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Great question Roger! Thanks for the tip on the Sunrise Method too. It sounds similar to other methods I've heard of but I'll definitely check it out.
I'm using Skritter right now to learn how to write Hanzi and it has helped me more than any other product out there. It's not cheap, but it's totally worth it.
I use HanziCraft to look up characters for radicals and such.
Hacking Chinese will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about HOW to learn Chinese characters and more. I've found nothing else online that comes even close.
yeah, heard of Skritter and think it's cool but expensive. like you said.
Hacking Chinese guy is pretty awesome and asks good questions.
I'll look at Hanzi Craft. seems pretty similar to Sunrise.
looks like a deadly combo...thanks for tips.
Oh, and I'm a learner and teacher of Chinese. I developed the Sunrise Method out of frustration of having to learn all 3000 Characters. It was easy learning a few hundred, but memorizing the sounds and meanings of a few thousand made me forget the ones I learned before (too much info), so I had to sort the mess into logical organization and structure and links, and came up with this Method. We also have a Brainscape flashcard trial going on with Sunrise content. Sorry for not clarifying before
My recommendation is Heisig "Remembering the [Traditional/Simplified] Hanzi" plus Skritter.
When people say Skritter is not cheap, I feel like it's a question of your learning budget. Each month Skritter costs ($15.99) less than what many people pay for a single Chinese lesson (let along a resturant dinner or daily latte). I have found the investment in 8 months of Skritter and 2 volumes of Heisig ($30 each) has lead to 2000 characters known and a good expectation of completing 1000 more in 4 months. I've taken Chinese lessons before and didn't get these results so I am fine with the investment.
Additionally my stroke order and writing quality has improved a lot from the prompting (friends and Chinese teachers remark on how my characters actually look pretty good for a foreigner, which means they look like a small child has written them - but a small *Chinese* child).
I actually recommend turning off the tones and pronounciation (and maybe even reading, although I am personally keeping the reading on because I am just stubborn) simply to save you time in doing reps so you can add characters at a decent pace (I add 250 a month on average). And turn down the target retention rate (you can turn it up later on).
Heisig technique doesn't by itself give you pronounciation but it's *so much easier* to learn that through reading/textbooks once you can tell the characters apart reliably. Skritter will give the pronounciation so you'll pick up quite a bit of it through using Skritter.
If you can't afford $16 a month, you can use Anki to do the repetition, but you'll need to write with a pen and watch your own style and stroke order. I did that for a while and it's OK. But then I started using Skritter and won't be changing back any time soon.
I had a look at Sunrise method website, and while I do think there's great opportuninty to learn about groups of characters by decompsition and grouping, I still wonder about how to tell things apart and retain the knowledge. For example learning 勺 and 灼 and 钓 together is quite illuminating but still leaves you with the problem of distinguishing 灼 from 烧 or 烤 when it comes to burning things, and 钓 versus 渔 for fishing, and how to remember each one of these characters and their components on demand. So I like using this kind of approach for Horizontal Learning (Hacking Chinese wrote an article on this recently) but not necessarily more core learning approach at the moment.
I definitely agree: Skritter is actually a steal for what you get. For a few years, I thought it was just more than I wanted to pay so I just kept putting it off. Now that I subscribe, I could kick myself for not taking the plunge earlier. Like I said, it's totally worth it.
Thanks for the recommendations on the Skritter settings as well. I haven't tinkered too much with them yet (just set to raw squigs). I actually didn't even know you could turn off the reading. Not sure I'll do that either, but good to know it is there.
Glad to hear that your studies are zooming along. Great post Tyson, as always.
I have been using the ipad app "Learn Chinese in 3D" everyday for 4 months now, and I love it. It helps you learn the meaning and pronunciation of the 1200 words from HSK levels 1 to 4, in simplified chinese in a beautiful 3D landscape. Level 1 in free. You can buy the others levels for about 1$ each. I have used different methods (thought not Skritter yet because of the price) and this in the only tool that I am eager to return to every day. My character recognition and pronunciation has improved a lot. You can view it here: ipad link or iphone link
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