Skitter, for me, is the most valuable app for learning Chinese characters.
The app uses Spaced Repetition Software, and is aimed at taking full advantage of a student’s alotted study time. According to Skritter’s research, a normal student of Chinese will retain only 40% of studied characters, whereas, with the use of Skritter, a student can retain over 90% of characters studied. I incorporated the use of Skritter (along with Memrise) into my teaching trial for my thesis, and unveiled a retention rate of characters of 98% amongst students, which is a phenomenally high figure for such an impossible language! Furthermore, anyone whom I have recommended the app to (including the students who partook in my teaching trial) had nothing but positive feedback with regards the use of Skritter. It’s almost like gamification of language learning, whereby study is transformed into an enjoyable and challenging game. And you can do it anytime, anywhere- in bed, on the metro, in an idol moment when you’re waiting for someone in a cafe! Super convenient!
So what is Skritter and why is it so great?
Skritter uses innovative methods to determine when a student most needs to revise a word, according to each individuals study needs, in this way, the student doesn’t waste time studying words they already know, and study time is more effective. The system is based on Hermann Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, in that each new word is assigned a number, starting with 0. A word with the rating of 0 signifies that the amount of time before the student needs to revise the word is 0, the student should revise it immediately, or will most likely forget it.
The system uses flashcards to test the student. If the student gets the character right, the rating will increase, thus increasing the amount of time before that character pops us again for testing. The more the student answers a character correctly (including tones, stroke order and meaning), the longer the interval becomes, thus pushing the characters that a student has grasped to the bottom of the pile (for revision in a few months, a year, or even 4 years), allowing the student to concentrate on unknown characters.
Although Skritter is designed to aid study, whereby students are supposed to learn characters first, and then use Skritter to test themselves, Skritter contains a whole storehouse of mnemonics that have been shared by the Skritter user community and each flashcard has a button to decompose the character into radicals and comp
You can register for a one week free trial, and decide whether to take out a subscription during this period. My advice is to download as many resources as possible during that week as, even after the trial expires, you will be able to continue using whichever textbooks and resources you have downloaded thus far. The app has a wealth of resources- from beginners level, all the way up to HSK level 6, as well as specialised terminology resources, for example for Chinese medicinal terms.onents, making it easy for students to remember a character. Furthermore, the application provides helpful and friendly customer service.
Check out the iOs iPhone/ iPad app here, the android (alpha) app here, and see what you think of the web version scratchpad here (not as effective as the mobile version in my opinion), no matter what your level.
Leave comments below and let me know what you think/ what your experiences with the app are.
Happy gaming 😉