Discovering Chinese -iPad Edition from Better Chinese is an iPad app designed for middle school and high school students interested in learning basic Mandarin. Asianmommy received a free app for review.
Volume 1 contains 12 lessons, including topics such as Hello, What is your name?, How old are you?, What is your nationality?, Where do you live?, What day of the week is it today?, What is inside the classroom?, and What do you like to eat?
Each lesson offers an animated story to view, then presents the story in a comic book form, allowing the user to click on the phrases to hear them individually, either with the Chinese characters plus Pinyin, or with the characters alone. Next, the lesson text shows you the Chinese characters, with the option to show the Pinyin and/or the English translation. The Vocabulary section shows the definitions of the individual words, plus language and culture tips are given.
Next, you can practice the 4 tones, then listen to a dialogue and answer questions. You may even record yourself speaking. Then, you can read a passage and answer questions, as well as practice writing the characters. The Homework section tests your listening and reading comprehension. writing, and speaking.
What I liked: This is a very comprehensive program for learning Mandarin. The topics are useful and relevant. I like the comic book pages, where you can listen to the phrases selectively--over and over and over, if you need to. I also love how you can hide the Pinyin or English translation to force yourself to read only the Chinese characters.
What could be improved: The font size could be a little bigger, especially for the animation and comic book pages--I found it somewhat difficult to read the Pinyin. To be honest, I also had some trouble answering some of the test questions, particularly in the writing section. Could be that I'm not well-versed in Chinese, but perhaps there are some bugs to work out in the program, as well.
Overall, I think this is a great program that can be very helpful for those beginning to learn Mandarin.