Core Chinese: New App For the Upper Level Chinese Learner

Core Chinese

There’s an exciting new language learning app on the block that has the potential to be that tool you’ve been looking for to bust through dreaded learning plateaus: Core Chinese!

Core Chinese creator, Dan Hill, has condensed 10 years of experience and passion for Chinese into a platform for intermediate-to-advanced students of Mandarin to help increase their vocabulary and colloquial language skills.

Dan Hill tells the story of how Core Chinese came into being below (courtesy of the American Mandarin Society):

The app started almost 10 years when I found myself sitting in a tiny cubicle on the 13th floor of an office complex in Guangzhou, China. I was the only foreigner in an office of 75 people, and I was way over my head. I had a bachelor’s degree in Chinese and had spent several years in Taiwan, but I was only catching about a third of what was going on in meetings and in conversations around me. So I started writing down all the unfamiliar words I came across and cornering various co-workers at the end of each day to have them go through the words with me… over the course of a few years in China my list of words and phrases kept growing…and is now at almost 10,000 phrases. Over and over I have thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it have been nice to have all this put together already,… Why aren’t there any resources for people like me, people with a decent foundation in Chinese who just want to pick up some new phrases in specific contexts, and speak a little more like the Chinese people do?”
So I embarked on a mission to make my list better organized, more complete, and easy to reference in everyday life. I worked with my Chinese partner, Flora Huang, to categorize each word and phrase into daily life use-case scenarios and add example sentences, Chinese explanations, and other background information to each phrase. The result is an app that I hope will be useful to people who have made the sacrifices to learn this crazy language and are looking for ways to keep it up.

Let’s say I’m having a conversation with my Chinese friend and I want to ask her about the concept of ‘丢脸’, (diulian, or losing face). Everybody and their brother knows about the idea of losing face, but I’m not confident that I have enough colloquial vocabulary to make myself understood. Presto! I just pull out my handy-dandy app and follow the categories until I find the topic I’m looking for:

Living in China>Relationships>Face>Losing Face

Now I have several new phrases to try out and discuss and am not stuck floundering in repeated conversations that I’ve had a million times using the same stale vocabulary. We are hopeful this system will save us from the time and tedium of scouring through old notes and textbooks in search of those long-forgotten phrases, idioms and patterns, while also expanding our knowledge!

The app installs as a free download. It comes with 48 hours of full content so that users can get a really good feel for what the app is and what information it contains. After 48 hours, it goes to a simplified demo version until the user completes an in-app purchase of the full license for $9.99. We are optimistic that this will be money well invested!

As we’ve discussed before in our Pleco: a Love Story post, language learning apps can only get you so far. Mandarin is still a language that requires quite a bit of work to master, but tools like these can certainly make some of the stumbling blocks smaller.

加油 Pengyoumen!