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Too much to learn?

breakphreak   September 21st, 2010 12:57p.m.

Hey there

I am new to this useful resource, so that any assistance is really welcomed. I am learning Mandarin Chinese with Pimsleur audio tutorials / textbooks. Couldn't find them, so started with anything simple enough.

1. The problem is that when I add a chapter of any textbook then the whole bunch of hieroglyphs appears in my "list". I would strongly prefer to have kinda bounded queue (with adjustable size), so that new items will be added only when I learn enough (and not like 20-40 at once). Is there any way in the current implementation to do that? If no - what am I doing wrong and what can be a workaround?

2. Started to learn a few days ago but the session seemed to be never ending. I've practiced for 30+ minutes and couldn't end the exercise. Why is that and (again) what's wrong in my expectations?

thanks a lot for your answers and help :)

west316   September 21st, 2010 1:09p.m.

Welcome! As for the questions:

1)You can set it to manually jump to the next chapter. On the practice screen, click the active lists button in the upper right had part of the screen. You can set it to manually move to the next section or even manually add words. This gives you complete control over the pace new words are added. Under you language settings you have yet more options as well. It is extremely customizable in that sense.

2)There is no such thing as a predefined session. You just have to decided when you want to stop and stop.

breakphreak   September 21st, 2010 2:13p.m.

Well, thanks a lot for the rapid answer. I guess I need to find out those options (active lists?) to learn say 5 or 10 signs at once. Still, some tutorial/screenshots would be nice :)

Byzanti   September 21st, 2010 10:34p.m.

You'll be getting 20+ at once because you've just started. That is to say, there are no other reviews for Skritter to give you, so it doesn't have much choice but to give you lots of new words.

However, when practising you can hit the active lists menu west talks about (note, this isn't on the 'practice page' splash screen, it's rather on the top right of the screen you actually practice on), and as well as making sure it doesn't go to the next chapter automatically, you can also hit the play/pause button to start and stop words being added, as you require.

Alternatively you can set it (also available on that menu I think) so that no words add automatically. Instead you can choose when you want new words added by hitting the green + button on the top left of the page when practicising.

breakphreak   September 22nd, 2010 4:35a.m.

I'll try to follow, though I see that there are no firm restrictions here, only a plenty of ways to do it, but noone is too intuitive.

Please understand that I really like the system. I'll manage. I will continue to use it upon expiration of my trial. Just it would be nicer to have some more intuitive/usable way for the newcomers like me that know to write only one or two hieroglyphs, but are eager to learn :) Plus tutorial like "Skritting from scratch" would make it [even more] perfect :)

I realize that people come from various backgrounds with different expectations. That's a big challenge, but it might open the doors to more happy Skritter users ;)

Also, if I've just failed to remember any hieroglyph - why it is not repeated right away till I succeed at least twice? Instead I am getting a new one and only after several like those (that might be new as well) it takes me back to the first? Is there any methodical rationale behind?

I am asking about all those, being involved in educational domains for long time a few years ago (both science and art studies). Through that times I've managed to understand some ways to make people remember the just learned material.

Mandarinboy   September 22nd, 2010 4:51a.m.

I have been here since they started Skitter more or less and I still think your points are very valuable also for my self. I too find new interesting features form time to time and other ways to study. I would also very much love to have like "skritter for Dummies"

As for your question about why you do not have the failed character directly repeated i think that is since you need to give the brain some time to place the character in a more long term storage. I used to irritate me on that before but I have had to give in on that. It is actually much more efficient this way. The same as being strict with marking semi failed characters as failed. By having them back on a more regular basis makes it easier to eventually have them stored in the long term memory where we all like to have them in the first place. As someone put it on the forum the other day, trust the algorithm, this is for your own best;-)

breakphreak   September 22nd, 2010 5:10a.m.

Yep, "Skritter for Dummies" (to me) sounds like a veeery attractive idea to implement.

As about the algorithm - please allow me to have a different opinion about this point. I guess there is no silver bullet here. However, I do know that repetitions can be really really helpful (from my direct personal experience). Some scenario like:

a a a [a] [a] b b [a] b [b] [a] c c c [b] [a] c c [c]

could really work for me (and not only for). "a", "b", "c" are new characters, marked with parentheses when written correctly.

I am trying the Skritter way, however, when I stop and write a single hieroglyph on paper several times - it pushes my progress on Skritter :)

Thomas   September 22nd, 2010 5:42a.m.

Feel free to erase characters yourself and write them several times before moving forward, too.

Building enough characters for the system to run smoothly at the beginning might take a while, why not increase your target retention rate and decrease your add word frequency in the account settings -> language settings area to help ease the pain?

If you're serious about learning with Skritter, the investment in a Wacom will pay off in weeks with all the time you will save. I Skrittered with a mouse for over a year and thought I was fast, but now most of my words are written at least 4 times faster than I could possibly write with a mouse. It transfers over to paper very well also : )

breakphreak   September 22nd, 2010 5:56a.m.

Sure I can do it ;) Still it would be a bit nicer to have it in the options, for example.

I've tried to decrease, looks a bit less scary now, but could be better. Yep, it can be my problem too, I know.

Luckily my girlfriend is a graphic designer, so I am constantly abusing her Wacom Intuos with Skritter (with the proper plug-ins of course).

skritterjohan   September 22nd, 2010 6:09a.m.

I only add characters manually, you can set that in the menu somewhere.

As to learning how to write a character in the beginning, just erase and write from scratch and dont move on to the next character until you can write the current one from zero.

breakphreak   September 22nd, 2010 7:07a.m.

Yep, erasing can be a cool workaround and a good idea, thanks! :)

jww1066   September 22nd, 2010 8:14a.m.

@breakphreak the problem you refer to with brand-new characters is one that I also had a while ago and I also used to write and erase sometimes many times until I had new ones down. There is a setting in the system which controls how long it waits to give you a character that's new to you and which you just got wrong; for me, that setting started out way too high, although it gradually decreases if you get a lot of those items wrong on the first repetition. So after a while you should start to see those new items scheduled more promptly.

The other change that has made it easier for me to learn new characters is the addition of mnemonics, which dramatically speeds up learning new characters. Once you have the radicals and some common characters learned, mnemonics allow you to quickly learn any compound character. So nowadays I almost never have to resort to write-erase-write-erase to learn new characters.


breakphreak   September 22nd, 2010 9:37a.m.

Thanks a lot for the support and practical advices.

Mnemonics - do you mean those sentences in Mandarin? Sorry for the really dummy questions - at least I'll be able to share the philosophy with the newcomers as soon as I'll be up to it by myself :)

Byzanti   September 22nd, 2010 9:49a.m.

Nah, example sentences are example sentences. Mnemonics is beneath that. Mnemonics are basically little snippits you use to help remember characters. Eg, the word key 钥匙 includes the radicals for moon (月) is (是) and spoon (匕), so I use the mnemonic: "the key to the moon is in the spoon".

But just write anything in there that helps you remember the character. Stories, imagery, anything. It's probably more helpful for more complex characters and words than simple radicals (ie something like 匕,十,雨 - basic elements).

If you click on the mnemonics box you can write whatever you want in, or choose one that someone else has already written.

breakphreak   September 22nd, 2010 9:56a.m.

Ah, the hieroglyphs deconstruction! Yep, I'll utilize my associative memory even better :)

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