Skritter: My Favorite Chinese Study Buddy

As my free trial runs low, I thought I would introduce Skritter as my new favorite SRS study tool for Chinese!

Skritter is a subscription-based SRS service that can be used to study both Japanese and Chinese. It focuses on handwriting input (so having a tablet would be a good idea, though using a mouse is alright, though tiring), while also looking at pronunciation and meaning as well. So, let’s take a look!

(I love using images to show clear examples of how things look, so the rest of the post will be after the break below)

The main study window.

So, once you go in, Skritter will bring up your entries based on an SRS algorithm. In this example, I’m working on learning radicals, so I have to write it from memory.

Radical baby!!

Here, I love that the “paper” is very similar to the character writing paper seen, not only in Western textbooks, but also as those used for students in Asia. It also gives you a very large area to work in, which is quite nice too. Next up, I had to write the pinyin for the following phrase:

A feeling often reflected in my Sim Cities.

The nice thing about Skritter, too, is that I can leave it open in a tab and come back to it every so often just to do a few quick reps before I continue working on my other projects:

See, I totally study. What you didn't see were the tabs I closed.

I also always make sure to have my Wacom Bamboo tablet on the ready by my side:

See, I am totally studying here!

There is something strange about the SRS algorithm though; it always brings up, just as I am about ready to finish up, entries I’m pretty familiar with and can easily do. So, because they’re like little bite-sized nuggets of SRS easiness and I just keep going… for another 15-20 reps.

The reps themselves do a nice mix of writing, reading, and meaning, while not overdoing one (though I feel I write a lot sometimes, but it’s nice practice).

Now what I really like was the ability to import decks. I can take my Pleco decks and import them into Skritter, allowing me to always keep up with the cards I enter as I go through one of my readings for the week. I just look up a word, put it into the flashcard program on Pleco if I want to learn it, then export it to Skritter–so I can study it both on the go with Pleco and at home with Skritter.

One detractor for me is the lack of sentence input, so you hardly see the words in context. While this may be bad for a beginner, or someone who hardly comes into contact with Chinese or Japanese material, it is actually not a huge disappointment for me. Rather, because I read so much for my classes, it just solidifies them in my mind more, and helps give me a context as I come across them when I read.

Another issue is actually within the biggest selling point: the writing element. This, I believe, though, also depends on the user. For example, writing the second tone, if you’re not careful, can get misconstrued for a first tone. Also, it does take some practice getting used to how writing actually works.

That said, it is very much worth checking out! If you’re interested, they have a demo here that you can try online; then sign up for a free trial if you like what you see.

In a future post, I will take a look at Skritter for Japanese.

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11 thoughts on “Skritter: My Favorite Chinese Study Buddy

  1. Nice review. Just wanted to give a brief mention to some software I’ve taken a look at, which also combines handwriting recognition with an SRS. The Kanji Sketch Pad: http://cerebware.pcriot.com/ . I think this software targets learners of Japanese primarily, so I don’t know what kind of support or plans for support he offers or intends to offer for Chinese learners, but it could be worth taking a look at. If you download it now, the software is free, though it appears he intends to make it commercial in the future. I’m not sure if it does as much as skritter does, in terms of going beyond just learning to write characters, because I have only done the short demo at skritter, and havent used this software much either, tbh. I always find these interesting tools, and then find myself primarily relying on anki and immersion. I’m sure these could certainly all play an interesting role in anyone’s study regimen though. Anyways, thanks for giving a thorough review of skritter, I’ve been aware of it a while but beyond that didn’t really know anyone who had actually used it.

    • Thanks for your comment!

      I like the idea of combining handwriting with SRS, since I find that without practice I’ll forget it. My largest issue is that I type for most of my communication, that I just simply forget how it is written; though I can recognize it from the list that pops up.

      I’ll check out that software you shared too, thanks!! I need to improve my Japanese as well, so it will be a nice way to start and get into it. I have been trying to decide how to get started in Japanese, though, since I want to avoid taking classes and trying the immersion technique all the way through. That’s where your blog comes in handy! 😀

  2. […] En Route To Fluency A cup of tea, a toast to safe travels and language learning. HomeAbout RSS ← Skritter: My Favorite Chinese Study Buddy […]

  3. Hi Zhongruige, thanks for the writeup about our little tool! I bookmarked this article a while back intending to stop by and leave you a comment. I’ve added this to our press page (www.skritter.com/press) which should show up the next time we update the live server. Also, as small thank you for talking about us, if you email me, I would be happy to credit your account with a few weeks of free time.

    Keep up the work on the blog, I keep one of my own, and they can be a real time sink!

    • Hi George!

      Thank you for your comment! Sorry for the much delayed reply. Well, I think you have given me some incentive to keep going on the blog! I hope to get back into it again once this semester finishes out.

      Looking forward to the iOS version of Skritter! 😀

  4. […] may not have any clue about how exciting this is for me, but in the past I have shown my love for Skritter. Now, the iOS version is finally available and I’m super excited to share this with everyone. […]

  5. Thanks for your review, Zhongruige. I have used Skritter for Japanese for some time. Tonight, I’m demo’ing it for our “Emerging Tech” class, and wanted to see how others have covered it. Btw, since you’ve written this, sample sentences have now been added. But I bet you’ve experienced a lot more since this was written, and I’d love to hear how this has evolved for you.

    Cheers!

    Rob

  6. Thanks for your review, Zhongruige. I have used Skritter for Japanese for some time (and I look forward to Chinese studies!) So tonight, I’m demo’ing it for our “Emerging Tech” class, and for this reason, was looking around, to see how others may have covered it. Btw, I see that since you’ve written this, sample sentences have indeed been added. But I’m betting that you’ve experienced a lot more since this was written and I’d love to hear how your studies have evolved for you.

    One more thing: “Wai Chinese” (which can recognize tones, and get real instructor feedback) seems brilliant. I’d love to hear how that’s going, and also, if there are any plans to create a Japanese version. Feel free to steer me to any other cool, new developments you’ve come across!

    Many thanks / 非常感谢!

    Cheers!

    Rob

    • Hi Rob!

      Thank you so much for your comment! How did the demo of Skritter go for your emerging tech class? Quite curious what people thought of it.

      As for how my studies have evolved, I have been thinking recently of doing a more formal post since quite a lot has changed over the years. I’d also be curious how you do your studying, if you primarily use Skritter or a variety of other tools as well.

      As far as Wai Chinese is concerned, I don’t know if there’s any plans to create a Japanese version yet. I think they’re still focusing on the Chinese version.

      I’d be happy to share what other neat and interesting apps I come across.

      Hope you’re having a good one! Thanks again for the comment 😀

      Best,
      -Greg

  7. […] may not have any clue about how exciting this is for me, but in the past I have shown my love for Skritter. Now, the iOS version is finally available and I’m super excited to share this with […]

  8. […] I mentioned in my last post, today I am going to take a look at Skritter for Japanese. I’ll admit that I don’t use […]

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