Reading Practice - Have I seen this character before?

When I look at some Chinese text, there is one thing that puts me off attempting to read. It’s not trying to recall a particular character. It’s trying to recall whether I’ve even seen a character before. I built an app to try and help me overcome this.

Based on Characters I’ve studied in Skritter:

  • How readable is the text?
  • Which characters have I studied?

The app is not publicly available. It’s good enough for me, and I’ve found myself using it frequently. But it’s a hack and I stopped developing it. I was wondering if others face the same challenge and, if so, is this something that I should continue to build out?

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That’s an interesting idea. Certainly a record of what you have encountered would be very useful.

I’m not clear on how you use the app. Do you enter all the text you are reading manually? Do you scan it?

FYI, reading apps like Du Chinese and I believe Chairman’s Bao keep track of the characters you’ve encountered, if you save new vocab.

Then, in Du for example, the next time you encounter the word, it will be greyed out in the text if you pass your finger over it. Unfamiliar vocab is coloured blue so you know which word to save. That vocab you save is kept in a vocab list. Passing your finger over the word also gives its definition.

I also keep a personal list in my Pleco dictionary of all the words I’ve entered into Skritter and looked up in Pleco. By using the “organise cards” feature, I have very slowly created a large number of categories and sub-categories, expanding them over a long time, so I can quickly review vocab by subject matter.

Examples of categories would be “body-person” and subcategories “age, apparel, appearance, behaviour, body motions, death, emotions etc.” And under “society”, subcategories “art and culture, crime and deviance, customs and festivals, ethics and morality etc”. And so on. All the words associated with those topics get turned into a “card” in that list.

Pleco’s cards allow you to test yourself, but it is a very poor substitute for Skritter, so I don’t use it.

However the categories I have gradually created are a great boon for an ordered quick review of what I (am supposed to) know.

Thanks, you’ve certainly given me a few places to go and look for similar tools.

The way I’m using the app at the moment is to copy and paste text into the editable area. I could auto-paste from clipboard, but don’t particularly like the behaviour in other apps. Occasionally I type text directly into the box. The app computes a readability score and highlights known characters in the background.

What has made this really useful for me is that it syncs my studied words from Skritter automatically. I’m not maintaining a list of characters. So if I study 5 new characters today, they’ll be available in the app tomorrow. I’ve done a nightly sync as I definitely haven’t built the most efficient sync engine. But honestly this has been good enough for me. It has been great to see the “readability” of text increase as my character study progresses.

It’s not perfect, but I’m finding it more useful than I expected.

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