Sensible Chinese character learning challenge 2014

Want to improve the way you learn characters? Want to feel the power of learning with others? It’s time for.

challenge14…the 2014 sensible Chinese character learning challenge!

In case you don’t know what I mean when I say “sensible” character learning, you probably missed the article I published earlier this week, which contains everything you want to know about it (and possible a bit more). Check the article here.

So, what’s the challenge about? In essence, there are just a few things you have to do in order to participate. The purpose of Hacking Chinese is to inspire and to inform, so if you don’t like something here, feel free to learn characters anyway you want on your own. However, to be a part of this challenge, you need to follow these rules:

  1. Set a reasonable character learning goal that can be reached in 101 days
  2. Set three milestones for reaching your goal
  3. Commit to your goal in public and by posting a comment here
  4. I will add you to the list of participants (with a link if you so wish)
  5. Follow the principles of sensible character learning (previous article)
  6. People who participate actively have a chance of winning character posters
  7. Active participants will also get free extensions on Skritter

Now, in case this isn’t crystal clear, I will extend each point above in more detail below.

1. Set a reasonable character learning goal that can be reached in 101 days

I’m a firm believer in concrete goals. I tend to perform much better if I have a clear idea of what I want to achieve and a deadline to focus on. This is true for learning characters, going to the gym or writing articles on Hacking Chinese. Setting a realistic goal isn’t easy, but if you have studied at least some Chinese, you should be able to extrapolate from that and set a reasonable goal.

Your goal could be anything from being able to handwrite all the characters in your current textbook, through knowing all the characters in the HSK word list up to a certain level to other, more advanced goals. Remember that learning Chinese is about more than just learning characters, so unless you have a lot of time, don’t overdo this! I would say that a character or two a day is fine for casual learners. People who study seriously can easily double or triple that. If you know what you’re doing and have around an hour a day to spare, 10/day isn’t unreasonable.

My own goal will be able to write the 5000 most common characters by hand. I have currently added around 4500 to Skritter but since I haven’t used the program for a while, I also have 1000+ cards due and about 200 banned cards I need to relearn. It’s hard to say how many of these I have forgotten, but perhaps 300 is a reasonable guess. This leaves me with roughly 500 new characters and 500 old characters to learn in 101 days. Hard, but not impossible. I do have a pretty good grasp of my own ability and I think this goal is hard enough to be challenging, but not so hard that I will feel it’s impossible.

2. Set three milestones for reaching your goal

A hundred and one days is a long time and even if it’s simple to see how many characters you need to learn every day (just divide by 101), it’s important to have checks that tell you early how you are doing. This challenge is also about forming good habits for learning Chinese.

Therefore, I want everyone who signs up to include three milestones apart from the final goal. The percentages here are just a guidelines that roughly correspond to the time between each milestone, but with more focus on the beginning since characters tend to pile up towards the end:

  • Milestone #1 (April 8th): 30% of the final goal
  • Milestone #2 (April 30th): 55% of the final goal
  • Milestone #3 (May 31st): 80% of the final goal
  • End of challenge (June 30th): 100% of the final goal

In my case, then:

  • Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300 (4300 total)
  • Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550 (4550 total)
  • Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800 (4800 total)
  • End of challenge (June 30th): 1000 (5000 total)

Note: You can sign up for the challenge whenever you want, but don’t change the dates of the milestones! Adjust your character count instead, otherwise the social/community aspect will disappear very quickly.

3. Commit to your goal in public and by posting a comment here

There are several competing theories about the usefulness of committing to things in public. Either you can view it as an act that increases pressure on you to get something done or you can view it as something that reduces pressure because by talking about it, you actually might feel that you have achieved something even though you haven’t started.

I’m firmly in the first camp, I feel that having people checking my progress helps enormously. This might also depend on how the people you talk to react, if they simply nod their heads and then don’t care much or if they keep reminding you of the challenge you have committed to. I will try to encourage people who sign up, but please be supportive of each other too! Last time, I tried a peer student system which didn’t work very well. Let’s use this and further posts both to keep each other updated and to encourage other participants!

Join the sensible character challenge now! (copy the milestones from above and edit, compare with my first comment)

4. I will add you to the list of official participants (with a link if you so wish)

Once you have joined the challenge, I will add you to the list of participants. I also suggest that you sign up to the weekly newsletter, because there will be more information coming out later. Last time, many participants committed on social media or on their blogs and websites. This is excellent! If you do, don’t forget to include a link so I can link to you from this article.

Of course, this entire article can be regarded as my own commitment, so I don’t have much choice than to participate and do well, right? In fact, part of the reason I’m starting this challenge is because my own character learning has been seriously derailed for some time and it’s time to get back on track! Click here to scroll to the list of participants.

5. Follow the principles of sensible character learning hzw

These were outlined in this post: Sensible Chinese character learning revisited. As I said above, the goal with this challenge isn’t primarily to learn a lot of characters (even though that is surely a bonus), it is to find good ways of doing that so you can learn even more characters (and other things) later. Check the article for more information!

6. People who participate actively have a chance of winning character posters

As mentioned above, people who participate actively will have a chance to win a set of posters from Hanzi WallChart, each set worth $50. Participating actively means updating your progress throughout the challenge.

I will not discuss in detail what it means to be active so you will just have to trust my judgement on this (I want people to be active because they feel engaged in the challenge, not because they want free posters). In general, though, posting progress for each milestone, being active on social media and so on counts as long as I get to know about it some how.

I have eight sets of posters to give away and will give a few randomly to active participants for each milestone. That means that everybody starts from scratch with each new milestone (in terms of the ability to win posters and the Skritter extensions below) so that people who join later have a chance and that slacking in the beginning doesn’t doom you for the rest of the challenge.

7. Active participants will also be eligible for free extensions to Skritter

skritterIf we’re talking about learning how to write characters by hand (which is what this challenged is about), I think Skritter is the best tool available (you can read my review here). The guys over at Skritter have offered anyone who joins the challenge an extended trial period if you use this link and use the code SENSIBLE2014 when you sign up (click “alternative payments” and then “use a coupon code”).

The trial period will be extended to three weeks, which is enough to last you up to the first milestone of the challenge. You will also get 33% off for 6 months if you actually like Skritter enough to want to continue using it. You will also help me out since a slice of what you pay goes to me. In addition, all active participants who use Skritter (including people who have already subscribed)  will get one week free extension for every milestone they clear! If you’re not sure what “active participant” means, check #6 above.

Anki? Pleco? Paper flashcards?

That being said, this challenge is larger than any particular program, app or tool. If you’re looking for cheaper or free alternatives, I recommend Anki or Pleco, but you could actually use any program or application you want, or even paper flashcards if that suits you better. The important thing is how you learn, not which particular tool you use to do it. There are other tools available for learning Chinese characters (let me know if there’s something I’ve missed):

List of participants in the challenge

If you want to join, post a comment with your goal and related milestones. If you want to include a link, let me know. Just to be clear: You can join the challenge at any point you like up until the end of the challenge in June! If you join later rather than sooner, just adjust the number of characters for each milestone accordingly, but don’t change the dates!

  1. Olle Linge
  2. Gerrityong
  3. Maggie
  4. Xiaokaka
  5. Elizabeth Braun
  6. 胡安马林
  7. Xiaomai
  8. Jacob Gill
  9. Brian Emord
  10. Teresa
  11. Rossi
  12. Magnus
  13. Ivan
  14. Jacob Job
  15. 勇氣
  16. Dan Poole
  17. Li
  18. Carmeljune
  19. Hugh Grigg
  20. Frederico Ferro Schuh
  21. Rob Flye
  22. Lucía 学习吧
  23. Oaht
  24. Fandez
  25. Leslie
  26. Kelby Barker
  27. Tai
  28. Nommoc
  29. LorenzoCC
  30. Georges
  31. Daniel
  32. Lagoyidice
  33. Ana H. Zentarski
  34. Joaquin Matek
  35. Kyle Balmer 凯尔
  36. Daniela Rodríguez
  37. Dean James
  38. 陳凱
  39. Luke
  40. Rachel
  41. Nicole
  42. Mariano
  43. Linitachinese
  44. Aaron
  45. Lechuan
  46. Hans
  47. Doug Stetar
  48. Aivlys
  49. 戴睿
  50. Julia
  51. Emily
  52. Matt
  53. Trey
  54. Carla
  55. Nathan Fields
  56. Leigh
  57. Lili
  58. Núria
  59. Kiwi
  60. 杨明晨
  61. 狄小可
  62. Georg
  63. Jeremy
  64. 9thcrane
  65. Jeb Topper
  66. 爱美
  67. Kevin
  68. 戴睿
  69. Jason
  70. Stefan
  71. Bailee
  72. Rebecca
  73. Evelyn
  74. Sammy
  75. Jack
  76. Clare
  77. Audrey
  78. Nancy
  79. Federico
  80. Jason
  81. Pnh
  82. Napo
  83. Nik
  84. Julia
  85. Renee Bovee
  86. Haris
  87. Jacob
  88. Javi
  89. Ann
  90. Kate
  91. Faiz
  92. William
  93. KarynL
  94. Jamison Watson
  95. Martin W 龍馬丁
  96. 爱美
  97. hitesh agrawal
  98. Jocy
  99. Ryan T
  100. Baroni Fabio
  101. Will
  102. Reixue90
  103. Jeremy89
  104. Nikki
  105. Steve L
  106. David Brett
  107. Julia
  108. You?

That’s all for now, I think. have around 1000 characters to get through, so I’d better get started. So should you! I’ll be back with more about the challenge when the next milestone is up! If you want to follow my progress or discuss you can always find me on Twitter and Facebook!

Articles about the sensible Chinese character learning challenge 2014

  1. Sensible Chinese character learning revisited
  2. Sensible Chinese character learning challenge 2014 (this article)
  3. Sensible character learning challenge 2014: Milestone #1
  4. Sensible character learning challenge 2014: Milestone #2
  5. Sensible character learning challenge 2014: Milestone #3
  6. Sensible character learning challenge 2014: The big finish

313 thoughts on “Sensible Chinese character learning challenge 2014”

  1. Of course, I’m going to join this challenge myself! The article you’re currently reading is my public commitment. Let’s do this!

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300 (4300 total)
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550 (4550 total)
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800 (4800 total)
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000 (5000 total)

    I’ll also write a little bit about my current situation. I have roughly 1000 characters due on Skritter and another 200 banned characters (i.e. characters I have forgotten). I estimate that the total number of characters forgotten among those 1000 is roughly 300, so 500 forgotten cards if we include the banned cards (which Skritter does).

    My goal will then consist of battling the queue down to zero and relearning all the characters I have forgotten. Apart from this, I will also add 500 entirely new words. That should take my total to slightly above 5000 words in Skritter, so it will be very easy to check if I reach the final goal.

    I’m trying a new method for learning new characters: I imported all 500 new words to Pleco and learn them there, looking up sentences, definitions and so on. At the same time, I deal with the queue on Skritter and the banned cards. Gradually, I will start adding new cards to Skritter as well, but these cards should already be familiar from Pleco. The only potential problem I see with this is that if the definitions are radically different in Pleco and Skritter, some manual editing will be needed, but that will probably just reinforce my knowledge of those characters, so it should be fine.

  2. ok, I’m in. Going for 500 new chars in 101 days.
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 250
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 400
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500

    1. You’re now officially in the challenge! Please let me know if you want me to include a link with your name or if you want me to write your name in some other way. 一起加油!

  3. OK I’ll do this too. I’ll do the 250 radicals on Skritter. I know some of them already of course and vaguely looked at others, but some are rather abstract & I need to really focus on them, otherwise they become leeches/ trolls – whatever you call them. Been meaning to do this for a while, so it’s good to have a push.

    I don’t feel a particular need to do milestones in terms of percentages as I’m not numerically inclined & there are only 200+ characters.. but anyhow

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 70
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 100
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 150
    End of challenge (June 30th): 250

    1. You’re now officially in the challenge! Please let me know if you want me to include a link with your name or if you want me to write your name in some other way. 一起加油!

  4. I’m in! I currently know 1350 characters according to Skritter. I’m going to aim for 30 min per day and 11 new characters per hour, that gives a goal of 555.5 new characters in 101 days, which we can round up to 600 to make it interesting 😉

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 180 (1530 in total)
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 330 (1680 in total)
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 480 (1830 in total)
    End of challenge (June 30th): 600 (1950 in total)


    1. You’re now officially in the challenge! Please let me know if you want me to include a link with your name or if you want me to write your name in some other way. 一起加油!

  5. Hi! My challenge will be slightly non-standard as I’m not counting a number of characters, but number of chapters in a favourite textbook I want to thoroughly revise. There won’t be a total of new characters, I just want to make sure I can write all those in the book ‘Far East Everyday Chinese 3′.

    Milestone #1 – First 2 chapters
    Milestone #2 – Chapters 3 & 4
    Milestone #3 – Chapters 5 – 8
    End of challenge – Complete book, 12 chapters.

    I’ll be working totally low-tech and I have no wall space for any posters, so feel free to exclude me from the prizes side of things and give more chance to those who’ll get good use from them.=)

    I hope this will reinvigorate my dormant language learning blog. I’ll post about it later in the week.

    ‘Add oil’ to all!

    1. PS, In view of the message left for all who’ve been accepted: It’s OK to write my name as is. I’m always just myself on-line. You could link to my language blog as included on my ‘commenter’ details. I’ve already posted to my blog…

        1. Hate to say this, but I’ve changed my mind. I’ve been putting far too much study pressure on myself and it affects my rotten badly when I do, so I won’t be joining in after all.

          Wishing everyone else lots of success!=)

  6. *I’m doing words not characters challenge as I need to enhance my vocabulary.

    1514 words in 100 days

    *Skritter data 胡安马林
    Starting today 19.03.2014
    Time Spent 294 hours
    Characters 3210 learned
    Words 7486 learned

    Aiming to add 1514 words:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 455
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 833
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 1213
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1514

    Total Words 9000

  7. Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 300
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 400
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500
    I’m in xiaomai
    Milestones are inline with holiday time!

  8. It’s awesome to see so many people interested in giving the challenge a try. Awesome!

    I’m aiming to add 2500 words over the next 101 days from the TOCFL 2013 list that I’m studying right now. I have no idea how many characters that will be, but I’m sure it will be a lot. After nuking my Skritter account early in the year (why did I do that again?) I’m sure that a lot of the characters will be review for me, but the raw number of words I’m trying to add should make the goal fun and interesting.

    My milestones are as follows:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 750 words
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 1,375 words
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 2000 words
    End of challenge (June 30th): 2500 words

  9. I have a somewhat unconventional goal as well.
    I’ve been using lang-8 to work on writing and reading sentences as opposed to just learning characters in space. This has helped me understand grammar and how characters are used together.

    I am also attempting to sight-learn (not be able to necessarily hand-write) about 30 characters per week, and incorporate them into my writing.

    Milestone #1 (04/08): 18 posts + 90 characters
    Milestone #2 (04/30): 40 posts + 200 characters
    Milestone #3 (05/31): 71 posts + 300 characters
    End of Challenge (06/30): 101 posts + 400 characters

    I am fine being Brian Emord for the challenge, but look me up on lang-8 as alwaysnoone.

  10. I would like to join too!

    I passed the HSK5 two years ago and probably I have forgotten half (or more) of the words. So I would like to restudy them.
    I will try to learn-review 10 words a day, so let say my goal is 1000 words. And I’ll just copy your milestones since they make sense to me. 😉

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

    You can add me to the list!


      1. Olle, do you have any advice on how to use or set up Skritter for the challenge?
        It’s the first time I use Skritter and I don’t seem to be able to figure it out.
        I imported a HSK5 deck and set a goal of 10 words per day, but once I did them for a couple of times new words started coming up. I would like to only be able to study 10 new words a day, and I guess to review the ones I studied before, like with Anki.
        Thank you for everything!

        1. You can go to Home > Study and then select if you want to add more cards or not and from which lists you want to add them. I don’t know if there is a function that allows you to automatically stop after x characters, but you can always click “my lists” in the top right corner and stop/start adding when you’re reviewing. I’m using the web version, by the way, I don’t know how the app works. Perhaps posting on their forum is better?

          1. Thank you Olle, you are right, posting in the forum would be better. What I decided that I’m going to do is to make my own list and every day add 10 new words. This way I can control better the words I want to learn.
            Thanks again!!

            1. Hi Teresa,

              If you ever have any questions about Skritter, you can also email the me at jake(at) and I can help you out as well. I think your idea of making small word lists everyday is a good one, and will keep you for getting too many new characters per day. Let me know if you ever have any questions and best of luck with the challenge!


  11. Mine may change . . .

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 250
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 450
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 650
    End of challenge (June 30th): 850

  12. Oh hell, count me in! I should get my study books next week so this is good timing. I will aim for a thousand as well. I sort of know a few already, but I couldn’t write them to save my life.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

  13. First of all my apologies for my English. I have been studing Chinese in Spain for 3 years, and I just passed the Hsk2, my next goal is passing HSK 3. I have decided to set a goal of 6 words per day.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 151
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 303
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 454
    End of challenge (June 30th): 606

    By the way, I just found your blog thanks to a shared made by a blogger. Congratulations for it, it is such a nice blogs I have also decide to made my own blog just to keep myself on date in this challenge, you can link it if you want.


    1. Welcome to the challenge! It seems the link you provided leads to an empty page, but perhaps you just haven’t had time to post anything yet?

  14. I’m very glad that I saw your tweet about this last night. I’m working my way through Heisig’s Remembering Simplified Hanzi, and I have 648 of the 1500 characters in the book left. I will already know a few of the more common characters in those chapters, but I haven’t had them in my Skritter rotation for some time.

    My numbers are a little strange, but they line up with the chapters in the book.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 204 (Chapters 28-33)
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 354 (Chapters 34-38)
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 518 (Chapters 39-47)
    End of challenge (June 30th): 648 (Chapters 48-55)

  15. 大家好!I know 800 characters on Skritter. I’m hoping to hit 1200 by the end of this challenge. SO, I plan to learn 400 words. Here’s the detailed meat:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 120
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 220
    Milestone #3 (May 31st):352
    End of challenge (June 30th): 400

    I expected April to be a bit slow, as I will be teaching full time.


    1. Technically tomorrow, but it doesn’t really matter. I think most people will start whenever they sign up. It’s just that tomorrow happens to be the right time to start if you want 101 days to take you to the end of June. :)

  16. I am going to do five words a day…aiming low because I have to pass Calculus II. Hopefully i will be able to increase the number of words once classes are over.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 250
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 400
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500

    I also made a tumblr to document my journey, it’s very diary-like. Anyone who wants to check it out, feel free to do so!

  17. Okay, you’ve talked me into it :-)
    I really think I’m too busy doing a new lesson most days from ChineseLearnOnline … but they have their wordlists all ready for Skritter .. so I have no excuse.
    I’m up to lesson 321 in ChineseLearnOnline. That means I only have 99 lessons to go!
    I really enjoy the lessons from CLO, but I must admit I’ve been concentrating on listening and speaking skills, and reading characters … certainly not writing them. I guess it’s about time I did it properly! Each lesson has between 0 and 10 new words, usually about 5.
    So my goal is going to be to learn whatever words (not just characters) that they throw at me in the next 99 lessons!
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): to Lesson 338
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): to Lesson 360
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): to Lesson 391
    End of challenge (June 30th): to Lesson 420

    I think I had better get started … now!

  18. I’m going to participate slightly differently. I want to produce mnemonics for 3000 characters in the time period of the challenge. I think that I know 3000 characters already, but it’s always good to reinforce them, and produce those all-important mnemonics!

    This boils down to ~30 mnemonics a day, which is going to be pretty tough as I’ve got some travelling coming up in April. But I will give it my best shot, and hopefully have 3000 lovely mnemonics by the end of the challenge.

    Set a reasonable character learning goal that can be reached in 101 days:
    3000 mnemonics

    Set three milestones for reaching your goal
    1000 character mnemonics each month

    Commit to your goal in public and by posting a comment here
    I hereby commit!

    I will add you to the list of participants (with a link if you so wish)
    Yes please

    Follow the principles of sensible character learning (previous article)
    Will do!

    People who participate actively have a chance of winning character posters

    Active participants will also get free extensions on Skritter
    No need, thank you!

    1. Welcome to the challenge, 一起加油! Interesting project. Are you going to publish this somehow or is it for personal use? 3000 sounds like a lot…

      1. Shall be publishing! Yeah it is a lot, but I’m only trying to produce mnemonics here. My aim is to do them each morning, even if it takes me a minute per mnemonic (should be able to think of them faster than that!) it’s only 30 minutes. And then I’ll have something useful at the end of the challenge.

  19. I’m in!
    Such a good timing, as I was looking for some motivation to get back to learning Chinese :)
    I’ve been learning characters since last year, and started using Skritter which got me to around 500 characters. These past few months I slacked off, so it’s time to get back on track!

    The plan:
    I’m following the characters in the book New Practical Chinese Reader (currently nearing the end of volume 1).
    OK, my goal will be to reach 1000 characters in 101 days! So there’s 500 more to go! That will be roughly 5 characters each day (plus the 950+ cards due to review).

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 275
    Milestone #3 (May 31th): 400
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500

    Looking forward to the challenge!
    Fred (弗瑞德)

  20. Count me in too! I’m aiming for 12 words a day, bringing my total to 1212 over the 101 days:
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 396
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 660
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 960
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1212
    Looking forward to this! :)


      1. Booo, slightly short but getting there! 319 words, and my head’s a spin! Best get catching up!

  21. I also would like to sign up for the challenge, I will be using Anki and also writing on paper, and my goal is 505 chars. (5 chars/day)

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 151
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 303
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 404
    End of challenge (June 30th): 505


  22. I’m in too!
    I plan to boost my Chinese characters writing skill within these 101days.
    The goal is the have 3,000 learned characters in my Skritter stat.
    Currently I’ve got 2,287 so will need around 713 more.(7ish per day)

    Goal: 713
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 125
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 280
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 500
    End of challenge (June 30th): 713

  23. 你好!
    I’m in! I’d like to prepare all HSK 3 characters (300 hanzi) in 101 days (~ 3chars/day).

    Starting today, that’d mean:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 75
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 150
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 225
    End of challenge (June 30th): 300


  24. I’m gonna give it a shot, but the first milestone sounds a bit intimidating already..we shall see!

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 210 words
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 385 words
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 560
    End of challenge (June 30th): 700

  25. This couldn’t come at a better time! I’m doing a vocabulary challenge on my own site in April, so this’ll be a good way to keep from immediately forgetting everything as soon as we hit May, lol.

    I’ll follow suit:
    Goal: 1000
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

    Thanks for another excuse to learn Olle!
    P.S. I’m at
    P.P.S. Emailing my subscriber list about your challenge now 😉

  26. Yay! I will do too! I will do the HSK3 exam in may so… I need practise and learn new vocabulary!

    Goal: 1000
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

    Thank you~~

  27. Olle,

    For reference, I have confirmed that behind the bamboo curtain I can only read comments here on your blog, but can not leave a reply. I must hop the wall to reply. This only started to occur recently, before I could reply without trouble. Not sure if this matters to you, as I don’t know how many of your readers are in the mainland. For those of us “here” it is a bit of an inconvenience and may inhibit some all together from posting if they lack the ability to hop the wall. I do enjoy your site, and would hate to see a technical issue like this deter the people behind the wall from fully taking advantage of your site.

    As to the topic at hand, I must sincerely thank you for listing nommoc as one of the options in addition to Skritter for learning how to write Chinese. Having started nommoc from the ground up, I can personally say, it has been so much work. You know this better than anyone with all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put into Hacking Chinese, as one Chinese advocate to another, thank you! We all need to stick together! I always promote your site when I can and have followed you loyally for years. ; )

    Now for the details:

    Set a reasonable character learning goal that can be reached in 101 days
    My goal is write 100 characters/day, times 100 days which would be a total of 10k characters. I want to write the 2500 most common Chinese characters which based on the research I’ve done covers over 95% of characters appearing in daily life. Of course, as you and I have discussed at length, and are in total agreement, these 2500 individual characters still need to be combined into “words”, so while I might be able to write them individually, it doesn’t guarantee I can read the “words” they are a part of, as in understanding their meaning. When I have my iPad handy, I will write these via nommoc. When I’m at my desk I’ll use the online list at to write them by hand. If I can stay on track, I should be able to write these 2500 most common Chinese characters about 4 times within the 100 day event.

    Set three milestones for reaching your goal
    milestone one will be writing all 2500 most common Chinese characters at least once
    milestone two will be getting through the list twice
    and milestone three is the big one, namely actually hanging in there for all 100 days! ; )

    Commit to your goal in public and by posting a comment here
    I’m committed! Consider this my official “comment” here… ; )

    I will add you to the list of participants (with a link if you so wish)
    The link:

    Follow the principles of sensible character learning (previous article)
    Read it and will follow!

    People who participate actively have a chance of winning character posters
    How will my “active participation” be judged? I want to win a poster! haha
    Also, I’d like to join in and offer a prize as well, namely I would like to offer 9 promo codes for nommoc to the most active participants, I’ll let Olle be the judge as to which 9 people should get the codes, ok?

    Active participants will also get free extensions on Skritter
    What is this?

    Thanks again for promoting learning to write Chinese! It is no easy thing, and there is strength with numbers! jia you to everyone!

    1. Welcome to the challenge! Free extensions for Skritter means just what it says, if you participate actively, you will get a free extension on your current subscription if you have one.

  28. I’m in! 505 added words in Skritter is my modest goal. With a thesis to finish I rather not overdo myself, aiming for just 3 new words a day until milestone #2 (which is still above my last month’s average). Thus we have:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 54
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 120
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 342
    End of challenge (June 30th): 505


  29. I’ve added you to the list with the link! Also, I found the problem. It seems that a new comment system was enabled, which goes through, which is blocked in China. I have now reverted to the old system, so it should work. Could you please confirm if this is the case? Thanks!

  30. Of course we will join again.
    We joined last time and it was great to stay focused. So our challenge is learning all the
    characters in our text book. We’ll be using flashcards, charts and AnkiDroid. We set our
    characters amount to 500 this should be feasible. But if we can do more we will not hesitate.

    Therefore here follows our schedule:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 250
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 400
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500 or MORE :-)

    加油 for all in the challenge and for the ones who will still join.

    We start right away….


    Ps. Olle you may always link our name.

    1. Welcome (back) to the challenge, 加油! If you want me to add a link, you need to include it somewhere so I know what it is. :)

          1. Fantastic we didn’t die yet and we are well ahead of our goal. For the moment have more than 250 characters. This means we have reached milestone number 2. We started using memrise. We can definitely say it is a fantastic program. We are doing 3 sets at the same time, even if some characters are repeated this is a good repetition.
            We can certainly recommend this program. Because you can compete with others with their point system it is an extra encouragement.
            So we have to continue to reach our goal, and beyond.

              1. You’re right. We might have set the goal not high enough. Usually we use paper flash cards or the phone to learn. Also at work we have a self made poster with the characters we want to learn.
                Since we use Memrise everyday now we have advanced quicker that what we thought possible.
                Therefore today April 8th we have reached our goal and gone beyond.
                We will change our future challenge to the following:

                Milestone #2 (April 30th): 500
                Milestone #3 (May 31st): 750
                End of challenge (June 30th): 1000 or MORE :-)

                Again we will succeed or die trying.

                  1. So far so good. We are on schedule to reach the second milestone. We hope to go beyond our goal if possible… We have printed out a small A3 paper with the characters that we are learning. This helps a lot to check our progress and to quickly check some of the though ones where we need some extra mnemonics. We’ll post a photo of our desk at work, Chinese movie posters, and characters to keep us submerged all day to attain our goal. Also like last year it will keep us motivated to continue the rest of the year to work at different goals.
                    We’ll keep you posted how our progress is going.

                    1. Our comment is a bit late. We can say that we have reached our goal. It wasn’t easy at the end, due to holidays. You try to stay focus, but we all know it’s not that easy. Still we are happy with our result. So for now we just continue with the next face of our learning progress. Of course we look forward to future challenges.
                      We hope to win this fantastic poster next time…. 😉

  31. Oh, seems I signed up on the wrong page! In any case, I’m in too! My goal is to learn to write, recognize and pronounce the approx. 400 characters in the New Practical Chinese Reader vol 1. Here are my milestones:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 50
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 150
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 300
    End of challenge (June 30th): 400

    I’ve just started a blog, and I’ll document my activity there.

      1. Thank you. BTW., I’ve already updated my milestones:

        Milestone #1 (April 8th): 188 (all basic characters and 30 components)
        Milestone #2 (April 30th): 288 (+70 characters and 30 components)
        Milestone #3 (May 31st): 388 (+70 characters and 30 components)
        End of challenge (June 30th): 494 (+ remaining characters)

        I will be using paper, pencil and Anki.

        Greetings, Daniel

  32. ¡Hola!
    I’m just a beginner in learning Chinese
    I think that mine is the poorest challenge: 200 characters
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 60
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 110
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 160
    End of challenge (June 30th): 200
    I have my pencil a some pieces of paper…
    Ah! and my twitter account
    I think that I am ready for the challenge :)
    My first goal is learning to learn by sharing your experiences

    Could you add a link to my twitter account, please?
    Maybe we can use a hashtag for this challenge in twitter

      1. Milestone #1 (April 8th): 50
        Milestone #2 (April 30th): 150
        Milestone #3 (May 31st): 300
        End of challenge (June 30th): 400

        make a list and practice with a chinese girl in my city

  33. I would like to join too.
    I am preparing now the HSK4 and I already want to learn the new words and review the words I already know, in order to make sure I can write them and I know the correct tones.

    My goal is the 1.200 words. I want to learn 6 new words and review other 6. I am going to use the vocabulary list for HSK4 and some dictionaries, such as pleco or MDBG. I haven´t used so far Skritter, I will take a look to see if it´s suitable for me.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 600
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 900
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1200

  34. I like the idea of trying to learn new words every day consistently, and I have a tendency to rely on frenzied bursts rather than sustained effort, so my goal for the challenge will be to learn 12 new words a day for a pleasantly irregular total of 1212 new words by the end of the challenge. Most of these words will be words that I was first exposed to through other learning resources, namely ChinesePod, books, tv shows, etc., but I will also continue to add words from the HSK 6 list.

    My milestones for the next 101 days:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th):364 words
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 667 words
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 970 words
    End of Challenge (June 30th): 1212 words

  35. I’m in. Good to get some systematic accountability and concrete goals set up.

    My goal is learning to handwrite 15 words/day for 101 days for a total of 1515 over the period.

    I’m studying at BLCU (语言大学) so I’m already learning a lot of words each day. This will help me level it out – 15 a day instead of none one day and bursts on other days.

    Words will come primarily from textbooks and supplemented with words from frequency lists and other input sources when required. Certain words from the textbooks I’ll drop because their usage is too rarefied – I’m looking at you 急性肠炎 (acute enteritis).

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 380
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 760
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 1140
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1520

    1. Decomposing characters into radicals/components using Pleco/ into a notebook.

    2. Create mnemonics for characters based upon components. Create mnemonics for words based upon characters.

    3. Input words into Pleco’s SRS system and complete reviews for i) recognition ii) pronunciation and iii) handwriting.
    I’ll be handwriting the characters onto paper not onto my iPad screen so Pleco rather than Skritter will be fine. It’s character definition and decomposition tools are more useful than Skritter’s in my opinion.

    Excited to be joining everyone. Also, as the boss of I’m happy to be able to provide wallcharts to participants as Olle has outlined in the previous articles about the challenge. Anything to help out fellow learners.

    Oh Olle the new comment system is working from Mainland China. I had trouble with it a few days ago but it’s working now even without a VPN. They approve apparently…

    1. Welcome to the challenge, I will add you to the list shortly! 加油! Thanks for notifying me about the comments, it now works the way it did before and it’s a relief to hear that it’s working in China again. :)

  36. Count me in too.

    I’m currently working my way through Practical Audio Visual Chinese Book 3 in my spare time at home. Skritter currently says that I have 765 words left to learn from this book, adding to this it is likely that I will also pick up a number of words from other sources too so I have put my goal as 800 words by the end of this challenge.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 240
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 440
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 640
    End of challenge (June 30th): 800

    For this challenge I will primarily use Skritter on my Ipad as I have been doing so for quite sometime now, but I will also use the Pleco SRS system to test and review on the go.

    Good luck everyone! 加油!

  37. I also would like to join, using Pleco, paper and a pen.
    Instead of learning new characters I would prefer to relearn words from the TOP(高階級)

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 600
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 1100
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 1600
    End of challenge (June 30th): 2000

  38. I’ve just started using Skritter in the last couple of weeks and have 95 words left in HSK2 and 289 in HSK3. I’d like to complete HSK3 and the first 40 words in HSK4, making about 420 new words in total.


    April 8th : Complete HSK2
    April 30th: 210
    May 31st : 380
    Jun 30th : 420

      1. I already feel like I’m learning a lot (and faster than I expected), but it seems Skritter doesn’t take account of characters you already know from other lists, so its totals aren’t accurate and my milestones are probably a bit on the easy side. So I’ve done some recalculating and now I’m changing them to:

        April 8th : First 4 sections of HSK3
        April 30th: First 10 sections of HSK3
        May 31st : First 3 sections of HSK4
        Jun 30th : First 8 sections of HSK4

        which takes me up 320 words into HSK4 – just over half way :).

        1. Awesome, I’ve nearly the same studying targets, I also want to get half way through with HSK 4. Good luck with your challenge!

  39. Heya :) I’m gonna be trying to master the first 1500 characters of the first 3000 list on Weapons of choice: Anki, paper + pen.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 500
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 1000
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 1250
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1500

  40. Count me in. As the theme is ‘sensible’ Chinese character learning challenge I’m setting realistic goals for myself:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 75
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 130
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 200
    End of challenge (June 30th): 250

    I’m currently self studying and working full time and want to continue learning and expanding on the 1200+- characters I already know. I look forward to the challenge and try out some new study methods. I hope things go well and that I’ll increase my final goal by 50 or 100 characters. We’ll see!

      1. It’s just before the first milestone and I’ve passed my initial goal of 75 characters as I’d hoped. In the meantime I’ve adjusted my strategy to also count all new words and phrases learned. Will include detailed update on April 8th.


  41. I’m in, perfect timing to keep me motived !!

    •Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    •Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550
    •Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800
    •End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

    I’ll be using Pleco, I set the bar quite high considering that I work full time.

    Looking forward to the challenge. 加油!

  42. I am very motivaded and expect to reach my minimum goal by the end of June 2014:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

  43. Just getting back into learning characters, so this is great motivation. Thanks!

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 275
    Milestone #3 (May 31th): 400
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500

  44. I’m in. My goal: Finish characters 1551 to 2002 in Heisig’s Learning the Simplified Hanzi 2. Catch up on Skritter backlog of 2500 character/word reviews. The ‘year of code’ has really thrown my Chinese learning off track; this is a good opportunity to get back on.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 80
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 190
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 365
    End of challenge (June 30th): 502

  45. I am in. I am going for 400 characters.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 120
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 220
    Milestone #3 (May 31st):320
    End of challenge (June 30th): 400

  46. I’m going to go for it – 1000 in 101 days. I’m going to be using Anki, and the list of the 1000 most common characters. I know some of them already, but I’ve lost many if them, so this number should make sense for me.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

    BTW, thanks for the great site Ollie, it has really inspired me to take charge of my Manadrin learning and not rely on class structure (though my classes have been very good to date). I’m just in the process of building a comprehensive 4 month (May – Aug) custom learning programme and your site has been highly useful. Keep up the great work!


  47. Milestone #1 (April 8th): 200
    Milestone #2 (April 30th):400
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 700
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

    I’m hopeful that a pace of about 10 per day is doable for me. Although I’m already one day behind :)

  48. I’m super excited about this! (And hope I’m not too late in joining).

    Adjusting for my late entry, my total character goal will be 500.

    I’ll be pulling these characters primarily out of my NPCR 3 and NPCR 4 textbooks (with the possibility if adding in the occasional character from my routledge frequency dictionary).


    April 8: 80
    April 30: 190
    May 31: 345
    Jun 30: 500

    I don’t have any link to add at the moment, but I will probably be evaluating my learning process over on about once every 2 weeks, so when I do so I’ll just link that here as well.



  49. Sign me up! Only a day late…

    Literally just started out with Skritter so my goal is a bit conservative to stop me getting disheartened – hopefully signing up here will help too :)

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 120
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 220
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 320
    End of challenge (June 30th): 400

  50. I’ll join as well! Skritter currently says I’ve learned 560 characters, but as I’ve been reading this (and other) posts I’m starting to think I’m using Skritter incorrectly (uploading pre-made lists, not looking at a character before Skritter gives it to me as a review…), so I’m also going to alter my study habits a bit. I’m going to try to get to 2000 of the most common characters by June 30th, which means adding 1440 characters between now and then. Since I’m in China devoting quite a lot of time to Chinese, I think (hope?) that’s reasonable.

    Milestone 1: 920 total
    Milestone 2: 1280 total
    Milestone 3: 1640 total
    Final: 2000 total

    I’m also two days late, so time to get working…

      1. Hm, skritter says I’ve learned 100 characters in the past week, and I’m at 649 now. Perhaps my original reading was off? At any rate, I’m gonna have to pick up the pace to meet those goals…

        1. Well, I obviously set a goal that was too difficult.. but I’m still making progress, and that is the important thing. I am now at 946 characters learned, which is about where I wanted to be for the last milestone. I’ll try to pick up the pace, but might not end up making my goal. Regardless, I’m progressing and that’s what’s important!

  51. Thanks for the push. I estimate I can write about 200 characters right now. My goal is to get that up to 1000 by June 30th by learning 10 new Characters and reviewing daily.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

  52. Milestone #1 (April 8th): 100
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 250
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 425
    End of challenge (June 30th): 601

    I took one year of Chinese in high school but that’s been a while so I’ll be nearly starting fresh. What better time to get back into Chinese than with this challenge? Great idea!

  53. Hello Olle! I would like to join too!

    I have been learning simplified characters until now, but this time I would like to learn how to write and recognize traditional characters as well. That’s why I’m going to take “the 2014 sensible Chinese character learning challenge”.
    This is my Milestone:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 300
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 450
    End of challenge (June 30th): 600

    Thank you so much for this! 😀

    P.S. This is my twitter account: @carla_sariOK

  54. ok, I’m in, Nate Fields. I’m Going for 500 new chars in 101 days.
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 250
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 400
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500

  55. Milestone #1 (April 8th): 300
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 550
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 800
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

    I m joining as well. I think this is a great opportunity to reach my goals!

  56. Scared out of my wits, but I’m in! I’ve needed something to get me back to Chinese after my latest abandonment of studying.

    STILL a beginner so my goals are:

    Learn 100 most common radicals + complete lessons 1-3 from my textbook

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 40
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 84
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 100 +Lesson 1
    End of challenge (June 30th): 100 radicals & lessons 1-3

  57. Hi! I’d like to join the challenge! I’m planning to take the HSK2 on 10th May. To assure I can understand all the sentences and reduce the cases where I’ll guess a word’s meaning by its context, I want to learn as much vocabulary as possible. For the challenge, as I have to quantify my evolution, I’ll stick to the official word list for this level, although I may complement it with extra words from my textbook.

    According to the source I found, level 1 has 150 words, level 2 extra 150, and then level 3 extra 300. List 1 will be mostly reviewing, so I think that I’ll set these milestones for me:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): level1 + 1/3*level2 = +200 words
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 2/3*level2 = +100 words
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 1/8*level3 = +80 words
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1/8*level3 = +80 words = 460 words

    At first I went crazy and scheduled it to get through all the 600 words up to level 3. But I prefer to take it easy (like 20 words a week)and just try to beat this simpler goal, since I can get unexpected workload in my workplace at any time XD.

  58. Hi!hope I am still in time to join!
    I tried to set a reasonable goal, so this is the plan:
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 105
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 192
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 280
    End of challenge (June 30th):350
    Every time I study a new character I would like to learn also how to write 2-3 new words that contain it (either “really new” words or possibly words that I already use while speaking or that I can read and understand but that I’m not able to write yet)
    Let’s see how I go!

    1. Welcome to the challenge, I have added you to the list! 一起加油! The challenge will be open until the very end, so people can join any time before June.

  59. Hi I would like to join too!

    This challenge is really coming at a great time, since I have two exams this summer where it would be awesome if I could read all those characters without using Pleco.

    My total goal is 1627 words, every sinlge new word from
    “The Routledge Advanced Chinese Multimedia Course: Crossing Cultural Boundaries”, it might be a lot of new words, but hey, Chiense is what I’m studying at university, so I should be able to do this!!

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 488
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 895
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 1.302
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1.627

    My Skritter username is Micker

    Lets do this! 😀

  60. I wanna join too! I’m planning to do HSK 4 on May 10, so I’ll try to get through that vocab list. I haven’t focussed on writing for a while, so I’ll see how I go!

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 200
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 350
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 500
    End of challenge (June 30th):600

  61. Hello everyone,
    What a great challenge, you can count me in, too!
    I’m leaning HSK vocabulary with Skritter. So, alas, I only know the number of words but not the exact number of characters I’ll be learning.
    These are my milestones:
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): completed HSK 2, about 100 characters
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): HSK 3 half way through, about 250 characters)
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): completed HSK 3, about 220 characters
    End of challenge (June 30th): 150 words of HSK 4, about 200 characters

    1. I misunderstood my anki deck. I get 3 cards per term, not two. That changes my total to:

      April 8th: 157 new words
      April 30th: 314 new words
      May 31st: 471 new words
      June 30th: 628 new words

  62. I want to finish the 1242 characters in my textbook.
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 373 characters
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 683 characters
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 994 characters
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1242 characters

  63. Thanks Olle for this challenge. I’m another HSK4 student. Skritter was great for HSK3 and I’m hoping it will serve me well for the second 600 characters to complete the HSK4’s 1200 characters plus a few essential characters that I need day to day in China.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 985 total
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 1100 total
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 1200 total
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1300 total

    Good luck everyone!

  64. I would like to learn 12 characters a day on average for the remainder of the 95 days in the challenge. But I’m going to assume I’ll start off enthusiastically, and slow down over the course of the challenge. So I’ll start learning 20 characters a day and end with 4 a day. Which results in the following milestones:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 247 total
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 599 total
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 946 total
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1140 total

    As for methods, I plan to use Anki on an ipad, writing characters by hand, and an ordering of characters that groups them roughly by constituent primitives.

  65. Hi Everyone,
    I started learning Chinese in 1993 and have had many large breaks over the years where I slowly forget my characters followed by a burst of activity so as not to regress too far. I have no idea how many characters I know! I’m guessing I can read around 1000, a few hundred more look familiar but I can only write a third of what I can read. The tips on your site, Olle, have given me the confidence to join the challenge. Here is my goal at 5 characters a day:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 100 total
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 210 total
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 360 total
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500 total

    I will be learning traditional characters but I heard that Skritter can be skittish with stroke order so I’ll need to experiment with Pleco etc. Has anyone else tried Skritter with traditional?

  66. This challenge will be a lot of fun and really beneficial in my studies. I am a definite beginner in studying Chinese though and with a full-time job I don’t have the most time so my goal is much more modest than most. That being said, here it is:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 60 total
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 120 total
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 180 total
    End of challenge (June 30th): 240 total

    I plan on using Skritter primarily. Good luck everyone!

  67. Starting May 25
    I want to try doing 15 characters a day, so 1,515 characters total.

    Milestone #1 (April 11th): 505 total
    Milestone #2 (May 3rd): 833 total
    Milestone #3 (June 3rd): 1,212
    End of challenge (July 3rd): 1,515

    1. Welcome to the challenge! I would prefer if you stuck to the original dates for the milestones, otherwise we will quickly lose the social/community aspect of this. The easiest way would simply be to reduce the numbers of characters slightly. :)

      1. Oh! Ok. I guess I thought it said to just add days to the original challenge. In that case I’ll just try to learn a few more words per day…which shouldn’t be too hard…especially at the beginning.
        Milestone #1 (April 8th): 505 total
        Milestone #2 (April 30th): 833 total
        Milestone #3 (May 31st): 1,212 total
        End of challenge (June 30th): 1,515 total
        Also are we going by characters or words? So far it’s day two and I’ve got 132 “character writings” and 39 “word writings”. Which should we be counting?
        Thanks! I’m so super pumped about this! 😀

        1. Thanks for updating the milestones! I have also changed the instructions to make it clearer for other people. When it comes to characters and/or words, it’s really up to you. I’m doing only single characters, but my situation is probably not the same as yours, so choose whatever works best for you and also choose a way of counting that matches this!

          1. Ok and do you just want to post about our progress into these comments? Or anywhere particular? I think that I’ll aim to challenge myself and go for word writings. Today I am so far at 45, but it’s still early! :)

            1. You can report anyway you like, but if it’s going to count towards activity in the challenge, I need to know about it somehow. :) Tagging me on Twitter, leaving comments and so on works fine. :)

              1. Sweet! I think I’m doing well progress wise. Today I’m at 79 word writings learned and going strong. However, I think if I want to make that first milestone, I’d better practice a little more!

                  1. I now have a total of 126 words learned, so doing pretty well, but I’d like to improve my retention rate.

                    1. Now at 163% and trying to think of a way to improve my retention rate…maybe just slowing down the adding of new words. My word writing retention rate is 76% I would love for it to be at maybe 85%…or even 90, but that could be pushing it…Maybe start with hoping to make it a solid 80%? Hmmm….

                    2. Is that including new words you fail because you don’t know them or is this pure retention of old words? If the latter, I think you need to change something, if the former, not a big problem.

  68. I’ve just heard about this on skritter’s blog, sounds fun! But I’m also scared to commit, even though my goals seem small in comparison!

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 50
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 100
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 200
    End of challenge (June 30th): 250

    1. Welcome to the challenge! You have no reason to be scared if you’ve set a reasonable goal, I’m sure you can achieve it if you just stick to it throughout the challenge. :)

  69. Hi! Sorry I’m late. I’ve never tried using skritter before and I’m not too sure how I update my progress but I’ll try my best at learning the characters. I’m not too sure how to set this out either so I may have under-estimated myself or over-estimated myself. I don’t know where I’m meant to be at right now D: Can I change it if my goals are too easy?

    Milestone #1 (April 19th): 300
    Milestone #2 (May 13th): 500
    Milestone #3 (June 6th): 750
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1000

    1. Hi Evelyn! Welcome to the challenge. It’s fine to change your goals if you do so for a good reason (such as underestimating or overestimating your starting point). However, could you please change your milestones so the dates match mine? The challenge is meant to me something we do together and with different dates, this will be impossible. You can of course adjust your character goals for each milestone!

      1. No problem. Are these milestones all about new words we’re learning? Because I did my milestones mostly based on reviewing characters I’ve come across since I don’t have an effective way of studying them in the first place. In that case, I don’t know how many words I’d be able to learn and I think it’d be better if I consolidated what I already knew. Sorry if your challenge wasn’t intended to be like that!

        1. I originally intended the challenge to be about learning new characters, but as you can see, my own goals include relearning old characters, so this is perfectly in order! If you want to use words instead of characters, that’s okay too!

          1. I’m more interested in learning the characters because when I come across them I can often read them but take it away and I have no idea what it looks like!

            This is my updated goal:

            Milestone #1 (April 8th): 175
            Milestone #2 (April 30th): 350
            Milestone #3 (May 31st): 500
            End of challenge (June 30th): 700

  70. I’m in.

    I just bought the book Easy way to learn Chinese Characters. I want to finish it by the end of the challenge. There are 20 lessons, each containing 15-25 characters. I will break it down thusly.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): Lesson 5
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): Lesson 10
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): Lesson 15
    End of challenge (June 30th): Lesson 20

    I’m also studying some other Chinese textbooks, my goal is to roughly keep up with the class in my character learning for these. Not sure how to set milestones for that so the above will suffice.


    I just started using Skritter, but I haven’t touched any written Chinese in a few years. Hopefully being able to throw this sand in the barrel will inspire me to get some rocks.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 300
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 450
    End of challenge (June 30th): 600

    I have no idea how ambitious this is BUT IM GONNA DO IT

    Thanks for putting this together, Olle!

    1. You’re certainly not too late, in fact people are welcome to sign-up all the way through June! It’s hard for me to say how ambitious your goals are, but I wish you good luck anyway!

  72. I’d like to join! My goal is to learn at least 500 by the end. I’ll begin with about 8 a day to catch up and then slow down to 5 a day.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 100 total
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 210 total
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 360 total
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500 total

      1. Thank you for starting this challenge. I signed up for the Skritter trial and I ordered a writing tablet to use with it. I’ve been so motivated that I’m ahead of schedule at about 60 words!

        1. Wow, that’s great! I’m also using a tablet and the web version. I want to try the Android Beta, but my phone isn’t good enough. :)

          1. First milestone check-in is for 140 characters! I was able to squeeze more time in for learning than I thought I had. Using fun apps on my phone has helped a lot, and I use them every chance I get, especially when waiting in lines.

  73. I would like to join this challenge. I am a heritage speaker of Mandarin, but have only the most limited knowledge of the written language. I have tried a number of times (unsuccessfully) to learn enough characters to be able to read, as I think being able to read a language is critical. Anyway, I am taking this challenge as a great chance to get myself motivated. Since I don’t have a text book, and my primary goal is to acquire some minimum level of competence in the written langauge, I am taking as my goal to learn to write the set of 700 second tier most frequently used characters according to the book Read and Write Chinese by Rita Mei-Wah Choy, as well as to learn common words using these characters (but not necessarily to write the other characters in the words). This is very ambitious for me, as it took me months to get through the first 300, but I am going to give it a try:

    April 8: 120 characters
    April 30: 350 total
    May 31: 550 total
    June 30: 700 total

    I wish everybody good luck with their individual goals!

    1. Hi Audrey – that’s the first time I’ve heard the term ‘heritage speaker’ used. It’s a great word – applies to many of the overseas Chinese people I meet here in Hong Kong. Nice. Best wishes for the character learning!

      1. Hi Maggie: Thanks for your comment. I picked the term up from the Chinese Language Forum. It just seemed to fit. Hope all is well with your challenge (if you are doing it).

        1. Yes, it’s a fairly common term in the literature (and seems to work pretty well, although this is far from my area of interest, so I don’t know what people who actually spend their days thinking/talking/writing about this thinks and feels).

  74. Hi!
    I’ve been looking for a way to kickstart Skritter again, so I’m joining the challenge. I’ve decided to use the HSK 5 list, which is 2500 words (words, mind you). It is daunting at first, so I think I’ll try for half of that amount. But of course I will come across tons of characters I already know from previous study of HSK lists and other sources. So we will see if I have bitten off more than I can chew…
    Count me in!
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 382
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 702
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 1,020
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1,275

  75. Hi Olle!
    Great challenge. Thank you for thinking about it.
    I will study the characters of the HSK 5 list.
    Here’s my plan:

    Milestone #1 (April 8th):70
    Milestone #2 (April 30th):200
    Milestone #3 (May 31st):300
    End of challenge (June 30th):400

    Am I in?



    You can add the link to my twitter account: @federicosmanio

  76. I really want to get on a good track to consistent learning. This challenge will keep me accountable!

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 60
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 110
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 160
    End of challenge (June 30th): 200


  77. I’m def IN for this challenge! Thanks for the push, I was struggling to motivate myself to learn new words systematically every day. As I am in china now, I will try to learn 1600 words in total (400 from HSK 5 – the ones I forgot, and 1200 new from HSK 6).

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 480
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 880
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 1280
    End of challenge (June 30th): 1600

    I learn words by associating their root characters, then I try to build sentences that make sense. For doing so, I need a broader Chinese vocabulary to be able to understand books, tv series, etc.

    I just signed up for Skritter, so I will be using the app for handwriting and Anki app for Recognition, Reading, Pronunciation, etc. I plan to spend 1h or so for using both apps.

    Note: For people who are in China, how can we keep you updated in SM? (I can’t get access from my smartphone)

    1. Great, welcome to the challenge! I’ve added you to the list, 加油! You can use Chinese social media as well, I do have a 微波 account, too, I just don’t use it much. :)

  78. I’m making progress, introducing at least 25 new characters each day. But it takes me a few days to really nail each one (all the while adding more). Review, review, review!

    I haven’t been able to use the skritter code. Does it only work for new accounts?

    1. Yes, it only works for new accounts. However, if you’re active in the challenge (which you seem to be), you will get one week free Skritter for every milestone you pass!

  79. So I realized that while some of the words I’m getting are review, a lot are new. So I’m not as worried about why my retention rate is so low. Today I’m at a total of 196 word writings and I have a retention rate of 75.9%, but a lot of these words I’ve never seen before, so not so bad I think! Getting closer every day to that first milestone of 505 word writings total! almost 2/5 of the way there! (This math stuff is hard!)

      1. 296 words and 76.5% retention rate. I’ve also started reviewing speaking/listening through itunes you! :)

        1. Didn’t learn many new words today. Only at 305 words total. Hopefully I’ll have more time tomorrow! Have to speed up a little bit in order to make that first milestone of 505 words by April 8th, but I think I’m not doing too bad…5 days and 200 words…

  80. Count me in on this challenge! Here’s the breakdown:

    Milestone 1 (April 8): 35
    Milestone 2 (April 30): 350
    Milestone 3 (May 31): 520
    End of Challenge (June 30): 650

    Time to make a new Anki deck!

  81. saw this too late but i am in for the challenge, motivating me for the HSK 6
    Milestone 1 (April 8): Review all left skritter reviews
    Milestone 2 (April 30): 30% of HSK 6 vocab list
    Milestone 3 (May 31): 75% of HSK 6 vocab list
    End of Challenge (June 30): 100% of HSK 6 vocab list

    i read a lot of characters at work but are not able to read them. also i tend to study from Chinese to English and not the other way round, which gives me decent listening and translating skills but speaking lags behind.
    I use both handwritten cards and skritter to review, while also reading and watching chinese novels and tvshows.


  82. When people are talking about “HSK”, what are they talking about? also, do people have any suggestions regarding beginner readers that are actually interesting or fun?
    Thank you!

    1. HSK is short for 汉语水平考试 or hànyǔ shuǐpíng kaoshì, which is the main standard test of Chinese proficiency for foreigners used in China. For good readers, check Mandarin Companion and Chinese Breeze.

  83. Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 300
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 400
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500

    Wish me luck!

  84. Hi! I think that this is a spectacular idea. Here are my goals.

    Milestone 1 – April 8: 200
    Milestone 2 – April 30: 400
    Milestone 3 – May 31: 600
    Final Goal – June 31: 800

    Good luck everyone!

  85. Hi! I’m pretty new to learning Chinese- I practice speaking each day, but I know I need more work writing and recognizing characters. I’m aiming for at least 15/20 new characters a day, pulled from Chinesepod and practiced on Skritter.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 105 (I’ve begun practicing already)
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 192
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 280
    End of challenge (June 30th): 350

  86. Hello, this is my milestone for 800 Hanzi

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 100
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 200
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 500
    End of challenge (June 30th): 800


  87. Hi, I m a casual learner and because of my intense job I dont get much time to study. Around 6 months back I had memorized Hsk 1 and Hsk 2 characters through rot learning (before I new about hacking chinese)but with new perspective on learning from this site I believe my learning would be different now.
    My plan is to first learn the 100 common radicals and then finish off hsk 3 characters.

    Milestone 1 (April 8) : 15 radicals
    Milestone 2 (April 30): 85 radicals
    Milestone 3 (May 31) : first 150 hsk 3
    End of challenge (June 30) : remaining 152 Hsk 3

  88. Joining the character challenge to compliment my Chinese class. Learning 428 characters by June 30th. My first set is already in progress.

    Goal 1 April 8th 107
    Goal 2 April 30th 208
    Goal 3 May 31st 305
    End June 30th 428

    See you on the other side!

  89. Yes – Let’s go!
    500 new chars in 101 days.
    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 150
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 250
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 400
    End of challenge (June 30th): 500

    I’ve self taught myself 250 characters previously but only reading, forgotten many, completed 1 semester of Chinese at online UNI and self taught for fun for two years. Serious about progression this year, about to commence a year long Confuscious Institute study program and a business trip to China in August…mission is to show huge improvement to Chinese friends!

  90. Milestone #1 (April 8th):165
    Milestone #2 (April 30th):302
    Milestone #3 (May 31st):440
    End of Challenge (June 30th):550

  91. Hey, Olle!

    I would like to join the challenge! I recently started studying taking Chinese classes, and I am currently on my first semester of Chinese at the undergraduate level. My goal will be to try and learn the HSK vocabulary for levels 1 and 2. I will predominantly using the Pleco flashcard feature and Skritter to learn the 300 characters.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 15
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 100
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 200
    End of challenge (June 30th): 300

  92. Ok only at 382 words, so it’s going to be a little bit of a struggle getting all 505 words by the 8th, but I think I can!

      1. It’s official! I made my first goal of 505 words and the day isn’t over yet. :)

  93. Should we post our updates here?
    In that case, I am happy to announce that I have already cleared the first milestone, yay!

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 54 Done! +63 as of 2014-04-06
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 120
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 342
    End of challenge (June 30th): 505

    (Small methodological change: using “learned” instead of “added” words (average of Writing/Tones/Pinyin/Definition), since those are reported in the progress graph in Skritter)

    1. Hi! You can post wherever you want. I think perhaps it’s more likely that other people will help if you post to the new article, though, because there are already so much going on here. :) But I see and read what you write regardless of where you post it. Well done!

      1. Hi Olle,
        I would be interested in the Skritter extension, do I have to do something? My Skritter username and email are the ones I indicated in this post.

        Thank you very much!

        1. Hi Lorenzo,

          I found your account and added the extra week of Skritter time for you. You’re all set, and congrats on going above and beyond your first milestone. Keep up the great work!

          Jake & the Skritter Team

  94. Hello! This is the first time I join a character learning challenge on HackingChinese and I’m very excited. I think the 1st millestone is a perfect time to start!
    My current level:
    – Learning for 1,5 year (since September 2012)
    – Unique characters : 950
    – Words : 1900.

    I had to register to the TOCFL Band B exam, which I completely failed because of my lack of vocabulary and listening comprehension practise.
    I decided to take up the TOCFL Band A exam in the afternoon, which was actually too easy for me.

    My aim for the challenge will be counted in number of words (1 word can be from one single character up to 4).
    One word will always be tested by 3 different ways (3 tests per word in Pleco) :
    – reading (characters and meaning shown, pinyin to be typed in!)
    – understanding (zhuyin pronunciation and characters shown, meaning has to be guessed!)
    – writing (zhuyin pronunciation and meaning shown, characters have to be written on my phone’s screen!).
    For the written test, only traditional Chinese will be accepted.
    Even though I was successful with the TOCFL Band A, I want to make sure I know __each__ word of the official list.
    I just finished adding manually all 927 words of TCFL sheets A1 & A2 into Pleco.
    Aftter having added these words, Pleco tells me that only 330 words are actually new to me (this is normal since I had already 1900 flashcards in my deck before adding the additional 927).

    Since 330 words is a too small goal for 85 days, I will add the begin of the vocabulary of TOCFL B1/B2.

    Milestone #1 (April 8th): 0
    Milestone #2 (April 30th): +330 (TOCFL A1/A2 DONE)
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): +350 (TOCFL B1 in progress)
    End of challenge (June 30th): +350 (TOCFL B1 in progress)

    Total planed is 1030 new words which should increase the total number of words I know to around 3000 words!

    During the challenge, in addition to the new words mentioned above, I will have to continue maintaining my pre-existing brain database of the 1900 words I already know!

    Olle: thank you for organizing this challenge! You can put the name and link I provided in the list. However, I will post updates here rather than on the link I provide.

    1. Hi and welcome to the challenge (I have added you to the list as well).! The gaps between different bands in the TOCFL can be quite daunting, good luck! I’ve found that focusing more on passive understanding (reading/listening) is what helps the most, but it also depends on your general goals (for instance, it might be stupid not to practice speaking if you’re only planning to live in an immersion environment for a limited time).

      1. Saturday, 4 days after my subscription to the challenge is a perfect moment to report about my progress.

        My goal for Milestone 2 (April 30th) was to learn the 330 missing words to complete the TOCFL Band A level.

        The reading test is the easiest for me, so the words list decreases rapidly: 82 words left out of 330.
        About the comprehension test, still 159 words left.
        157 words left for the writing test

        I’ve always found the reading test the easiest for my memory and find the comprehension and writing tests much harder (they the words take more time to be recorded into my brain).

        My progress are fast for this beginning because I knew most of the individual characters and some of the remaining words.
        Another reason is that I work very hard and empty all Pleco queues every day.
        I will have a much harder time when I’ll start TOCFL Band B vocabulary on April 30th!

        On my artist page on Facebook (link on this article in the challenge members list), I published recently two Chinese songs I sing:
        – 妳不知道的事 (王力宏)
        – 童話 (光良)
        Maybe this could be an example for your articles that deal with learning pronunciation and using Chinese songs to learn Chinese! Personally, I use Chinese songs a lot to improve my Chinese (learning new words, pronunciation).

          1. I think posting here every Saturday is a good pace. :)

            In Pleco, I set up a maximum of 20 unlearned card. This means that new cards will gradually be added to the pool when previously unlearned card become learned (a score of 400 means the card is leaned).

            Now, in each test (reading, understanding and writing), each of the 330 cards has been added to the pool. This means I’ve already learned most of them.

            Reading test: 2 unlearned cards
            Understanding test: 9 unlearned cards
            Writing test: 6 unlearned cards

            It seems that for the next milestone (April 30th), I set up a goal which was a little bit too easy. But actually, when learning a great amount of words in a short time, it’s nice to have a moment for strengthening the recent acquired knowledge (ie. a moment where there is no new card being added to the pool).
            So, instead of increasing the goal, I will use the last 10 days until April 30th to consolidate what I’ve learned!


            1. You actually have the same settings as I have. I think having a limit of a number of unlearnt cards is pretty good. It stops the program from adding too many words if you fail old ones, while accelerating the pace if you nail all the old cards!

              1. Milestone #2! Goal reached!

                My goal was to learn how to read, understand and write 330 new words (the last unknown words to me of the TOCFL Band A).
                I finished already 2 weeks ago, and used these 2 weeks to stop adding new words to the pool and make the new knowledge stronger.

                This has increased the number of unique traditional Chinese characters I know from 942 to 1060!

                Milestone #3 (May 31st): +350 (TOCFL B1 in progress)
                End of challenge (June 30th): +350 (TOCFL B1 in progress)
                Even my goal for Milestone #2 was a little too easy, I don’t want to increase the goals for Milestone #3 and end of challenge, because I will have more work this month and may not have enough time to practice. However I will try my best!


                  1. I completely stopped adding new words between Milestone #2 and #3. This is not voluntary, it’s more a decrease in motivation! It became even hard to continue reviewing the previous learned stuff (I did it once or twice a week instead of every day, so sometimes I had 250 words to write instead of just 30).

                    I will try to come back!
                    Milestone #3 (May 31st): +350 planned, 0 reached
                    End of challenge (June 30th): +350 (TOCFL B1 in progress)

  95. Hi Olle, I don’t use weibo either, so I will post my study progress here.

    Target: Milestone #1 (April 8th): 480

    According to Skritter stats, I actually learned:
    – 394 Words/Sentences (Retention 88.1%)
    – 385 Characters (Retention 93.6%)


    1. That’s a great retention rate! Did you aim for 480 in total? In that case you have learnt quite a lot more, well done!

      1. Yes, I was just taking advantage that at the beginning things are much easier. Then, I will get more complicated words/characters in next milestones. Just Keep Up Learning!

  96. Starting late i.e. April 11 ( Midnight 2:54 )
    Presently a beginner approx 75 words.
    Should be able to do atleast 30 words per day if not more.

    Milestone #1 (April 30th): 600 total
    Milestone #2 (May 31st): 600+900=1500 total
    Milestone #3 (June 30th): 1500+900=2400
    End of challenge (July 3rd): 2400+0=2400, i would be relaxing from 1st to 3rd july as i have achieved my goal 3 days in advance, so have time to CHILL N RELAX. HAVE A HABIT OF DOING THINGS BEFORE HAND, SO I HAVE ATLEAST 3 DAYS TO CHILL IF NOT MORE.

    1. The challenge will end on June 30th. You can of course continue after this in whatever manner you prefer. :) I have added you to the list now as well, 加油!

  97. I’m late to the party but as they say, better late than never. Coming across this challenge today was great because I needed something to kickstart my Chinese learning again.

    My goals for this challenge are to learn my backlog of 656 flashcards in Pleco, as well as add and learn 5 new cards a day from various articles I read from magazines or online. I plan to learn and review a total of 1041 words (656 + 5*77) by the end of this challenge.

    Milestone #2: 300 words
    Milestone #3: 370 words (670 Total)
    End of Challenge: 371 words (1041 Total)

    I also wanted to say I enjoy your blog a lot Olle and keep up the good work.


  98. Hi Olle,

    As I am continuing in this Hanzi challenge, I am getting more difficult words to remember. Just wanted to ask how do you track characters or Chinese words that we missed most frequently? I saw skritter just show daily/weekly progression. However, I am interested to know/extract WHICH characters or words I missed the most, so I can focus on them when re-reviewing, changing stories, etc. I will be interested to know your thoughts. I currently use Skritter and Anki flashcards.

    Any comments and suggestions are welcome.
    Best Regards

    1. I don’t think you can do this in Skritter, but you can check it easily in Anki simply by sorting on number of repetitions. There is also a “leech” function you can use to automatically suspend cards that you have missed x number of times. I recommend setting that MUCH lower than the default, which is 16 or something like that (I use 5).

  99. Are this challenge open for other projects? I don’t want my name on the list or anything, I just got back to this site to make public my own challenge:
    Study Chinese pronunciation for 300 hours for the next 30 days. Now this is something exciting for me, and since I have no obligations time isn’t a problem.
    Milestones are something difficult to set since and can’t predict exactly how much it’ll take to learn a new sound hopefully my knowledge will give me a good head start.

    Milestone #1 (until 4月 30日): being able to hear and pronounce all the sounds of the language
    Milestone #2 (until 5月 10日): being able to hear and pronounce all tone pairs
    Milestone #3 (until 5月 20日): being able to fit tones into actual phrases and pronounce at at a natural speed

    All three goals requires a accuracy of 95%.
    Although they all have the same period I think that #3 will take more time than the others.
    I choose a month instead of 101 days because I want to make this challenge my main focus, if I just put 3 hours a day would be easy to put it on the side and forget about it.

    1. Not really, but I am working on a more general way of handling challenges which will be excellent for the kind of thing you want to do. It will be a kind of challenge engine that can handle all kinds of challenges and I hope to do much more than just characters with it. If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll add you to a potential list of beta testers. :) Of course, feel free to post updates for your own challenge if you want to, I won’t stop you. :)

  100. first goal was accomplished, now working hard on the second one after being quite busy at work the last days.

    still optimistic to reach the second goal, finally time on the metro is well spent :)

  101. Hi Olle, I’ve been actively studying my Chinese characters, so I have already cleared milestones one and two. However, my skritter trial is now over. So, I guess from now on my progress will slowdown a bit. I think that I will continue this Challenge with Anki (or might be Pleco)

    1. That’s cool, you can use any program you like! I use both Pleco and Skritter, for instance, and I’ve used Anki more than either of those two apps combined.

      1. Hi Olle,

        how is your experience using several different tools to learn Chinese characters and/or vocables? I always thought using just one (in my case Skritter) is a good approach since than I have one database that reflects and is optimized to my state of knowledge in terms of revision intervals, retention values, etc. for each character or vocable. When you are working with three different tool, doesn’t that mean you’re adding overhead to your studies when you need to build multiple such knowledge bases, one for, say, Pleco, one for Skritter, and another one for Anki?

        1. In general, it makes sense to keep everything in one place, but unfortunately, there is no perfect learning tool. Anki doesn’t have handwriting, Skritter doesn’t have a versatile browser and Pleco doesn’t have synchronisation. As long as the purpose of each tool is very clear and kept distinct, I don’t think there’s a problem. For instance, I do all my character writing in Skritter and the rest in Anki.

  102. Lately I’ve been studying Chinese more seriously. I’m using memrise, anki, skritter and pleco, besides i’m listening to Chinesepod’s podcasts and making my own flashcards for learning new interesting words that I encounter.
    During the last month I studied the vocabulary list for HSK level 1 (150 characters), I started studying for HSK level 2 since a few days and I’d like to study all the characters for HSK level 2 and level 3 by the end of the sensible character learning challenge. On June I’d like to take HSK exam (at least level 2) and on July I’ll go to China for at least 1 month.

    Milestone #2 (April 30th): 150
    Milestone #3 (May 31st): 300
    End of challenge (June 30th): 600

  103. Sorry I’m late! I hope take this opportunity to get back to a point I was once at with my Chinese, and learn a lot more. I had around 100 characters I was pretty familiar with but I know I can do better than that.

    Starting today, April 30th, until August 9th I will strive for as many characters and words as possible.

    Milestone 1 (June 1st): 100 most common radicals/components from the resource I’m following as well as at least 100 words from Chinese-pod transcrips.
    Milestone 2 (July 1st): Begin a handwritten daily journal.
    Milestone 3 (August 1st): Ability to read extremely basic texts and lowest-level graded readers.
    End-goal (August 9th): This is pretty abstract but I want to be past the “beginner” stages of the laguage

    From this point on I’ll have established a healthy routine for learning large amounts of characters in an efficient way, and I can begin more rigorous grammar study and really focus on my weaknesses in the language.

    1. Hi! I just want to point out that to be a part of the challenge, you need to keep the same dates as I have. If you don’t really care about that and just want to set goals for your learning, that’s of course also okay. :)

  104. I came back to give my update. Milestone #1 and #2 are completed. I learn so much in the last few days, I found out I was saying r,u,h,ue and e wrong, the other versions I learned in a “say this and then change like that” basis, no surprise, they were just rough imitations of the real sounds, but now I can say them confidently, and it feels easier to pronounce in the correct way.

    On the other hand when it comes to listening I somehow can’t pass to 70-80% of accuracy for most sounds, I guess it’s just something that comes with the time. I’m also starting to wonder if that’s really a big deal. When you speak it’s just you but when it comes to listening there’s familiar words.. context… is it really necessary to hear with 95% of accuracy? I’m not good at listening like that with either English or Portuguese and that’s never was a problem.

    Anyway, now it’s the fun part, keep reading words and phrases ad infinitium to reach milestone 3#

    1. I also want to take notice of another thing. I thought I was just overestimating my own skills but now it’s clear.

      I decided to starting improving my English on the side of that project and I realized that despite the fact that listening was never a priority to me and that I had almost no study or contact with English apart from texts like this one due to my Japanese I had no difficulty with rhythm, stress and linking, I could even change to “unnatural” ones and compare the difference. But I had to relearn a lot of words.
      And with Chinese I could listen and say tone pairs with precision and stress them, but the sounds were more tough.

      Those two cases also relates with my experience with Portuguese, which is my native language that somehow I failed to learn the sounds properly despite having no physical disorders at all and parents and brothers with perfect normal pronunciation.

    2. I think 100% accuracy for basic sounds is necessary. The thing is that every single thing you miss increases the risk of not getting it, so even though it’s okay to have 90% for native speakers (many can’t separate -n/-ng and so on), that’s because they get 100% of the grammar and 100% of the words. We don’t. By the way, research suggests that you need variability in what you listen to, so don’t spend all your time listening to one person or one source.

      1. I came back from the claws of the death to give my last update, I should have posted this 5 days ago but health and internet connection problems didn’t let me.

        So I failed my last goal, I’m able to stress and change things just fine but nothing that I would call “natural speed”, specially when it comes to aspirated sounds.

        It was really interesting to go thorough all that study and observation seeing how unstressed syllables merge with each other in a row forming big monotone words, how they are changed to fit the syllables around it, and how difference intonations can affect the regular ones. It’s very intuitive since it’s all for the sake of speed and smoothness.

        1. Here I am again to say that despite the challenge being finished I continued and succeed, turns out that there was only two sounds that slowed me down, “e” and aspirated sounds, I changed my approach towards those ones and the problem was gone. That’s correspond with my previous experience with tones, where careful analyse and search for more intuitive ways of pronunciation gave faster and better results than mechanical repetition.

          Personally, it fells awesome to pronounce full phrases with right pronounce and tones especially considering that I was a raw beginner about a month and half ago. The better feeling is to know you are in control, no guessing, no gimmicks, you can feel each tone in your mouth and you know if it’s right or not.

  105. Hi,

    I participated in the last challenge, and would to join this one (late) too. My goal is to finish the HSK 4 list on Skritter – I’m not sure how to work out how many new characters this is, so I’ve posted my milestones below in percentages instead, and will return and change it if/when I figure it out.

    Milestone 2 (April 31st): 60% complete
    Milestone 3 (June 30th): 100% complete

    I’ve gone from 0 to 20% of this list in the last month, so I should just have to work about twice as hard to complete the goal! I’ll post about the challenge on my old and recently unused blog when I get a chance – probably in a few days’ time.


  106. I would like to join the challenge. Starting way late, but will try my best. My goal will be to catch up on old characters (500 or so) and add 150 more. I have two dates left, so I will split it.

    May 31st – 400 characters relearned
    June 30th – 650 (100 relearned + 150 new words)

    I will be using skritter


  107. I am a new learner, so my goal 100 characters plus get my due characters down to zero. Not sure ho many I have due

    May 31st add 50 new words and review
    June 30th remaining 50 words and have due words at zero

  108. Wish I had found this earlier but better late than never!
    My goals:
    May 31st – 500 new characters
    June 30th – 500 new characters (i.e. 1000 in two months)
    Looking forward to the challenge :)

  109. Wow just stumbled on this so really really late. Been studying Chinese for a while on and off but recently been refocusing on using skritter. Just about to finish HSK2 and would like to finish HSK3 by the end of the challenge
    My goals:
    May 31st – 100 new characters
    June 30th – 200 new characters (i.e. 300 in 6 weeks)

  110. Hi, Olle! I’ve been reading a lot of your “Intermediate” articles and really enjoying the site. Thank you for all the work you’ve put into it. It’s already helped me to organize and focus my self-study quite a bit. And I’ve been using your Anki deck to learn the 100 most common radicals. Thanks!

    Regarding this challenge… I find it very appealing. The idea of being publicly accountable to a group of other learners is great. I know that that works well for me. I’d love to join, but I think I really want to use Skritter so I can do it right. (I want the instant handwriting feedback that it provides.) But Skritter isn’t available for Android! I plan to finally give in and buy an iPad (just for this one app!) when I’m back in the US this summer. For now, I’m getting by with Anki and Pleco.

    Here’s my request/question:

    Do you plan to run another sensible character-learning challenge starting sometime after this summer (2014)? I imagine that by then I should have a better handle on the software and a stronger foundation of the simpler characters. Right now I don’t even know how to figure out how many characters I can write! So, I don’t even know my starting point, much less how I would assess my progress.

    Any pointers or advice on how to measure how many characters I can {recognize, write, etc.} without an app like Skritter?

    1. There will be other challenges, but I think I will focus on other areas since we’ve done characters now for three months! I don’t think it’s strictly necessary to know how many characters you know, you could just measure how many new characters you learn.

  111. I may not have a blog, but I’m gonna do 100 characters in 2 weeks! So.. 7 characters a day! ish

      1. Hm… well, the challenge just ended (June 30th) and there were only two days left when you left your comment. There will be more challenges in the future, don’t worry!

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