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cheaper alternatives to scritter

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I would love to use the Scritter. But since I saw it the first time, they have removed the option to prepay for longer time for reduced price and I'm afraid paying 14 dollars a month for about five years might be too much for me. I am a student so I need to think twice what to put my money into.

Old fashioned paper and pen lacks the SRS, which bothers me quite a lot. And it is easier to use the tablet when out of home. But there is a more important question. Does it work? How many times would I need to repeat a charater to make sure to remember it? 50 times? 100 times?

Would combining anki and paper and pen work basically similarily to Scritter?

I found only a few apps similar to scritter in some ways, even though most of them seem limited when it comes to the amount of characters or in other ways. But is there at least one that could teach me to write at least a few hundreds of characters for a much lower price?

There is an option to unsubscribe from Scritter and resubscribe. Have you tried it? Do you think I could for example just cram as much as possible during a payed month and than practice for one or two unsubscribed months and again? It seemed possible when I read the FAQs.

I suppose my search is vain and I'll just need to spend less on other things if I want to learn Mandarin.

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Why not simply use Pleco flashcards? You can set it up such that you have to write the character into the program's handwriting recognition software, then select the correct character from the list (not quite the same method as Skritter, but retains the element of physically writing the character down).

I think in order to use SRS with the flashcards you need to pay (and possibly the handwriting recognition feature is no longer free), but whatever you have to pay for it'll just be a one-off fee.

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Doing the maths, $15/month * 12 months * 5 years = $900, which sure seems like a large chunk of change.

If we do the maths in the other direction however we get $15/month / 30 days = $0.50 a day, which seems almost miniscule.

You could try signing up for a month or two to see if you find it beneficial and that you can stick to using it regularly. If so then ask yourself if you can find the $0.50/day required to keep it going.

I imagine that if you use it regularly, you will be able to stop using it well before 5 years.

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Well, my trouble is that I learn usually in larger chunks over short periors of time followed by less active (=more busy in other ways) times during which I can only get to reviewing and practicing but not progress much. I tried to force myself to become that successful "every day a smaler amount" kind of learner (both for my university studies and other languages) but I just couldn't. So, am I going to use it to learn new characters every day for that 0.5 dollar? I have no idea.

Are you sure they have still got those longer time deals? Nowadays, on their faq, they say something like "sure you can prepay but don't expect any advantage from it". Even that way I feel more comfortable about prepaying than the recurring payments (it may be silly, I know).

I am just at the beginning of the journey and after my previous experience with a few languages, I'd like to start with good resources right away so that I can just keep to them and not worry about finding out they suck after putting the money/time there. So, I cannot guess how long will I be learning new characters. I just suppose much more than just a year (which is quite the borderline for a reasonable price for a great learning tool, 150 dollars is not little).

Thanks a lot for your responses. I'll look at the itunes and pleco.

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You can use Anki to do much the same thing but you need to write on paper. The corrections that Skirtter gives are valuable but everyone has their own budget. For a while i just used Anki and it was fine but I already knew some stroke order and characters. My writing form has increased a lot because of Skritters corrections.

It is worth considering your learning budget and how you will spend it. I find skitter one of the cheaper things I do as I spend one hour a day using it. But I also buy a coffee at Costa every day and that's 25rmb... In my student days I would never do this...

In five years you can learn a lot . No real need to write each character 50 or 100 times with SRS. If you are dilligent and motivated and dedicate the time you can learn 10 or 20 characters a day. Some learn more.

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Ruben von Zwack


"my trouble is that I learn usually in larger chunks over short periors of time followed by less active (=more busy in other ways) times"

(How do you people all make fancy layouted quotes?)

Me too! I wonder if we're plain wrong :wink: or another legitimate learning type?

I'm team "Anki plus pencil and paper", and hanzigrids actually. If I (rarely) come across one where the stroke order isn't plain obvious, I use that function of nciku. I had stroke order on my Anki cards, but actually it annoyed me, so in the end, I deleted that field again.

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I just checked my payment plan. I pay $9.95 a month. But I have the option of paying 59.99/6 months ($10 a month, so 5 cents dearer? Can that be right?), 99.99/12 months ($8.33 a month) 179.99/24 months ($7.50 a month). You also have the option to 'pause' your subscription when you go away on vacation.

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You can use eStroke. Perhaps its interface is a little confusing but once you get it. you can practice all the characters you want. For me eStroke is better than Skritter, and the best of all no month, anual or whatever subscriptions to pay :-)

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I just found the cheaper prepay options are still there, so I am considering it.

My only real trouble with Anki (which I love and use for my other languages) is the time spent creating my own decks. It's not so bad for languages using the latin script but I'm not sure how long it would take me to learn to type Chinese and actually put it in. Are there any good ready on decks without mistakes? Perhaps decks based on the textbooks? I can easily find mistakes (or get at least suspicious) when it comes to my other languages but Mandarin is very different. I'd hate to learn mistakes.

The second was the stroke order but I'll check nciku and estroke. That might be a solution.

Yeah, I'm one of those who takes Costa coffe at most once in a few weeks with a friend but usually less. I'm so looking forward to the years after finishing university. Quite all the part time jobs employers are looking for "students with flexible schedule", that's like searching for Yetti imo. :-D I want money for my hobbies!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Cavesa: The winning combination for me has been to use the Heisig books in conjunction with a customized Anki deck. I found that what worked best for me was to download one of the decks that is close to what I want, and then cut out / add the fields as I see fit.

I have not yet figured out how to use Anki2 however... this seems to all have been easier in Anki1. Anyway, there is always the option to export to a CSV file, modify, and re-import.

I tried Scritter for a while, but I too felt it cost too much, and I prefer my pensil-and-paper review method better anyway. (Note: I recommend writing the character at most once per review session, and not writing the character without recalling the names for the primitives. This aids review.)

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Like you, I am a student and don't have the means to afford Skritter. Skritter offers a trial period and you can try to add as many characters in those 7 days as will need as they don't delete account data.

For Anki, I found the Pinyin Toolkit addon to be ridiculously helpful since it automatcially looks up definitions, saving much of my time entering definitions.

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