Learn Chinese in China
jamesfoster

Flashcards with a twist - would love your feedback on fastchinese.org

15 posts in this topic

Hi everyone,

I've lurked on these forums a little bit but haven't been very active. I'll be looking to be more active in 2013.

I would love to know your thoughts on my site, http://www.fastchinese.org/.

It's currently only flashcards (albeit a bit different from other flashcard apps that I've seen), but will have other functionality in the near future. As we all know, there is much more to learning Chinese than memorizing the characters. For any tools or games that I end up adding, I am looking to make them useful above and beyond what already exists rather than cloning the functionality of other sites. So in addition to feedback, I'd also love to hear any pain points you have about Chinese learning websites in general. I'll do my best to address them in 2013. I want to make it easier and more fun to learn Chinese.

Regards,

James Foster

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How is it a bit different, and what is the twist?

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You have to tell it the pinyin for each word. By getting this feedback, it varies how quickly new words are introduced, and shows recent incorrect words more frequently. Most other flashcard apps tend to rely on you saying whether you were right/wrong rather than getting a typed response.

Something I forgot to mention was that it is probably best suited to beginner level learners. I'm looking to make it more suitable for advanced learners (in addition to beginners) in future.

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You have to tell it the pinyin for each word.

Anki can do that too.

Speaking about Anki though, if you go through this thread (and the post it links to, and the rest of the Anki Google group...) you might get some ideas which areas people are concerned about.

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Er, no support for tone input?

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It does have support for tone input by specifying the tone number, but it's not very clever about it at the moment, so it will be very strict about where the tone goes. For example, you would have to write "me2i yo3u" for 没有. If you have an input method that allows it, you can also write the tones. (eg. "méi yǒu")

If you mean that it doesn't force you to specify the tones, that's correct. It's optional, but if you try to and get it wrong, it will count that as incorrect.

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That would be worth explaining...

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You might also want to pay attention to 多音字。 For example, 66 words in I got 重, which I guessed correctly that it was going to be zhong (zhòng). Then for fun when it came up next I put in chong (chóng), which is also correct, but which was marked as incorrect.

One possible way to get around this without giving away the pronunciation or the meaning would be to include in brackets a multi-character word that contained that character, e.g. 严重 for zhòng/重新 for chóng etc.

Also, put me down in the camp of 'if you don't know the tones, you don't know the word'. Allowing people to get away without it is kind of like how at the beginning of the web, web-browsers accepted crappy/broken html, but tried to render it 'correctly', which ended up screwing up cross-browser compatibility for over a decade.

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Also, you should have a notification when users have cookies disabled, otherwise you end up cycling through 年,的,你好 and 再见 again and again and again, wondering when it's going to move on to something else.

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Thanks for the feedback gougou, roddy & imron. You've given me some good things to look at.

Do you guys currently use Anki for flashcards? Have you reached a level where flashcards is less effective than a different learning method? (eg. reading a book, perhaps?)

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I use pleco for occasional drilling, but mostly find reading to be more effective (and interesting) than doing flashcard reps.

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I use Anki to drill vocabulary I picked up while reading (or ever since c_redman recommended Chinese Word Extractor, before reading), but only when I'm out and about. I wouldn't be interested in anything that I couldn't use on my mobile.

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Memrise Chinese makes you write the pinyin with tones, checks your knowledge of the definition using multiple choice, and has some other cool features. You can also watch your "knowledge garden" grow as you learn more and more.

I would join and take a look.

The problem I had was that I couldn't seem to make a decent custom list so I switched over to ANKI and then SKRITTER. I will stick with SKRITTER while I'm at University.

For me, your site has potential but a way to go before I would choose it ahead of others.

Good luck!

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I think it's fun. I use it on my computer at work sometimes when I'm bored and I'm a beginner so I've actually learned quite a bit from it. I like it because it's simple and quick.

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I really like the idea of your Chinese Speaking Practice section.

 

However, I have noticed that if I say nothing it will just say 'Perfect' and move on to the next word immediately and then I say nothing again and it will say 'Perfect' and move on to the next word. I live alone so my room was completely silent when testing this so this is a major flaw with the website. It should not be moving onto the next word when there is silence (or at least it should mark it as wrong).

 

My tones are far from perfect but I also wanted to test this from another angle, namely, I would purposely pronounce the wrong tone and sometimes it will say I'm correct, therefore, it seems that there are some major accuracy problems though I'm not a native speaker of Mandarin so it's possible though unlikely that I pronounced it correctly when intending to mispronounce.

 

If these flaws are fixed, I would definitely use it.

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