What is the Kids Learn Mandarin App?
Kids Learn Mandarin is a seriously cute, bright and fun Mandarin Chinese learning app that’s targeted at English speaking children aged 2 to 6.
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Design of the Kids Learn Mandarin App
Bright, eye-catching graphics. I have to admit, it’s not as polished as the other Mandarin Chinese apps that we have used. But, it does its job, which is to engage children enough that they will want to learn Mandarin Chinese on it without much persuasion.
Your child will embark on a cute learning journey with a variety of cartoon animals. As they play the games, they will be exposed to 200 basic Mandarin Chinese characters according to these 12 themes:
- Colors & Shapes
- Fruit & Vegetables
- Family & Occupation
- Body Parts
- Toys & Transport
- Sport & Hobbies
- Things at Home
- Eating & Drinking
- Nature & Outdoors
How will my child learn Mandarin Chinese with the Kids Learn Mandarin app?
By playing and singing along! It’s very fun for toddler-aged children. The songs are infectiously catchy. The learning games are super simple and easy to play without parental help. It’s engaging enough without being overwhelming.
Each lesson includes 8 games and 1 music video. After the child completes the lessons (games), he/she is rewarded with stickers that they can use to decorate their landscape. Watch the following video of the game play within the “Fruits” lesson.
The 8 games in each lesson are:
Half of the Chinese vocabulary of that lesson is presented. Your child has to match the correct picture to the Mandarin Chinese word. Assuming this is the first introduction your child has to the Mandarin Chinese words, the developers have kindly put in an inbuilt prompt: the correct word is bouncing prominently on the screen. This is very helpful to ensure your child gets the correct answer and feel confident about their learning!
Similar to the matching game, your child has to click on the correct picture, with 3 pictures shown.
Your child will trace the Chinese characters on sand. There are only 4 words in this game, and it doesn’t change. (This is the weakest learning part of the app. More on that later)
The other half of the Chinese vocabulary of that lesson is presented at this point.
Your child has to shoot the hoop into the correct net. All Chinese Mandarin vocabulary words learnt may be presented.
Your child has to help the bunny cross the river by hopping on the correct turtles
In this game, your child has to select the correct answer amongst 4 objects.
Getting a bit more challenging, instead of 4 objects, there are 6 to discriminate from.
Tic Tac Toe
9 objects are presented, and your child has to try and get 3 correct answers in a row.
Hot Air Balloon
Catch the correct object in the basket by tilting side to side on the screen. I’m not entirely sure why, but all my three children like this game the most. Maybe, it’s feels more exciting because they have to move the phone?!
There is also a “School” button which takes you to the entire vocabulary taught within the app, and presents as a picture Chinese English dictionary where your child can revise the Chinese characters learnt and associate that with the English word.
For each word, you will be presented with the Chinese characters, pinyin and English word. Your child has to reveal the picture by “rubbing” the shadow out, and practise saying the Chinese and English labels.
Chinese Language options:
Simplified Chinese with pinyin
App language options:
English. All instructions and feedback are given in English.
The Mandarin Chinese pronunciation is pretty accurate.
Does the app allow for multiple users?
Nope. One user only.
Is there a free trial?
Yes. You can download the Kids Learn Mandarin app for free which allows access to 1 lesson, the Number lesson. Give it a go. The free lesson gives you a good idea of how the game play is, and you can see the level of interest and engagement your child has on the app and whether it is worth the purchase.
Will the app teach my child to do the four big Chinese skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing (听说读写)?
Listen 听 – Yes, there are lots of repetition within the 8 games that your child plays within each lesson
Speak 说 – Nope. There are no games that will practise expressive labelling of the Chinese characters.
Read 读 – Not really. While the Chinese characters are always on display during the listening games, your child is not required to read them as part of the learning.
Write 写 – Yes and No. In each lesson, there is a “Calligraphy” game where your child will trace the Chinese characters. No, because your child is not required to write all the Chinese characters.
Kids Learn Mandarin Chinese Album
There is a companion music album “I can sing in Mandarin” By Kids Learn Mandarin that the kids love as toddlers. This was also partly the reason why I bought the app. The lessons in the Kids Learn Mandarin App are actually based on the super catchy songs.
What’s good about the Kids Learn Mandarin app?
- The Chinese characters are consistently presented with pinyin. I haven’t seen many Chinese learning apps that incorporate pinyin along with Chinese characters throughout the app. So for parents who are non-fluent, this is a great aid for you.
- The game play format is a fun and easy way to teach children Mandarin. (No pressure there!). Plus, the games are super simple and straightforward, you don’t have to teach your child what to do.
- There are lots of audio and visual repetitions of each Mandarin Chinese character within each mini game.
- I like that they included tracing of the Chinese characters within the games. (Under the “calligraphy” game)
- As an educator, I like the thoughtfulness behind the mini lessons. It builds on from the previous ones, new Chinese vocabulary are not introduced all at once, and the games get slightly more challenging as your child goes through the lesson.
- It is really affordable. For $20 you get an entire app that teaches 200 Chinese words. Considering that most apps will require a monthly subscription of $10 per month.
What’s not so good about the Kids Learn Mandarin app?
- The “Movie” feature does not work! So while we can still hear the song for that lesson, you are looking at a dark screen the entire time. Can the app developers kindly update the app when they get a chance? Please??
- As I mentioned earlier, the graphics aren’t great and look a bit dated. (The app was released in 2014.)
- And the music… it’s constantly in the background. After a while, it can get pretty annoying (for the parents). Kids love it.
Will it really teach my children Chinese?
I think this app is suitable for very very young Chinese learners whose first language is English, who won’t mind the average graphics and just needs something easy and simple. Another app for this age group to consider is Fun Chinese app which we used in our Mandarin homeschooling for a year before our subscription ran out. You can read the full review in this blog post.
Where to purchase and download the Kids Learn Mandarin App
You can purchase the app from the Apple App store
Pricing (in AUD)
Basic Pack (which includes 5 lessons: Colors & Shapes, Animals, Fruits & Vegetables, Family & Occupations, and Body Parts) – $14.99
Full Pack (which includes all 12 lessons) – $19.99
Individual lessons each – $2.99