I’ve been using Skritter for about four months now. Studying about half an hour per day, in all four categories (writing, tones, meaning and Pinyin). And being pretty strict to myself. If I make a silly mistake on something I actually know pretty well, I will fail that card and ask for review. I find that this does help refine my learning of that word. Also I only add new words when I have time left, so I generally max out to about 180 reviews or thereabouts.
One thing that has been motivating to me is that I was adding new words to my learned list. Lately though (at 1200 words and 800 unique characters), that effect has tapered off (feels like a logarithmic scale going on), and can be in review mode for several days, sometimes a few weeks, without adding new words. I read somewhere that this happens a lot and can be considered normal. I get that. Guess this can be considered polishing out the rough edges.
My particular question: has anyone had this too a few months or years back and stuck to it? In the end, can you still end up at HSK6 or more this way? Or did you get stuck for months and months at HSK4 (for example), and never added anything new anymore, without cutting some corners left or right?
I think everyone that spends a lot of time on an SRS system with a virtually infinite set of items (“It’s over 9,000!”) runs into problems such as yours. One solution you have already raised is how “strict” you want to be in grading yourself. You need to be more gentle on yourself and not beat yourself up for “cutting corners.” You could also lower your target retention rate. If this makes you feel like you are accepting failure, trust me I have been there and I think many other people have too. It’s all right. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Finally, you could start banning words. This might be the hardest step. As a hoarder by nature, I can always tell myself that I might need to know that word one day. But having used Skritter for many years now, I can tell you that I am long past the point of feeling I need to commit to memory every Chinese character I have ever studied. I should disclose that I have never taken an HSK test, but I think if you are shooting for HSK 4 you should really only be using Skritter as a supplement and trying to expose yourself to a wide variety of Chinese in context.
Thanks for that. Very helpful. I am indeed looking at banning and being less strict. My ultimate goal is to be able to read, not write. Ultimate goal is actually not some or other HSK level (just chose one for an example), but to be able to read books and newspapers. Starting to ban the really simple stuff that I know inside out, and the ambiguous single characters that I learned out of context but are usually part of a multi character word; also when the english translation is very similar for two different words, I’m getting less strict. That kind of thing. Guess those things work. Just wondering (if you’re willing to share): how many years, time per day, words, unique characters, etc are you at right now, and how are you doing as far as reading ability? Just curious to see what my future may look like in this area.
Well . . . I guess I should say that “actual results may vary” . . . and you should hope that they do. 囧 I feel like I have been using Skritter for ten years and I have just recently gotten to where I can read a sentence in the same way I read my native language without stopping to stare at each character and process it. So, yeah, Skritter was not a magic bullet for me in terms of learning to read, but I’m sure it helped.
I’ve just written a long reply to a similar question on the forum so please have a look at that also.
I honestly have no idea how many unique characters I (supposedly) “know.” I only use Skritter for about ten minutes a day, but I do use it almost daily. If you have the discipline or the time to do 30 minutes to an hour you will probably do proportionally better. If you are doing several hours per day you definitely need a reset.
Good luck, and I hope you will update us in a few months or a year to let us know how you are doing.