trying to learn to read a character, don’t post the answer right over the top of it.

That being said, you can already fly over a character when you get stuck and read the pinyin in Lingq, so I don’t understand the need to put it over every character, if that’s what you are suggesting.