Feature request: Daily limit on characters in lessons

Having been on this platform for over 3 months, I’ve noticed that Vocab is way easier to memorize than Characters. I can comfortably learn and 90%+ retain ~15 rote-memorized Vocab cards a day. As for characters, I think any more than 10 a day becomes unmanageable. If the characters are all brand-new never seen them in immersion, then that number drops to like 5.

Could we have daily limit for specifically character lessons? In combination with character prioritization, this yields a pretty nice flow where immersion learners can always learn unknown characters that they “mined” from content, else it defaults to the HSK order. My retention is much better when I’m learning characters I’ve seen in the wild.


We rolled out some changes to the scheduling algorithm (just a day or two ago) to try to keep a ratio between the words and characters (currently 2:1). We’ll consider this when we make future changes, but I think the problem will be diminished significantly with that aforementioned change + more vocab in the curriculum. We have plans to ramp up the number of vocab we add per week/month starting towards the end of this month now that we’ve just finished up a large number of nitty-gritty backend/data changes to better facilitate it.

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to try to keep a ratio between the words and characters (currently 2:1).

Would this be post or pre character prioritization? Right now it seems like there’s a stack of X items and character prioritization just pushes them on the stack. If the ratio is pre-character prioritization, I’m afraid that in some cases I’d wind up messing up the ratio if I want add like 5 characters to the days lessons.

Nice, tomorrow I’ll be finished with HSK 2 characters, and I see that HSK 3 has quite a few that have no vocab backing, so looking forward to this change. In the meantime I’m not worried. Surprisingly HSK 3/4 has a lot of characters that I see all the time in immersion 木, 美, 每, 冰, etc. The end of HSK 2 had me worried, as there was a lot of stuff I’d never seen even once e.g. 靠. For now I’ll just mine things I see IRL.

This would be post prioritization :slight_smile:
Word scheduling can be almost viewed as “separate” from the rest of the item scheduling. You can always expect to get some words in your lessons, essentially, while also respecting your character prioritization.

I’ve added some docs on how our lesson ordering works more in-depth.

But in short, beyond our ratio of 2.0 words per character, we also have a “daily word limit” we use to prevent flooding one’s lessons with word items. This also helps with making sure prioritized characters–or its prerequisite sounds and components–are mostly available the day you prioritize them.

We will probably bump the word limit as the days go on :+1:

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reading the post, not sure if I understand.

The total number of words today would be about 1/2 of your total lessons for the day. So if your daily lesson limit is 10 lessons a day, then you would have at max 5 word items in your lesson queue.
The daily limit on words is to help strike a balance between reaching the ideal of 2.0 words per character while also preventing a flood of word items in your lessons.

How are you going to maintain a ratio of 2:1 words:character, but also have a cap of 1:2 words:total for HSK3+ users (I’m just finishing up HSK 2)? For HSK:2 and below, there were a lot of components (about half as many per word) so you could wind up with 3:7:10 or 4:6:10, which is reasonable. I haven’t worked it out yet for HSK 3, but over all the remaining levels, I have ~150 components and ~2250 characters remaining. That’s a ratio of 1:15 in the long term. So eventually, with a 20 item daily cap, I’m gonna see components:char:words at ratios like 1:9:10 or 0:10:10.

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The plan is to raise the daily word limit so ratios across users can catch up :slight_smile:

1:2 words:total was chosen somewhat arbitrarily, but I can see us bumping this up to 2:3 words:total really soon, likely within the month. I started with 1:2 to error on the side of too-little word items rather than too-many word items.

But you’re right, if we left it as is then the ratio would never be reached so it does have to be changed someday :smile:

As we add more words, and also bump the word limit, we’ll eventually reach a happy medium I hope. Ideally we could just only have ratio, but that would effectively stop all character learning progress as one catches up on their ratio.

You can think of the word daily limit as something we’re using to help transition into a proper learning ratio between words and characters :+1:

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As we add more words, and also bump the word limit, we’ll eventually reach a happy medium I hope. Ideally we could just only have ratio, but that would effectively stop all character learning progress as one catches up on their ratio.

Oh maybe I misunderstood, are you saying that the 2:1 words:character ratio is for total learned or incoming?

It’s for total learned :+1:

To add my two-cents, and to echo @lorentz first message, the word limit in daily lessons seems less important to me than a character limit.

Getting all-word daily lessons is a bit frustrating, but that only happens if a bunch of new vocab for characters I already learned gets added to the curriculum. Personally, I’d rather catch up on these words and reinforce those characters than learn 10 new ones.

However, getting 10 or more completely new characters can be more detrimental to me since I also have trouble retaining more than 5 unless I’m already somewhat familiar with them.

So in short, personally I’d rather err on the side of too many words than too little @phil :smile:

Excited for this btw!

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interesting, for as of rightnow remembering characters is easier than remembering words.
How do you go about learning words so that they stick?

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If I had to guess why characters are easier for you so far, I think it’d be due to your previous experience :slight_smile:

In theory word items they should be easier than character items due to our strict guidelines on how we choose word items.

Namely, that the characters within the word match their pronunciation, with the exception of the fifth tone. There are a few fifth tone words, so that may be a reason why you’re finding it more difficult.

In my experience, as long as you know the characters well enough within the word, the word meaning and pronunciation easier to derive because of how inter-related they are.

When I get a word, my general recall process is as follows:

Word meaning:

  1. Parse the characters
  2. Recall the meaning and pronunciation of each character
  3. See if you can recall the word mnemonic with the character meanings. For some words, you can take an educated guess just on the character meanings alone (i.e. what happens if you combine small + eat ?)

Word pronunciation:

  1. Parse characters
  2. Recall pronunciation for each character
  3. Think about whether one of the characters can be fifth tone before submitting (for example, 子 is a common fifth tone)
  4. If a common fifth tone character, look at character positioning within the word as well as the meaning of the word to determine if it is in fact fifth tone. This is how I remember electronic maintains its tone, for example.

If you struggle with remembering the precise meaning of a word, it helps to add your own synonyms. Adding your own meaning to the word drastically improves recall, in my experience :+1:

I didn’t have too much trouble in the beginning, esp when the characters were like 山 or 日 or w/e mascot 汉字 that exist in HSK 1. In HSK 3, I get thrown many characters I’ve literally never seen before, and also are readily confused with each other. These are some characters that I’ve just started learning: 材补村衬 and 须颜顾顺. So you have to really know them.

On the other hand, it get’s easier in a way because a lot of them are derived from others. E.g. 材 has the phonetic component 才.

Read, watch, listen. Especially in the beginning, a lot of the words you will hear literally every day. If you’re watching any kind of story or conversation for 30min, I think it’s almost impossible to not hear a word like 应该 “should”.

Ah this is the worst. Especially 男子, 因子, 电子. I used to think the 子 nominalizer was always neutral. But no, these are all fully fledged tones.

what stuff are u consuming? I am actually not consuming anything as of yet, I only used Hanzihero for 3 weeks now. Altough I did learn the most common 400 words before (will have forgotten some of them). I still have my subscription for DuChinese which I should be using.

Profile of lorentz – Lingotrack for my entire study log. Interesting new site. Has a lot of bugs and UI has a long way to go, but the developer is quite receptive to feedback (needs a feedback forum like this one though haha).

At about 1.5 months in (about 250 characters), I started reading Mandarin Companion graded readers. They offer short stories (equivalent to maybe 5-15 typed pages of English depending on level) made only from a set of 150 (Breakthrough), 300 (level 1), 450 (level 2) unique characters. Also audiobooks of the stories.

Longer content IMO is definitely the way to go for language learning. I found that after reading/listening to just 2 of the Breakthrough level books I had pretty much internalized all HSK 1 grammar points. After reading three level 1 books I knew all HSK 2 grammar points. Now, I’m 3.5 months in and have read one level 2 book, I understand a fair amount of HSK 3 grammar. I plan to read 3 more before leveling up.

This doesn’t help as much with vocab, but I’ve consumed > 30 hours of 小猪佩奇 (Peppa Pig Mandarin dub). At first I couldn’t understand anything. Now I’d say I have ~80% comprehension.

Honestly though a big issue with HSK is the ordering is a little strange sometimes. As a cherry picked example, 冰 “Ice” isn’t till HSK 4 and 冰水 isn’t even an HSK word. So a lot of the time my only experience with the vocab is the SRS. I don’t blame this site though, most learners (including me) like to measure their progress against HSK even if it is flawed.

sweet website Ima go check that one out.
I have actually also read 1 or 2 mandarin companion books, the easy ones with only 150 Hanzi.
Though I struggled alot still…Like when reading I was often not sure which tone it was or only kinda sure so my reading was quite slow too. Understanding 80% of peppa pig is rly impressive.

Yeah I feel like with Mandarin Companion every time I start a new level I start off like “Oh god, I’ve made a huge mistake and wasted this purchase. It’s literally taking an hour to go through one chapter.” But it’s to be expected. According to Independent Study Confirms the “Readability” of the Mandarin Companion Series – Mandarin Companion, level 1 isn’t supposed to get easy until HSK 3, and level 2 at HSK 4.