Pinyin Practice

Mandarin Pronunciation Exercises and Learning Components

iPhone Apps for Chinese

September 26, 2009 By: Pei Category: Characters, Learning Chinese, listening

I don’t actually have an iPhone. Guess I am not quite that cool. I do have an iPod Touch though, so I must be kind of kù. And so with all of my coolness, I sometimes keep watch for apps that would help me or students or faculty. I’m a helpful person. Here are some apps I recently learned about that might help you:

  • iCED Chinese/English Dictionary $29.99 – Quickly find words you hear or know how to pronounce. Kind of puts my crusty old paper dictionary to shame.
  • eStroke Animated Characters $4.99 – A great way to see character production. If you struggle or are anal about that kind of thing. But also has really nice reference dictionary built in.
  • Chinese Flashcards II $4.99 – Produced by Audio mode looks interesting. Contains 1000 words from HSK 1 List.

I’d like to see a Chinese menu app. I’ve always struggled when it comes to reading Chinese menus. There is so much variety. It could list the dish name with all the typical or optional ingredients. And maybe when you shake the phone it randomly provides a decent selection of food for how many friends are eating together. Anyone else have a good app idea? Or has anyone already developed my Chinese Menu app?

3 Greate Ways to Create Flashcards

September 15, 2009 By: Pei Category: Characters, Learning Chinese, Reviews, website

Flashcards are a staple for language learners. Carrying a flip book or rubberbanded stack of index cards with characters on one side and pronunciation and definition on the other is a great just-in-time study tool. But let’s get a bit more with the times and look to the web for help with creation – and your next test will be róngyì times ten!

1. Ediscio – Feature rich flash card system largely focused on the Leitner system of grouping known and unknown cards into stacks to practice at different intervals. Registration is required. You can download cardboxes and print if you want. Plenty of other features too, including graphical progress charts and graphs.

2. Ting – A flash application. I like flash.  All based off of PCR texts, but the database is downloadable and therefore customizable. Audio downloads are part of the system. Nice.

3. Vocab Chinese – A java application. Nice features including sentence level practice with audio files. Not really a flashcard application creation tool except that you can add your own items if you follow the procedure for doing so. Based on Integrated Chinese text series.

I didn’t look too hard for these. Anyone else have favorites?

Spell-checking for Chinese, Anyone?

August 15, 2009 By: Pei Category: Characters, Learning Chinese

On the drive home today we were chatting about rules for turning in assignments. My wife, a French teacher, said one of her new rules is that she will not grade anything which has not been spell-checked. Decent rule for French. And I explained how students were always turning in papers with cuò zì (incorrect characters). Are there good checkers for cuò zì? And if so, are they still called spell-checkers?

Chinese Animations to Entertain and Motivate

August 12, 2009 By: Pei Category: Learning Chinese, listening

Play is one of the most natural learning activities on the planet. The animator is playing with words and images in ways the real world cannot behave. Great animators have the largest blank-canvas playground in the universe. And the same playground is yours as a language learner – get out there and be creative with the language. Here are some Chinese animations or animators that might help encourage you. Jiāyóu!

Sun Haipeng’s Dragon Fist and Super Baozi. Well rendered 3D animation featuring a Chinese dumpling.

Méi Tóunáo hé Bù Gāoxìng. 沒頭腦和不高興。Old animations produced for television. Still charming and good for listening practice. dialog demonstration videos. The sound effects on these make me laugh. But they are really quite good. Nicely recorded and animated. These flash animators have long been entertaining and making their way into Chinese classrooms across the US. Or was it just my classroom? They are good, even if sometimes overplayed.

Club Tuzki. Interactive flash animation and games too.

Big Ocean and Chinese Crabapple. Pretty with a nice little story too.

Practice Pronunciation (and writing) with VoiceThread #2

August 08, 2009 By: Pei Category: Learning Chinese, Pronunciation

If you missed the first one. Take a look here for more information. Sign up and record your own reading.