Studying Chinese

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.



  • Dave Flynn

    Hi Sara, thanks for sharing, I have seen Skritter recommended a lot recently, and though I know how it works I have not used the service extensively myself.

    I’m interested in your opinion a few areas of using Skritter to learn words, the first is after learning words on Skritter, do you find that your general comprehension ability has improved – for when you are reading Chinese texts away from Skritter?

    Also, do you find you are able to maintain motivation for a long time while learning words in Skritter or do you find that short 30 minute goes are enough?

    Thanks, Dave

    Sara Reply:

    Thanks for commenting Dave!

    The vocabulary I’m basically practicing with Skritter is from my Chinese textbooks. I learn the words in class and then review with Skritter. Without reviewing with Skritter I would forget them. Sure I could write all the characters many times by hand on paper, but that’s boring. So basically Skritter helps me to review words I know and to relearn the ones I’ve forgotten since class. I also study HSK list with Skritter and there are words I haven’t met before. It takes of course more time to learn those. I think my general ability have improved because with Skritter I study more than without it. And I don’t have to worry about what to review and when.

    It is hard to say that what I’ve learned with Skritter and what at class or somewhere else. But I have improved from failure to old HSK level 4 after started using Skritter. But is it because I was lucky in the exam, or I studied more at my classes or did Skritter help? Hard to say.

    But I haven’t been able to use the vocabulary learned with Skritter in my spoken Chinese. That is more difficult.

    I think I’m easily motivated but also easily forget to study or lose my motivation. So I get excited about something and do it a lot for a day or few and then comes the lazy season. But with pen and paper I would have never studied as much as with Skritter. It’s just sometimes I study 10 minutes, sometimes one hour. And not everyday I have to admit. But this is a problem for me in studying in general.

    Did I manage to answer your questions Dave? Please ask if you have more questions or nothing above made any sense.

  • Alex

    I don’t like to be asked for a credit card number just to test Skritter.

    Sara Reply:

    I understand you very well Alex. And lots of people don’t want to do it either. There is discussion about this in Skritter forum. Also one guy wanted to use Skritter but didn’t have credit card. Nick from Skitter asked him to send an email so they could start his free trial without using credit card.

    So I would advice to send an email and ask about it:

    Mike Reply:

    There was quite a backlash when this was implemented – my 2c is that Skritter is an honest company that does business with integrity and respect – I am 100% sure Skritter will deal with your credit card details seriously and honestly.

    Also – if you’re keen on learning Chinese / Japanese characters, and by learn I mean actually remember them: you won’t find anything else that comes close.

    Sara Reply:

    I agree with Mike and trust Skritter 100%.

  • Mike

    I’ve no idea how many characters you’ll need – just add HSK 1, learn them all. Then add HSK 2, learn them all… repeat.

    Good luck!

    Sara Reply:

    Thank you Mike! I think I want to come up with some kind of goal because it makes me study harder. And it’s nice to see the numbers grow in graphics :)

  • K.

    Thanks for this! I never actually did any research on Skritter as I thought it’s Chinese only. I’ll have to try that soon, as I’m looking for a more effective way to learn the kanji… (nothing wrong with pen&paper but oh it gets boring sometimes~) ^_^

    Sara Reply:

    Thanks for commenting K. Yeah, there is nothing wrong witn pen and paper, but Skritter just makes it more easier and effective. I really recommend you to try it.

  • Sarah

    Hiya I never tried using skitter before. Maybe I will give it ago. Have you ever tried using Rosetta stone? I suppose it’s more useful for total beginners but i think it’s very good for pronunciation

    Also I found a good website that is very handy sometimes it’s like a Chinese dictionary you can draw the character you are searching or type the pinyin or type the Chinese character also they have voice clips you should check it out

    Sara Reply:

    Thank you for stopping by Sarah! I’ve heard a lot about Rosetta Stone but haven’t ever tried it. I have used nciku, but everytime I wanted to use it, it was so slow so I gave up. Well, it’s possible that the problem was my computer or internet connection. I usually use MDBG dictionary, which is really good.

  • Confused LaoWai

    I have finally gotten around to trying out Skritter. Didn’t want to use it without a tablet. Luckily there was one lying around in the media lab I work at now.

    I’m truly impressed. And it’s seriously addictive. I try to do 30-60min a day. I’m going through all the HSK wordlists at present. Starting from scratch again. Although I can read them easily, my writing is bit on the shitty side. Skritter rocks.

    Sara Reply:

    Nice to see you here fellow Confused LaoWai. I’m really impressed with Skritter too. It’s much better than I thought before trying it and it’s improving all the time.

  • Angela

    Sara, I’m so happy to know you had found some ways to improve your Chinese learning.I hope you will make more progress.
    I’m here to give my best wishes to you for a new year.Lately,it’s Spring Festival–the most important festival in China.So,may you happy and healthy!^_^

    Sara Reply:

    I’m little bit late but happy year of the rabbit to you Angela! I’ll continue doing my best to learn this fascinating language.

  • Rongwu

    It’s really a good way to learn Chinese characters. Here, I would give you more information(maybe you already know that),and hope it is helpful for your Chinese-learning. Generally, 2800-3000 characters are enough for normal communication(mainly means written chinese),which cover 99% amount of readings(i.e. newspaper, magazine).It is also the quantity for a primary school leaver. I suggest you had better try to write your blog in Chinese after you will have learned 800-1000 characters,it is better way to practice your written Chinese. Look forward to looking at your Chinese blog someday, I am sure you can do it in future.

    Sara Reply:

    Maybe I could start a Chinese blog later on when I know more, but right now it would be really boring. Thanks for the information and suggestion!

  • Lasse Liukkonen

    I want to improve my Chinese writing skills and Skritter looks like a good aid. Could you tell me more about the tablet you are using? Make & model, price, where you got it? Is it good? Can you recommed it?

    Sara Reply:

    It’s just a random tablet I bought near the university I was studying at the moment (in Guangzhou). It costed about 500RMB, but I hear you can get a simple tablet for about 300RMB as well. I haven’t used any other tablets, so can’t compare, but I don’t have any complaints about this one.

    The tablet is UGEE WP4168U like this one:

    Skritter really is great!

    Lasse Liukkonen Reply:

    I bought the tablet (Hanvon HWpen, 390 people’s currency) from a random computer shop in Panyu and signed in Skritter also.

    Seems a lot more fun than using a pen and paper.

    Sara Reply:

    Good to hear that you also started with Skritter!

  • Esko Heino

    Hello Sara. I guess that I picked up Skritter from your page a year ago. Well, I was immediately hooked and now I have more than 1000 characters and trying to concentrate more on listening and reading texts.
    My daughter-in-law is from China and has studied in Sun-Yat-Sen, so even I have been walking in the campus while visiting her retired professor granma.
    I introduced my son to Skritter and he´s hooked, too (but I´m ahead!), I also last thursday introduced my classmates here in Hämeenlinna to Skritter and Anki.
    Have a good time – I´m waiting for the Chunjie to visit Yuhuan in Zhejiang.

    Sara Reply:

    Nice to hear from you Esko!

    Seems like you are even more hooked to Skritter than I am! It really is an unique tool to study Chinese and helps me a lot in my studies. Great to hear that even people in Hameenlinna are now using it!

  • PrincessRune

    Thanks sara! I had downloaded the app onto my tablet a while ago but never used it aside from completing the tutorial/trial. I am a bit concerned (since I am a beginner) that it shows me many characters that I don’t know at all so I’m worried I that most of my progress will reflect answering everything incorrectly…or I am missing an important part of the app!