Weekly Word Count & Strategy

Hello,

I have around 1,400 words. I’m pretty certain I’m going to take the following strategy going forward.

  1. learn 250 words a week based on a high frequency system (with my case each of these words is in probably 50 distinct short and long dialogues for each word). It doesn’t purely follow HSK but its pretty similar.
  2. Learn 50 HSK Du Chinese Words a week, most like space rep each of the dialogues for the words I learn from Du Chinese. This does use the HSK system. The HSK system follows a “high frequency” word order a little more strictly than #1 above. (probably stating the obvious)
  3. Learn 100 words a week from other sources. These other sources don’t necessarily have a lot of examples and don’t necessarily conform to a pure frequency list.

For #1 since I have many ready made examples in both audio and written format, with these I load up to Skritter both the individual monosyllable of the word AND the di-syllable word itself as extra long term reinforcement. This process takes some time because I create mono-syllable mnemonics exactly based on Zizzle.

For #2 & #3 I’m NOT going to load up in Scritter mainly because it will start to get overwhelming if I applied the same system as #1 to them. For these 150 a week I have decided to go with 2 types of Anki Decks.
First type for each of the 150 words
a) https://www.hackingchinese.com/free-and-easy-audio-flashcards-for-chinese-dictation-practice-with-anki/
Second type for each of the 150 words
b) Will be a very simple Cloze Deletion card, with a sentence in the front, with the word I’m learning ‘deleted’ and on the back side of the card. (perhaps make a couple more sentences on the same card and perhaps even a hint like if the word means ‘happy’, I can easily have in the front of the card in addition, ‘the word is not the following synonyms for happy.’…gaoxing, xingfu, etc.)[i’m keeping track of synonyms and antonyms as I learn words in a spreadsheet]

For these 150 I’m NOT going to load up to Skritter right away and I’m not going to make hardcore mnemonics for every mono-syllable of these word components. (but will probably load up in Skritter just to see when the one of the 150 words I learn a week will ‘overlap’ my Skritter listing…at which point I will make the ‘hardcore’ scritter cards at that time).

On #2 and #3 I’m losing the following cards at first

  1. A card for the word itself with a characters in the the front (with the definition and pinion hidden) and the definition in the back.(Skritter Reading Card)
  2. A card withe the mono-syllable of the components of the word in front (with definition and pinion hidden) and the definition in the back. Usually 2 cards are made from #1. (Skritter Reading Card)

Again, my #250 words that I learn using the method above, to be clear, I WILL NOT be making Anki cards, because again that would inefficient since I’m getting plenty of reinforcement in other audios and passages.

A) Do you think I’m missing something significant with not having a special character card at first for the 150, for the sake of learning A LOT of words in short period of time? In 6 months I should have around 10k words.
B) Do you have a special Anki card you use that might not be available in Skritter that you find useful?
-the sound one Skritter could probably easily replicate (and you can work around by just using the ‘definition’ slot as your sound - cover the word and play the sound).
-your own sentence in cloze deletion format might be possible as well, and it would just be another one of the selections but it would just essentially be a “blank” custom card type.

250 + 150 = 400 *4 = 1,600 *6 ~9,500.

Thank you

Your strategy is ambitious and without knowing more about your background, it’s hard to comment on how realistic it is. However, I’m going to assume that you’re a very serious learner and know what you’re getting yourself into. I will comment on some things you’ve written, ask for clarification when I’m not sure what you mean, answer your questions as best as I can, and finally offer some advice in broader terms.

Some questions and brief comments

I have around 1,400 words.

I assume this means that you know 1,400 words at the moment. This usually means you know roughly the same number of characters at this level. This means that you already know what it’s like to learn characters and have maybe reached a lower intermediate level or so (depending on definitions, of course).

The HSK system follows a “high frequency” word order a little more strictly than #1 above. (probably stating the obvious)

I don’t know what you’re comparing to here, but your statement is probably not correct if #1 refers to anything built mostly on frequency. HSK is not closely based on frequency, especially not on the lower levels. It’s more what foreign students might find useful. I wrote an article about this here:

your own sentence in cloze deletion format

I’m not sure what this means. If you mean sentences you selected or found, fine, but I would advise against creating your own sentences. It’s too time consuming and you’d need to verify that they are correct, which is very time consuming. I assume you mean using sentences you’ve chosen, not created.

Answers to your questions

Do you think I’m missing something significant with not having a special character card at first for the 150, for the sake of learning A LOT of words in short period of time? In 6 months I should have around 10k words.

No, if anything, I would go much further in the other direction. 10,000 words in six months is a lot. Learning to to write all these words and characters will take many times longer than it would take to focus on spoken and/or written recognition. I would cut down on the most time-consuming prompts (writing) and add those later.

Do you have a special Anki card you use that might not be available in Skritter that you find useful?

No, you mentioned the two card types I would want to see in Skritter (which are both on our list, of course, just not at the top since they would imply massive overhauls and a major restructuring of vocabulary cards). I have done what you suggest for listening cards in Skritter when learning Japanese and it worked okay. Having a real listening prompt would of course be better, bit it works. I even used a third-party app in Android to place an overlay that covered everything but the answer buttons so I could focus on the audio!

A closer look at your numbers

Like I said initially, I’m assuming you’re a serious and ambitious student and have a ton of time to through into this project. If not, you can abandon this right now. :slight_smile:

To start with, I think your numbers are a bit off. You’re not talking about 400 words per week. You also mention learning characters in polysyllabic words, which would increase the numbers even more. But let’s say you included that in the 400 words!

I once learnt 2,000 words in five days just to see how long it took and if it was possible. I did that after having studied Chinese for about three and a half years. It took me 3-4 hours per day for the first pass through the words, for a total of let’s say 20 hours. I then spent another 10 hours over the following weeks to review. I stopped tracking after a few weeks, but let’s say I would have needed 5 more hours over time to maintain those words. That gives 35 hours to learn 2,000 words, initially learnt in five days (one of your weeks).

Two caveats:

  1. My Chinese was considerably more advanced at the time than yours is now. I probably knew words in excess of 20,000 words at the time. I actually found the 2,000 words by checking which words on the advanced TOCFL exam I didn’t already know, which covers around 8,000 words. This means that I knew almost all individual characters beforehand.

  2. I focused only on recognition, so no writing at all. Given that I knew most of the characters, it might not have taken me much longer to write, but it would have increased the review time significantly.

It’s hard to see how these differences would impact the numbers, but it’s not unreasonable to assume it will take you longer than it took me. If it’s 5 hours longer per week or 25 hours I don’t know. Let’s say 15.

This means that we’re looking at maybe 50 hours to learn 2,000 words. Learning that many per week would of course be impossible to sustain longer than a few weeks, but you’re looking at that much per month (roughly), not per day, but it’s still almost 10 hours per week. Doable, but certainly not easy! Please note that my numbers here might be considerably off since it’s hard to know how much longer it would take you per word considering that you know fewer characters than I did.

Zooming out a bit, it’s maybe worth asking if this is a good idea? Maybe. I think it depends on what other things you are doing as well. If you study full-time and combine this with large amounts of listening and reading, then it’s great. If you only do this, I don’t think it’s a very good idea at all. I would then much rather learn (much) fewer words and spend that time listening and reading instead. I usually advocate rapidly building passive vocabulary, and the whole point of that is to enable you to listed and read more, but that kind of approach only works if you actually do listen and read a lot.

And finally… good luck! :slight_smile:

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That’s an impressive new years resolution!

I think it’s doable if you know 1400 characters now to learn 400 new words a week, for the first five or six weeks. Then I imagine you would have to add so much new characters it would be at least a dayjob to remember the tone, writing etc. I’ve seen some Skritters stats where someone knew 800 characters and over 2500 words. Don’t know if you can use the same math when you go to 10K, but then you would only have to do 3200 new characters, still a lot of work in six months though.

Good luck!

No, you can’t. :slight_smile: When starting out, students tend to learn more characters than words. That’s because many words contain more than one character.

If we look at current HSK levels for example, we can see that at HSK3, students are supposed to know roughly as many characters as words. Before that, more characters than words; after that more words than characters. At HSK6, the difference is pretty big: 5,000 words, but only 2,663 characters.

If you go to 10,000 words, the character count will tick up a bit, but probably only a few hundred, a bit above 3,000. You simply have most of the building blocks already. At 3,500 characters or so, you’re unlikely to see many new characters as long as you stay away from literature.

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I assume this means that you know 1,400 words at the moment. This usually means you know roughly the same number of characters at this level. This means that you already know what it’s like to learn characters and have maybe reached a lower intermediate level or so (depending on definitions, of course).

Yes, I know 1,400 words. These words I know the individual word through many listenings and the components of these words. The components I know because I make an individual Skritter card for the components.

I’m not sure what this means. If you mean sentences you selected or found, fine, but I would advise against creating your own sentences. It’s too time consuming and you’d need to verify that they are correct, which is very time consuming. I assume you mean using sentences you’ve chosen, not created.

I have settled on finding two cloze deletion sentences using clozemaster pro per word. I am not making my own sentences. You feed a word into clozemaster pro and it will *suggest 5 sentences, then I am able to narrow it down to 2 sentences that are more at my level.

I’ve refined my system just a little from this week. I’ll be memorizing around 100 words per week. These 100 words, I’ll also memorize their components at the same time. (these were formerly the *250 words I had planned). Since I have so much material with these 100 words, I don’t need the extra sentences from clozemaster pro.

Beyond these 100 words I’ll call “extra words”. I have two tiers of “extra words” and all of them derive from the listening material that includes the 100 words. These “extra words” have two tiers. “Tier 1” - words that use components I already know
“Tier 2” - words that at least have one component I do not know
Both Tier’s will be fed into clozemaster pro as their own ‘collection’. It should be around 300 total words a week. Roughly 100 base words, 200 ‘extra words’. Of the 200 extra words perhaps 50 are “tier 2” words where unfortunately I won’t have time to also learn the components of those specific words. So in TOTAL a low end estimate of words is around ~300 per week.

I need to complete a full week. Which I plan to load up tomorrow to really get a better estimate of the actual numbers. ( I have around 5 more big dialogues to “mine” more tier 1 and tier 2 words)

Regardless, there will be a good amount of words in “tier 2” which I’ll be relying on being able to read and perhaps “hear” but NOT necessarily know the components of.

I am a full time immersion student so I this plan will probably be carried out to best of my ability.

Just originally where I had more words “skewed” to Tier 2 words, Now most of my “new words” will be skewed toward Tier 1 words.

Attached below is a screenshot example of one new word I’m learning within clozemaster - I narrowed it down to these 2 easy to learn sentences when initially 5 sentences were provided from the system. So I plan to have a separate “pool” 1st Tier and 2nd Tier.

Also, thanks a lot for a thorough reply. I’m pretty much all in with Chinese. I like to 'stop at 10 or 10:30 pm for reading break but it’s pretty intense the whole day. I have every hour block filled until that time doing various activities to learn the language.

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Ha, Thanks - it’s a lot of words but I believe I’m being a bit more systematic with it now in terms of learning the majority of the words with components I happen to already know.

Theres not as much listening and reading involved with a good percentage of the words. But I believe there is enough with the use of clozemasterpro to have a certain level of competency with them at least.

@apatino thanks for mentioning Clozemaster. I’ve been looking for something a little gameified to play with for a few minutes a day. I don’t think I’ll invest in the pro, but having a brief test a day with random sentences is a nice discovery.

No problem! I’m actually using it now to ONLY supplement with words with characters I know (I’m learning maybe 50 new characters a week) due to me shooting for getting as many “new words” as possible.

I’m sure your way past this character restriction problem. However, I like it, I know some have argued here that “there are synonyms” so it can be difficult in Chinese. However, I suggest doing the “type in the word” feature game type instead of the multiple choice game type.

“Type in the word” game type if you type in a synonym, the word will be “red” shaded before you even hit “enter” so you can type in all the synonyms you want until you get your word.

Also I like to copy and paste the scritter definition in the english translated sentence. I try to 1) solve it without the english translation 2) then if it’s too vague solve it with the english translation 3) finally, if it’s still too vague peak at the definition of the word. It’s imperfect, but I think it probably is necessarily better than a pure english ‘definition’ card. However, it doesn’t replace scritter’s Character ‘Reading’ Card

On the computer it is also compatible with your “pop up” dictionaries which is nice for characters you don’t know.

I’m a big proponent of reading “a lot of material” - (I’m reading Mandarin Companion every night), but even selecting some of those words and throwing them in clozemaster help me personally make the words stick better than just reading the books.

@apatino Those are really useful abilities on Clozemaster, so much so it is tempting to get a subscription. I don’t think they’re available without one - I can’t find anywhere to type in a word, and anything else I tap on besides “play” asks me to subscribe.

I just want to know if you’re learning 400 words a week with the method you discribed. It’s been a couple of weeks so there should be some average.