Obsidian for language learning/as a dictionary

Has anyone here tried to use Obsidian to help with learning languages, not just to keep grammatical references and some words, but as a full blown language zettelkasten (if I may call it that)?

I have set aside a specialized vault that I intend to use as a sort of dictionary. Of course, words by themselves are not terribly useful, it won’t be a mere collection of words but a collection of sentences, phrases and idioms, etc… all properly explained in my own words and interlinked. I want to combine this with sentence mining.
I haven’t decided on the exact format it will take yet. I think it would be best if I just do it and figure it as I go.

One issue that really does pop out to me is handling of synonyms and homonyms. That (heavily helped by reading about how chinese/japanese logographs work, reading about Roget’s thesaurus and some philosophical conlangs) is actually what heavily prompted me into doing this.
Perhaps a file per word or a file per “meaning”? We will see.

So far I’ve only decided to make folders for each language (my native Slovak, English and Japanese (which I am starting to study) and to make a folder for kanji within the “Japanese” folder.


Hi @Shandi,

I have considered this a little bit. However, I have realized that learning a language and setting up a full-blown digital system on your own is daunting. For that reason, I just started using the service called LingQ. It is an awesome tool that I think would fit your needs!

To do something in Obsidian close to what LingQ does would require a huge community working on it. Right now, the community is not there, but it is on LingQ!

Hi @Shandi I have a thesaurus in Obsidian, not so much for language learning, but for writing and revision. I link groups of words with a common meaning together, using one word as an anchor for the entire group (i link both ways but it may not be necessary). I then explore them via graphs (with neighbor links turned on). It works pretty well for exploring related words, and I can add my own synonyms. Something like that may work for foreign language learning too.


Hey @Shandi, I am also starting on this path. I want to learn Sanskrit, so I have a new vault for only. I do see a lot of value in sentence mining. I am maintaining a folder for words, and one for sentences. But I am not sure how to build a zettelkasten system yet.
Can you share if you’ve made any progress?

Hey @Shandi , I’m starting to figure out a system in obsidian to manage the language learning area of my life - which is pretty large. Right now In my daily note I have a “Polyglot Practice” header and include vocab I’ve learned in a header for that language, with the content I got it from if I have it in the vault.

Still want to figure out how to use Obsidian to support better/more active language learning habits and linking my overall goals to choices about activities and content—getting proactive, not just consuming the latest podcast that comes into my feed in-language.

I found notes per word overkill, since I’m recording mostly words I learned - so search gets me the times I’ve encountered a word pretty well, it won’t be hundreds of times for a language I’m studying.