Using obsidian for learning languages


I have been trying to create a language learning system in Obsidian for language learning. At the moment I am trying to learn Korean but do want to also extend Obsidian for language learning to other languages. Just don’t have a good approach to take notes for language learning and there also hasn’t been a lot of good information regarding Obsidian and using it for learning languages.

I am also looking into using Obsidian to learn Japanese and would like to hear what others have to say about this topic. Before, I was saving vocab “flashcards”, writing “Daily Entries” in my target language in a separate database, and organizing links to useful resources in Notion, but I can think of ways this simple system might be translated to Obsidian.

The Spaced Repitition plugin can be easily used for vocab flashcards. There are several other flashcard plugins–I haven’t tried them all, but it looks like quite a few also come with Anki integrations, if you like to use Anki for learning Korean.

In Obsidian I already have a “Daily Entries” folder where I put entries that are kind of like diary entries, except in my target language. This is a very useful exercise and can help you learn new words if you write with a bilingual dictionary beside you. Here are some plugins that will allow you to have a dictionary and/or translator in the sidebar as you write:

  • Dictionary - has support for a Korean dictionary, but you have to search directly for the Korean word
  • Custom Frames - Will let you embed iframe in the sidebar. I use an iframe of a English-Japanese dictionary website. Also works for me on mobile. Way more convenient than Dictionary, but doesn’t work offline.
  • Translate - An actual translator. Some of the APIs, such as Google Translate’s, are not free, but the plugin gives you the option to download Lingva, which is free and, I believe, offline. Embedding a translator with Custom Frames might be a more convenient option.

Now, for vocab, if you just want a table of vocab with definitions and such for quick reference, you could use Notion-Like Tables. Otherwise, if you want each vocab to be its own note with its own metadata and content, you could have a folder of vocab words, then use Dataview to query the vocab for an easy view. Or, use, or even DB Folder (I think is a better option, though).

Hopefully that helps. Now, I think I’m going to go rebuild my Notion system in Obsidian.

Also, if you want to read some Korean books to learn the language, I suggest using Book Search to make book notes after you find some books you’d like to read (Tip: look at Z-library. It isn’t Obsidian-related, but it is the largest library of free books. Tons of them are in Korean).

After you make the book note, download an epub or pdf of the book from somewhere (again, I recommend Z-library). Read the book (if it’s a PDF, you can do this in Obsidian. If it’s an EPUB, you can also do this in Obsidian with the EPUB Reader plugin). Then, use your book note to write a review of the book, which you just read in Korean, in Korean.

Double learning. Read in your target language, write your own review in your target language.

Custom Frames is useful if your workflow is to process pdfs or videos. Unfortunately Google Translate doesn’t work well with Custom Frames so you should use some other translator. To process websites, it’s possible to use MarkDownload.

Being productive in language learning while using Obsidian is extremely difficult because maintaining your own dictionary and/or grammar knowledge base is not essential since you can buy a grammar book (and possibly a dictionary). Obsidian can be used to manage your dictionary that you use for your own spaced repetition practice. The problem with Spaced Repetition plugin is that it will modify your original source file. You should maintain separate master file that contains your whole dictionary and then use that to generate study decks. I recommend session or weekly based decks. Obsidian editor is handy for adding tags to your words, but this is only useful if you want to make decks based on your criteria (I think this is not very productive). Other use case for tags is to promote some action that you want to do later, like listening how the word is pronounced or finding more details about how the word is used in context.

Finally you can use Obsidian to record your own pronunciation. I think this can be productive if used along with spaced repetition and spaced repetition having main emphasis.

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Thanks for the reply

Some of the plugins actually look really useful and will try them out.

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