Learn How to Write Chinese Characters: Skritter Review & Discount

Sign up for Skritter using one of the links in this page and the coupon “SDC3952” to get 10% off

What is Skritter?

Skritter is, in my opinion, the best way to learn how to write Chinese characters.

I used it ten minutes per day for about one year and I managed to learn how to write more than 1,000 characters (all the characters on the HSK4 list, to be precise). Also, I learned the meaning and pronunciation of those characters.

Why do you need a software to write characters?

If you watched the video at the beginning of this post you already know that the software is pretty cool.

But the real reason for using Skritter is the algorithm behind the software, which allows you to remember more than the 90% of the characters that you are studying (in the photo below you can see that in 30 days I was able to remember the 92.9% of the characters that I studied, it’s the green number on the bottom-right corner).

Skritter learn Chinese charactersMy stats with Skritter during 30 days

Skritter is a Spaced Repetition Software (SRS). I’ve explained what a SRS is here.

In a nutshell, when you review the characters by yourself you are often forced to review all of them without precise scheduling. Conversely, Skritter keeps track of your mistakes and shows you more often the characters that you still don’t know how to write.

When you are dealing with fifty or one hundred characters this may seem a small advantage. But when the characters sum up it translates in a huge gain of time.

How much does it cost?

Skritter costs 14.99 USD per month. You get a week of free trial, you pay month by month so you can unsubscribe when you want, 100% money-back guarantee and, if after a while you decide to don’t pay any more for your subscription, you can still keep using the software for free to review the characters that you have already learned.

If you prefer, you can also subscribe for 6 months, 1 year or 2 years, saving up to 50% on the monthly fee.

Finally, you can sign up to the free trial from one of the links on this page and use the coupon “SDC3952”. In this way, if later you decide to buy you’ll get a 10% discount on all plans.

How to use the software

Skritter has excellent applications for iOS and Android, where you can write characters directly on the touchscreen.

If you prefer, you can also use Skritter on your laptop. You have three choices: use your mouse, use the touchpad on your laptop, or invest in a pen tablet.

The advantages of learning how to write characters

The obvious advantage is that you learn how to write. But, in my opinion, there is a more important point.

Many Chinese characters are very similar. As an example, take the characters 青, 请, 清, 情 and 晴. They all have a similar pronunciation (qing, but with a different tone). However their meaning is different (they mean “green,” “to ask,” “pure,” “feeling” and “clear weather,” respectively).

When you only learn how to recognize the characters but you aren’t able to reproduce them from scratch (that is you don’t know how to write them), it’s easy to get confused. Especially when the characters are used to compose more complicated words.

Also, when you start to write characters regularly and learn the radicals, something amazing starts to happen. Let’s take the example from before, that is the word 游泳.

This is a fairly common word, it means “to swim” and its pronunciation is “youyong.” Even if I use this word quite often, in the past I’ve always found impossible to reproduce it. Also, I used to confuse it with 旅游,which means “trip” or “to travel.”

But once I’ve learned how to write the basic components of the word 游泳, writing it became easier and now there is no way that I confuse it with 旅游.

Common mistakes

After reading a lot of material on the topic, using Anki for a year (an SRS that teaches you how to read characters) and Skritter for another year, I realized that there are a couple of common mistakes that people tend to commit. Here they are:

  • Learn by rote: keep writing a character till it sticks on your mind it’s tempting. However, when you don’t know how to write a specific character, it’s much more effective to stop and analyze the character for a bit. Which are the radicals that compose it? Can you find some hints (that is a mnemonics) to remember it?
  • Don’t have a specific goal: You should have a clear and measurable goal instead of learning random characters with random scheduling. My goal was to learn the radicals and the characters of the first four levels of the HSK test (about 1,300 characters in total).
  • Burn out: Skritter is addictive. And at the beginning, it may be tempting to keep using it longer than you planned. But keep in mind that you will have to review the characters you are learning (or you will forget them) according to the scheduling computed by Skritter’s algorithm.

    If you learn too many characters too fast you will soon be overwhelmed by the number of characters to review each day. Thus, at some point, you will have to choose between studying longer or giving up. Remember to keep a pace you can sustain in the long term!

  • Study the wrong characters: If you have never written a Chinese character before you can’t start with characters that are too complicated. It will take you a crazy amount of time to learn each of them and you will probably lose your motivation.

    Try to begin with an easy deck, for instance, the radicals or the HSK one. Remember that complicated Chinese characters are usually a combination of simpler characters. An example? 意=立+日+心.

    Start from the basis and build from it!

Other features of Skritter

Skritter offers a large number of features. Here is a complete list of them. Some of the ones that I like the most are the following:

  • List of premade flashcards (there are more than 1000 lists available)
  • Statistics on your learning process
  • The posibility to add mnemotechnics to your cards
  • Audios of words
  • Learning of tones and meaning
  • The ability to add learning goals
  • Viewing the order of the strokes when writing a character
  • Video lessons with mnemotechnics to help you remember characters
If you sign up for Skritter by using the link on this page and the discount code “SDC3952”, you’ll get 10% off in all plans.

17 thoughts on “Learn How to Write Chinese Characters: Skritter Review & Discount”

  1. Hello, thank you for the reviews. I have started learn mandarin with mobile application Lingo Deer, which is very similar to Chinese skill(both working on Android and IOS). Your reviews are very useful, one just have to consider what is the best way for him to learn.

    Personally I do not feel like pay money for videos and some pdf files even though it took a lot of work. So in my eyes the best way is to watch chinese movies use some app and free youtube and webs resources and most importantly chat and speak with natives on the daily basis. As I have learned thai language(living in Thailand now) by this way as well.

    Regarding learning chinese characters I have found website remembr.it. May if you have an experience your opinion would be useful. Thank you.

  2. Furio,

    Thank you for this helpful review. Would you say this is the best app out there to learn Mandarin simplified characters? I am very weary of the rote method so I am glad you covered this in your reviews.


  3. Hi Furio,
    thanks for your review! Personally, I love Skritter a lot too.

    I wanted to draw your attention to our Chinese learning app Zizzle that has just been released to Apple App Store and Google Playstore: http://www.zizzle.io/
    Just like Skritter, it also focuses on Chinese characters. But unlike Skritter the focus is much more visual and less repetition-based.

    I think that it is a very powerful tool for beginners and visual learners, but really anyone interested in learning Chinese characters can benefit from the methods that the app teaches you.

    Furio, would you be interested in doing a review as well?


  4. Every once in a while a software comes along whereby I question the logic behind its pricing. If Skritter had a one time fee of $14.99 it still would be $12 too expensive. Are you guys getting a percentage on promoting it, or what?

    1. 1. I don’t understand people that complain because they have to pay for premium, great service. Do you an idea of all the work there is behind a service like Skritter or how much it costs to maintain a server, a website and an app? If you don’t make money, you just can’t develop such a tools.

      2. Don’t want to pay? Perfectly fine. There is a ton of free resources to learn Chinese, here our 60 favorite http://www.saporedicina.com/english/learn-chinese-online-25-excellent-free-resources/

      However don’t expect the same quality of Skritter.

      3. As for the way SDC finances itself, you find a link to our complete disclouse on the footer of each page of this website.

  5. Hello! Skritter was also very good in learning stroke order overall feel of the characters my writing on paper is much clearer and better looking now, and I have a pretty good feel for the correct stroke order of new characters I meet. I was making quite a few mistakes at first, and Skritter chips away at them with constant reminders.

  6. Skritter is only suitable for Android when online – which more or less cuts out a lot of the short windows of opportunity that are the benefit of tablets or big phones, if that’s your thing. (Perhaps I should mention that I refuse to have anything to do with a product that goes near the software hell that is iTunes: so that disposes of any Apple product.)

    Full-form characters are pretty well an afterthought with Skritter.

    Two of the reasons why I prefer to use other means. I suggest the flexible approach of trainchinese.com’s set of software – from mainland China, but with parameters that can be set by users, attentive to users’ questions and requests and multi-platform too.

    1. Thank you for your opinion.

      By the way, this article is a bit old (we’ll update it soon), but Skritter just released its app for Android. It works more or less as the one for iOS

  7. Hello Ivan,
    Just read your articles, very good! But I really can’t guess where the little island in which you were both is, I mean, your country, Italy? or the Unitied states?
    Thank you,

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