3 Pandas Storybook iOS Application Review

When I was offered the chance to review a complimentary copy of the new iOS application (for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch), the 3 Pandas Animated Storybook from See Here Studios, I had high expectations for this children’s story book that was in both Chinese and English. Here was a chance for my own 5 year old daughter to play with an application where she could pick up some Chinese words, and maybe undo some of my angst around her lack of Chinese.

The 3 Pandas takes the well known Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale and updates it to a modern Chinese fable. The application is interactive, allowing a child to read the story in either Chinese or English, or optionally have the story read to them in either language. In addition, the bears and objects through the story are interactive. The story uses “Mei Mei,” a Chinese girl instead of Goldilocks and three pandas instead of the bears. While the graphics, English and Chinese spoken accounts, music and interactive capabilities are charming and entertaining, the application failed to meet the one objective I thought would have made it a must have for Chinese American families.

I was hoping there would be an easy way to transition between the English and Chinese spoken renditions, that the application would have English translations on the Chinese pages, and Chinese translations on the English pages. But unfortunately, there’s no such feature. When you’re in the Chinese mode, everything is in Chinese, and similarly if you’re in the English mode, it’s all in English. I think they missed a market for those wanting to learn a little Chinese, and similarly for those Chinese that want to learn a little bit of English. I suppose it works if you’re already bilingual, but it seems to miss an easy opportunity by not having both languages integrated on each page of the application.

So my overall rating is 3 out of 5 stars. The app looks great, has nice interactivity features, does English and Chinese, but fails to hit the mark as a language learning tool or even a new language introduction tool.

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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