Do you have trouble distinguishing between “xun” and “shun” or “po” and “bo”? You can find out by taking the The Laokang® Pinyin Test, an iOS app that tests your ability to transcribe spoken Chinese syllables into pinyin.
For each “question” in the test, you hear three distinct, random syllables. Your task is to type in the pinyin for these as quickly as you can. You do not type in tone marks or numbers (if you want to test your ability to distinguish tones, try the free Laokang® Tone Test, reviewed in an earlier post). You can listen to the question as many times as you like, but slow responses are penalized.
As one might expect, the Pinyin Test shares the same thoughtful design as the Tone Test: the fact that the syllables do not form coherent words or phrases (and are pronounced essentially tonelessly) makes it purely a test of syllable recognition, not of vocabulary. A running score and a timer are handily displayed at the upper corners of the screen.
At the end of the test, you see your percentage of correct answers and the final score after an adjustment up or down for fast or slow answers. I found time to be much more of a factor here than in the Tone Test. Typing takes longer than tapping targets and having to correct a typo almost assures a penalty for slowness. One’s typing speed is also likely to vary between the iPhone/iPod and the iPad (this is a universal app). As a result, I would be inclined to pay more attention to the unadjusted score for the Pinyin Test, if comparing scores of different people.
All in all, this is another great app from Laokang for beginning Chinese students (along with the aforementioned Tone Test and Tone Trainer [review]). The Laokang® Pinyin Test is available on the . Stay tuned for coverage of the forthcoming Pinyin Trainer.