Frequently asked questions

Getting Started

Radicals and Characters

Learning Method

I want to review faster. Can I speed it up?

Our goal is to help you learn and retain the Chinese characters as fast as possible. We utilize three main techniques for success:

  1. modern radical and character ordering,
  2. simplicity and mnemonics and
  3. spaced repetition.

Here's how it all works:

  1. Traditional Chinese character studies are broken. The way that characters are taught is based on thousands of years of history, not an optimal path for an English speaker. For instance, the ordering for learning characters followed concepts that are easier for a child to learn–such as LOVE or HORSE. But these characters are complex and have many, many strokes. Alternatively, we start with "木" which means "tree". This character has a sophisticated meaning for a young child learning their first characters, but it happens to be one of the most frequently used characters and a concept that you already know well. For example, "森" means "forest" – you see it depends on three of "木." In other words, we focus on simple to remember characters with high frequency counts–so you can learn to read quickly and create a scaffold for learning characters that we build on.
  2. Mnemonics are stories that help you remember. Like "木" (tree) – "This radical means and looks like a tree. Trees are pretty important because they produce oxygen, so we best be planting some more of them. "Mnemonics are a crutch. But a really good one. They help you get past the first 3 or 4 reviews where a memory needs to transition from short term to midterm memory. We further keep concepts simple and with the minimum amount of information. In other words, we don't focus on learning ALL THE MEANINGS or ALL THE READINGS or even how to write the character. We just focus on one meaning and one reading. This simplicity is how the mind works best for memory. Imagine trying to learn all the capitals of Europe vs all the capitals, Presidents and populations. Learning one aspect at a time is how your brain works best. Then the rest can be layered on afterwards, using the principal information as a scaffold.
  3. A Space Repetition System (SRS) is a systematic technique of presenting information to learn and review in set intervals to match the minds natural processing speed of building memories. For instance, if I tell you my birthday at a party, you may remember it the same evening, but by morning you're likely to forget. If I see you again in the morning and remind you, you are much more likely to remember it for the rest of the week then if I told you twice in rapid succession. In other words, this delay in reviewing actually helps you to retain information.

Projected Forgetting Curve

We use spaced repetition with our first intervals at 4 hours after learning and 8 hours after your first correct review. We have found this to be an ideal spacing for beginning the transition from first exposure to short term memory. Part of the "magic" of this process is that you want to do a review just before you would forget an item. Reviewing more often does not significantly impact your learning. Because of this, we do not encourage accelerating this process.

Learning material

Why don’t I see vocabulary cards in my dashboard?

The items remaining do not include the vocabularies because they are not a dependency to "unlocking" the next lesson. So on Level 1, all you must do is learn 100% of the radicals to level 5 (learn + 4 correct reviews with no mistakes) and 90% of the Hanzi characters to level 5. Vocabularies are not a requirement.

What do the numbers in alternative readings mean?

Chinese readings with pinyin can be categorized into 4 different tones. Instead of having to type with the complex tone marks, people also express readings with the numbers.

Pinyin Number


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Is this website free?

Once you've signed up, the first three levels of Pandanese are free so that you can carefully test the program. The first three includes over 250 Hanzi card including radicals, characters, and vocabulary. If you are enjoying Pandanese and are learning your cards fast, please sign up for a plan. We're able to continue improving the service because of your support, and we greatly appreciate it.

What can I get if I upgrade?

When you upgrade, you will have access to the entire set of characters and vocabulary. This includes 99% of written Chinese characters.


I want to learn with my iPhone. Does this have an app?

Yes. Pandanese developed its own app, and you can download it here. If you have suggestions for improvement, please email us at