Chinese Reading and Writing series now on SuperMemo and tips on using SRS
SRS (Spaced Repetition Software) is quite popular among Chinese learners. It uses an algorithm that controls how frequently flashcards are shown based on how students grade themselves in previous tests. This is a learning tool.
However, a tool is a tool. It can be both very helpful or utterly useless. All depend on how you use it. Here I’m going to share some tips on using SRS, and how you can practice recognising Chinese characters and words, taught in the Chinese Reading and Writing series, using SuperMemo cards.
After reading tons of comments from Chinese learners about using SRS, and based on my own personal observations and experiences, I’ve concluded that the following situations should be avoided:
- Use SRS to learn new words for the first time.
- Spent too much time creating and editing cards, putting everything on them, such as pronunciations, definitions, multiple contexts, different usages, and long sentences as examples.
- Spend too much time reviewing each card.
- Spend hours going through hundreds of cards.
- Add new cards each day and face a to-do list that grows without bounds.
- Go on a vacation for a week and get crushed by a backlog of cards when return.
These situations can make learning Chinese unbelievably burdensome and tedious. Using SRS in these ways is doomed to failure. Except for some occasional bursts of experimenting, it’s hard for students to stick to learning for a longer period of time.
To maximise the benefits of SRS, students are recommended to adopt the following best practices:
- Use SRS as a review tool, and a review tool only, for quick drilling.
- Keep the cards simple and easier to drill.
- Minimise the time it takes to answer each card, a couple of seconds perhaps. Ideally, the answers can fly across your mind or in front of your eyes.
- Minimise the overall time spend on SRS, a few minutes a day or less than 15% of total study time.
- Switch off the days from the calendar during a vacation, so not to have a backlog of cards when return.
Among SRS, SuperMemo is one of the originals.
I’m glad to announce that I have just created six courses, based on the Chinese Reading and Writing series, for students to practice Chinese character recognitions.
Different from many Chinese courses which are structured around words, the Chinese Reading and Writing series is structured around Chinese characters. This series includes six books, teaching individual characters as the first step, and then gradually building up words using characters already taught. Conversations and stories are provided as exercises, which will ultimately develop students’ Chinese reading and writing skills.
The complete Chinese Reading and Writing series teaches a total of 320 Chinese characters, 1,299 words and combinations. And this is where SuperMemo cards fit perfectly.
Each card contains one Chinese character or one word/combination. The answers are in audio format, reading out how the character or the word is pronounced. All the recordings are done by native-Chinese speakers.
These cards are ideal for practicing Chinese character recognitions. The goal is to help students connect the sounds of characters with their forms efficiently and effectively.
To read and answer each card takes a few seconds or less. The whole system is very streamlined for quick drilling. Students can also use the speech recognition function (only available in the mobile app) to further practice.
A useful feature provided by SuperMemo is that students can add notes to each card and thus tailor these cards according to their own needs.
All cards are freely available for everyone. (Please note that you must register with SuperMemo first if you haven’t already done so. For first time users, you don’t need your credit card to register. You only need a valid email address.)
To get access to these SuperMemo cards, follow these links:
- Chinese Reading and Writing 1
- Chinese Reading and Writing 2
- Chinese Reading and Writing 3
- Chinese Reading and Writing 4
- Chinese Reading and Writing 5
- Chinese Reading and Writing 6
SuperMemo is a powerful tool. But it can not replace other forms of learning, such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening to longer forms of Chinese texts.
Also, keep your ultimate goal in mind that, one day, you’ll become a fluent Chinese speaker. You will no longer need to use SuperMemo, or any SRS. You can refresh your learning through natural processes, such as, reading novels, watching films, or listening to radios.