01/24/11

Why I Use Skritter To Learn To Write Chinese And Why You Should Too?

Skritter is an unique website to learn how to write Chinese and Japanese. Besides writing you can also practice tones, pinyin and meaning of characters and words. I honestly think that it’s one of the best tools out there to learn Chinese.

You might have noticed that I have a Skritter ad in my blog and it does benefit me if you click it or links in this post. But I’m a very happy user of Skritter and have recommended it to two of my friends who also started using it. Skritter alone doesn’t make your Chinese fluent, but it’s a wonderful tool to help with your writing and character recognition.

Click to any picture to see it bigger.

How to study with Skritter?

I bought this tablet and pen just to use Skritter. With a tablet I can write Chinese characters normally, just like with pencil and paper. Sure you can get started with a mouse, but in order to train your muscle memory you need to write with a pen.

After you have added or chosen your word lists you start to study. Skritter shows you the meaning of the character and you write it. If you don’t remember you can ask help. You have to write the character in a right stroke order and Skritter will remind you if you start in the wrong place.

Skritter also asks you to choose the correct tone. After choosing it will tell you is it correct or not. And a voice will read the character or word for you.

The new feature is to write the pinyin with the tone number. Skritter is improving all the time and also listening what the users have to say.

And of course you have to test if you know the meaning of the word or character. First you only see the character and the pinyin, you think the meaning in your mind and click to see the answer. Then you choose don’t know, so-so, got it or too easy according to how well you remembered the meaning.

Remember that Skritter doesn’t give these tasks in this order. It knows what you know and what you have to review. If you know the tone for example, it doesn’t ask you that every day, only once a while in order to keep that tone in your memory. There are also many more things and details in Skritter but the best way to find out about them, is to use Skritter. And you can study Japanese too!

Why to study with Skritter?

  1. Skritter knows what I need to review and when. I can just concentrate on studying, not going through notebooks and pieces of paper to find out what I’ve learned and what I should do next. I just add my own word lists or use lists made by Skritter/other users and I’m ready to go.
  2. Skritter shows what I’ve learned and gives me nice graphics. The picture on top shows you how many characters I have learned with Skritter since last June. First it was really addictive and I got to 200+ characters pretty quickly. Then my usual laziness came back and the speed got slower, well stopped. But now I have decided to do well in my next HSK exam and started using Skritter more than ever. In three days I learned to write 100 new characters.
  3. It’s easy to set goals with Skritter. I can make goal like how many minutes to use Skritter per day, or how many characters I want to learn in a week. Setting goals is easy, and from the progress page I can see when I reach them. And sometimes Skritter also have competitions with cool prices like free writing tablets.

If you use Skritter already please share in the comments what you think about it. And if you’re not using it, but studying Chinese or Japanese, why not give Skritter a try? (If you go to Skritter via these affiliate links, it will benefit me too. Thank you!)

P.S. How many characters I should put as my goal to reach before the next HSK (汉语水平考试) exam in April? I want to get to level 5 in the old HSK.

 

01/23/11

I’m Dying To Know Who You Are

Photo by Marco Bellucci

 

First I want to thank everyone for leaving comments, joining the discussion and sending emails. I would like to know little bit more about you and that’s why I created this poll. As you can see, you can choose multiple options so check all the boxes you think describes you. If you don’t belong to any group you can also write yourself who you are. And if you want to share more, like your life story, please share it in the comments.

Thank you!

01/22/11

Why Chinese People Need Face Between Family Members?

Chinese Mother and Son

The Chinese concept of face is something that I struggle to understand sometimes. It seems to create so much pressure on people when they always have to keep in mind what others are thinking about them. In the mind of Chinese people my boyfriend is a bad guy. He is really eager to work and make money in order to have a comfortable life, but also to gain face. In China there seems to be no point to have money if you don’t show it off to others.

What is surprising to me is that how important face is even between family members. I was talking about Chinese new year with my boyfriend and he said that there is no point for Chinese guy to go back home during the holiday if he doesn’t have any money to give to family members. Also a Chinese boyfriend of my Western friend confirmed this and says he isn’t successful enough to go home to celebrate the spring festival.

Where is the importance of family and the closeness of relatives? I though the main point of the most important festival in China is to spend time with your family. When did money become greater than love inside a family? There must be many things about the concept of face that I don’t understand. But recently I’ve begin to wonder why Chinese people have to remember their face even in front of their closest family members?

In Finland our biggest holiday is Christmas where we gather together with our family, eat well and exchange presents. No matter how badly I would have messed up my life, I’m always welcomed back home. Actually in Finland it is quite common that young people and students visit home when they don’t have any money. To go back home where their mother will cook their favourite food and give them some pocket money. Of course for some people this becomes a nasty habit and they don’t learn how to take care of them selves. Or rich parents give everything to their kids not considering the negative effects.

I would really like to understand the importance of face to Chinese people, so I would love to hear about your experiences and opinions in the comments.

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01/18/11

Why I Love Living In China?

Chinese men are the reason I love China. This time I tried to make a more serious and longer list, but it was surprisingly hard. It is hard to list all those little things that the life in here consists of. And when I thought of one thing, I always remembered some occasion that particular thing haven’t been so nice. But there is one big reason why I like living in China.

The reason is that by being in China I can observe the target of my passion everyday. In Finland I used to read books and watch documentaries about China, but now I can also just go outside of my room and see it myself! I hunger for knowledge about China and I think I will never be ready with that goal. There is always more to see, more to experience, more to know.

I have to admit that sometimes I just close my eyes and try to forget I live here. Try to forget that I’m a foreigner. Some days I just relax and read Dan Brown instead. But most of the days I’m excited as a young school kid thinking Oh this is what they eat, and this is the reason they do it like this.

Why am I so interested about this Middle Kingdom? I tried to explain it in my very first post, but I think those people that have similar life long passions or dreams, know what I’m talking about. You just have this feeling inside that this thing is your thing, something that is important to you no matter what.

What is the reason you like living in China? Or do you just completely hate it?

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01/12/11

Is It Wrong To Go To McDonald’s?

When I first came to China I was traveling in Beijing, Pingyao, Xi’an, Chengdu and Guilin. I thought that all the time I have to be out experiencing everything, including Chinese food. But soon I realised that my situation was different, I was going to live in China. After that I relaxed and started reading books instead going out, I went to eat Big Mac instead trying chicken feet at a local restaurant.

I understood that it is important to find out as much as possible about China, but this is now normal life to me and not an adventure. After that decision I’ve met people that refuse to eat anything else than Chinese food. But they are here to travel just for few weeks or maybe few months. Of course they can wait and eat Western food when they go back home. Of course they want to experience as much as they can during their short visit.

Last summer in the hospital I hated Chinese food. I could maybe eat few wontons (yuntun 云吞) but I really wanted something familiar. There were no western restaurants nearby. There are no Finnish food in Guangzhou. So what did I want my boyfriend to get me? A Big Mac of course! And it tasted so good and I could almost forget that 10 per cent of my body looked like – – (first I wrote it here, but maybe you are eating right now).

In my opinion traveling abroad and living abroad are completely different things. You want different things from them. And right now I want a hamburger.