Flashcards are crucial for learning languages. I would say, for learning Mandarin Chinese, they are tremendously vital. If you want (or need) to memorize hanzi, you should surround yourself with characters so that you could see them every day and every time. Frequent looking at Mandarin flashcards is the only way of effective study.
DIY and BIY
The most simple (and I suppose the oldest) method is creating paper Mandarin flashcards. Many learners already know that doing your own Mandarin flashcards helps to memorize what you are writing. However, regarding Mandarin, there may be an additional issue. You need flashcards from the very beginning of your studies when you can’t write characters yet. In this case, you can buy a printed set of Mandarin flashcards. The advantage is that those Mandarin flashcards are usually more long-lived. They also contain some useful additional information (like radicals, number of strokes, and so on).
Besides the online resource, you can also have your substantive flashcards offline. There are many exquisite designs on sale. If you want to learn HSK series words, you can get the flashcards from the HSK Kit. If you are looking for the flashcards for kids, then Language Together is a good choice, which is for children ages 3-8 who are beginning to learn Chinese. And the famous Chineasy series is great for the beginners of characters.
On your electronic devices
Here is the point where the Internet helps you. After your first class in Mandarin, you can use the Chinese flashcards online that were already prepared for you by YellowBridge and ArchChinese. There are amazing collections of flashcards for words from the most popular textbooks. Of course, the vast majority of the beginner’s lexicon is covered there. The Chinese flashcards online are gathered into sets so you can easily find the vocabulary of the lesson you have just studied. You can review them in either studying or exam modes.
If you still need to create your own Mandarin Chinese flashcards, please check Quizlet websites or APP. Modern technologies let you create cards that look very professional. You can upload images making your learning materials more attractive and helpful.
Quizlet even makes audio for you! After just entering a Mandarin phrase you get its pronunciation. It is not perfect but still much better than nothing.
The range of tasks you can do with your sets is very big and includes learning in a straight order as it was initially presented, shuffling, flipping and checking your knowledge in different “exam”/”game” modes (Scatter, Test, Space Race, etc.)
There are also hundreds of exciting apps for creating your very own Mandarin flashcards. For mobile devices, my favorite two are AnkiDroid that allows you to customize flashcards in so many ways and StudyBlue that just has a very pleasant modern look (without compromising on options).
Some online services for creating flashcards work like social networks so you can easily find friends and deal with those learning Mandarin all over the world. You can share your Chinese flashcards online and use the learning materials that were created by other users.
If you run your blog about learning Mandarin, it is also possible to embed your Mandarin flashcards sets into your website.
Related Course: Comprehensive Guide to Chinese Characters