A while ago we took a look at Skritter, the web application that lets you write in kanji to learn words and stroke order. But, there was a problem with this web app. To “write” in the kanji, you either had to own a tablet (unlikely for most people) or you had to write everything in with your mouse. Using a mouse to write kanji is kind of a pain, which is why I always thought that Skritter would make an awesome iOS phone app.
As you’ve probably guessed, one exists now. Using your fingers, you can write in the kanji right on the screen. As you write something in, Skritter will tell you if you screw up on the stroke order and make you try again. It also tests you on a word’s meaning and reading as well, making it more than just an app for writing kanji in. There are user created mnemonics as well which help a bit with learning the items, though since the ordering of the words is dependent on what textbook you choose to work from (Skritter lets you study kanji from individual textbooks, meaning it’s great to pair with whatever it is you’re using) the mnemonics can sometimes be unhelpful.
- Finally! The ability to write the kanji with your hands. It feels good, too. Something about writing with your hands that actually seems like it might be better for memory.
- Nice and responsive. It knows where you’re writing and does a good job deciding whether or not what you wrote was good enough.
- Ability to choose a textbook and study the vocab/kanji out of it. This means that if your class is studying Genki, for example, you can study along.
- Syncs with your Skritter for browser account ($9.99/month), meaning you can study on your phone during the day then come home and study on the computer at night (though I feel like the experience on the phone may be better, now).
- Ability to study offline then sync your data later when you have an internet connection.
- Tests your recall ability by making you write the kanji. Reading a kanji is easier than writing, so if you need to write this is a good way to practice.
- You’ll get better at handwriting and you’ll learn a lot of the patterns behind stroke order (which will help with kanji overall).
- Mnemonics seem a bit iffy, but since they’re user generated that’s going to be how the ball bounces. You can create your own mnemonics, though, which is helpful.
- Not everyone needs to learn how to hand write kanji. Be sure to think about whether or not handwriting is going to be necessary for you, as your time may be spent better doing other things. That being said, if you do need to learn how to hand write (like if you’re in a class or something) this will give you that ability faster than rote memorization.
Skritter is not going to be a one stop shop for learning Japanese (and it never claims to be). It is, however, and excellent supplement. While $9.99 per month may seem steep for some folks, I think it will be well worth it for the right kind of person. Use Skritter to learn how to hand write kanji or study items in a textbook in a different way than is normal. Oftentimes textbooks don’t really give you much of a guide on how to learn vocab and kanji, and just sort of throw them at you and Skritter can help with this.
That being said, we’ve never been of the “gotta learn to hand write kanji” camp here at Tofugu. We know that for some people it’s going to be necessary (so you should give this app a try), but for many others there’s no reason to learn how to do it. Everything is cell phone and computer based these days. Plus, much of the time you can guess a kanji’s stroke order, so long as you know the strategies.
But, not everyone learns the same and some people learn better by handwriting the kanji out. If that type of person is you, give Skritter a shot. It’s free to try, after all.
Skritter lets you hand write in kanji in the context of words. After you put your ugly stroke in, Skritter makes it pretty.
You can sync your Skritter account. That way you have Skritter on your phone as well as your computer. You can even study offline and sync later!
Skritter shows you the kanji stroke by stroke letting you trace. Then it tests you on the kanji. You can see my last stroke on the right side picture.
Skritter is organized by textbook (Image 1). There’s a large selection of Japanese textbooks that you can choose from, too. If you’re learning Japanese in school, most likely you’ll find your text here. Also, check and see the information on an item (Image 2) to get a birds eye view of how you’re doing on it.