Learn Chinese (Mandarin) - MindSnacks

Curated and Reviewed by Lesson Planet

Acquire over 1000 Chinese words while playing games! Mandarin Chinese, one of the most desired languages in business and technology, is the focus of this teaching tool. Users will pick up vocabulary and practice tones, all while tapping away at bubbles, images, birds, and more.

6th - Higher Ed World Languages 85 Views 30 Downloads
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App Overview

Learn Chinese (Mandarin) - MindSnacks teaches and tests your knowledge of Mandarin Chinese through eight interactive games. Part of a series, the app shares seven games with other the other languages. These games test spelling, vocabulary mastery, image recognition, recall, error recognition, grammar, and more. The eighth game, which teaches tones, is specific to the Mandarin app. In all of the games, you gain experience that allows you to level up and unlock new games (only two games are unlocked initially). The final game opens when you reach level 28. While you play, side quests and achievements pop up. These add extra motivation and help you level up.

How to Get Started:

  • Log in with an existing account or create an account
  • Select your Chinese level
    • Nonexistent
    • Jumbled up words without any structure
    • Halting sentences with OK grammar
    • Fast & confident
  • Interact with the app during a quick tutorial
  • Tap the words in your first lesson to listen to them read aloud by a native speaker
  • Start practicing by playing Swell, one of the two unlocked games

Access to Lessons:

  • When you choose your level, the app will set you up with one free lesson
  • For $4.99, you can upgrade and receive 50 lessons that contain 1000+ words
  • The app will also give you the option to buy 400 lessons for eight apps; subjects include Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and SAT

Viewing and Selecting Lessons:

  • The book in the top right corner will take you to your lessons; you can also drag the whole page to the left to view lessons
  • After upgrading, the list of topics is huge and covers everything from numbers to street bargaining
  • Open the menu on the lessons page if you want to choose a specific topic; otherwise, the app will go in order
  • Your lessons and words are automatically categorized into Current and Mastered; tap any word to heard it read out loud
  • Review mastered words by tapping Mastered and then Play
  • The app does adapt to you and will purposefully retest and repeat words based on your progress

Game Features:

  • Toggle between pinyin and characters; Galactic, the tone game, with always use both
  • Listen to light music while you play
  • Watch as silly animations spice up the material and games
  • Use the charming art to help you remember and learn vocabulary
  • Track your progress with each word
  • Listen to proper pronunciation of each word by a native speaker
  • View your results and a scorecard for each game
  • Restart, pause, or randomize games

On Your Profile, Check Out:

  • Active days
  • Hot streaks
  • Your mastered words
  • Completed lessons tally
  • Percentages that correspond with skill levels for:
    • Image recognition
    • Tones
    • Rapid recall
    • Error recognition
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Instructional Ideas

Learn Chinese (Mandarin) - MindSnacks allows for multiple users on one device. The only catch is that each user needs to have an account. If you only have access to a smaller set of tablets, set up stations and ask class members to set up. When you have stations a second time, all they will have to do is select their name from the list of users. Also, you can check individual progress through the profile page available for each user.

The app is meant for a single user, which is an advantage and a disadvantage. While projecting the app and working as a class would not really work, the independent user experience is engaging and effective. Class members will want to practice! Assign specific lessons to keep all your pupils on the same page. They can practice individually and discuss together. Watch out! Some of your learners might get addicted to these games.

Galactic, the tone game, is a great tool for teaching the subtleties of Mandarin pronunciation. Encourage students to repeat the words out loud to get a sense for each tone. 

Classroom Considerations

While addicting and full of educational content, MindSnacks is a supplementary material. Your learners will definitely pick up vocabulary and gain an understanding of basic pronunciation and grammar. However, there are many subtleties of Mandarin Chinese that need to be taught in more depth. Also, users are never asked to speak or write. You can encourage repeating after the recording in the app, but class members will need more instruction in these areas.

MindSnacks advertises an illustrated image library that goes alongside the vocabulary. While many words are paired with cute drawings, some near the end are paired with pictures instead. Take a look at the pictures before assigning the lessons. They are of varying quality.

Bulk licenses are available to schools for half price. There is more information about this offer on the developer's website.

  • Special game that teaches tones
  • Option for characters or pinyin
  • Scaffoleded material that is retaught periodically
  • Entertaining and educational games
  • Does not require users to speak or write
  • Single user interface limits classroom use