Mandarin App Recommendations

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Lingo’s Market

We are so excited to be able to offer our own app, Lingo’s Market, as a tool for working with your child in Mandarin. Lingo teaches your child vocabulary, pronunciation and word recognition as he eats his way through the market. Your child has the ability to push Lingo’s shopping cart through the grocery store, choose what foods he eats and pick which of the eight aisles he rolls down. When your child feeds Lingo, the word is pronounced in Mandarin (by a native-speaking child) and displayed on the cash register; parents can choose if their children view the game in Chinese characters or pinyin. Children delight in watching Lingo munch up the food they have selected, waiting to see if he does something silly (sometimes he burps, sometimes he farts…) All the while, they are learning to recognize over 100 food items in Mandarin.  As a bonus, the app also includes English, Spanish and French! Perfect for ages 2-7.

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Learn Chinese: Toy Story 3

We love the leveled learning of this app to teach Mandarin with the familiar Disney story Toy Story. Little learners of all abilities can start this stepped book at any point that works for them and gradually increase the amount of Chinese they hear and see as they improve. There are 5 different levels, from 100% English, to 100% Chinese/Pinyin.


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Feed Me!

We just love this app! Little learners watch a purple monster think up a question and then they need to feed the monster the correct answer. Questions asked are about shapes, numbers, colors, sorting, math, and more. We just love this character — he is super cute, makes funny little sounds and interacts with children if they tap him in the belly! Children can just play this game with all of the questions or they can challenge themselves by trying to complete the game by going through the different levels or finishing up a particular subject matter. Parents need to download the free version first and then buy the in-app version in Mandarin. If you like this game, it is also available in 12 languages besides Mandarin. Check out our review of this app on our blog here.

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The Truly Great Noodle- Mandarin

What a creative free interactive book to get your child interacting with content and a storyline about a noodle that travels from a boy’s dinner plate all over town — told in Mandarin and written in simplified Chinese! Watch Nate try to finish up his dinner throughout town. Your child will love interacting with the ebook as there are surprises to be found on every page. Touch the dog and he munches on the noodle! Touch the picture frames and the people inside them interact with one another! Parents can record the book themselves if they prefer (perhaps in another language!) and so the child can hear the story both in with the Mandarin-speaking narrator and another voice. Your child could even sharpen his own reading skills as he narrates and records his own voice!


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Counting Ants

What an adorable way to learn numbers! It comes for free in English and Spanish, but you can do an in-app purchase to get one of 8 additional languages such as French, Chinese, Japanese and German! Cute little ants ride along in cars reinforcing numbers as they drive along. For example, if your child is on the number 23 he will see three cars with ants which is counted off often and he will need to find the number three written on fruit hanging from a tree. While very simple, it is effective as my children find the happy-go-lucky music and the level of interaction enough to keep on playing. 

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Piggy Picnic

Two adorable pigs interact with your child asking questions about colors, fruit names, matching, sizes, numbers, and similarities using color fruit graphics. If your child answers correctly, that fruit goes into the pig’s basket and the two pigs kiss. Very simple but super cute! Parents can choose to change the audio to be either “Chinese Only,” “Chinese + English,” and ”English Only”. 


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Li in Beijing

Have fun dressing up a cute girl in many different kinds of outfits as you learn the names for those items in Mandarin. Children will learn the name for common clothing items such as shoes, hat, dress etc. as they play with their very own digital paper doll. Dress up Li for the beach, to go to bed, off to school and many more scenarios. Check out our review of this app on our blog here.

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Ana Lomba’s Chinese for Kids- The Red Hen

The traditional story of the little red hen comes alive on your ipad. The little red hen asks her friends to help her plant the seeds of wheat Throughout the storyline, children will learn numbers, simple vocabulary, greetings, common verbs (like swim, eat) They won’t realize that they are learning these words as they are intertwined within the story. We love the easy interaction of this app – users can easily switch between English and Chinese, listen to a page again and jump from scene to scene. The app includes both simplified characters and pinyin. If you like this app, the company Ana Lomba also has the story Cinderella in Chinese and English.


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LinguPingu- English/Chinese

The illustrations in this app are just adorable! Meant for a younger audience – toddlers and babies – the animals and objects in this app beg for children to touch them and hear the names in Mandarin and English. Children can easily switch between Mandarin and English on the main screen. When a child touches an object, the narrator says the word which is followed by the sound that that object makes. The free version comes with just two scenes, but if your child enjoys this game, you can purchase the full app to get a total of nine scenes and 90 objects to explore.

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Princesses Learn Chinese

This app is a great introduction to Mandarin as the vocabulary learned is limited and nestled within a traditional story that your child probably already knows. The first story in this app, Snow White, comes for free and if you would like more stories, such as The Little Mermaid or Cinderella, you can buy them within the app. The stories are told mainly in English with a few Mandarin words mixed in. Each book comes with three games to reinforce the vocabulary learned in the text.


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To the Farm

What a beautifully illustrated app! The “patchwork” look to the illustrations in this app give it a timeless appeal. With one purchase, you get six languages — English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German and Catalan. This app is great as it “grows” with your child – there are five modes of play for the game starting with just images of different barn animals for babies and toddlers, then progressing to spelling and reading sentences for older learners. The spelling component has children figure out which character “tiles” fit to make the correct word reinforcing what they learned in the previous level. The final “level” is a story that brings all of the animals in the barn together.

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Mandarin Flash Cards

The name Mandarin Flash Cards  is misleading as it is not really just a boring flashcard-based app. Instead, this game is more challenging! Similar to the Rosetta Stone style of learning, four images are shown on the screen and the user needs to figure out which picture represents the audio question. When the user gets the answer right, the narrator tells you in Chinese that you did a good job, crosses out the three other images and moves onto the next question. If you get the answer wrong, users can keep on going through the four pictures until he gets the right one. The clear illustrations of this app and the challenge kept my child engaged for over 30 minutes!


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Chinese for Kids

Chinese for Kids is an image-based game (think Rosetta Stone-esque) that uses pictures to help users remember vocabulary in Chinese. Users are shown two images and asked which image best represents the word that is being asked. If the user gets the right answer, another question pops up. Two of the same vocabulary questions are asked a few times over just to make sure that you get those two right, then the game adds another vocabulary word to the mix. For a fraction of the price of Rosetta Stone, you can get exposure to tons of vocabulary words about the Body, Food, People House, Colors and Numbers.

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Kids Animal Clock

Kids Animal Clock  is the only game or app that we have found to teach time in Mandarin. A bonus — it includes Japanese, Mandarin and English versions within the game! Users are given a chance to “learn” how to say the time in Chinese by moving around the hands of a cute cat clock and pressing a button to hear the time said in Japanese, English or Mandarin. When users feel as if they have a good understanding of how to tell time in their chosen language, they can challenge themselves with the testing component of this game. The clock will ask a time and users need to move the dial to the right time. My children need a little help learning how to tell time in English as well as Mandarin and so this app filled a need for us!


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Animal Fun: Chinese for Kids

Check out this adorable app to teach children the names of 101 animals in Chinese and English. We love the cute and clear illustrations of the animals set into four different scenes (jungle, sea, farm and field). The names of the animals are written in simplified Chinese and English unde the picture of each animal. The app comes with four games to reinforce their understanding of these words. It is easy to switch from English to Mandarin with just a simple touch of a button. Parents and children can even record a third language in the app!

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Little Laura and the Birthday Surprise

This story app introduces Chinese expressions, simplified Chinese characters within an engaging English-based story about a little girl and her friends. The best parts of this app are the songs – each song reinforces Chinese words learned within the context of the story to make the words memorable. As the songs are sung, they are flipped from pinyin to Chinese characters. We also like how each word in the story is highlighted when it is said giving children an opportunity to see how the English and Pinyin words are written. Perfect for a young student new to Chinese.


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Dragon Brush

While Dragon Brush  is not available (yet- although it is coming!) in Chinese, the Asian elements of this story are just wonderful! This beautiful book tells of a young boy, Bing-Wen who loved to draw. He is given a magic brush and his pictures then come alive! Children need to collect pots of paint throughout the story so that they can draw with them later. The storyline and the animations within the book will keep your child engaged in the text and have them rereading this book over and over again.

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