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Recommended Cool Games for Mandarin Learning

Imagine if you could play a role playing game and by the end of it, you would be fluent in Chinese? Sounds stupid, right? Traditional logic states it is stupid and that Language Acquisition is something that should be hard, something that should be “earned”. In the eyes of most snooty academics, you shouldn’t be able to have fun and learn a language. ESPECIALLY not Mandarin Chinese, the “hardest” of the languages to learn.

Influent:

Originally created as a Japanese learning game, influent now has over 10 extra languages including Chinese.

As you can see from the video, influent is a compelling concept that is eye-catching, as a 3D immersive language learning game; it really is a field-leading product. As a language teaching tool however, it is limited in its ability. The game mostly works as a vocabulary builder, I would recommend it for learners that are just starting to learn Chinese from zero as it provides plenty of “a-ha!” moments, being able to learn words by exploring. Definitely a must get game though, just because of how different and cool it is.

MindSnacks Chinese:

Probably the best put together mobile game app for language learning, mindsnacks is just plain fun. It has gamified levels and a linear progression. It builds from simple vocabulary to complex sentences and it is all around just a great game to play. I can’t say much about its function or ability to teach conversation, but it’s a great alternative to flashcards. Where it fails is that there is not enough native review of previous concepts without you having to prompt it. It is very fun, almost fun enough to just be a stand-alone game, regardless of the Chinese learning content which sets it apart from similar applications like ChineseSkill and HelloChinese.

ChineseSkill:

 

Chinese Skill is also a linear learning product that has gamified mechanics and flashy graphics. A fun “gameplay” like learning method with its cute design, bright graphics, a friendly panda, and a very efficient learning path. Although not a game in the true sense of the word, it functions as a game in many aspects with picture matching and speech, as well as a Kanji building point and click interface. It has a very sleek design and I am excited to see what the future holds for it.

HelloChinese:

Although not a game, a very slick app much like hellochinese, it is the closest to being a “game”, along with HelloChinese that we have seen.

A very slick app, much like ChineseSkill, and in the same vain, an “almost game” that does a wonderful job of helping you learn the basics of Mandarin. One of the features that sets it apart from the other previously featured learning apps is the native way it teaches stroke order by allowing you to write characters through a stroke by stroke interactive format. However, ChineseSkill promotes a sort of click and drag interface that teaches you radicals. Overall, Hellochinese is earlier in its development cycle so time will tell what improvements both camps come up with.

Aside from the cutting edge technology to come out of these promising apps, there are also more analog solutions in development.

Sam Bleakly

Sam learned Mandarin when he was living and working in Shanghai. He now lives in Tokyo with his wife Natalie where he works for Innovative Language, producers of ChineseClass101. Sam is a polyglot and is currently learning Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese. He is the co-author of LanguageLearningCouple.

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