I’ve been using Skritter on and off for years, but more recently, I’ve been thinking about the time I spend on various kinds of learning, and what is most useful in terms of time commitment.
I am familiar enough with written Chinese that I’m wondering if the constant drilling of writing in Skritter is time well-spent. In terms of tones, definitions and readings, I think Skritter is going to continue to be really useful. But I wonder if just keeping a notebook by my side and jotting down only the characters I struggle with will be more efficient than endlessly writing the same characters in Skritter.
However, I may be deluded. So I’m wondering about other people’s experience at the upper intermediate level. Have other people experienced this tailing-off of the need to endlessly drill writing? Or, conversely, has anybody tried stopping drilling writing, then realised this was a mistake?
All the best, Will
Hi, Will. I’m in the same place. You did not mention what your original goals were with Skritter, but if you are like most of us you do not really have occasion to write characters “in real life.” My original thinking with Skritter was that it would force me to be “honest” about whether I really “knew” a character. I figured if I could write it from memory then surely I would be able to read it in the wild. The ultimate goal was literacy, and I would say based on my lowly reading ability today that this was probably not the most efficient route. If I had it to do over I would just learn some basic high frequency characters and then focus on lists I made myself of things that are meaningful to me or likely to be encountered in context in the near future. If I were starting over I think my goal of working toward literacy as a then-elementary level learner would have been better served by working on graded readers or other forms of comprehensible input.
Obviously if you do need to write Chinese by hand often then this may not apply. Also, I should say that I continue to use Skritter almost daily either for custom lists or some list of high frequency characters. I am currently working on “800 Prolific Characters” . Maybe Skritter is not the most efficient use of time for simple flashcard review either, but I personally enjoy drawing the characters.
I’m guessing a lot of Skritter users look for some logical progression such as HSK lists and when they get to HSK 3 they will still be drilling to make sure they retain everything from HSK 1 and HSK 2, and so on, but at some point this must become very time consuming. I think my Skritter queue has a few thousand characters in it now, and has for years, which doesn’t bother me. I could always nuke my progress and start over, but I think I would be better off just finding things to read that are at my level. I don’t feel the need to retain every character I have every practiced at some time.
Hope this makes sense. Good luck.