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Making and Managing Lessons

Managing the Vocabulary Lessons

Vocabulary lessons are always loaded into a document window. You can print the vocabulary lesson using the Vocabulary Print(3- 39) command to invoke the Page Setup(3- 39) dialog to sort and list a lesson in a new document window for printing, or print the lesson in its original document window.

The Smart Characters vocabulary lesson format(6- 3) was designed to allow for lesson consolidation through sorting, cutting and pasting. For example, assume that you have several vocabulary lesson(D- - 8) files in which you have some uncertain words. These words can be combined into one file by first sorting the files using the DOS Sort program, then by cutting and combining using Smart Characters or any text editor. Of course, any new vocabulary lesson should be saved under a different name, so as to not destroy the original lesson.

Making Vocabulary Lessons

Creating lessons is an easy task. The most useful lessons are closely keyed to a textbook, and entered in order by chapter, page, and line. This way, the lesson can be used for retrieving a reference at a later time, or easily corrected by your instructor.

To create a lesson, it is easiest to start with a vocabulary list. A vocabulary list is just a list of words, one per line (paragraph). You can make this list by typing interesting words from some meaningful source (such as a newspaper article or a textbook). Then select the Learn Vocabulary(3- 36) command. If you are starting with a new lesson, or fewer than three vocabulary entries exist in the document, the Nothing Opened or Selected(3- 38) dialog will present a choice to convert the file into a lesson. Otherwise, select the File Convert to Lesson(3- 38) command to make each new word into a new vocabulary entry and clean up the existing entries.

The tutorial section titled Break Time with Instant Vocabulary (Chinese)(2C- 43) and (Japanese)(2J- 43) illustrates converting of a list of words, one per line or paragraph, into a vocabulary lesson(D- - 8). It demonstrates instant vocabulary learning by first querying an interesting Chinese character for usage, then turning the results (the contents of the list(4- 4) window) into an instant vocabulary lesson.

User's Group Vocabulary Lessons

The example vocabulary lesson(D- - 8) from the User's Group(D- - 8) contain omissions and outright mistakes. Please feel free to correct or add to them as you wish. Other Smart Characters users greatly desire these additions and corrections, so please submit them to the User's Group. Contact Apropos Customer Service(F- - 1).

Vocabulary Lesson Format

A Smart Characters vocabulary lesson(D- - 8) is a document consisting of lines of vocabulary entries in the following format:

<Lesson Numbers> <Forward Drill Word or Phrase> <Translation>

You can also include other text such as headers, comments, and blank lines. Smart Characters recognizes a vocabulary entry by the lesson numbers at the start of each line.

Lesson Numbers

The lesson numbers must be English objects without a preceding English code(5- 8) at the very start of each line, and they should be aligned by column. This allows for easy identification by Smart Characters, and by sorting by programs such as DOS Sort. Use Show Codes(3- 8) or set the display mode(3- 7) to ASCII Only and eliminate superfluous object type codes(D- - 5). See Working with Codes(5- 7).

Lesson number format: 11 2222 33 444

  1. 11 is the number of times the word has been asked. Set this number to zero for new entries.
  2. 2222 is the score for this word in hundredths of a second. We recommend an initial value of 0400 (four seconds), which is twice the expert time(6- 2).
  3. 33 is the chapter reference number, which can be zero.
  4. 444 is an optional page number.

Forward Drill Word or Phrase

The forward drill word or phrase is displayed as the unknown in the forward drill, and consists of Chinese and alphabetic characters.


The translation is preceded by a Notes Code(5- 8) code. If you keep translations short, so that the Vocabulary | File Print(3- 39) command works satisfactorily, you must remember that you will be training yourself to associate this English word or phrase with the corresponding Asian one, so choose carefully.

The First Lines are the Document Header

When sorting lessons for consolidation, remember that header lines and other comments will sort to the beginning or end of the file and must be manually restored. Also remember that Smart Characters inserts a document header(12- 8) before the first line of a document. If the document header does not stay at the top of the file, the next time you open the file into Smart Characters, the File Format(3- 2) dialog will appear. Select Plain Text to open it as a Smart Characters file without conversion.


Smart Characters can keep track of a maximum of 1200 entries per vocabulary lesson(D- - 8), up to the maximum byte capacity of a document window. However, we recommended that in any drill session you select chapters so that the total number of new words for drill is not larger than about 100-150 words. A larger number requires too long a time for all the words to be learned in one session. Review sessions can profitably use all 1200 entries.

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Last Modified: March 23, 1996

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