Learn Chinese with AnkiReview

3 min readFeb 5, 2019

A lot of Chinese learners ask me how to get started with flashcards. Here’s a beginner-friendly step by step guide for Android users, using AnkiReview.

Support my work on AnkiReview

Start by installing AnkiDroid. Then head over to the list of shared Anki decks. We’ll use this deck as an example: Chinese/English — Comprehensive Compilation — With Examples. Scroll down and you’ll see a download link. Download the shared deck to your Android phone. Then, open AnkiDroid, click the menu (upper right hand corner) and choose Import. Browse to the location of the .apkg file you just downloaded.

AnkiDroid importing the shared deck

The new deck will be imported within a few minutes. Once done, go ahead and install AnkiReview. AnkiReview is a plugin for AnkiDroid and focuses on making the reviewing experience more pleasant and user friendly. Within AnkiReview, you will see the deck you just imported under the name Languages::Chinese::Combined. After selecting this deck, you’ll be prompted to define a style, which is easy to do and will be described step by step.

AnkiReview prompts the user to define a new style for the card

The screen below is the Card Style editor within AnkiReview. The blank boxes are supposed to have the Question and Answer fields, however the app doesn’t know yet what those are. We’ll start by dragging the English field to the Question section.

Fields must be dragged from the All Fields section to Question or Answer

As soon as you drag the English field to the Question section (using those drag handles on the right), you will see the actual text within the field displayed in the upper white box.

English field shown in the Question section

We then continue and place the fields Pinyin, Chinese and Example Pinyin to the Answer section. Our flashcard now looks better but we are not done yet.

Fields have been added to the “Answer Fields” section

Click on the Look tab. By default, the first field, English should be selected. You can change its text color. I like this blue color.

Changing text color

Then move on to the rest of the fields. I’ve assigned a pink color to Pinyin, purple to Chinese. I’ve checked the Line Return checkbox for Chinese to display it on the next line. For Example Pinyin, I’ve checked the HTML Content checkbox to convert HTML tags, and I’ve changed the relative size to display it smaller. Keep in mind you can scroll on the card preview if the answer is not fully visible.

Changing relative text size

Now we are done, click the tick mark on the upper right hand corner to save. You’ll be back at the reviewing screen. Swipe up to reveal the answer.

Our final flashcard design, showing the question side

The answer will appear. Did you know the answer ? If yes, swipe right. If you didn’t know the answer, swipe left.

Final flashcard design, with answer displayed

Hope everything is clear, if not don’t hesitate to ask questions !

AnkiDroid: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ichi2.anki&hl=en

AnkiReview: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.luc.ankireview

The shared Chinese deck we’ve used: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/658472261