As my free trial runs low, I thought I would introduce Skritter as my new favorite SRS study tool for Chinese!

Skritter is a subscription-based SRS service that can be used to study both Japanese and Chinese. It focuses on handwriting input (so having a tablet would be a good idea, though using a mouse is alright, though tiring), while also looking at pronunciation and meaning as well. So, let’s take a look!

(I love using images to show clear examples of how things look, so the rest of the post will be after the break below)

The main study window.

So, once you go in, Skritter will bring up your entries based on an SRS algorithm. In this example, I’m working on learning radicals, so I have to write it from memory.

Radical baby!!

Here, I love that the “paper” is very similar to the character writing paper seen, not only in Western textbooks, but also as those used for students in Asia. It also gives you a very large area to work in, which is quite nice too. Next up, I had to write the pinyin for the following phrase:

A feeling often reflected in my Sim Cities.

The nice thing about Skritter, too, is that I can leave it open in a tab and come back to it every so often just to do a few quick reps before I continue working on my other projects:

See, I totally study. What you didn’t see were the tabs I closed.

I also always make sure to have my Wacom Bamboo tablet on the ready by my side:

See, I am totally studying here!

There is something strange about the SRS algorithm though; it always brings up, just as I am about ready to finish up, entries I’m pretty familiar with and can easily do. So, because they’re like little bite-sized nuggets of SRS easiness and I just keep going… for another 15-20 reps.

The reps themselves do a nice mix of writing, reading, and meaning, while not overdoing one (though I feel I write a lot sometimes, but it’s nice practice).

Now what I really like was the ability to import decks. I can take my Pleco decks and import them into Skritter, allowing me to always keep up with the cards I enter as I go through one of my readings for the week. I just look up a word, put it into the flashcard program on Pleco if I want to learn it, then export it to Skritter–so I can study it both on the go with Pleco and at home with Skritter.

One detractor for me is the lack of sentence input, so you hardly see the words in context. While this may be bad for a beginner, or someone who hardly comes into contact with Chinese or Japanese material, it is actually not a huge disappointment for me. Rather, because I read so much for my classes, it just solidifies them in my mind more, and helps give me a context as I come across them when I read.

Another issue is actually within the biggest selling point: the writing element. This, I believe, though, also depends on the user. For example, writing the second tone, if you’re not careful, can get misconstrued for a first tone. Also, it does take some practice getting used to how writing actually works.

That said, it is very much worth checking out! If you’re interested, they have a demo here that you can try online; then sign up for a free trial if you like what you see.

In a future post, I will take a look at Skritter for Japanese.