"Starting" Mandarin (dabbling in SRS?)

I’m working primarily on Spanish and Greek, but I know that down the line (maybe 2021?) I’d like to start Mandarin. I’ve watched Steve’s videos on learning Mandarin and it seems like he used flashcards/SRS-like methods to memorize characters at first. Since I am not focusing on Mandarin right now but can still give it 5-15 min a day, I’ve started using an Anki deck with HSK 1 vocabulary (characters/audio on one side, pinyin/definitions on the other) to start learning some of the basic characters I’d need to begin reading/listening on LingQ. Without adding too many cards a day, and keeping my dabbling to about 5-15 minutes a day, I imagine I’d (very gradually) have a good amount of the HSK 2 words memorized by 2021. My question is: could this consistent dabbling prepare me to jump into the basic Chinese content on LingQ (mini stories, etc) in the next year? I’m essentially trying to familiarize myself with a few hundred characters before focusing on reading/listening for actual vocabulary acquisition. I would love to know anyone’s thoughts!

Notice that Lingq gives you the option of displaying pinyin on top of the characters. I would argue that it is more useful to know pinyin really well (+ a bit of the basics of how characters work) than it is to know a lot of characters for you to be able to start with Lingq’s mini-stories and the like. Even someone who knows very few characters can begin reading and learn the characters as they go, either with flashcards or just by getting acquainted with them through reading, which is what I am doing with Japanese kanji myself (using kanas instead of pinyin).
Notice that Steve’s situation back in the day was very different precisely because he had no Lingq or other software that can convert to Pinyin automatically. He really need to know quite a few characters just to start reading.
It’s really up to you but, if I was in your position, I would prefer to use your available time to:

  • Learn pinyin well, using some example words and sentences
  • Learn about the basics of characters, including how to write a few simple ones and some common radicals (as Jokojoko83 suggests)
  • After that, just start reading a bit on Lingq, as you have time, learn words in pinyin and get used to recognizing some simple characters
    If you just try to learn characters by heart, without knowing the words they represent, you’ll find that you’ll forget very easily as soon as you go past the first few ones. At least that has been my experience

I think it’s a great idea, if you can also find some dialogues of HSK1 level you can keep that level until you have more time. However, I think the MiniStories are more like HSK2, roughly speaking. I would also advice that you learn how to handwrite characters at the beginning, it usually helps memorize them faster.

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see this, it might help: Forum - Duolingo