Nintendo DS Game "My Chinese Coach"
I picked up this game recently. I carry the flashcards from tuttle but this seemed interesting. It's a series of very brief lessons with little minigames that you must complete (flashcards, multiple choice, guess what tone, write this hanzi, etc.) before you are allowed to graduate to the next lesson. The instruction is very brief and jumps around a lot. I can't imagine someone actually using this as an introduction for very long. It was created as one in a series including french, spanish, japanese and that leads it to one of the reoccuring problems of learning hanzi on the computer. They didn't bother reformating and the font size they use for hanzi is the same size they would use for latin characters. I imagine this wouldn't be so bad for the japanese kana or even taiwanese zhuyin but some hanzi are just little blobs on the little low resolution nintendo ds screen.
even on my blurry pick from my iphone you can see the problem. they could have worked with their limitations and used pinyin only but I guess they thought the title would sell better if they could advertise the ability to practice writing hanzi (which is buggy and mostly worthless because the computer draws the character way too fast to understand the stroke order). Again that approach might work for the japanese kana but it's maddening in hanzi.
What is good about this title:
1. listening to the sounds of mandarin and practicing the tones
2. it's comparable to more flashcards than I could normally carry around but the clarity of the hanzi really suffers. I mostly just hear the 汉语 word and pick the english counterpart, but a set of hearing comprehension flashcards is a valuable thing too.
3. it has an integrated phrasebook and dictionary. an electronic dictionary with voice output would be expensive (like 200 USD or so) but if you already have a nintendo DS it's only the cost of this 30 dollar game.
So overall there's some utility in it though their overall approach is just wrong for chinese. I might pick up the japanese version to refresh my rusty nihon go skills.
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