Review of Amanda – iPhone App for Studying Chinese Through Trending News Stories in China

Here I will introduce a new iPhone app for studying Chinese. The app is called “Amanda”. The concept is as follows. Each day the learner is provided with a selection of 7 to 8 short trending news stories that are currently happening in China. As you can see from the image below, on May 8th you have a selection of various stories. You can also should rollback to the stories from previous days.

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Once you click into a story you are presented with the view below. One of the things I love about this app is that each of the stories are extremely short, about one paragraph. Learning Chinese through reading news stories can be very overwhelming and frustrating. The bite -sized nature of these articles make it very doable, and a learner can feel good rather than frustrated after working through a short story.

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The learner can toggle between the Chinese and the English version of the story. The learner can also have the story read to them out loud in Chinese by clicking on the button. All the vocabulary in every story can be clicked on, after which it appears near the bottom with an English translation and an audio button that can be pressed to hair pronounced. The learner can also star the vocabulary which adds it to a word list.

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Overall, this is a great learning tool.

Some Suggestions For The Developer

It would be helpful if there was a way to bookmark stories. Currently, to review stories you read in the past you have to scroll back and scan for stories you may have read. This will get cumbersome after several weeks of using the app. It would be nice to be able to bookmark a story so that all the stories you have read can be kept in one place.

The vocabulary list is a great feature, but you can’t do anything with it other than look at it and scroll through the words you have collected. A feature allowing the learner to export that list in a tab delimited file would make it easy to then import it into a flash card program such as Quizlet.

Finally, it would be useful to be able to export stories so that you could then work with the text in a word processing program. I understand that the developer may be concerned about people stealing their content. However, while reading and studying stories I constantly wanted to be able to manipulate the text to make my studying more effective.

Over all, a great app. If you have an iPhone, go get it.