My Favorite Pleco Flashcards Add-Ons for Beginners

1. To provide a basic link to some of the useful PLECO flashcards available here.
2. To provide basic instructions on installation of these PLECO flashcards.
3. To provide a basic bare bones on how to use these PLECO flashcards, from my own personal experience.

1. Why bother?
A: PLECO is an amazing tool and I see some incredibly talented individuals creating and sharing all sorts of fantastic decks here. Unfortunately, all these individuals and our PLECO creator seem to be very technically inclined. As a result, it's somewhat hard for us less technically inclined people to sift through the decks here and even harder to attempt to install and configure the use of these decks. My post here is an attempt to alleviate the difficulty for a newbie to PLECO.

2. Why are the decks in this post so few?
A: Time is limited, so I believe most people have time to only use at most 2-3 sets of flashcards deck at any one time. I'm restricting the flashcards in my post here to those flashcards I personally use. Hence the limited amount of decks. See my section on Flashcards and their Usage.

Flashcards and their Usage (A personal opinion!)
Whilst flashcards have their uses, it is all too easy to overdo it and maintain too many. For the absolute beginner, brimming with enthusiasm and bright eyes, it's likely one would try to add various flashcards sets to their review list. Unfortunately, many of these decks overlap. This disadvantage here is that it's time consuming to review these decks over time. When you're starting, say with HSK 1, it's easy to study and review the first 150 accumulated. At end of HSK 3, there's about 600 characters accumulated. At this point, the number of characters that you need to review exponentially start to add up. And if you've another redundant deck that substantially overlaps with the HSK1-3 words without adding a fresh perspective in your review, it is only wasting your time.

I DO NOT wish to add the run-of-mill flashcards that's either based on the HSK levels or textbooks. These are abundant and can be found free on this sub-forum, on Tofulearn or via a paid app like Skritter. The flashcards below are the ones I found essential and fall outside of the norm.

1. Radicals Dictionary and Flashcards

Comments: Think of radicals as building blocks of chinese characters. Often times, the default dictionaries in PLECO are sparse as to the meaning, pronounciation and usage of these radicals. The add-on dictionary to these radicals attempts to explain further on these radicals. These aid in learning and memorizing the radicals. As building blocks on the standard chinese characters, having the radicals dictionary is extremely helpful.

This is basically a dictionary which covers all the radicals and their variants; several components are also included. The data includes meaning, notes, and etymology. Frequency information is included for the KangXi radicals and their variants (this is RANK, higher means more frequent). There is also a note for each character whether there is any point in learning it as a standalone character. The additional radicals from the modern simplified chinese tables are covered where possible, though in some cases these radicals only exist in extension B. It includes:
  • A number of new characters, particularly a number of Extension A characters which had been skipped before.
  • Notes have been expanded to include how the radical is typically used in characters and the types of characters that will be listed under it.
  • A Mnemonic field has been added, in many cases this was just separated from the notes data in the previous release, but this information has been expanded/refined in many cases. While this field is often the technical etymology that can't always be guaranteed.
  • Examples have been added as per a request here, chosen to illustrate the most typical uses of a given radical
  • There is a new 'Distinguish From' field
  • A flashcard list is now included.
The post itself has detailed instructions on how to install, so refer to the link above.

2. Sentence Contextual Writing

Comments: This unique flashcard set is meant for intermediate to advanced learners. Basically, it uses an entire sentence as a flashcard. The target character to be learnt is spelt only in Pinyin with the rest of the sentence in written in standard Chinese characters. The user must write out the target Chinese characters spelt in pinyin. To pass the test, the user needs to understand the entire Chinese sentence and write out the target Chinese character to be learnt. This form of sentence contextual writing exponentially improves the user's understanding of Chinese characters.

Purpose: Test your ability to write the target character [普通话] based on the pinyin pronunciation [pǔtōnghuà] in the context of a complete sentence in Chinese.
Quantity: In excess of 20,000+ sentences!

Example: 他是中国人,但不会说 pǔtōnghuà.

Testing tiers:
1. Reading: Ability to understand the individual characters in Mandarin without pinyin.
2. Pronunciation: Ability to read out loud the entire sentence.
3. Gestalt: Ability to understand the overall meaning and context of the sentence. This ability ensures that the correct character is written as there are several Chinese characters with the same pinyin pronunciation.

This flashcard system is unique as it tests the following (in the above example):
1. The user is able to understand all 12 characters above and how they are used;
2. The user is able to write the target characters '普通话', meaning they are able to write and pronounce it as well.
3. This flashcard system takes a more top down approach to reviewing learnt characters. This is essential as it takes learning Chinese characters up a higher level where one focuses more on the context where the characters is used, rather on pure rote learning or brute force.

The post itself has detailed instructions on how to install, so refer to the link above.

3. Decomposition of Hanzi for Writing Practice

Comments: Most Chinese characters are made out of several sub-character components. In attempting to memorize these characters, most of the time, one would have a much easier time if you are able to recognize these sub-components or building blocks. Often times it's easy to recognize them, sometimes it's not. But why bother, if there's a PLECO add-on that automatically helps you to do that?

I'm trying to create flascards (or a dictionary) as writing aid.
No Etymology, only a practical decomposition frequently used in schools.

For DecompositionOfCharacters.txt file (600 Characters HSK1...HSK3) a single record appear as

  • 这 zhè (辵) 这 : 亠乂辶 lid, bend, walk, [ Def.: this, the, here]
The definition part is: (Radical) Hanzi : decomposition description [ translation]

For decomposition7120.txt (7120 Characters) as:

  • 诟 gou4 讠厂一口 speech, cliff, one, mouth

1. Download the dictionary file here. Full credits to @Furio Petrossi
2. In PLECO, go to the ‘Flashcards’ section, click on the sub-tab ‘Import/Export’.
3. Click ‘Import Cards’.
4. Under the ‘File’ section, choose file.
5. Go to the download directory and choose the 'decomposition.pqb' file.
6. Click ‘Begin Import’.
7. The decomposition dictionary is now installed.

4. A Dictionary of Colours

Comments: This PLECO add-on dictionary displays the color if you type a Chinese characters that refers to a color.

1. Download the dictionary file (PQB file) here for Android and here for iOS. Full credits to @Peter for Android and @pdwalker for iOS.
2. In PLECO, go to the ‘Settings' section.
3. Go to 'Manage Dictionaries'.
4. At the very bottom right, click on 'Add User'. Click on 'Existing' when prompted.
5. Go to the download directory and choose the 'Col.pqb' file.
6. Click ‘Begin Import’.
7. The COL dictionary is now installed.

5. Chinese Measure Words


Comments: This PLECO add-on dictionary displays most of the Chinese Measure words.

1. Download the dictionary file (PQB file) here. Full credits to @pdwalker (for his revisions) and @christoph55 (originator).
2. In PLECO, go to the ‘Settings' section.
3. Go to 'Manage Dictionaries'.
4. At the very bottom right, click on 'Add User'. Click on 'Existing' when prompted.
5. Go to the download directory and choose the 'MeasureWords.pqb' file.
6. Click ‘Begin Import’.
7. The MW dictionary is now installed.
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