How the challenge works is that you sign up and set a goal for yourself in learning a certain amount of characters per week. You get assigned two challenge buddies who you email to introduce yourself , tell them your goals and basically to become accountable to them, keep them updated on your progress and vice verse. My two buddies are way more experienced which makes it all the more interesting. I hope to draw on their experience and it's good to know you are in good company.
My short term goals are-
- Learn about 20 new characters a week.
- Get a better sense of the radicals in the characters.
- Get familiar with stroke order.
- Learn characters and words for everyday items you find at work and at home.
My Long term goal is -
- To be able to converse with my work colleagues in China who I have contact with every day through phone conversation but also through email , Skype etc..
- When I travel to China, that is at least once a year be able to have a fully fledged conversation in Chinese with people I encounter through work and on social occasions or for even buying that fake bag in the market for my wife :)
- To be able to speak and write the language I have grown accustomed to love over the last few years.
It has worked out to about about 10 new characters every 3-4 days which isn't bad considering it's in addition to my regular course content. I think I might do this for another week, try and build it up to about 30 and then have a few days revision after that to recoup on stroke order and learn a deeper understanding of the characters I've learned. I will then start another block of 30 and so on. If I can continue this pace it wont be too bad at the end of the year in addition to my regular college stuff, where new characters will also be learned..
As mentioned previously, I availed of the extended Skritter trial through the Hacking Chinese promotion and I was really impressed with it. However, I think I would not fully avail of all the benefits until I get a tablet. Nevertheless, even with a PC or a laptop it still works well and has excellent features but I will hold out on a subscription until the day comes that I get a brand new tablet. Ankidroid and Hanping Pro are my preferred choices, although I do use Pleco from time to time. Hanping Pro is really cool and here you can also practice characters, similar to Skritter but you look them up based on your attempt. It's more of a dictionary and reference guide, as opposed to telling you stroke order but its still is a cracking little app. I also use the TrainChinese app a lot where again you can look up words in English , Pinyin or in Chinese character mode and away it goes. A fantastic application as well.
I have to add that learning the additional characters was always going to be a big challenge for me and it actually has been slower then I first anticipated. I think I am still finding my way and should find a comfort zone pretty soon. While I am probably the least most experienced of the challenge participants I think I am as well motivated as anyone and determined to keep making that extra effort..