123 Chinese iPad App Review

Price: $2.99     Score: 8/10     Category: Education

Legendary Crafters‘ foray into the already crowded language learning market is 123 Chinese, an iPad app that seeks to teach your children basic Chinese vocabulary. But does the app really make learning a new language as easy as 1-2-3?

For now, the offerings are limited to colors, animals and numbers (at three levels of difficulties), with other vocabualry categories slated for addition with future updates.

Each word (written in both Chinese and in English transliteration) is paired with a visual as well as the ability to listen to the word pronunciation as many times as you like. You then trace your finger over the characters, following the guides, to learn how to write as well as understand the spoken word.

But not all is golden in this brightly colored, very accessible iPad app. The placement of the menu buttons in each corner is smart, but the buttons do seem a tad undersized. But more off-putting is the somewhat twitchy controls, which aren’t perfectly responsive.

Response issues with finger controls can be manageable for adults, but in an app clearly aimed at kids, I have to imagine it would cause lots of frustration.

In some sections, where the user is asked to trace the lines to create a Chinese character, the app seems a little slow to keep up with the finger. But then at other times, it’s too responsive, recording touches as correct before the user even finishes the motion or adds the final flourish.

Overall, however, 123 Chinese is reasonably responsive. At times, though, it feels less like learning and more like tracing. It’s not a case of learning being fun, but rather a case of doing an action without necessarily taking in the information in a way that it can be easily recalled later.

For example, learning the character for chicken might work better if the character was broken down into two major sets of tracing (one for each separate character), separated by a bit of animation to keep it from overwhelming a young child.

123 Chinese is a good distraction for your kids, but there are other iPad apps out there that handle this territory a little better if you want them to actually master the language, and not just learn a few words here and there.

123 Chinese is compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.

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