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A Tale of Two Flashcard Programs

One day last week on my commuter bus, I sat near a fellow who was studying Japanese “katakana” characters (a phonetic system) using some homemade flashcards he’d created on a stack of 99 cent note cards. I couldn’t help thinking that if he had simply (1) chosen to study Chinese instead of Japanese, (2) paid about $1,999.01 more for a nice laptop computer, and (3) put down another $100.00 or so a month for a satellite link Internet connection, he could instead have been downloading this month’s two featured Chinese Character Flashcard programs.

Both these programs function on the same principle: One character at a time is shown, and rather than “looking on the back” of the card like my fellow commuter had to for definitions, pronunciation and the like, you click a button or check a box to have these types of details added to the display. We think that anyone studying Chinese independently will find either or both of these programs useful for Chinese character review, but we’ve pointed out a few considerations you might need to keep in mind.

1. “Chinese FlashCards” by Eric Youngdale -

* Windows platform and Palm Pilot versions available
* Runs on your computer, but doesn’t require a full installation procedure
* Featured vocabulary is such that the program that can be used as a study aid for “Practical Chinese Reader”, Books 1, 2, and 3
* Provides review only for pinyin pronunciation and English definitions
* Support for both traditional and simplified characters
* No local Chinese fonts required
* Requires minimal setup
* Additional beta version available with more features

2. “Chinese Character Flashcards, v.1” by Erik Peterson

* Online version only
* Featured vocabulary includes the 1000 most common Chinese characters
* Provides review for pinyin pronunciation, English definitions, number of strokes, and Cantonese pronunciation
* Support for both traditional and simplified characters
* Functions on a simple “flashcard.class” applet
* Applet is supported by all but the earliest versions of Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer
* No local Chinese fonts required
* No setup required

Chinese Character Flashcards, v.2” by Erik Peterson

* Enhanced version of Erik’s original FlashCard program
* Requires the internationalized version of the Java 2 Plug-in for Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer
* Some problems using the latest version of the Java 2 Plug-In (v1.4); earlier version recommended
* Requires locally-installed Chinese Unicode font
* Able to run from the mandarintools.com web site or as a stand-alone version on your computer
* More significant setup requirements

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