Saturday, April 9, 2011

iPod is a dream device for practicing Chinese

For years I have kept notes of assorted Chinese vocabulary to which I have been exposed and which I seek to remember. Most of those notes are on paper, but occasionally they are in electronic form, like in Palm Note Pad, which allowed drawing of anything, e.g., Chinese characters, as graphics.

With the iPod, I finally have a take-everywhere combined reference and repository to lookup (via dictionary apps, such as these) and record (using Notespark) things. I am manually transferring some of my Palm Note Pad Chinese vocabulary to the iPod, and perhaps will similarly transfer some of my old paper entries.

Within Notespark, I have a 中文 生詞 (Chinese vocabulary) Tag. Each note labeled with that tag typically gets the "triplet" of English + Chinese character + Pinyin, e.g.:

paper clip 迴紋針 huíwénzhēn

Limiting a note to a single vocabulary item allows me to see a list of the items I've entered for easy review, even if the entire triplet (which becomes the note's title), is not immediately visible. If I want to record a date or some other piece of information with a vocabulary note (e.g., because it helps me think of associated circumstances), I put it on the first line, which makes it the note's title instead. The triplet still shows up underneath the title, in a smaller font size, and in gray instead of in black.

Originally I labeled these vocabulary notes with a 中文 (Chinese) Tag, but I now use that Tag strictly for notes which contain Chinese but are not intended as vocabulary records.

Since the iPod supports entering Chinese characters via strokes, I am able to practice my character writing skills, instead of just exercising my phonetic memory of words to generate characters using Pinyin, the typical computer method. Using Chinese this way in notes, e-mail, and blog posts is fun with the iPod!

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