For improving my vocabulary I read favourite novels and short stories, preferredly in the original (target) language. When my level isn't quite up to it, I read a translation (be that English or German), and then the original. With plot memory fresh, often the original meanings pop into place. Vocabulary that I need I do underline and look up, and since I do this with paper based books and dictionaries, I do need some space on a table for this. This method can be somewhat cumbersome while commuting using public transportation, but generally it has served me well over two decades now.

Years ago, with spaced repetition apps on a smartphone repeating less well-known vocab this learning method got an upgrade. Entering the words from paper notes into the app helps memorizing them as well, however, been wondering, can I upgrade this procedure too? Last time I checked, common ebook-readers had functions for selecting words and looking them up in dictionaries. While that is a useful feature in itself for some, all ecosystems failed to offer what I was missing then: a file export function.

I want to continue separate reading, looking things up, and repeating them as I did all these years. Not being able to export in effect cancels the device family status as a system seller; I see very little use in them if I can't export.

For me, an ideal setup would be: load any given ebook in the target language into the reader. happy to load from any source. I'll then be able to select vocab, and whenever I please export the list for further use. Optional: look things up on the ebook device and include the translation in the exported data. A plus: be able to select a suitable target format, csv, json, txt that my app can read and understand (here: AnkiDroid - I'd be happy to try and convert whatever the export data format is). Alternative: select word from the list, and directly "share to AnkiDroid" from reader device.

Which ebook reader, or mobile reader ecosystem, can do that for me? Any hints appreciated. Do you follow any comparable method for boosting vocabulary?

(In case it matters, the target language I particularly have on my mind here is Mandarin, which I've been learning for many years now, including by attending C1 level classes. Especially with simplified characters of 刘慈欣's novels I need more practice in reading.)

  • My Kindle has this feature built-in. It's called "vocabulary builder", and it turns words you've looked up in the dictionary into flashcards. Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 22:50
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones, so can a kindle actually export the list? Where does the dictionary you mention come from? So do you use the kindle for repetition practice? I guess I'll need to check on the features then..
    – raddaqii
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


More of a comment but I don't have the rep - from time to time I do something similar but I haven't been able to export directly from the app. I take screenshots and then use an image cloze in Anki. It's fairly time consuming because you have to edit the screenshot to blank out your target word, but it's OK if you're not doing hundreds of words. I set Anki up so that when I type the missing word in for the first time I get a dictionary link - whether this is possible depends on the online dictionary you are using. I can then enter the definition in another field for next time.

  • Thank you - although I fear having to go this route. Given the number of 生词 I typically need to look up this might prove rather impractical.
    – raddaqii
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 16:31

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