Dong Chinese Review (for 2021)
Coming next in our adventure to find the best Chinese learning tools: Dong Chinese!
In this Dong Chinese review, as usual, you will find a short introduction to the app and a full review of the content offered: lessons, exercises and more.
The whole LTL team is always thrilled to find out about new Chinese learning apps and websites, and even moreso when they come to us to review them!
If you haven’t already you can check out our other review in the App Reviews category of our blog.
We have reviewed famous apps as well as newcomers in the Chinese learning field, all with their specific features and focus, so you’ll definitely find something you’d like.
But for now, let’s start with our Dong Chinese Review!
Chapter 1 – Introduction
Chapter 2 – Main Features
Chapter 3 – The Learn Section
Chapter 4 – Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Chapter 5 – FAQ’s
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Dong Chinese Review – Introduction
Dong Chinese is a Chinese learning app available on desktop, focusing on vocabulary as well as the reading, listening and writing aspects of the language.
“[Dong Chinese is] an app to help you learn to understand Chinese through thousands of real example sentences, captioned images, videos, podcasts, and songs”
Using their own words: “the main philosophy of Dong Chinese is that language should be learned through context, rather than memorizing individual words in isolation.”
This gives you an idea of what the app is all about. It is not your usual flashcard kind of app.
Dong Chinese was developed by Peter and Patrick, two Chinese language enthusiasts, and is actually a very recent tool, dating back only from 2019.
They came to us earlier this year to ask us to review their app, however with the app being in its early stages of development, more developments still had to be done to be able to make a full, comprehensive review.
I sent them a list of recommendations and things to add to help them make their tool an even better one!
I am glad they took them into account, and even added a fantastic PINYIN category, which we will talk more about later.
Is Dong Chinese Free?
As almost every Chinese learning app (I say that every time, but it is true), there is a FREE version and a paid one, which works on a subscription basis.
You can start studying on Dong Chinese for free the first 7 days, after that you’ll get 1 lesson every 12 hours.
The prices are as following:
- $9.99 – Monthly
- $25.99 – Quarterly
- $49.99 – Semi-annual
- $79.99 – Yearly
I suggest to fully try the app during the 7 days free trial before committing to a subscription, so you can see if this learning tool is the right one for you.
How to log in?
The login in process is fairly easy.
That’s it! You’ll be directed to the main menu.
Have a look at Dong Chinese introductory video before reading further:
Dong Chinese Review – Main Features
So, you just logged in, you’ll have a look at the app for yourself and explore all they have to offer, but let me introduce the main features for those who are still hesitating on trying it out.
There are many features to explore, but I’d like to introduce the following three:
- Learn Alphabet (pinyin)
On your first log-in you’ll be directed to the main page, called LEARN. I will talk more about it and its exercises in the next chapter, but I’d like us to focus on the LEARN ALPHABET section for a moment.
This is a suggestion I made when first having a look at Dong Chinese.
How can we learn Chinese, or any language, if we don’t start with the alphabet and the pronunciation?
For that matter, the Chinese language doesn’t have an alphabet as it is solely composed of characters. However, we can learn the pinyin.
- English: Hello
- Chinese characters: 你好
- Pinyin: nǐ hǎo
BONUS – You can study pinyin, AND zhuyin as well!
Zhuyin, also called Bopofomo is the Chinese phonetic instruction nowadays only used in Taiwan.
In this category you’ll have 10 lessons about Pinyin, an Introduction, Tone Trainer, as well as a speaking category.
- Introduction – Find out about Chinese pronunciation and the pinyin/zhuyin systems
- Tone Trainer – Practice hearing the different tones
- Speaking – Use speech recognition to practice your pronunciation
I highly recommend you use the Tone Trainer to master the tones.
I thought I had them pinned down until I challenged my knowledge on this feature! Turns out I don’t know them perfectly…
Same goes for the Speaking section. It is not common to find speech recognition tools to help practice the speaking aspect of the language, and this one works!You just need to allow Dong Chinese to have access to your microphone.
It is well hidden in the pinyin category, but it is going to be very helpful in your learning journey.
I tried to fool the system by saying something completely different from what was displayed, and they got me!
They instantly recognised what I was saying, which obviously didn’t match at all their exercise.
In this category you will find more than 2,500+ videos for you to watch and learn along.
It goes from Chinese TV shows, children cartoons and songs to TED talks, cooking shows and more!
But that’s not all. Click on a video you’d like to watch and you’ll see ALL sentences translations in Chinese on the right side of your screen.
Click on the play button ▶️ to start the video and follow along the sentences.
Click on a character you don’t know to make the Pinyin appear.
Doesn’t it make you think of the extension Language Learning with Netflix? It is basically the same system, which is a fantastic way to learn.
It’s always good to get away from books and standard school materials!
BONUS – You can also add your OWN media to study.
The Dong Chinese Dictionary is another category worth mentioning, and if you are preparing for a HSK exam, you’ll like it too!
Not only will you be able to have a look at the most common characters and words in movies and books, but you can also have access to list of HSK words to learn.
In the table you can see if you have learned the character or if it is still unknown to you.
Click on a word to have a full definition and explanation of the word. And when I say full, I mean it. You’ll get:
- Stroke order
- Components break down
- Evolution of the character through history
- Sentence examples
- Writing practice
You can also change the status of the word from unknown to new, familiar, known, well-known and mastered.
Be aware though, Dong Chinese lists the words differently than the official HSK vocabulary lists.
See the table below:
|HSK Level||Dong Chinese||Official HSK (in 2020)|
To be clear, in Dong Chinese HSK1 list you learn the words from #1 to #150. In the HSK2 list you’ll learn the words from #151 to #301. In the HSK3 list you’ll learn the words from #302 to #601, etc.
Whereas official HSK lists include the previous HSK level words, Dong Chinese only includes the NEW ones in its lists.
I’ll let you have a look for yourself at the other features offered by Dong Chinese such as their blog and roadmap, but we will now have a look in more details at the exercises from the LEARN category.
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Dong Chinese Review – LEARN
As we have seen earlier the LEARN category can be considered the main page of the tool.
On this category you’ll have different options:
- Learn alphabet (pinyin)
- Learn reading
- Learn writing
- Learn both
Learn Alphabet we already talked about in the previous chapter so I’ll directly skip over to the next ones.
Whether you choose to learn reading or writing (or both), you’ll first have a lesson summary.
You’ll see what new characters you’ll learn, which ones you’ll review, and will have the option to choose between “too easy” or “too hard” to help personalise the exercises to fit your level best.
If you choose to go ahead, you can now complete various exercises.
Exercises such as:
- Fill in the blanks
- Image/sentence matching
- Chinese/English matching
- Fill in the blanks is an exercise we regularly see in learning apps. Choose the correct word amongst the options offered to complete the sentence.
- Image/sentence matching will require you to select the correct image or sentence according to what is displayed.
- Chinese/English matching is pretty much the same, just select the correct translation.
- Handwriting is a useful exercise that’ll allow you to learn the stroke order and how to write characters. Double click on a word, and you’ll also learn more about it, such as his definition, stroke order, examples of use and statistics.
If you don’t know the character and have some trouble writing it, the system will give you hints and make you write the character until you know it.
After completing all exercises Dong Chinese will let you know how many characters you learned, how many you can read and will offer some media you can now understand thanks to what you’ve learned.
There is no time limit during the exercises so you can take your time in reading the sentences, and check the characters.
TOP TIP – Double click on a character to make its whole description appear: pinyin, translation, example of use etc.
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#5 Final Thoughts & Conclusion
So there you go! That’s the end of our Dong Chinese introduction, and we will now have a closer look at the REVIEW part of this blog!
Overall Dong Chinese is a great complement to a Chinese language program, not only to review vocabulary but also learn more words on the side.
Even though Dong Chinese cannot be considered a standalone course (as with most apps to be honest) it has many interesting features and tools that are a great addition to your Chinese learning.
First of all the Alphabet course is GREAT, and you’ll get a deep dive into Chinese phonetics, pinyin, zhuyin and tones.
I absolutely love the Tone Trainer, that I whole-heartedly recommend you try out.
I thought I was pretty good at making the differences between the Chinese tones, until I used the Tone Trainer! It seems like I still need some training after all…
The exercises are standard exercises, but effective to really integrate vocabulary through repetition (especially the handwriting ones!).
The fact that we can practice the writing and speaking aspect of the language is a strong advantage as it is not available on every apps.
TOP TIP – If you are of an advanced level, go to dictionary and check the words you already know. It will help better improve the user experience and tailor your exercises to your level.
Using Dong Chinese for the first time you might think the layout and general design of the app is a bit outdated, but don’t be fooled by the looks, there are some hidden gems here.
It is also important to keep in mind that Dong Chinese is still currently under development, and the team is working hard on many improvements at the moment. Check their Roadmap here.
- If you are looking for a way to learn new vocabulary while reviewing what you already know, check Dong Chinese.
- If you are looking for a Chinese learning platform with a comprehensive course about Chinese phonetics, pinyin and tones, check Dong Chinese.
- If you are looking for a structured course to learn how to build sentences and learn about the Chinese grammar, you might want to have a look at an online course with a native professional teacher.
Here is a short summary:
|Alphabet Course||Short Free Trial|
|Super Feature – The Tone Trainer||No Lessons (except Alphabet)|
|Speech Recognition Exercises||Design looks a bit old|
|Strong Writing Exercises||Few types of exercises|
|Option to add your own media|
I hope this Dong Chinese Review helped you decide if you wish to subscribe or not, but you can at least take a look, there’s a free trial!
Have you tried Dong Chinese before? What do you think?Let us know in the comments! 👇
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Dong Chinese?
Dong Chinese is a Chinese learning platform available on desktop.
Dong Chinese is vocabulary-based and offer many features such as a full course about the Chinese Alphabet, a Tone Trainer, dictionary etc.
How to use Dong Chinese?
You can log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google or with an email address. There is a 7 days free trial, you will need to subscribe to have access to more content and keep using Dong Chinese.
Complete exercises, practice your speaking and writing, watch videos, upload your own media to study Chinese… There is a lot to do on Dong Chinese.
Where to download Dong Chinese?
Dong Chinese is available on desktop, no need to download an app from an app store.
Why use Dong Chinese?
Dong Chinese is a great tool to keep practicing and reviewing Chinese characters, as well as learning new words.
You can use Dong Chinese mainly to practice your reading and listening skills, however there are exercises for speaking and writing practice as well.
What is the best feature of Dong Chinese?
The best features of Dong Chinese are probably the Tone Trainer and their comprehensive dictionary.
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