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Zizzle Review – Remember Chinese Characters Easily

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Quick Review

4.3 

Summary:

Zizzle is one of the most unique tools for learning Chinese. This app will help you memorize Chinese Characters. First, they break down the character into its component parts. Then, they use ridiculous images and a short story to remember these components. Next, they use characters and link words to help you remember the tone and pronunciation of the character. Finally, they give you example words and sentences using the character. On first glance, the app looks rather silly. But, it really does make remembering characters much easier.

Quality

The images are absurd, which makes remembering them easy.

Thoroughness

Covers lots of characters, but mostly within the first three HSK levels.

Value

The pricing is competitive with other Chinese learning resources, but it’s focus is much narrower.

Price

A one-month subscription costs $9.99, three-months costs $24.99, and one year costs $59.99. You can also buy one of a few different packs and receive lifetime access for $49.99.

Use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES” to save 15% on all three-month and annual subscriptions, as well as packs.

The year was 2005. I sat alongside the rest of my high school Spanish class staring at our teacher in disbelief. “Pretend like you’re dropping little tiny goats into your eye,” she said.

“Is she being serious right now?” This has to be the dumbest thing any of us had heard all week.

‘Las gotas’ is Spanish for drops. I still remember that all these years later. That’s the power of mnemonics. They create an image in your mind that makes it much easier to remember otherwise difficult things.

On first look, Zizzle is a pretty stupid app. It’s stupid in the same way my Spanish teacher was. There’s a good chance you won’t immediately realize how awesome Zizzle actually is. You might not really appreciate it until several months have passed and you’re still able to easily remember lots of Chinese characters.

I started out studying radicals and character components. I can read graded readers and articles on The Chairman’s Bao without too much difficulty. I can recognize characters in context. But, when I see them in isolation, or if I close my eyes and try to imagine what a character actually looks like – I’m helpless. I constantly confuse similar looking characters.

I’ve been mixing up 相 and 租 since I learned them. It took almost no time using Zizzle to be able to distinguish and remember the differences between the two. I can now clearly picture in my head how both characters are formed.

So what exactly is Zizzle?

Zizzle was made to make it easier to remember Chinese characters. It uses pictures to help you recall what a character looks like. These pictures are really high quality and ridiculous. When you consider how many images are contained within the Zizzle app, it’s really impressive. It’s obvious that a lot of time went into creating all of these.

Next, there are link-words. Linkwords help you associate the Chinese pronunciation to an English word. An example would be associating the word Jukebox to the pinyin jù. Sometimes the link-words are a bit of a stretch. That doesn’t matter so much as that it creates imagery that you can remember. This isn’t a way to learn the pronunciation of a character. It’s a way to have a rough idea of what the character will sound like.

There are five heroes – each representing a different tone. For every first tone character, the magical turtle will appear. The fox will always appear in second tone characters, and so on. This makes it quite easy to remember the tone of each character.

Finally, all of these come together to create stories. These stories will help you remember the character’s component parts, pronunciation, tone and meaning.

This will probably be shown best by an example. Let’s look at the character I mentioned earlier – 租, zū (to rent).

Zizzle example

Use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES” to save 15% on all three-month and annual subscriptions, as well as packs.

Try a free 7-day trial to Zizzle

Decks, Lessons, Quizzes and SRS

There are currently 12 decks that you can study from. These will overlap quite a bit with each other. Some examples: HSK 1, HSK 2, HSK 3, Travel, Business, Food and a few different textbooks. They don’t go higher than HSK 3 yet.

These decks are composed of multiple lessons – each made up of 5 stories. These are either full characters or component parts that go into the character. They build onto each other using as many small pieces as is needed. Let’s take a look at the character for 冷, lěng (cold). All the component parts are broken down into individual stories making everything easy to remember.

After each character’s story, you’ll be given a short quiz on the character you just learned. After finishing all the characters in the lesson, you’ll have a short quiz covering the lesson in it’s entirety. This will let you know if there’s anything you need to look over again.

There is a spaced repetition part as well. Here you’ll review all of the characters you’ve learned. This is similar to the quizzes. You’ll have to know the meaning, pronunciation, and tone of each character to do well on this.

Some other things worth mentioning

Radicals and fragments that aren’t used on their own are marked in gray. They don’t always use the same meaning as I had learned when I first started learning Chinese. It’s worth mentioning but not particularly important. Whatever makes it easiest to remember works and I’ve found their descriptions are much more memorable.

Characters can often contain many meanings and Zizzle only shows the most common one. Again, I see and agree with why they chose to do it this way. Remembering multiple meanings would just complicate things and make it harder to remember the character without really helping you.

You don’t need a mnemonic to remember every character. Some Chinese characters you’re able to quickly remember and don’t have the need to use the stories. Before each lesson, you’ll be prompted to select the characters that you already know. These will be excluded from the lessons. Although, for me I found it helpful to re-learn some of the characters I already “knew.” These were the characters I recognize and can read but wouldn’t be able to distinguish from other similar looking characters.

Some room for improvement

The most obvious place for improvement is to expand their lesson library to include higher levels. Currently, HSK 3 is the highest level. They are still continuing to add new characters – mostly at HSK 3 but some higher levels as well.

I think including the stroke order somewhere would be very useful. I found with Zizzle that it’s much easier to remember how characters are formed. Because of this, learning to write seems like a much less daunting task than it did before. With how well Zizzle breaks down all of the character components, I feel like it would be relatively easy to remember how to write the characters.

After each character’s story, you’re given some example words and sentences. The audio for the words is recorded but there’s no audio for the sentence. It’s a small thing but it would be a little better with the sentences recorded. They’re planning to add more audio in the next few updates, including lots of recorded sentences.

Price

After the week trial period expires, there are two ways to continue using Zizzle.

Subscription
One month costs $9.99
Three monts costs $24.99
One year costs $59.99

Packs
These are a combination of decks and there are currently three packs for sale. They all cost $49.99 and you’ll get lifetime access to the pack you purchase.

The packs are…
Crack the HSK (HSK 1, HSK 2 and HSK 3)
Master Everyday Chinese (Travel, Food, Business, and Numbers)
Chinese Textbook Companion (Integrated Chinese, A New China, New Practical Chinese Reader and Encounters)

Use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES” to save 15% on all three-month and annual subscriptions, as well as packs.

Try a free 7-day trial to Zizzle

Final thoughts

Zizzle does one thing very well. It makes it easier to remember Chinese characters.

A couple of months ago, I used Zizzle for about an hour and thought it was pretty dumb. If you feel the same – don’t give up on it right away. Read through the stories of a few characters that are difficult for you to remember. Maybe give it a week or a month or however long you need. You’ll probably find that you still remember those characters that had challenged you before.

For me, after some time had passed, I noticed I still remembered the stories and pictures of a few of the characters I had looked at. I realized I had learned those characters without really even thinking about or studying them.

This past week I’ve been using Zizzle again but much more extensively. I have a newfound appreciation for it. I love the way that they break down all of the characters very clearly. The pictures and stories are extremely well made and it makes it easy to remember Chinese characters without needing to constantly drill them. I’d always found it difficult to remember all the component parts of how a character is formed. I could read them in context but I’d regularly mix up similar looking characters or struggle to recognize them in isolation.

Zizzle makes it much easier to remember Chinese characters. Embrace the absurdity. It works.

Use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES” to save 15% on all three-month and annual subscriptions, as well as packs.

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