Learn Chinese from American-born Chinese-translated interactive scripts
May 8, 2012 in Education
[prMac.com] Beijing, China - Small Talk Chinese is an iPad app that takes something very familiar to English speakers - dialogues from movies and television shows - and uses that content to create interactive Chinese lessons. Each lesson is based around a theme, like dating, and is then broken down into topics, such as getting to know each other, sweet talk, and arguments. The dialogues mix both practical vocabulary and dramatic content, making learning Chinese both useful and amusing. Because the dialogues are not artificially created, as often is the case in older Chinese textbooks that feature lessons on trips to the Great Wall or the first day of Chinese class, users learn words in the context of phrases and sentences that they will actually use in day-to-day life.
Each topic has three sections: the dialogues, fill-in-the-blanks, and a listening test. These sections feature the following:
* Pop-up definitions for every word. Tap any character to view the pinyin and English definitions. These pinyin and English definitions are adapted from the popular open-source dictionary CC-CEDICT, which has over 100,000 entries.
* Native Chinese audio clips for each individual line of dialogue. All the Chinese is spoken at actual speed to acclimate intermediate Chinese learners to the pace of real Chinese.
* English to accompany every line of Chinese. It is critical that the Chinese learner always knows the exact meaning of what he or she is learning. Individual word definitions are often insufficient to convey the real meaning of a Chinese sentence, which is why having a true English translation is so critical.
* Fill-in-the-blank exercises. These exercises extract key vocabulary words from each dialogue to test whether learners can fit them back into the conversation. Related vocabulary and phrases are tested together to encourage recall of frequently associated words. The fill-in-the-blank target words also tend to be the more advanced vocabulary, to ensure that the user is always being challenged.
* Listening comprehension tests. These tests require you to not only recognize full lines of spoken Chinese, but also to know how they are translated into English. The user taps on the play button, hears a line taken from one of the dialogues, and then must select the correct English translation. After making a selection, the user can toggle back-and-forth between the Chinese and English.
The difficulty levels in Small Talk Chinese differ with the subject matter. Easier topics, like travel, are matched to the level of Chinese learners with at least one-year equivalent of university Chinese. More advanced topics like expressing emotions, are suitable for 3rd or 4th year Chinese students. Easier lessons for beginners will be added in the future. However, beginners can still use Small Talk Chinese by focusing on the simpler dialogue lines, which they can identify by gauging the complexity of the English that accompanies the Chinese.
The translations of American movies and television shows are originally done by Chinese fans. These crowd-sourced translations cover the majority of major movies and television shows over the past decade. While the quality of the fan translations is generally quite good, curation by the Small Talk Chinese team is necessary to ensure accuracy. The principle behind Small Talk Chinese's translations is that the Chinese should only represent what a Chinese person would actually say. Therefore, an English phrase such as, "You couldn't be ordinary if you tried" will not be translated literally, as that would sound strange in Chinese. Instead the phrase is translated in Chinese to something closer to "You're not ordinary in even the slightest manner." Therefore, users can always be confident that the Chinese they are learning from Small Talk Chinese will be perfectly natural when used in the real world.
This initial release of Small Talk Chinese is the first step in developing a superior mobile Chinese learning tool for the serious Chinese studier. The Small Talk Chinese team has many feature and content updates planned, including customize vocabulary list, spaced-repetition learning, and social learning collaboration tools.
* Compatible with iPad
* Requires iOS 5.0 or later
* 41.9 MB
Pricing and Availability:
Small Talk Chinese: Mandarin Chinese Language Learning 1.0 is Free and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Education category.
Download from iTunes
Located in Beijing, China, Small Talk Chinese was founded in 2012 by Zachary Wang and Zuo Peng. Zachary is a native of Boston, MA, and holds degrees from Columbia University (BA), Boston College Law School (JD), and Tsinghua UNiversity (LLM). He moved to China in 2008 to pursue a legal career. However, he quickly joined the tech startup scene and worked for 2 years at a data analytics company before forming Small Talk Chinese. Zachary has studied Chinese since high school at Phillips Academy Andover. Zuo Peng is a Beijing native and graduate of Beijing Normal University, where he studied Mathematics. He has extensive experience in Ruby on Rails, SQL, backend applications, and HTML5. Zuo Peng also speaks fluent English and has been learning English since elementary school. Small Talk Chinese is currently seeking funding to support the growth of Small Talk Chinese. All Material and Software (C) 2012 Small Talk Chinese / All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPod, the iPod logo, are registered trademarks of Apple Computer in the U.S. and/or other countries.