Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
gsaines

Skritter: Online Character Practice, want feedback!

Recommended Posts

c_redman

Same situation here. I know roughly 2000 characters, but could only write about 10. But using this tool, I can really catch up quickly. And even though I've only learned to write a few hundred up so far, knowing how to write is already helping me differentiate similar characters I often get mixed up. It's really addictive, and I look forward to my daily practice (sh)!

As a self-learner, writing practice has been a big challenge. I can look at a character and copy it 100 times, but still have little chance of remembering it a week later. The spaced repetition in Skritter solves that. In addition, the instant feedback on correct drawing is great for self-study, when there's no teacher to assist.

What is the spaced repetition algorithm you are using? In general, the test order seems reasonable -- a decent balance between reviewing hard words and introducing new ones. But as I introduce larger numbers items, will I start to build a large backlog of words that are overdue for review?

As for features I'd like to suggest, first would be the ability to export introduced entries, so I can practice on paper when I'm not by a computer. Second would be some more metrics. Anki has some nice graphs and statistics, like success rates on new cards compared with "young" and "mature" cards, and a daily graph of card scheduling.

It has a great interface that's highly intuitive. This is even accessible to people who don't know anything about Chinese, and they could be learning a few cool characters within minutes. Just in time for that tattoo :mrgreen:! All that's missing is maybe a quick intro to the basic rules of stroke orders, and then let them play with the demo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

ABCinChina

The main Skritter website seems to be blocked by the great firewall. Since Witopia is not working for me at work anymore for some unknown reason, I will try it out on my home computer. Is anyone having problems testing Skritter in China or is it just me?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
roddy

I'm seeing the same - can't access Skritter directly, but have no problem through a VPN. I can see reference on the web to the webhosting company they use having been blocked in 2005/2006, possibly due to also hosting gambling or adult pages (nothing to do with Skritter, I'm sure they're very nice people :) ). So I'd guess they've fallen foul of that.

(cheeky affiliate link to Witopia)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ABCinChina

When I click practice it just shows the grey screen below. There's nothing else I can click to get it started. I must be missing something very simple here...

2111_thumb.attach

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dalizee

It's a really nice and usefull site. I wanted more characters, but that's great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ABCinChina

Still having problems with Firefox 2.x and get a grey screen when trying to practice the the word lists I selected. I tried using IE but it won't let me set my ClickPass password. Everytime I do so, it just doesn't record so I can not try with IE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nwinter

Skritter is actually hosted on Google App Engine. I'm not sure if it's our domain name registrar or App Engine that's being blocked in China, but it's on and off and quite frustrating. When we get a spare moment, we'll try setting up a reverse proxy server.

Until then, you should be able to use http://skrit.appspot.com/ from China: just use a password instead of Clickpass, and if it 404's you on login, then go back to http://skrit.appspot.com/ and you should be logged in.

Thanks for all the feedback, guys! We're really busy over here, but will be implementing your suggestions over the next month or two.

c_redman: We're using our own spaced repetition algorithms, which take advantage of the structure of Chinese to schedule characters and tones (and soon pinyin and definitions) separately but relatedly. As well, each character will have aggregate difficulty information based on other users' performance on it. So, once we get enough data and really start tuning it, it's going to be really good even though we don't get the information from users grading themselves (like in Mnemosyne, Anki, or SuperMemo).

It's not very tuned yet, but I don't think you'll see a huge review backlog, even while maintaining a pretty high retention rate. It may take a few days to even out, but practicing even moderately irregularly has been no problem for me.

Data export is on our list to do; it's just not top priority. Same with beginner tutorial materials.

We'll hopefully avoid the need for certain statistics, like success rate on older vs. younger cards, by having the scheduling tune those rates to be nearly identical across any conceivable card set. It's a bit hard to do those kind of calculations scalably with a web app. We're looking at including a "how many items are scheduled in the next 12 hours" type of thing. What other stats would be good to see?

dalizee: How many characters do you want? Not all of our 3064 characters are accessible through various vocab lists yet, but most of them are. When we get the rest of the HSK lists up next month, and thus have all those 3064, will that satisfy?

ABCinChina: Try using the Recover Account link to get a temporary password? Clickpass doesn't work on the http://skrit.appspot.com/ domain, unfortunately, so you can only log in with a password. Or, perhaps you could set a password in Firefox, where you're logged in, and then try to log in with it in another browser. That is, if it's not just a Flash player version problem.

Hoffman: Thanks for the info on the traditional support. I'll fix up those characters you mentioned soon, as we'll be better able to support traditional variants and the like.

LaoZhang: I responded to those ideas in an email already, I see. Hope you're enjoying Skritter!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ABCinChina

I upgraded flash and everything works great now! :mrgreen:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jbradfor

When using Firefox 3.0.5 under Windows NT, I get the same screen that ABCinChina got. I tried upgrading flash to the latest version, but no change. It works fine on the same system under IE 7.0.5730.11.

Using IE, I really like what I see. This program is strangely addicting. Very nice interface, and it's strangely pleasing to see my ugly stroke "morph" to the correct location and shape.

My only big request is that I would like a "show next stroke" button. I know how to show the entire character, but sometimes I just want a small hint.

Later Edit:

It seems to work fine using Firefix 2.0.0.14 under Linux, so this seems to be a Firefox 3.0 issue.

Also, regarding my request, I realize that if you make a mistake 3 times it will briefly show you the next stroke. What I was thinking is what you get when you press the "show" button, except only one stroke, the next one, is shown rather than the entire character.

Edited by jbradfor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xd3qu1n0x

Finally!. . .ever since i started studing chinese i've been waiting for something like this.

I've been wondering why SRS'ing hasn't gone more interactive like this yet!

can't wait until you get all the characters in there including both simp and trad versions. plus if this could become an app on iphone or blackberry it would be great. . .

really nice job guys:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ABCinChina

I agree with Hoffman on the traditional character problems he has found with Skritter. He knows much more about this than me, but all of the changes he had suggested are correct and should be implemented. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jbradfor

Feature request: automatic strictness control.

In this, when I'm first learning to write a character, the strictness is low. As my score for this character increases, the strictness automatically increases.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smalldog

Wow, this is an amazingly useful system with a great interface. The only thing that would stop me becoming a paying customer is the speed.... it's taking a frustrating 10-20 seconds to get a response after I finish drawing a character. On top of that there's a few features I'd like to see:

1) a grid to help me proportion the character, like the 米字格 used in calligraphy.

2) a "learning mode" where the character is displayed and I can copy it as many times as I like until I feel I've learned it.

3) a "character bank" that I can cut and paste characters/words I want to learn into, rather than using a predefined list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
eion_padraig

So there are a few guys developing a very promising program (www.skritter.com) that teaches people to write Chinese using a mouse on a computer. Right now it is free (open Beta) and it has limited vocabulary options, but it's great for practicing and getting immediate feedback on writing characters.

I wonder how expensive it will be once it goes gold. Hopefully it will be affordable because I think it's a great idea. I had given up on learning how to write before I saw this program. It just wasn't worth the time needed to learn to write when I could learn to type on phones and computers using pinyin input systems. But with a program like this one, the time to needed to practice should be a lot less. I hope someone else finds it useful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Elf Piper

This is fun!

But am I the only one who can't get it to recognize the tone marks I draw? I have particular trouble getting it to see third tone marks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
roddy

Merged a new topic into this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jbradfor
it's taking a frustrating 10-20 seconds to get a response after I finish drawing a character.

I'm not seeing that, so I'm wondering if there's something wrong/weird with your system? Or internet connection? Or Singapore is just too far away? :wink:

But am I the only one who can't get it to recognize the tone marks I draw? I have particular trouble getting it to see third tone marks.

Don't forget you can use the keyboard for the tone marks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hofmann

More notes:

雞 is more common than 鷄.

In Traditional Chinese, the measure word for animals and "only" are different characters, and so for the character 祇, the definition "a measure word, for birds and some animals, etc." is incorrect. The measure word is 隻.

Also, 祇 is written wrong. It should be 示/礻 on the left instead of 衣/衤.

錯 is wrong. (Get it? lol) The 金 should be 丿丶一一丨丶丿一.

Some may write 者 with the dot, right below right side of the 3rd stroke.

In 過, 咼 should be 丨 ┐ 一丨丨 ┐ 丨 ┐ 一, although the version on Skritter is commonly accepted, just not by freaks like me.

Anything with 艸 is different in Traditional, but I sort of said that already.

The third stroke of 食 can be 一 or 丶. More properly it's 一.

Come to think of it, there's no reason for 國 to end in 丶一 other than regularity. One still has to close the rectangle. Better is ending in 丶丿一. But you'll take care of it once (if?) you get Traditional data.

In Traditional Chinese, "inside" and "li" are separate characters. Therefore, the definition "half kilometer" for 裏 is wrong.

The first stroke of 匕 can be 一 or 丿.

The third stroke of 今 can be 一 or 丶.

Enough.

I bet Skritter works wonderfully for Simplified Chinese.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smalldog
Quote:

it's taking a frustrating 10-20 seconds to get a response after I finish drawing a character.

I'm not seeing that, so I'm wondering if there's something wrong/weird with your system? Or internet connection? Or Singapore is just too far away?

My internet connection is fast enough, but I know my ISP throttles anything that's not a standard protocol like http (to stop people filesharing :( ) -- maybe that's it. What I see is, once I finish writing a character, the response arrives in groups of 2 to 4 strokes, with a delay of about 5 seconds between each group.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×