Eggbun: Chat to Learn Chinese
Eggbun is a basic app for beginners with a cute design and a novel way to learn: text to learn a language.
FOCUS: Basic communication (listening, reading, and writing)
COST: Free, w/in-app purchases
As soon as I a, saw the name ‘Eggbun’ and b, saw the anime-style logo, it didn’t take me much convincing to download this app.
It seems like the Eggbun brand has been around for a while, focusing on Korean and Japanese. While I haven’t checked out the other language versions, they all seem to follow a similar concept.
In a world where we mostly text instead of calling, the idea of texting to learn seems, well, obvious. Throw in the ridiculously cute interface and ‘Lanny,’ your AI teacher, it’s a pretty fun way to learn, especially if you’re an absolute beginner.
This is really only an app for beginners or if you want to review the basics. Honestly, I’m so disappointed that there aren’t any levels for more advanced learners. Having said that, if you’re new to Chinese, I think this app could easily keep you occupied for a while. You can cover Survival phrases, Greetings, Self-Introduction, and more. There’s even a section on Business Chinese.
There’s a login and dashboard that tracks your studies and module completion. It looks like there’s also a web dashboard, but I had problems trying to log in, so I’m not sure if it's available now.
So, as I’ve mentioned, it’s pretty basic. You choose a module, jump into a chat with Lanny, and off you go. You can go through various stages of learning and testing, and if you upgrade, you’ll get access to extra games and tests.
When you respond in the chat session, you can do so using ‘English,’ (Pinyin without tones) Pinyin, or Chinese characters. The one flaw with using Pinyin is that some tones aren’t available on your keyboard. For example, if you want to type o3/ǒ, there’s no option for it.
This same problem exists within the ‘Typing Racer’ game, so if any word appears using the pinyin ‘ ǒ ‘, it’s pretty much game over.
Some of the other features were nice additions, including the word list, a space to save words you want to keep learning, and Culture Notes, which are basically mini blog posts embedded into the app.
To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade
If you’re as enamored with the style as me and you’re a beginner, then I would subscribe for a month or two. I think much more than a few months and you’ll have passed the point where this app has content for you.
If you like cute, novel ways to learn a language, check it out. I suspect the target audience for this app may be the younger market (I’m young at heart), so if you’ve got some young budding language learners, they might appreciate this app.
There was part of me that wished Lanny had a bit more attitude instead of being so nice, just to keep me interested a little longer. Part of the chat novelty wears thin when Lanny runs out of things to say. Adding in some extra phrases would have kept me engaged, but maybe not for the right reasons.