Chinese Resources

Monday, April 18, 2011

App Review: Chinese Word Search Lite

First up for iLearn Mandarin is an app that I downloaded for my iPhone when it first came out in 2009: Chinese Word Search Lite by

This app takes Chinese character recognition and really tries to make it fun in the form of a good old fashion word search. The word searches are organized by themes with a lot of good selections. You can choose: random; basic 200; basic 500; conversation; food and drinks; brand names; the Three Kingdoms; Countries etc. I have tried most of the themes and recommend that you stick to basic 200, basic 500 and conversation if you are just starting out. The other themes introduce some rather specific vocabulary that you can always look up in a dictionary at a later date (especially if you are still trying to get down the basics).

What I like most about Chinese Word Search Lite is the ability to control the challenges based on your Chinese ability. This can be done in a variety of ways. First you can select how big the word search is. The larger the world search the more Chinese characters will appear. However, the best way to control the difficulty will come from the prompt settings. Users have the ability to turn Pinyin, Chinese, and English on and off. If you are looking for a real challenge, make the Word Search as large as it will go and then only turn on the English prompt.

 For those language learners who are just starting out, I would recommend keeping all the prompts on. It will allow you to visual the Chinese, Pinyin and English meanings at the same time, without having the other characters distort your comprehension. Once you think you have the image of the character down let the searching begin!

The strength of this app is ultimately how easy it is to use. A single word search only takes a few minutes each time, and with the variety of themes you can spend hours encountering new material. The downside to the Lite version is both the lack of Traditional Chinese characters and the inability to hear a native speaker pronounce the words as you find them. But, based on my research those two things are available in the standard version.

I know that this app will be a standard for me when I am looking to kill some time while studying Chinese. I would recommend it to all levels of Chinese learner. The app is very stable as well, so you don't have to worry about it crashing right as you find those characters. Happy word searching!

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