T.K. Ann's 'Cracking Chinese Puzzles' Table 5 Flashcards

Hello everyone; :)

I took up to learn Chinese characters using T.K. Ann 'Cracking the Chinese Puzzles' method (http://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Chinese-Puzzles-Singletons-Mandarin/dp/9627056014). Here is my flashcard collection corresponding to the table 5 in volume 1:all the bu4shou3 (radicals) in chapter 6.

I used ldolse's cool radicals dictionary (http://www.plecoforums.com/threads/radical-dictionary-flashcards-ios-android-tested.1149/), and modified some of the radicals definition with Ann's definitions ('meaning') when there wasn't an exact match.

Hope this can save someone else's time :)


PS: I can't upload the XML file. If you want it, just PM me.



Hi T,

Thanks for the upload. Would you also happen to have a similar list at this point containing all the characters introduced in this volume? I'm about to start working with the abridged version of the book but I imagine the characters will be introduced in the same sequence.

Hi IW, :)

I don't have the complete collection of flashcards. So far, I've only got my hands on the first volume (out of 5) of T.K.Ann's method. I have put my study on standby so I haven't gotten further than 2 more chapters in it.

So I guess I could do it for the whole Vol. 1 at least... if you think it can help you. But like you said, I doubt it will be much different from the abridged version you have. ??
If you're up for it, we could translate the volume one (already huge) into a series of flashcards. Easier if we do it together ^^

How many characters does the abridged version has?

Let me know,
Best, T.


Hi T,

Thanks for the quick reply. The abridged version actually contains all the characters from all 5 volumes, but it's missing the bisyllabic words (or bigrams) for each character; it basically contains less examples of each character being used. Someone suggested you can use the WENLIN software program to perform this function for you so I decided to save money on purchasing the 5 volumes and just bought that one abridged volume and another volume containing the appendices:


I will absolutely keep in mind your suggestion to doubleteam on this flashcard creation project. I posted this question in a few other forums and I'll let you know if I get a positive response elsewhere so we don't have to duplicate the task if someone's already done it.

Hi IW,

You're right, you definitely need the bigrams while learning characters.
True, TK Ann already proposes bigrams in the complete edition of his method. But although his method is great, it is kind of old (1987), so I thought I'd better find a more recent wordlist.

What I have done (while studying the 2 first chapters of TK Ann) was to use a frequency table of Chinese words (mono- and bi-grams together) for each characters I was reviewing.
For each TK Ann's character, I would make flashcards for the n most frequent Chinese words (it's up to you to decide the frequency threshold).

The source for the frequency wordlist I use is here, and I cross-referenced it with the open-source CC-DICT. It is based on an extraction of subtitles for more than 6,000 movies. I thought this one was good because it is (1) recent, (2) the methodology is explained so I know why these words are important, and (3) movies could be one of the better ways to approach the spoken language.
I thought it was quite convincing.

My Excel spreadsheet is here. You can try to key in any character in the top-right cell search field to find the relevant mono- and bi-grams, ranked by frequency. [oh, feedback always welcome]

I didn't know about Wenlin. It seems to do the same thing I did with my spreadsheet, but without the frequency information. What do you think?

It's a good thing you posted about TK Ann flashcards on other forums, do let me know if you get anything interesting :) It'd be nice if someone has already done the heavy lifting.

Cheers, T.


Hi T,

Thanks for that spreadsheet -- it's so polished! Pretty impressive work on it and I think the methodology you've chosen is quite sensible. As a movie buff, I highly praise this approach :)

So I just started using Wenlin but I've confirmed that it does in fact contain the most frequently used bigrams in descending order. Please see here for a sample about midway down:


I'll send you a PM also for some further information regarding it. I don't know how Wenlin constructs its frequency list, but the program has been around for a while and is well regarded by the users over at "Chinese-forums.com".

I'll definitely keep you updated if and when I hear back on any comprehensive lists from the other forums.

Thanks for the feedback :)
The spreadsheet was actually easy to some up with, it's just existing and publicly available info nicely consolidated.

I've looked at the link you just posted. I think Wenlin does what you need it to do. But there's nothing (or correct me if I'm wrong :s) that Wenlin does and Pleco doesn't:
Instant Look-up --> Pleco Reader
Characters definitions --> Pleco Dictionary
Listing words and phrases containing a character --> Pleco Dictionary, Words tab
Examples --> Pleco Dictionary​

And I think Pleco UI (and multi-device accessibility) is by far superior to Wenlin.

Just in case you haven't switched it on yet: Pleco "Words" tab (for a given character's definition) already lists compound words.
To sort them by order of frequency (Android version), you have to go to Pleco Settings>Dictionary>Definition screen interface>Words>Sort merged by frequency.

The only downside is that I don't know yet how Pleco makes this frequency ranking :s I'll look it up.


You're welcome on the feedback. I absolutely agree on the virtues of Pleco over Wenlin, especially when it comes to multi-device accessibility, and don't see the latter as a replacement for the former. I believe Wenlin also doesn't use SRS for its flashcards. That said, I still haven't fully plumbed all the features of Wenlin to assess what advantages it holds, besides serving as a desktop option, but even on that note, the "Bluestacks" Android emulator for the PC/Mac nullifies that advantage.

Thanks for the headsup on sorting the compound word frequency. I missed that crucial detail before.