[App Review] — HelloChinese

Hello, everyone! I’m glad to be back <3 Two weeks of grad were intense—classes from 9am to 6pm, plus readings and homework and projects and just generally studying for usually about three hours (or more) each evening before getting up to do it again the next day. Yesterday morning we had our exams, and now the first 20% of my master’s degree is complete 🙂

ANYWAY! Today I bring you… Chinese??

My blog is pretty much totally geared toward Korean lately, but I haven’t given up on Mandarin! I actually use a few different language exchange apps and sites to chat with native speakers, so even if I’m not actually doing book study, I can get a little practice here and there. However, I have lately been using this app, HelloChinese, to get a little more practice in, and to shore up my basics. I’ve been using it for a bit now, and even used it to get in some short practices during downtime after grad classes, so I figured I would tell you guys how I’m feeling about the app.

image

(The hamburger isn’t part of the opening screen; that’s just my Chinese dictionary app!)

Starting out

HelloChinese is set up sort of like Duolinguo, if you’re familiar with that structure.

There are different levels that you progress through, from absolute basics and up. There are shortcuts you can take too, to test out of material you already know. I decided to start from the bottom anyway (though I didn’t do the pronunciation part; you can go straight into basics without doing that if you already know how Pinyin works). Each topic starts with a little intro page you can read for some cultural background on the topic, and then you get into learning. New words and grammar are presented with audio and images, and you can choose if you want to see just Pinyin, just the characters (my choice), or both together. Also, blessedly, you can choose to use either traditional or simplified. I love traditional characters, so I was really glad I wouldn’t be forced to use simplified <3

Learning activities

As you progress through each part of the lesson, the app presents a variety of questions, including vocab-picture matching, translating vocab or sentences, writing characters, and even speaking questions! The individual little lessons are short, but they pack so many activities into them that I feel like it’s a really good, effective format. My favorite thing is actually the final lesson of each topic, which is purely speaking. It judges fairly harshly at times (and I, being a perfectionist, keep retrying each sentence until it judges all of my characters as correct even though you can move on without that), but that certainly isn’t a bad thing if you really want to nail your pronunciation and tones. The only thing that’s a bit disappointing is that if you choose to redo the level, which you can at any time, the questions never change. It would just be nice if it could use the lesson material to build new sentences for each time you try.

Other features

There are some other little features outside of the main topics and lessons, but I honestly don’t mess with them much and just keep trucking on forward. You can download the lessons for offline learning, and there is a training function in which you can play games using coins earned from completing lessons. However, you can only play one unless you pay to unlock all of the games. Another feature is word, character, and grammar cards. When practicing those, you can do everything or choose specific topics.

Verdict

To sum it all up, I really enjoy this app for working on my Mandarin! The progression from basic topics and onward is smooth, you can choose the character set you want to use, and it has good speaking practice and flashcards. It would be nice if the speaking exercises were mixed up a little, and if the games were free, but eh, I guess the developers need to make money somehow! If you’re looking to get into learning Chinese or just need a way to fit some quick and easy practice into your busy day, I would recommend HelloChinese 🙂

As always, happy studying~