Back to Silas S. Brown's home page
Charlearn, a program for learning to recognise foreign characters
This program is meant to help you learn to
recognise foreign characters, taking just a few
minutes each day. It remembers which
characters you have recently found difficult and
what you confuse them with. It uses a simple
HTML user interface, the appearance of which can be
customised by user-supplied stylesheets or normal
Note: in its present form, this program is not
as effective with characters as gradint is with
audio. While I have a collection of thousands
of words in gradint, charlearn only took me up
to about 150 Chinese characters and then constant
misidentifications virtually stalled any progress
(but then I do have cortical visual impairment so
your result may differ). It might be useful
to get you started with 100 or so however.
Make sure your machine has Python 2.3+ installed
(download from www.python.org if necessary).
Download charlearn.py and
characters.txt and save
them both in the same place. Run charlearn.py
That characters.txt contains frequently-used
Chinese characters and their definitions from
CEDICT. If you want to learn hiragana and
katakana instead, download this alternative
characters.txt. Alternatively you can make
your own in the same format. (If you want to
learn several things, put them in different
directories and run charlearn.py
separately. If you already know
some characters, list them one per line
in a file called known-chars.txt, using
the same encoding as characters.txt and
putting it in the same directory.)
Mobile phone version
A simpler flashcard program is available for running on mobile
phones, using images to achieve large print.
You will need a phone that can display short Web pages
"smartphone"---in 2008 I used it on a Nokia 6500s from
Three, which was a Symbian S40 phone; similar "mid-range" handsets should also work
(but not the very simple ones that don't even have a browser).
Download charlearn.zip and put
flashcards.html on the phone, together with the F folder
which contains the pictures. Some pictures for hanzi-to-pinyin at
240x320 pixels are included, as is the program to generate them in case you
need to do something different. Start the program on the phone by
opening the flashcards.html file.
Technical notes: You can also put this file
and the F folder onto a
Web server and browse the flashcards remotely, but that may incur a lot of
bandwidth, so it would be better to transfer them onto the phone by cable
only document.write and links back to itself, and you can save the
state at any time using Bookmarks.
You might also be interested in Offline HTML Indexer, and/or turning the HTML into an Android APK.
All material © Silas S. Brown unless otherwise stated.