Hitting a wall after about 800 characters. Suggestions?

I have made pretty good progress on my writing up until about 800 characters or so. I’m just going from HSK to HSK so it’s about to the end of level 3. At this point, my progress is a lot slower and I can’t seem to retain as much.

With that said, has anyone hit a bump and if so, any tips to overcome, besides just plowing through it?

An important part of learning the characters is using them. Do you have some activity outside of Skritter that exercises what you learn inside Skritter? Reading materials like The Chairman’s Bao and Mandarin Companion are useful for practice.

If the problem is specifically writing and not reading, then 聽寫 where you listen to something and then write it out is helpful. e.g. When using any of the many gamified language apps, on each question I would look away from the phone until I wrote out the sound prompt, and only then look at what it was asking me to do. (This specific example is probably not helpful at the 800 character level, though.)


This has happened to me twice. Both times it happened when my language learning fell too far behind my character writing training. I would lack context for the characters I was learning and thus it became much more difficult to retain them.
Solution for me: stop adding new stuff for a while, invest in reading (text books, graded readers, anything) and other language acquisition activities.
Rule of thumb: anything you add on Skritter you must have already encountered in the wild or be sure to encounter it in the next week.

Good luck

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A few things helped me:

  • Ignoring HSK and using word frequency to choose what to learn. If you want to be even more specific, focus on word lists from the content you’re going to consume (books, movies, TV, etc). But in general, a frequency sorted list is going to get more natural reinforcement than HSK unless you are specifically focused on an HSK curriculum.
  • Doing that made it easier to find material to read, watch, and listen to. Even hearing a word once in context is a huge boost for understanding it.
  • Learning words instead of individual characters. Skritter is really optimized for learning characters, and is less efficient when you start using it to learn words, but my own brain is more efficient at learning words. Learning words also gives you some built-in context to go with each character.
  • Being more aggressive with the “easy” button in Skritter when it’s over-reviewing things.
  • Making a special focus study list of “leeches” that Skritter won’t review often enough.