Learn Chinese with Nick Winter, CEO of Inkran
By: Terence Hsieh (谢燕辉)
Nick Winter has at least twenty thoughts running around his head at any given time. He spits out statistics and numbers faster than I can process them, and manages to infuse the friendliness and warmth of a college grad. If you were just having casual conversation with him, you would never guess, from his warmth and candor that he is the CEO of Inkran, and full time developer of the revolutionary online Chinese character-learning-system Skritter.
Nick and I both attended Oberlin College, and I fondly remember conversing with him over bad cafeteria food, freshman year, at Chinese Table. While I was still but a childish freshman, Nick was already in full throttle mode over the development of what would become Skritter.
“The goal of Skritter is to make an efficient flashcard implementation with an effective handwriting component. Studying characters with correct writing—meaning the proper stroke order, can have enormous benefits to your language study,” he emphasized.
As an initial guinea pig of the Skritter system, I had witnessed its benefits first hand: at the time of its early development, it was a rudimentary vocabulary system that had a mouse-implemented drawing function that could also use WACOM tablet support. I mostly used it to study for tests, but Nick indicated that cramming with Skritter does not take advantage of its maximum potential. “Most people end up not doing particularly great with flashcards: they have to buy them, store them, and you only write your characters once,” Nick lamented: “in this traditional academic context, you forget about 38% of the characters you learn. If you spend a few minutes every day, repeating and using the Skritter system, you can learn and retain up to six times more characters over the same span of time.”