During the spring and summer, we have gradually upgraded and replaced audio for the most commonly studied items in Skritter. We believe that having high-quality audio is important, because just like neat characters provide a good model for writing, great audio helps you tune into standard pronunciation.
We are always updating audio in the background and normally don’t write blog posts about it, but we have now completed two bigger projects we feel are worth mentioning specifically. The first is to replace all existing audio for HSK levels 1-4. These decks contain some of the most studied characters and words, and deserve to have high-quality audio without background noise or inconsistent pronunciation.
The second project is a complete set of single-syllable audio, which would be odd for languages like English, but is very useful for Chinese. In total, there are roughly 1600 combinations of initials, finals and tones in Mandarin, but many of these are not used at all (such as něng and zhuáng), so the actual number of syllables is just a bit over 1000. This might sound like a lot, but English has maybe ten times as many! To make sure we didn’t miss anything, we actually recorded all 1600 syllables, which are now being used for single-character audio in Skritter.
You should already be familiar with the recorder, Xiaolu, because she has been recording audio for Skritter for a few years now. She is a native speaker born and raised in Beijing. She has a teaching degree and her pronunciation follows the official standard. While recording all the HSK1-4 words, we also made minor updates to the pronunciation in Skritter to make sure that we follow the officially correct standard.
In addition to this, we also have a complete set of level-appropriate example sentences for HSK 1-4, also with audio. Being able to see characters and words in context is important, so having level-appropriate and natural-sounding example sentences is a great resource for all students.
What do these upgrades mean for you as a student? Apart from the obvious advantage that we now have consistently high-quality audio for these sets of common characters and words, along with the example sentences, nothing has changed, really. The apps fetch this information from the server automatically, so you have been receiving these upgrades gradually over many months, even if most of you might not have noticed.
Even if we have done our best to check for errors and problems (I have manually listened and checked every single recording), minor errors are likely to have slipped through. If you find any problems with HSK 1-4 words or sentences, or single-syllables audio, we’d like to know! As usual, you can report these issues directly in the app and we’ll do our best to fix them.
Enjoy the new content and good luck with your studying!