Is Learning Chinese Vocabulary from Lists a Good Idea?


Lists surely make life a lot easier. They are easier to learn, and it makes life orderly and less daunting. Ticking words that you’ve learnt off the lists feels like an accomplishment. Therefore, when someone says they’ve been learning Chinese from these lists, it doesn’t sound ridiculous. Since Chinese is a difficult language, many individuals prefer to learn the Chinese language from a list.

In this article, you will be seeing from pros and cons of using lists to learn Chinese.


  • They are easier to find: You can find ample vocabulary lists on the internet that can make your life easier. You can learn from those lists and learn a lot of words at a time.
  • Fewer Choices: Since the words in a list are arranged in an order, the only thing you have to do is to work your way through it.
  • You can measure your progress easily by counting the number of words and characters you’ve learned.
  • Learning any new language is a tough thing to do. But if you learn Chinese using these lists you can easily tackle a small block of the vocabulary one at a time.

Although each of the points listed above is valid, this certainly does not mean that there are no problems related to using the lists. Let us now look at the other side of the coin and explore the cons of learning a language off a list.


Although the lists are easy to find, you cannot be sure that the list you have found is actually of any use to you. Let’s use an example to understand this point better. If you are looking for ways to boost your vocabulary, then a frequency based list found in the newspapers is not for you. Or maybe the list is compiled by another beginner in the language. Can you be sure that whatever they’ve written is correct?

If you learn the language only from a few of the lists, that is actually a bad thing. Don’t you want to improve your vocabulary? If so, then lists can offer only a few choices. Trying to make things easier by using lists for learning could actually be limiting your knowledge. When you learn a new language, you should expose yourself to as many new words and characters as possible.

Vocabulary lists are convenient to review but are you sure you are learning the right words? Ask yourself why in the first place are you learning the language? Although many people have found it a convenient way to learn the language, you hardly learn these words nor commit them to your longer term understanding or memory. For you to process the words and lists thoroughly, you need to put in your effort and all your focus on it to understand the nuances of a language.

One of the biggest disadvantages of learning from a list is that they don’t make sense until you know how to compile them into phrases and sentences. Imagine you’ve learned thousands of different words, only to find out at the end that you’ve no idea how to use them to form a sentence or a phrase.

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