When I first started learning Chinese ten years ago, there were very few digital resources to offer any great deal of assistance. Textbooks were stuck in the dark ages of repetitive topics (many of them still are) and Chinese seemed a world apart from European languages. In recent years app stores and the web have filled up with a plethora of resources as Chinese learning clamours to keep up, but there are still very few that I would personally recommend.
Since our website uplift, we have implemented a new feature whereby our users can now export saved word lists to a few carefully selected platforms – of which Skritter is one. Skritter’s online tool, as well as their iOS and Android app, provide a unique and enjoyable way of learning to write Chinese characters. Similar to TCB, Skritter can be used to take the chore out of Chinese learning as it can fit seamlessly around your day. So, what are the benefits?
Skritter’s slogan pretty much sums it up: “The write way to learn Chinese and Japanese characters” – (yes, as well as the refined pun abilities of the developers, they also have Japanese). In addition to the writing of characters, Skritter also trains tones, reading and definitions. In essence, it’s a great tool to aid Chinese language learning. Some other key features:
Spaced Repetition Software
Like our inbuilt flashcard system, Skritter uses spaced repetition software to ensure that you are tested more frequently on the characters you don’t know. The one great thing that makes Skritter’s system stand apart is that you actually have to write the characters out using the touchscreen pad. Without relying on users to self-mark their progress, the system demands full knowledge of how to write characters, and you can’t get by simply on recognition.
Ability to learn on the go
Whether on a plane, bus, train (or even on the loo), Skritter gives you the ability to study offline. The app then auto-syncs when you are reconnected to the internet, which is pretty nifty for those who are forced to fit Chinese learning around a busy schedule on the move!
Great start for beginners
With word lists that start from HSK1, Skritter is perfectly suited for use by beginners. Tip: why not work your way up to HSK3 then head over to TCB to start reading news in Chinese with your new-found skills?
Teaches stroke order
Skritter has inbuilt stroke order animations for every character in their database, so you better hope you were listening when your teacher stressed the importance of learning stroke order when you started out. If not, it’s back to the drawing board!
Learn from popular textbooks
If your imported word lists from TCB aren’t enough and you don’t have the time to create your own, Skritter has a whole host of pre-made textbook decks which are really simple to download and use. They even have the first Chinese textbook I ever used (Chinese Made Easy Level 1) – I wish Skritter had been around at that time, I’d have aced those exams!
With a free week trial, you can try before you buy! Which brings me to the only part that may be a stumbling block for some people… the price. Skritter costs $14.99 per money, or less with longer-term subscriptions, but we’d say it’s well worth the money! There is also an institutional license for companies or schools looking to purchase in bulk.
How to export word lists from TCB to Skritter:
- Login to TCB
- Head to My Profile -> My Words
- Click on word group that you wish to export
- Click the ‘Export Icon’ (Square with Arrow)
- Click ‘Export to Skritter’, as shown below:
- Exported .txt file will download automatically
- Click ‘Make a new List’
- Fill in Details and hit tick ‘Small List’
- Click ‘Continue’
- Click ‘Add Words to List’
- Open the .txt file, highlight all of the words (Crtl + A) and then copy and paste them into the ‘Type or paste words here and press enter’ box.
- Save changes.
- If you navigate back to skitter 2.0, you words list and all words will be saved now.
- TCB are still awaiting for instructions and implementation of functionality on how to import word lists into Skritter 2.0.
In essence, Skritter is a really useful tool to learn Chinese – in particular for those who are looking to learn how to write Chinese characters. It’s great to fit around your day (although it may be a little expensive for those who can’t dedicate a sufficient amount of time to using it) and is extremely well thought out and easy to use. Give it a go!
Have any experience of using Skritter in conjunction with TCB? We’d love to hear from you!