Hi, This might sound confusing initially, but please bear with me. I am trying to use Anki to learn Mandarin. I have a bigger focus on speaking/listening than writing since the characters are tougher to learn, although I still want to learn the characters. Currently, I have been making 3 flashcards for every word - Image:sound&pinyin, image:character, and character:sound&pinyin. However, after just a few days of this, I noticed that I am spending a lot more time working on the characters, which is slowing down my ability to learn new words to speak. This led to me having an idea... My idea is to create two separate decks. The first deck would have two cards per word - image:sound&pinyin and character:sound/pinyin (so that I can at least recognize characters, even if I can't write them by hand). I would continue to learn at a rate of 20 new cards per day (10 new words per day) which would be a great boost. The second deck would have one (or maybe two cards) per word - image:character (and maybe sound&pinyin:character) to exclusively help me learn the writing. I would only do maybe 5 new words every day (so 5 or 10 new cards), so that my speaking is not hindered by the time needed to work on writing. My problem: I do not want to have to put in all of the information two times (one for each deck) in order to do this. I am continually adding onto my current deck, so it would be quite a hassel. Is there some kind of easier fix for this? Have other Mandarin (or Japanese) learners done anything similar to this? Any and all insight would be most welcome! Thanks!

* Originally posted by TimB.

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  • Hi Timb,
    There are two main ways of doing what you are asking that I can think of.

    The first is to create two profiles and import the same deck in both of them, but change how Anki displays the cards so that in one profile you only get tested on the meaning of the words and on the other profile you are tested on characters. If you are not comfortable importing and exporting decks in CSV spreadsheet format, this method might be a little simpler.

    The main idea is to create one single card for each of your words. This card will have all the information about the word you are trying to learn. In your case I think you need 4 fields: Image, Character, Sound and Pinyin. (I would add a few other fields as well, even if you don't plan to use them because it makes it easier to find, edit and organize the cards --- see model deck on this website).

    The first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with creating and editing 'card types'.

    In Anki's main window you'll see at the top three options: "Decks", "Add" and "Browse".

    When you click "Add" the very first button at the top left corner of the new window will let you select/edit Anki's card types. When you click on it you'll see a new window with a "Manage" button at the bottom. After that you'll see another windwow a list of card types and some option on the right. Select the card type from the list which is closest to the card type you want to create (or just select "Basic", I am not sure what the difference between add and clone is, but it shouldn't matter) and then press the "Add" button and give your new card type a new name ("Awesome Chinese Card Type").

    After that, close the window and you should see in the previous window a list of card types for you to choose from which now contains your brand new card type ("Awesome Chinese Card Type"). Highlight it and press "Choose" which will take you back to the previous window.

    You'll now see that the new card type is selected at the top right. Now Press Fields and add as many fields as you need (Image, Sound, Character, etc...). After that press the "Cards..." button next to the "Fields" button.

    This "Cards..." button takes you to a new window which allows you to edit what you see when you study the cards. For example if you want the card to show you the image in front and the pinyin sound in the back do this:

    In the Front Template type:
    In the Back Template type:

    When you are done editing press the "close" button.

    If you want anki to test you on the same word, but in multiple different ways then go back to the "Cards..." window and press the " " button on the top right. This will add a new template for how Anki will test you on this particular word. For example of you want to just hear the sound in the front of the card and see the pinyin image in the back do this:

    In the Front Template type:
    In the Back Template type:

    If you want to add text to your card simply type it and when you want a line break type:
    . Here is an example:

    In the Front Template type:
    How do you say this word in Chinese?

    In the Back Template type:

    You can add as many of these as you want by simply pressing the " " button.

    Once you have created all your cards and want to create a new deck which tests you on the characters, then you have to export the deck. File -> Export...
    Export Format: Anki Deck Package (*.apkg)
    Include: Select your Chinese Deck
    Uncheck the "Include Scheduling Information"
    Check the "Include Media"

    Press "Export" and choose the new name of the deck and where in your computer you are going to save it.

    Then, create a new profile in Anki. File -> Switch Profiles -> Add...

    Once you are logged in your new profile, find the deck on your computer and double click on it (or File -> Import... via Anki)

    At this point you have an identical copy of your deck on your second profile. In your main window press "Add" (between Decks and Browse at the top). Select the appropriate card type (Awesome Chinese Card Type). Press "Cards...". In the new window (unless you changed the names) you'll see at the top "Card 1", "Card 2", etc. You can delete those since you are already studying that way in your first profile (press the little "x" next to their names at the top). Then use the " " button to add new templates where you are going to be tested on characters. After you have done that, go back to the main window and press the Chinese Deck. At the bottom press the "Options" button and change the "New Cards/Day" field to 5 (or whatever number you wish).

    At that point you are done.

    If afterwards you add more cards in your first profile, simply export the updated deck as explained before and import it to your second profile. After that edit your "Awesome Chinese Card Type" as shown before and change it so the cards test you on the characters. This is the main drawback of this method: you have to change the card type templates every time you export/import the deck because the process reverts the card type to the way you have them setup in your first profile.


    The second method is a little bit better, but it requires you to learn how to export and import Spreadsheets (CSV files) into Anki. You don't need to create a new profile. Simply create a second deck on the same profile. Then click on the "Add" button at the top and under "Type" click on "Manage" to create a new card type based on "Awesome Chinese Card Type" ("Awesome Chinese Character Card Type" ??). Then press the "Cards..." button and edit them to have them test you on the characters as explained before (which you will only have to do once!). Then export your first deck in CSV (not an *.apkg) format. Import the CSV file back into Anki but select the second deck as your destination and the "Awesome Chinese Character Card Type" as your new card type. Then under "Options" change how many card per day you are going to study in the second deck and you are set.

    The drawback of this method is that when you add new words you have to do it in a third deck. Export and re-import the deck as explained before and then move your original new cards to your first deck ("Browse", select all the cards on your third deck, move to first deck). Otherwise you'll end up with duplicate cards on your character decks.

    Both methods are not hard to do once you get used to, but in the beginning they may seem a little confusing. Unfortunately I can't think of another way. I may try to create a youtube video to explain this visually which will make things a lot easier to follow, but I am not sure I have time to do so at the moment.

    I hope this helps!

    * Originally posted by Leo_FF.

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