Bottom Line: A solid interactive flashcard app for users of all ages who want to learn some basic Chinese words.
123 Chinese is, by Legendary Crafters, is designed to help kids (and adults) of all ages learn how to speak, read and write a few basic Chinese words.
The app is divided into three levels: easy, medium, and hard. Within each level are the same three categories: animals, colours (or as I like to say, colors), and numbers. You must complete all three categories in the easy level before moving to medium and all three categories at medium before moving onto hard. The app has a simple interface, which will allow the player to jump right in and start learning.
Using the numbers category as an example, here is how it works:
- In the easy level, the player works with each number from 1-10. The screen shows the number “1” and the English word “one.” It also shows the Chinese character for the number and the Chinese word for the number. When you tap on the screen you will hear a voice saying the word in Chinese. When you’re ready, tap the arrow at the bottom right corner to move to the next screen. Here you will continue working with the number one by tracing the Chinese character with your finger.
- There are numbers and arrows to guide and indicate where to start a character and where to go next. This is especially helpful because, while the Chinese character for the number one is quite simple, some of the characters you will encounter in this app are VERY complex to write. After you successfully trace the character, you can move onto the next number.
- In the medium level first screen for the number one you will be given three choices of Chinese characters for this number, and you have to pick the correct answer. At the top right corner of your screen you will see three magic wands. You can use these to eliminate one of the choices. On the second screen for the number one, you will again have to trace the Chinese character, only this time you are only given a number and an arrow for where to start the character. After that, you’re on your own! Thankfully, you are also given magic wands on this screen, which provide arrows for the next step of a character when you need it. (I needed to use these A LOT at first.)
- When you make it to the hard level (which I DID, thank you very much), the first screen for each number is the same as it was in the medium level, but the second screen requires you to trace the character with NO arrows to help you get started. But never fear – there are still magic wands to help you if needed.
- For all levels, you are rated on how quickly and correctly you complete the task on each screen. The goal is to earn three stars for each task.
That’s it! The format is the same for the other categories – simple and easy to follow, which is great when you’re trying to learn something new. Here are some “Nuts & Bolts” items that you can access from the home screen:
- You can purchase more packs for this app by clicking on the “Get more” shopping cart icon at the top left of the home page. Pack 1 1000 unlocks 18 new challenges for $0.99 and so does Pack 2 100. It says to check for more soon…
- The star icon at the bottom right of the home page gives stats for each level and category. It lets you know how many 3-star ratings you’ve received, so you can go back and try to improve. (Right now my stats for easy numbers is 59/60 and you’d better believe I’m going back to figure out which one I didn’t earn 3 stars in!)
- The question mark at the bottom right gives you general directions on how to use this app.
- The show help button can be turned on or off: If it’s turned on, a little box will pop up for each question in a category that gives you directions for the activity. If the button is off, no directions.
Anyone interested in their children learning Chinese should definitely take a look at 123 Chinese. With this app you can hear the language spoken and experience writing the words you are learning over and over again. However, there are areas where it could use some significant improvement.
There are a few glitches in this app that I experienced when trying to trace the characters – for example on the character for the number four, for some reason the app was not registering my tracing, which would not allow me to complete the character. Finally, I just started “scribbling” my finger all over the screen and finally it registered. Thankfully this did not happen often, so most of the app was stress-free and easy to use. In other spots, it registered that I was done with a certain character or line before I was actually done.
As the app is now, you have to complete all of the flashcards for numbers, colors, and animals on the easy level before moving on to medium and then to hard. I think this spreads the user too thin. I started with numbers in the easy level, but then I had to complete colors and animals before I could work with numbers again. By that time, I had forgotten much of what I had previously learned. I would like the option of working on one category at a time – i.e. starting with the easy level for numbers, then unlocking the medium level for numbers, then the hard. This would help with retention of new knowledge and would aide in the true learning of these words.
Finally, more than anything else, 123 Chinese needs more energy. There is no music or sound beyond the narration and the colors are really brownish-drab in a lot of places. There is almost nothing in the app to motivate a child to continue playing on their own.
If you would like to download 123 Chinese ($2.99/iPad) please support Smart Apps for Kids by using this link button:
This review was completed by Allison Kelly, who has been a teacher for 14 years. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.