Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Learning Chinese

During my internship at Gen-Probe over summer 2008, I was taking the train to Sorrento Valley from Carlsbad in San Diego on a daily basis. To fill my time while riding the train, I had downloaded some Spanish Podcasts from Itunes. The lessons worked out great and I was learning a ton.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago. I was looking for a similar Podcast to learn Chinese. While searching through Itunes for a suitable Chinese Podcast, I found some other applications that also looked very interesting. There was this one that worked like little flashcards. The application would show me the character, then when I clicked over the hidden part of screen it would show me the translation, the pronunciation in ‘pinyin’, and would also say the word out loud. I could also choose between traditional Chinese characters, and the simplified characters (Traditional is still used in HK where simplified is used in most of mainland China).

Please understand my excitement for this application. Chinese, not being a phonetic language, requires the student to learn the written and spoken language separately. So the fact that the flash cards tell you how to say the word is so helpful.

Sure there are programs on your computer like Rosetta Stone that have the same capabilities, but how convenient are they? When I’m sitting at my computer I usually have many more things to do than practice my Chinese. But what about when we're waiting for a doctors appointment? Or waiting for friends to meet us for dinner? Or during commercials when we're watching your favorite show?

The biggest problem is, the Chinese flashcard application only works for an Ipod Touch or Iphone. A couple of questions you might have to ask yourself before making the upgrade are these: Does your lifestyle include some waiting time allowing you to pull out your Ipod Touch for 5-10mins at a time? If not, just a regular Ipod that can download the Chinese Podcasts might be a good investment. Otherwise, I can say from experience, the Ipod Touch and the $5 Chinese flashcard application are two great investments.

Hope this doesn't sound to much like a product review. I just really love this new Program!


  1. Bum news, KJB - At least you have more time to master chinese now! I see Kelly D on campus occasionally. We need to reunite before you scoot! B

  2. Let's see how "learning by playing" is efficient on you! Educational gadget, I believe in books!
    You know what? I'm starting to read sentences in chinese characters!