My sister recently moved from San Francisco to Beijing, and decided about a week before she left that she should probably try to start learning how to speak Mandarin (because all foreign languages can be learned in a few days, right?).
She was bummed that her language-learning app of choice, Duolingo, didn’t have Mandarin as an option—but luckily for her, Duolingo launched Tinycards (free) shortly after she arrived in China, and it included a bunch of lessons from another educational tool called Chineasy.
The Tinycards approach is perfect for a language as complicated as Mandarin—yes, it’s a flashcard-based learning game, but it relies heavily on visuals to help you remember the new word or phrase you just learned. For example, the character for “water” is drawn to look like a drop of water, and the character for “sun” is drawn to look like an open window. (You’ll just have to imagine the sun shining through in the corner, but I appreciate Tinycards’ effort.)
Plus, the cards themselves are adorable, especially when they smile back at you for getting a question right. Oh yeah, did I mention I started using the app, too? I haven’t tried any of the non-language learning decks, but they follow the same principal—cute image-based flashcards presented to you as kind of a game. The app is loaded with a ton of different subjects, and if you don’t see the topic that you’re looking to study, you can create your own deck.–Leah Yamshon