Apr 182012
iOS app CS Xiezi updated

CS Xiezi – Chinese Character Trainer from Clavis Sinica (originally reviewed in this post) has been updated with more characters. Version 1.5 now helps you learn to write the characters from the first five lessons (as opposed to the three lessons of version 1.3) in Clavis Sinica’s “Stepping Stones” series. The total number of characters is now 135. Otherwise, the app appears unchanged. Note: when I first launched after updating, I got a weird error screen that wouldn’t go away. Deleting and re-downloading the app fixed it. CS Xiezi is available on the App Store .

Mar 222012
iOS app: CS Zika

CS Zika is another iOS app from Clavis Sinica (see also the review of CS Xiezi). This one is a multiple-choice-format vocabulary tester that supports simplified or traditional characters. You can choose one of three largish sets of vocabulary: most common 300 characters, next most common 500 characters, and the 178 radicals. There are also fifteen 25-word lists of themed vocabulary available, such as countries, food, business terms, and academic subjects. How the test works: You are prompted with a character (or word) and first try to choose the correct pinyin. If you get the pinyin right, you then try to choose the correct definition. If you get the pinyin wrong, you are shown both the pinyin and the English, along with a list of words that include the character in question. The feedback is very like that of CS Xiezi (see that review for an image). At the end … [read more]

Mar 042012
iOS app: CS Xiezi

CS Xiezi – Chinese Character Trainer from Clavis Sinica is an app that helps you learn to 写字 (write characters). CS Xiezi tests you on writing characters with the proper stroke order (note that it does not teach you the basic rules of stroke order). The characters are drawn from the first three lessons in Clavis Sinica’s “Stepping Stones” series. Upon launching the app, you first choose one of the three lessons and then one of three modes. In all modes you receive a prompt in pinyin (with or without English definition) and then you try to write the character (with or without a background grid). Strokes you make with your finger (or stylus) that are deemed corrected are converted to standardized ones. Otherwise, the modes differ as follows. Train In this mode, you can choose whether or not to have a grey outline of the character displayed, so you … [read more]

Feb 262012
Hanlexon online study aids

Hanlexon is a website offering a number of tools for the study of Chinese. All of the tools are used with “worksheets” that you create first. A worksheet is essentially a set of characters. It can be an actual text with punctuation, or just a list of characters (e.g. 50 most frequent). Worksheets can be organized into “lessons” and “classes.” One feature of Hanlexon, namely its ability to generate PDFs for practicing writing hanzi, is called the “writing” tool and was reviewed in an earlier post in comparison with a similar web-based tool, Hanzi Grids. This post will cover the other features of Hanlexon. The “reading” tool can turn the content of your worksheet into a PDF with the option of adding pinyin as a phonetic guide above the hanzi, creating an annotated (or ruby) version. The “reading” tool can also display the content of the worksheet right in the … [read more]

Feb 202012
iOS game Chinese Writer updated

The iOS educational game, trainchinese Chinese Writer, was updated last November (compare my original review and follow-up review). The update brought a major new feature: the ability to import characters from wordlists that users already have in other trainchinese products, the trainchinese Dictionary & Flash cards iOS app and/or www.trainchinese.com. I can’t say how well this particular feature works since it requires a paid subscription. If any readers plan to purchase a trainchinese subscription, you could use one of the links to www.trainchinese.com on this page, which will earn me a free month’s subscription. The other way to get get custom character lists is to create them within the trainchinese Chinese Writer game. You can create and save multiple custom character lists. As mentioned in the follow-up review, you add characters to a list by searching the inventory of characters included in the game. You can, however, enter a number of characters in the search box and get all the results … [read more]