Stackz - FAQ

What can I do with Stackz?
Is Stackz just another vocabulary trainer?
How is the visual feedback system organized?
What about the distinction between "test" and "learn"?
How can I find out if words must be learned or repeated?
What are the best learning practices?
What are the "ColorModes" and the "Repeat Advisor"?
How differs the Asian edit mode from the Standard mode?
How can I add entries to a Stackz lesson?
Can I use my existing wordlists with Stackz?
Do I need a PC to use Stackz?
Which dictionaries are integrated in Stackz?
How about mobile devices (Pocket PC, Palm Pilot etc.)?
On what devices will PocketStackz run?
Is a stylus needed to run PocketStackz?
What is planned for the future?

What can I do with Stackz?

Stackz helps you to learn data by heart. Its main feature is a graphical representation of the current proficiency state which makes it easy to discover the hard words. Tools are offered to eliminate the weak spots in an efficient way.

The data is organized in lists. Creation of new lists is supported in many ways (generate from dictionary, generate from lists found on webpages, import from available lists in other file formats etc), and there is a big and growing online archive of lists that are ready to be used, at the moment mainly for learners of Japanese, but Chinese and Korean lists will be added too.

Although our emphasis is on languages, especially the Japanese language, Stackz can be applied to any other area. For example, learning capital cities for geography class or important dates for history class. Simply create the lists that are required for your needs.

Once you have the lists of information, the unique visual feedback system of Stackz will let you know when it has been learned and when it is time to refresh it. To optimize the benefit of using Stackz, the refresh process should be done on a regular basis. Mobile devices are ideal for this refresh process because they allow to integrate it much better into the daily life than a desktop PC. Our current mobile solution is called PocketStackz, which runs on a PocketPC. More detais about PocketStackz are here.

 

Is Stackz just another vocabulary trainer?

No, Stackz is more than that. Vocabulary trainers are usually limited to just testing vocabulary. They do not offer any real support when learning new words and they do not interpret results in a meaningful way.

Stackz is able to tell you exactly which words, or items of information need to be re-learned, using the unique visual feedback system.

 

How is the visual feedback system organized?

Every entry (word/information) is part of a lesson and is represented by a layer in a stack or column. The more entries, the higher the stack. The entries in a lesson are classified into five levels, where 1 is the worst and 5 the best. This allows the separation of known and unknown words.

In addition, the color band along the top of the display classifies the words according to the date when they were last tested. This lets you know when it is time to refresh certain words.

 

What about the distinction between "test" and "learn"?

Language students encounter two types of words: new words and words which have already been learned. The first category can be dealt with easily by simply "learning" the words.

The second category is more problematic since a word can be forgotten. The statement: "I know this word", is only true the moment it is said. The more time that passes, the less reliable this statement becomes. Stackz uses color to remind you that it is time to refresh certain words.

Note that both actions are different for the brain. Learning new words requires much more concentration and effort than re-testing old ones.

The task of constantly refreshing the database can become quite time consuming if there are many words. It is best done in short but frequent units, which is difficult to achieve with a desktop PC. The same is also very true for learning new or particularly hard words - short but frequent units are simply much more efficient. Our PocketPC application PocketStackz is ideally suited for integrating such "instant learning units" into the daily life. More detais about PocketStackz are here.

 

How can I find out if words must be learned or repeated?

"Learn" applies to new and unknown words. Testing these words with Stackz will simply lead to the result that they will be classified down one level (to the left of the screen). These stacks therefore contain words that must be learned.

If a word is classified up one level it means that it has been mastered. However, since the mind is in the habit of forgetting things, the truth of having "learned" something decreases over time. The color display is a reliable indicator of when it is time to 'repeat' or 'refresh' words or information.

 

What are the best learning practices?

Use Test and Learn wisely: Learn often, Test regularly .
Learning is best done in short but frequent units. The PocketPC version of Stackz (PocketStackz) is the perfect tool to integrate such quick learning sessions into your daily life. Any other method without Computer is fine as well, e.g. paper flashcards of the hard words printed with Stackz, or any other method. Testing the words means assessing your proficiency, which is not necessary to be done often for the well known words.

Test before you Learn.
The test process is assessing your proficiency. In order to avoid too optimistic test results this should not be done directly after learning the words to be tested. If you want to work on a certain lesson and you intend to use both Test and Learn Dialog, then start with the TestDialog. This gets you a realistic picture of your proficiency, and the LearnDialog can then be efficiently used to work on the failed ones.

Avoid consecutive test sessions with the same words.
Testing corresponds to a proficiency assessment, which should not be based on short time memory. After testing, the failed words must be learned, and not tested again.

Combine Stackz with other methods.
Stackz separates the words you know from the words you just don't know, and from the ones in between. It also shows you when it's time to go through the list with known words. To use this source of information, testing must be done regularly with Stackz.
But learning can be done in thousands of other ways - by reading and understanding through context, by writing and making errors and getting it explained, by listening and getting exposed to unfamiliar expressions, by speaking and doing errors, thus being misunderstood... followed by discussions explaining the issues, and so on. All these activities help to retain the learned issues, and increase the chance that the next Stackz testing session will be successful. Stackz adds the systematic part, making sure that 100% of the words on your list are treated. But learning them may be more efficient in the real world than with Stackz.

 

What are the "ColorModes" and the "Repeat Advisor"?

Each ColorMode sorts the entries according to a different aspect of proficiency, e.g. the date of the last successful test (ColorMode: "Refresh Date"), or the percentage of successful tests (ColorMode: "SuccessRatio"). Every tool dialog presents the selected entries in the order of the current ColorMode. The color of an entry explains the proficiency from the current ColorMode point of view.

The "Repeat Advisor" is the most advanced ColorMode. It uses the colors to indicate the necessity of repeating the word - well known words are recommended for repetition less often than unknown words. The underlying formula can be customized in the advanced options.

How differs the Asian edit mode from the Standard mode?

Controls in the Asian edit mode behave like normal windows text edit fields with the following differences:

How can I add entries to a Stackz lesson?

Simply edit the selected stack and type in the words. Asian text (Japanese, Chinese, Korean) can be entered directly with the corresponding IME. As an alternative, you can use the integrated dictionary tool to run a query and then directly copy the query result using the "Add To Selected Stack" function to your lesson.

It is also possible to import words from a file, as answered in the question below.

Can I use my existing wordlists with Stackz?

Yes. Since it is possible to import and export the content of a stack in different formats (EDICT format, TAB delimited lines etc.), you can also add the content of such a text file to a stack in your Stackz file. If you have more than one vocabulary files, you can import all of them with one command and have Stackz automatically create a stack for each file.

Stackz offers a convenient tool called ImportWizard, which allows to import lists of more complicated formats.

 

Do I need a PC to use Stackz?

Yes, a Windows PC or a mobile computer based on Windows Mobile or Palm (see below). Only the computer allows you to see the visual feedback that is based on your test results. However, to learn new words, it is possible to print out a defined subset of words as normal lists or as flashcards. Once learned, the words should be tested using Stackz.

 

Which dictionaries are integrated in Stackz?

Stackz is not a dictionary. And the integration of dictionaries is not a key feature. They are merely intended to assist in entering new words to the list.

Dictionaries are supported for Japanese (Jim Breen's EDICT and KANJIDIC) and Chinese.

 

How about mobile devices (Pocket PC, Palm Pilot etc.)?

Stackz is available for Pocket PC (PocketStackz) and Palm OS (PalmStackz).

The main reason to use Stackz is to classify a big amount of entries according to their proficiency state. This database must be constantly refreshed, a couple of minutes every day is sufficient. Mobile devices are the ideal companion to fulfill this task because you can integrate the short learning sessions into your daily life much better than with a desktop PC.

With a mobile device, you can refresh the database

 

On what devices will PocketStackz run?

PocketStackz is running on devices with the following Windows Mobile versions:

 

Is a stylus needed to run PocketStackz?

A stylus is recommended but not a must. Some functions are not accessible without stylus (e.g fine selection on the lesson list screen).

 

What is planned for the future?

- Add sound and pictures to entries;
- Language-dependent specialties as dictionary integrations;
- Various learn and test features;
- ... and much more!

 

 

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