Are writing, tone, pinyin and definition really distinct?

That’s a question that has been nagging me for as long as I’ve been using Skritter. Hopefully, a few examples will make my question clear:

  • Suppose that, while studying 挪 for definition, I get the definition right, but the tone I’m pronouncing in my head is wrong. I’d mark that card as “forgotten”, even if I provided a correct answer to the question I was asked.

  • While studying “prison” (狱) for writing, I’m able to write the character, but I can’t remember how it is pronounced. Again, I’d mark that card as “forgotten”, even though I provided a correct answer to the question at hand.

  • While studying “缆” for the tone, I got the tone right, but couldn’t remember the meaning of the character.

You get the idea…

Is it wise to distinguish the different aspects of words/characters? Or should I be more lenient with myself and consider that when I’m asked to write a character, it’s no problem if my pronunciation is wrong?

Any idea?

I use a hybrid approach too!

I tend to mark tone and writing as Green independent of remembering the definition or pronunciation. For definition and pronunciation I tend to mark them wrong if I can’t remember either tone, definition, or pronunciation (but I don’t care if I forget the character).

The learning stats that Skritter shows seem to indicate that all four properties are independent of each other and separately tracked.

Thanks Apomixis.

I think that the most questionable among those distinctions is that which is made between “pinyin/reading” and “tone”. There is no such thing as “reading” without “tone”. The tone is an integral part of the hanzi, as much as the initial and the final, so that biàn is as different from biǎn as it is from piàn or from bìng. When I have to score one of my answers, I’d never consider it correct if I get the tone right and there’s a mistake in the initial or the final.

And anyway, because you must get the tone right in questions about pinyin, this makes the questions purely about tones redundant (at best).

In the other cases, I follow an ad hoc, variable approach in which, for instance, I may score a “2 (so-so)” even if I get the answer correct, in cases where I got other aspects (not part of the question) wrong.

This renders built-in statistics meaningless - except if you compute a very rough average.

I find that when I start learning new words, I am severely strict. I “force-mark” things as Red continually at the beginning until I feel that I am beginning to keep them in my head. Then, I may spend the next couple days “force-marking” things as Yellow. I tend not to use Green until it is something that I am comfortable with. And then after an entry I haven’t seen in a while comes back on screen, if I have any difficulty with it (in any of the 4 learning categories), I’ll mark it as Red or Yellow.

I also NEVER use the Blue (Easy) category. I find I tend to forget things too quickly anyway and don’t want to even remotely risk sending something to a “wait for a long time to show it to me” category.

To that end, I really wish I could change the default selection of the items to be Yellow. It’s the classification I use most. But it does mean that the “number of review” statistics are biased. But I tend to not care about these. I look mainly at the charts to see how many words and characters I’ve added over whatever relevant time period I am interested in. So, the raw statistics aren’t something I need anyway, so I’m ok with them not being perfect. [I’m not going to *do* anything with that statistic data anyway, so in a purely functional sense, I don’t need to see it…it just perks up the geek in me!!]

Overally, I guess that means I am “gaming” the SRS algorithms.

EDIT: So, with respect to my prior post, I was describing how I use Skritter for words and characters once I’ve gotten comfortable with them. This post clarifies how I deal with new items when I first start learning them, which is much more strict.

Agreed that parts are distinct except for pinyin and tone, so as @laurenth said it renders tones redundant… I just treat them as extra pinyin practice and mark accordingly.

Related to this: does Skritter know how recently you’ve seen a different part of the character, maybe even within a word or sentence? (How) does Skritter handle this?

I ask because I always look at all the parts of a character on every review, and often another part appears very shortly afterwards. I’d usually try to mark something as ‘so-so’ in that case but it’s not foolproof and I recently discovered that ‘so-so’ isn’t a ‘wrong but not totally forgotten’ negative score, it’s actually a ‘got it nearly totally right’ neutral score.

That’s a very sound approach - provided you test yourself on the pronunciation as a whole when you are asked about the tone - and the one I will be following. Thanks Catherine

This is pretty much what I do as well, since it’s really important to me that I get the tones right.

Same deal with all the sentences I practice in Anki. For the most part, I will mark the sentence wrong (or at best difficult) if I miss any of the tones.

Dang, you guys are hard core. I got bored with reading and tone cards so I just use writing and definition, and test myself on reading and tone on the definition card (if I get any part wrong, I mark it wrong).