About the app
If you have browsed for preschooler learning apps before, you would likely have come across the cutesy world of Dr Panda and his equally adorable animal friends. In this app, your little one (targeted age 3 to 6 years old) will learn Chinese with the super smart Dr Panda and his cute sidekick Toto. Developed by 学而思出品, your child will learn 1200 Chinese words, and 3600 Chinese phrases through play.
*I did not receive any monetary endorsement for this post. This is my honest opinion after trying it out for 6 months with my three children.
In general, your child will learn 5 Chinese words as their daily task. For each Chinese word, there is a tracing, speaking and matching activity. The 5 Chinese words are introduced in a game setting, such as going to the farm for a visit, or having a picnic. Dr Panda will introduce and instruct what needs to be done for each learning activity. There is a huge emphasis around food in the learning games. So very typical Chinese!
When we started this app, Da Bao has been learning Chinese on iHuman app 洪恩识字 but I found his learning to become stagnant after the first 100 words, so I tried him on Dr Panda Chinese for 6 months to see if this was more suitable for him.
Under the learning settings, you can change it to 1 lesson (5 Chinese words) a day, 2 lessons or 3 lessons. It takes approximately 15 minutes for my children to complete 1 lesson, which is what they do daily. There are 4 set tasks everyday.
Your child will be tested on the Chinese words learnt previously.
2. 今日课程 Today’s Lesson
Dr Panda and Toto will introduce you to their activity for the day, and you will learn one Chinese word at a time. There is a quick lesson about the Chinese word, then a speech recognition task, Chinese character writing practise, and word puzzle matching activity.
3. 课后练习 After Lesson Practice
Your child will immediately revise all new Chinese words learnt for that lesson. The main difference between this practice and the playtime practice is there are less discriminants for this revision of new words.
4. 玩一玩 Playtime
Additional learning through a fun game, which revises not just the Chinese words learnt that day, but also previous ones.
Here is a quick video insight into each of those 4 set tasks.
Similar to the iHuman Chinese app, which we have been using for the past year, after your child has completed learning 5 Chinese words, they can read a levelled reader containing those same words. Regrettably, the levelled readers are insanely hard for the beginners to read by themselves.
In this video, I am showing you the first levelled reader on app. At this point, your child has learnt the following Chinese words: . The first sentence in this reader is “有一个叫做熊猫小镇的地方 ” Seriously! I wouldn’t expect my preschool aged children to be able to read that by themselves. Frankly, the levelled readers are the weakest learning feature within this app.
Chinese Language options:
App language options:
Does the app allow for multiple users?
No. Only one user allowed.
Does the app allow for multiple devices?
Yes. You can use it across multiple devices.
Is there a free trial?
Yes. Just download the app, and you will get the first 20 Chinese lessons for free.
Will the app teach my child to do the four big Chinese skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing (听说读写)?
There is plenty of repetition of the targeted Chinese words within each lesson.
The recording function of this app was what drew us to this app. For each Chinese word learnt, your child will have to say it, and be graded immediately (which my son really struggled with).
As mentioned earlier, there are levelled readers which your child can access after learning 5 Chinese words.
Yes, your child will have to practise writing each Chinese word learnt that day, in its proper stroke order.
What’s good about the app
The biggest strength of Dr Panda Chinese app is that for each Chinese word taught, the commentary will discuss related Chinese vocabulary words. For example, when learning 儿，your child will also learn related Chinese phases 儿童，少儿 and 儿科. This is a great feature to create stronger linguistic connections between Chinese words.
What’s not so good about the app
For a Chinese learning app for young children, the games are not that interesting. Compared to iHuman, the games in Dr Panda Learn Chinese are repetitive and not that engaging.
I hate the levelled readers. It is far too difficult for young children to be able to read them independently.
Another failure of this app is the positive reinforcement comes in the form of a treat for Toto the turtle. Erm, did Toto learnt the Chinese words, or did my child did?
Will it really teach my children Chinese?
It’s a really cute app, and there are some nice Chinese learning features in it. The children enjoyed playing on the interactive Chinese learning games. However, I have to say honestly that it has not been that effective in teaching new Chinese vocabulary to my children. So my recommendation is to skip this app (Sorry Dr Panda!!) and download the iHuman app 洪恩识字 which we LOVE. Read the review here to know what is so amazing about this app.
This is an app that I had really high expectations for. Unfortunately, as much as I love Dr Panda and his adorable sidekicks, this app is simply not as well designed as the others we have tried out, which leads to my 2 star rating. My children are learning more constructively and effectively with the iHuman app 洪恩识字. See why we like iHuman more here.
In Da Bao’s own words “It’s so boring. The games are not fun.”
Where to purchase
If you have a big Dr Panda fan, and would still like to give this app a try, it is free to download on Apple App Store. You can trial the first 20 Chinese words for free.
Pricing as follows:
Annual subscription AUD$44.99
6 months subscription AUD$30.99
3 months subscription AUD$15.49
Monthly subscription AUD$9.99
Happy Mandarin Homeschooling!