Jul 092011

In switching to the new site platform, I have discontinued the information about all-purpose flashcard apps for iOS because the website covers this much, much better. As of this post there are 130 apps detailed on that site, and you can search them based on features such as audio or image support, syncing, import/export, and tracking (I discuss desirable flashcard features on this page). You can see which apps have free versions or formatted for the iPad. It’s a really useful and beautiful site. You can also follow the developer’s Twitter feed @flashcardapps to hear when new apps appear.

Jul 092011
iOS apps to increase vocabulary by one word per day

There are lots of resources (web, app, and even print) for increasing your vocabulary by one word per day. For this approach to be most effective, I would recommend adding your daily words to flashcard lists (perhaps arranged thematically, or b y radical) so that you can review regularly. Several iOS developers maintain Chinese word-of-the-day apps. All links are to the iTunes App Store (prices as of post date). First, Declan Software. Each includes pinyin (with tone numbers) and audio. You can also share your daily word by e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter. Chinese Word of the Day – Declan Software. Free. Chinese (Traditional) Word of the Day – Declan Software. Free. Next up, Prometoys. This app actually gave me nine words when launched for the first time. For some reason the part of speech is a big icon and the hanzi very small. No pinyin or audio, but it does give … [read more]

Jun 092011

After I wrote my initial review of the Chinese Writer game from trainchinese, the developer posted a very detailed response in the comments, which I very much appreciate. A day or two ago they released an update which addresses some of my wish list: There is now a choice of  traditional or simplified characters. The game now displays the high score for each character pack in a nice little scrolling ticker. Other changes: The instructions, while clear enough before, seem improved (although my memory of them is not perfect). A “freeze” button has been added onto the more complex character which lets you slow down the speed. A change that wasn’t what I expected: One of the items on my earlier wishlist was to be able to add your own wordlist. I had thought from the update’s description (“build custom packs by searching for characters”) that users could now build a custom … [read more]

May 252011
iOS game: Chinese Characters Fly

This game has two variants that are played essentially the same. In both, Chinese characters float randomly onto the screen and across it until you tap and drag them to a location. You can let the character sit there until an appropriate match comes along (what matches will depend on the variants; see below). When it does, you drag the matching characters on top of each other, after which they disappear. If incorrect characters touch (whether because you made a mistake or because they simply drifted into each other), you lose a life. In one variant, you try to match traditional characters with their simplified counterparts. This is a fun exercise if you are trying to learn both types. In the second variant, you choose to play with either simplified or traditional characters. The difference is that the floating characters are radicals and you have to combine them to make a different … [read more]

Apr 252011
iOS game: Chinese Writer

From the people comes a new iOS game where you score by writing characters quickly with correct stroke order. A character will fall from the top of the screen, you tap it to freeze it in the middle of the screen, then you trace over it with correct stroke order as fast as you can. If you make wrong strokes, you get a “wrong” indicator but can keep trying up to the time limit for the word. Fast writing (很快!) will get you double points; really fast (非常快!) will get you triple. Note: this is not to be confused with the app Chinese Writer by the folks at Popup Chinese, which is a nice, free tutorial-style intro to the rules of stroke order. Pros: The app shows the pinyin and an English definition for each character. Due to the speed of the game, you’re not likely to learn totally new characters while … [read more]