Farting around on Twitter, as I am wont to do, I noticed a tweet by Khatz saying:

@ajatt
Khatzumoto

Possible future #SRS hack/tweak: learning kanji using cloze deletions…hmmm..

Which brought to mind the current method that I use for character cloze deletions! Now, I should say, I don’t really use my old Heisig “Remember the Hanzi” deck much anymore. I kind of flip through it when I feel like writing, but I generally am using it less and less. Part of the reason is I don’t write as much (except for some forms and documents) anymore. I should really change this, since I love writing and that’s how I got into the language to begin with so…

Anyhow!

My variation is an extension of the short version that I tweeted as an example:

Front:

你很 [handsome]!。

Back:

帥.

What I have been doing, though, is taking the English keyword and turning it into the Chinese definition, as such:

Front:

你很 [容俊俏或舉止瀟灑、有風度。]!。

Back:

帥 部首 巾 部首外筆畫 6 總筆畫 9

注音一式 (語音)ㄕㄨㄞˋ

While Heisig would say “to heck with that pronunciation nonsense!”, I argue that it should be kept in there—for Chinese. Japanese I completely understand why you’d want it separated, but pronunciation is very important in Chinese, especially tones. Yes, some characters have multiple pronunciations (even [帥] from the example!), but it is still good to get an idea of the pronunciation. No need to memorize it, and I would say don’t try, until you’re sure you know which tone it is. Once you know, then that can lead you on to…

Pronunciation specific practice! I’ll do entries like this (with embedded audio files, of course!):

Front:

你很 [ㄕㄨㄞˋ容俊俏或舉止瀟灑、有風度。]!。

Back:

帥 部首 巾 部首外筆畫 6 總筆畫 9

[+audio file of ㄕㄨㄞˋ, sometimes the whole sentence if it’s short enough]

The goal is to match the pronunciation with the audio and the writing (or, mental visualization of) the character on the back.

Now, these all use a very simplistic example sentence, but I would suggest making larger, more contextual, entries. Using the textbook dialogues from your language books might be a good idea. The goal, of course, not being to learn the incredibly dull sentences and grammar points, but just to focus on one character in the context it’s being presented in. Learning from real world examples would be much better, but if you’re like me and have already blown a handful of cash on those beastly books, this might be a use for them other than kindling to keep warm in the winter.