Flashcard ideas - handwriting & progressive learning


Hello Mikelove and others,

I'm new to the forums. Normally I would do a thorough search before suggesting something new, but my basic search didn't find anything and I don't have that much time right now. However, I just had some ideas that I don't think have been suggested before:

1) Although I think stroke-by-stroke feedback is already suggested and very hard to implement, this is a similar but easier idea: I was using Pleco to study speaking and reading Chinese, but I always wanted something to help me learn to (hand)write Chinese; KingHanzi does this but I really don't like this program. Then, recently I found ReadWrite Simplified Chinese which is a little bit better, but I still don't like the fact that everything is multiple choice. I keep using ReadWrite and then after 'learning' the hanzi, I add them to Pleco because I just think this is an awesome piece of software.

However, I keep thinking that something is lacking: Pleco does not support English - Hanzi (write) or Pinyin - Hanzi (write) flashcards. I think it would be a VERY cool feature if, in a future version, it would be possible to study flashcards in this way.

The flashcards would give you the English (definition) or Pinyin (depending on the choice when the flashcard session starts) definition, but not the hanzi. Then, you would have to write the character. Because Pleco already supports handwriting characters and then selecting them (or selecting characters based on radicals), I don't think it should be that hard to program (there is no need to implement a whole new system of character recognition, but it's easy for me to say).

After you had selected a character Pleco would give you a right/wrong indication and show you the correct character (if wrong). Then, it would be possible to tap on the character displayed (either your own if correct or 'Plecos' if wrong) to see the stroke order, similar to the dictionary (also already implemented).

I think this would add a lot of power to Pleco. Although it might not be so good as perfect stroke-by-stroke feedback when learning to handwrite Chinese, the ability to choose from all the hanzi that are in the dictionary almost completely removes the multiple-choice effect of other pieces of software.

This is my main idea. However, I think a multiple choice option is also really nice

2) Just like readwrite has the possibility to practice hanzi it would be nice to let Pleco have this as well. It would be similar to the above idea, however you don't get to see a blank screen and come up with the hanzi yourself, but you get to see a big list of hanzi and then select the one that is described. This is already a feature in ReadWrite but I think Pleco could benefit from this as well. Once again, this might be not really hard to code (although maybe harder than idea #1).

3) Finally, I really like the flashcard system. However, it would be nice to have a progressive learning system. In this case, you would have a flashcard list and you could just add flashcards like it is done now. But, during a session Pleco does not show you all the cards at once. It first shows you ~ 50 (# customizable?) words. If you reply correctly, it remembers this reply in a word-specific counter. If you reply incorrectly, it resets the word-specific counter. After you have replied for 10 times correctly in a row, the word is 'learned' and replaced with another word to the learning list.

However, almost all other program's I know of that use a learning list assume that after a word is learned it is there. It would be nice to add a feature that when you continue, you get the ~ 50 words you are learning, but in addition it shows you ~ 15 semirandom (# customizable?) 'learned' words for recollection. If you reply correctly, the recollected word is once again stored as learned and given lower priority. However, if the word is incorrect, it is once again stored as learned but given more priority. The 'learned' words are selected semirandomly based on priority.
In this case you would have a small list that you are currently learning, a growing list that you have already learned. This way you get to learn new Chinese words while at the meantime keeping up with your previously learned Chinese words. You could add words to the 'to be learned' words, and they will be added to the list once you learn new words.

Once in a while you could do the 'whole' learned words pack just to keep up as you would do now, but during the learning sessions of new words you would brush up your previous knowledge constantly.

Right now I'm doing this myself with categories, but it is a big hassle and it would be nice for Pleco to automatize this.


I hope I got you some new ideas and that maybe you are enthousiastic about it and might even think about implementing it, anyway I'd like to tell you that I think Pleco is one fine piece of software!


Joren (from the Netherlands)


Staff member
Thanks for posting. I'm delighted to tell you that two of these features are already available in our software:

1) This is available with a "Free-answer" test (selected under "Test Type" in the new session screen). Multiple-choice is also an option through that. Stroke by stroke feedback is also a possibility for a future release, though I'm not a fan of the particular UI a lot of sites are using now with strokes disappearing when you write them incorrectly - I prefer something that feels like less of a "block."

2) Not available yet, but an interesting idea for a future release, particularly using our newly-licensed set of character component data (we could potentially even generate a bunch of "fake" characters that are similar looking to the correct one).

3) This one should actually be enabled by default "Limit # of unlearned cards to" under the "Cards" tab of "Advanced Settings." (see http://www.pleco.com/manual/flash.html#advcards for more on it)