There’s a quite interesting discussion on Quora about how hard it is to learn Mandarin, the irrelevance between the speaking and writing system, the hidden meaning behind four- and eight-character idioms called chenyu or suyu and then the dialects are all giving a hard time to non-native speakers of Chinese who thought naively they can conquer the language in the first place but only to find – to quote directly from the thread – “Mandarin is just too damn hard”.

A new app dubbed Dodo China which was just made available in Apple App Store, is poised to crack the code by integrating the culture connotation of every Chinese characters into the learning process. This mindset lies in the intrinsic nature of Chinese pictographic characters. Since almost every character resembles the drawing that mirrors the real world – for instance, the word bird (鸟) “looks like a standing bird in profile, with a raised head, a drooping tail, and claws at the bottom” – the app leverages on the pictorial nature of the hieroglyphic writing system and guide foreigner to learn Chinese in a more pictorial and hence more intuitive way, via plenty of illustrations.

Basically, the app baked visualized connotation, or simply put, illustrations associated with a Chinese character, into the learning scene. By using it, not only you’ll see the meanings of a word through an approach commonly adopted by other Chinese learning services, but also you’ll get to see pictures convey the meanings has to do with the words you’re looking at, be it the ancient Chinese fair/drama or other culture settings.

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Ben Jiang

Listener of startups, writer on tech. Maker of things, dreamer by choice.