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Primlo App – Learn Spoken Chinese with Audio Sentences

Yang Chuanzhang

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Hi TommyH16, thanks for trying out the app. Is the error you are getting that it stops at 10% saying "Downloading audio..."? If so, do you have a VPN on your phone that you could try it with by any chance? We are still working on a way around the Great Firewall.

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I released 0.14.2 a few days ago which fixed the crash on startup bug on at least some devices. If anyone here was experiencing that problem, it would be great if you could tell me whether it's working now.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

That's great to hear! Sorry it took so long to fix. The problem was essentially that the app tried to load a library related to the Apple watch that wasn't available on earlier versions of iOS. Because that made it crash immediately, it never got around to executing any of my code which made it very hard to debug.

The reason it's gotten quiet in this thread these two weeks is that we're working full time on writing and recording sentences for a very cool new feature that we will announce in September. I'll be spending most of August polishing the app, so if you have any new feature requests, let me know.

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I know things are being polished at the moment, but could you put in an option to customise what the user can study (beyond selecting packs)?

I don't particularly like the fill in the blanks section and would rather not have to go through them. Also, I accidentally tapped a word, and now I'm constantly asked about its pronunciation. I'd like to be able to remove that word from my study. This problem has become worse with the introduction of the handwriting test, which frankly is broken. Despite frantic swiping in all directions, I was only able to get it to register the first stroke and had to stop the study session to get away from it, as its unskippable.

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I uploaded 0.17.0 yesterday which makes it possible to choose question types (and has a completely redesigned speaking mode, let me know what you think!). It should be released within the coming hours if it passes review.


When was the last time you tried handwriting? I worked on it a bit for the last version which came out a few days ago, matching should work better now. I also changed the fill in the blanks question to limit the number of words you have to fill in to five. Is there anything else you'd like to see changed?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just released 0.20.1 which is the result of three weeks of polishing with lots of new stuff:



• A new dashboard with statistics, streaks and daily goals
• New question types (Pinyin multiple choice and one where you have to find the wrong character [错别字] in a sentence) with many of the old types having been completely revamped
• The ability to choose the types of questions you want to see
• A completely rewritten and much nicer looking speaking mode, it’s called “Drill” now and has all the old speaking features merged into one
• Full traditional character support
• It’s possible now to skip and suspend sentences now, it’s a boring feature but it was requested a lot. It's also possible to deselect words you don't want to learn anymore and add new words after you've added the sentence
• A new Chinese mirror that should solve great firewall issues, especially when downloading packs and courses over mobile networks. I haven’t been able to test this extensively yet but it seems to work great so far. If you keep having connectivity issues, please tell me!
• A rewritten character writing mode. If you still think stroke recognition is too strict, let me know and I'll make it adjustable in the settings
• The feedback chat now works properly (although I should probably add badges to it at some point)
• Not directly related to the app but we've added lots of new packs and are adding a new one every four days
I've attached some screen shots.
We are working on another cool feature which we think will make Primlo even more useful which will be released next week!








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I will try to use it now that you support traditional characters (maybe also support them in the interface -> 庫 Library)...although I am not really sure how to use the app in general. Currently I use Glossika sentences as flashcards in Pleco, but sorted according to the DeFrancis readers which I also use. So I guess that is a bit similar to what Primlo can offer, especially in the Foundation courses. So I'd like to try those, I added them both to the library. The UI was not 100% clear because the spinnig download circle only changed to "Added" after switching back and forth. Previously I already added Campus Life for testing, can I somehow remove it? Also, I added both Foundation courses but I only want "Adding" for the first one for now.

I am not sure what the difference between "Learn" and "Drill" is, when to use what. I assume that you first have to learn and then later you can drill, since from my previous time using the app there is one sentence in Drill which I can practice using the audio player. It took me a while to figure out that the circle is a recording button that you have to press and hold and that the bars indicate the number of repetitions.

Just some early impressions, I hope they can help you optimize the onboarding experience.

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That's a lot of great feedback, thanks!


Yeah, the idea is that you learn new sentences in "Learn" mode and drill them until you are satisfied with your pronunciation and can use them fluently. How much of each you do depends on whether you want to learn much new stuff quickly or whether you want to spend more time solidifying everything you see. That's what the "Daily goals" section in the profile tab is for, it lets you configure how much of each you need to do to get your streak tick for the day. I totally agree that's not at all obvious right now, I've been thinking about what a good onboarding experience for Primlo would be. Right now, I'm tending towards a skippable wizard that introduces two key concepts and helps you add your first pack, what do you think about that?


If you tap on a course in your library, you can study only that course by tapping on the "Learn" or "Drill" buttons there. I can't implement pack deletion before I've added synchronization functionality which is still not ready yet but I have plans to make packs and courses pausable which should help in the meantime.


I'll change the simplified UI and the "Add" buttons in the next version. 


Can I ask you why you don't add any individual packs? Is there a certain topic that you would like to see included or are you more interested in structured courses like the Foundation courses in general?

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So drilling is only for pronunciation?


I think a short wizard might help, best would be if you can restart it any time.


In general I prefer structured content, that's my main criticism with Glossika, so I had to add some structure to their sentences myself. So the grammar course in Primlo is hopefully useful. Currently I don't have any particular topic which I am interested in, so I would pick randomly. I think it would be better to do a slow introduction of new words, using them in different ways and situations instead of suddenly having to learn a sentence with three new words and a new grammar pattern.


I agree with Flickserve that the same sentence should not appear a few times in a row during learning, even if the exercises are different.

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Drilling is not only for pronunciation practice, you can also select "Play with gaps" (the three bars), lock your phone, put in headphones, and do a listen-shadow-listen-shadow exercise. I believe this is quite similar to what you'd do with the Glossika sentences. I'm working on an onboarding flow just for the drilling part of the app right now, hopefully that should help.


instead of suddenly having to learn a sentence with three new words and a new grammar pattern


The way Primlo works is that if you add a new sentence with three unknown words, it teaches you the three words individually first and only after you know those does it quiz you on the full sentence. I don't want to push you to use the app in a way that you don't want, I'm just wondering if there might be a way to make the topic packs more appealing? If there was a ranking of difficulty, perhaps something like: "This pack uses 60% HSK 1 words, 20% HSK 2...", would that be something that you'd find helpful?


@Flickserve: What do you think about the content that we offer at the moment? Did you add one of the Foundation courses or individual packs? Are there any topics that you'd like to study that we could add?


I will try to add functionality to the next version to prevent showing two questions on the same sentence in a row. 

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