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]

Feb 122012
Free iOS app: Laokang Pinyin Test

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 … [read more]

Dec 042011
Free iOS app: Laokang Tone Test

As you might expect, the Laokang® Tone Test 老康®考你声调 is an iOS app that tests your recognition of the tones of spoken Chinese. Each complete test consists of 20 questions in random order. For each question, you hear a two-syllable word, so the maximum score is 40. You just tap a diagram for each syllable to indicate which tone you heard; the circle in the middle of the diagram for the second syllable is for a “neutral” (aka “fifth” or “light”) tone. You can change your responses simply by tapping different tones on the diagrams. Once you’re ready to commit, you tap the green checkmark to proceed to the next pair of syllables. You are not given detailed feedback immediately, but a running tally of correct answers is displayed at the upper right of the screen. Your final score, with a detailed breakdown and an answer key, is given at … [read more]

Sep 032011

Classes started at my institution of higher learning last week so this post is the first in a series for everyone just beginning to study Chinese (esp. my friend Robin and the folks in Extension E1). These are free, lite, or low-cost apps. If cost is no object, or if you are already committed to continuing with Chinese, you’ll find lots of other iOS resources on this site (just choose the “iOS” tag from the tag list). Recognizing sounds and tones and learning how they are represented with pinyin Pinyin Chart is pretty much exactly that: a big table, similar to the ones found in just about every intro textbook, with initials along the vertical axis and finals on the horizontal. You can click on any syllable and hear it pronounced with the various tones. Pinyin Trainer by trainchinese provides a useful guide that describes the pinyin system and tones … [read more]

Jul 102011
iOS app: Chinese Vocabulary Quiz 123

UPDATE: The full version of this app is now free. The developer has ceased work on it. Grab it while you can; it’s still a good app (although there is a small glitch in the animation) and works on an iPhone 4S running iOS 5. Chinese Vocabulary Quiz 123 is a multiple choice quiz, but for each word there are several multiple choice “questions”: you have to select the correct pinyin, draw the correct tone mark (repeating these steps for the other syllables of multi-syllable words), and finally choose the correct meaning. There is also a simple study mode where you can see a page for each word with all the info for it at once. It was not clear to me at first what the checkmarks and x’s are in this mode, but it seems the app keeps track of how many times you get each word right or … [read more]