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Penyo Pal is another childrens game that teaches basic vocabulary. There are a huge number of games that prompt you to complete a story, which, although repetitive, does force you to learn. Penyo meaning friend Pal is great for memorizing words that you might not normally come across, like coconut. The add-ons give you extra episodes in the story.
This app gives you the evolution of about 100 characters over the last few thousand years. Perfect for anyone interested in the expansive history of the Chinese written language. The app also shows the best ways to write in Chinese, by recognizing theparts or radicals of a character. For example: (nu) means woman, and (zi) means child. (hao) means good, because it was considered a womans fulfilled obligation to have a child. The app makes it clear how these characters evolved.
Mandarin Chinese is the national language of China, as well as the lingua franca of Southeast Asia. There are nearly 1 billion native speakers across the globe, making it the most popularly spoken language in the world.
More useful than it is beautiful, Pinyin Chart is a must-have for beginners, although the apps design is a bit grim. Pinyin is the romanized Chinese alphabet, or Chinese sounds written in English characters. While some letters sound the same in English, others, like c (ts) and y (sometimes silent) can trip you up. A good app to have in your arsenal.
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Now that youre armed with so many apps to learn Chinese, the question isnt whether youll learn or not, but which app you will choose!
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PPTV is a dream come true for those seeking more exposure to the Mandarin language. PPTV has a huge number of movies and TV shows available online for free. There may or may not be subtitles depending on the program, so its mostly about getting used to sounds and practicing pronunciation. Available on iTunes and the App Store, the in-app purchases allow you to see more shows.
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It looks like its for kids, and probably is, but it works well for those looking to memorize basic vocabulary. You receive 50 lessons with around 20 pieces of vocabulary each. You are then tested in mini-games, things like helping a frog match a word to a picture to eat it. Its perfect for memorizing basic words and phrases in an engaging way.
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Learn Chinese is a good-looking phrasebook for practicing basic phrases. Because literal English-Chinese translation almost never works, even basic phrases can be confusing. For instance, just because you know the words for how and are and you doesnt mean you can ask someone how they are. A phrasebook is a great way to pick up these essential phrases. It also sounds out the words to help you practice.
Yet Mandarin Chinese is quickly becoming an important language to know as China becomes one of the most powerful nations in the world. So whether youre keen to do business in China or just to travel in Southeast Asia on holiday, learning Chinese is a great New Years resolution. If youre up for the challenge, here are 10 apps that will help you build a solid foundation for the first few crucial months of learning.
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However, learning Chinese as an English speaker is fraught with false friends and alien concepts. For one thing, its a tonal language: There are four pitches a word can have, each with a different meaning. The grammar is almost entirely different from English, or any Romance/Germanic language, for that matter. And actually writing in Chinese is considered a skill for moderate to advanced students and very impressive. One needs to know about 3,000 characters to read a newspaper; the average Chinese citizen knows around 8,000.
The order in which you draw a Chinese character is the trickiest part of writing; a poorly written word can be illegible, and a computer wont understand it if youre writing on a trackpad or a touchscreen. This app is useful for those looking to get their stroke order just right, but it isnt very useful to learn word definitions or phrases.
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Hanzi Warrior goes from the ground up, teaching you the pronunciations and names of even the most basic strokes. Its something you will never need, and probably wouldnt be taught in a mainstream class, so we wouldnt recommend it. But, if youre the perfectionist type, this should fulfill your burning desire to completely understand the language. The game has a storyline in which you save China but, to be honest, is indecipherable thanks to the generic design of the app.
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Jack Flanaganis a freelance writer foraudience.ioand writes for theFueled blog.
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KTdict C-E is another dictionary. The app isnt terribly attractive, but the app is free and straightforward to use. The add-ons give you tools for training yourself, like flashcards and quizzes, but considering the range of free learning apps out there, they arent really worth it. But as an efficient offline dictionary, this app is very handy.
Pleco is an attractive dictionary app that many expats in China swear by. The add-ons are unbelievably expensive but unfortunately necessary. However, although the standard features are limited, the app shows you the Simplified (Mandarin) characters beside traditional (Cantonese, Japanese) characters, which can be helpful in different countries. We recommend the free version for English-Chinese translation.