Chinese Writer by trainchinese is an app that makes learning to write hanzi with proper stroke order into a game. I first reviewed it in April 2011 and it keeps getting better (see here and here). To recap how the game works, characters drop from the top of the screen with gradually increasing swiftness; you tap each one and then try to write it properly as quickly as possible. You get bonuses for writing quickly; wrong strokes are penalized. Failure to complete the character in time costs you a “life.” Lose five lives and the game is over.
In earlier versions, you traced over the character, which tested your knowledge of stroke order, but not your recall of the character. You could do very well without actually knowing the words, so long as you knew the rules of stroke order and had fast fingers. This update adds the option to have the character disappear after you write the first stroke, so that you have to remember it, as well as get the stroke order right. This makes the game more challenging and increases the educational value. Speed is still important, but if you don’t know a character, you will have to look at it for some time before you start writing. Playing in this “writing” mode earns twice as many points as playing in the original “tracing” mode.
I actually suggested something like this in my original review, so I am glad to see it implemented. This, along with the previous updates, takes care of almost all my initial criticisms.
Another feature that may not be new with this update, but which I failed to mention before, is the fact that the app remembers your mistakes from game to game. When you browse each wordlist, missed characters will be listed first for ease of review (you do have the option to “forget” previous mistakes). Characters that you have missed will be presented earlier in subsequent games.
These features make Chinese Writer perhaps the best educational game for Chinese available for iOS. As mentioned in an earlier post, a subscription to www.trainchinese.com will allow you to fully customize the wordlists, plus give you access to other educational tools offered by a subscription to trainchinese. If you subscribe using one of the links here, you will earn me a month’s subscription.
Chinese Writer by trainchinese is available on the App Store.