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Finger Chinese 2 is a new app by Taiwan Knowledge Bank designed to assist children in learning 78 Chinese words of Chinese to English-speaking children. However, it's best used by children (or adults) already learning Chinese in a classroom or family setting, or for parents who desire that their children be exposed to the sound of Chinese. There is not enough explanation or help for the app to provide any real learning of Chinese.
I do not speak any Chinese, and even after testing with the app to review it, I still do not speak any Chinese.
Due to my lack of Chinese language knowledge, I cannot comment on the accuracy of the pronunciation, aside from the fact that it seems authentic. The app as a whole is solidly designed, and easy to navigate.
When first starting the game, the user can choose a boy or girl avatar and add their name. Surprisingly, both the boy and girl are light-skinned with light hair, instead of Chinese. The user also chooses the setting for background music and selects between “Traditional Chinese” and “Simplified Chinese.” From the website, it appears this refers to the written Chinese characters.
After set up, the child visits each building in the village. In the fast food restaurant, there are 13 different food items in the scene, including a fork, knife, cola, and, of course, hamburger and french fries. In the first level of each scene the child must find all the different words in a scene by tapping on the items. As they find each new one, icons at the bottom are filled. The other areas include a clothing store, a Chinese restaurant, a school, a farm, and a grocery store. There are 78 total vocabulary words to learn.
After all items in an area are found, the flashcard deck for that building is unlocked. The flashcards present each vocabulary word with the Chinese character, pinyin text (how the Chinese character would be spelled in English and the English word. Each word can be heard multiple times.
While I personally enjoyed parts of this app, there are several areas that could be significantly improved:
* Chinese is NOT an easy language to learn and there is no step-by-step pronunciation assistance. The words are simply said.
*There is also no test section (game or test) to see how much has been learned.
*The app lacks any kind of recording feature. In the flashcard section, the user ideally could record an attempt at each word to compare with the correct pronunciation.
* Since there are no tests or any kind, there is no data saved and no way to track progress.
* Though the App Store description claims the user will “find all the hidden objects in each lesson,” the objects are not at all hidden. Each lesson (or building) simply presents one picture scene with the objects easily visible. Actually trying to find the hidden objects would be a bit more of a game..
* Additional games would be ideal to provide more interaction. Using the flashcards in a matching game, finding an object on the screen by listening to the Chinese word, or having to follow instructions to dress a person in the clothing store would all add more learning opportunities and fun to this app.
* Though it is designed for younger children learning Chinese, it would still be beneficial to at least have examples of these words used in Chinese phrases or sentences.
* All of the vocabulary words presented are nouns. In any language learning, it is beneficial to teach specific nouns along with verbs, descriptive, and locative words. A vocabulary of just nouns is not very useful at all.
Although I had a little fun with it, Finger Chinese 2 just doesn't provide enough instruction or fun to be recommended.
Heather Hetler uses a diànnǎu (computer) and a shū (book) with her K-4 speech therapy students and three kids (10, 8, and 5). She still doesn’t speak Chinese.