Sentenced: The Next, Best Line of Defense for Language Learning

A silly way to practice translating Chinese into English as fast as possible.

So, I’ve been noodling the idea of building a Chinese language learning game for a couple days. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on flash cards, and they have some issues. They are a complete drone-fest, exhausting and, since they are preemptive and not reactionary, they seem worthless (they definitely aren’t worthless, though – my familiarity with Chinese characters now seems so trivial but in fact took untold hours of soul-crushing boredom, and I’m not sure there’s another, better way to get that knowledge). 

I’ve been working through the higher-level HSK vocab cards for a while, but on the advice of internet I’ve been thinking about switching to learning words in context, either in full sentence flash cards, or in real life spoken Chinese that I keep listening to until I understand. 

I didn’t want to get too fancy with the core mechanic, although I suspected that flash cards give too much negative feedback about getting things wrong. Exposure and working toward the meaning are the useful activities. Incessant repetition might help memorize the individual sentences, but I suspect it won’t help as much with the general comprehension skills I’d like. 

So I took some sentences, and started throwing things together. 

It’s Sentenced, the game of rapid fire reading! This is (1) much better than flash cards for a whole host of reasons, but (2) much easier. I am working on a way to make it less easy, because a fair percent of the time you don’t need to read more than a couple characters in, but it’ll be hard to keep the pace as high if I want complicated input. 

Sentenced