Add these Apps 3: Pleco for Learning Chinese

Screen shot of Pleco in action on an Android smartphone. Photo source:

Pleco is very handy when helping your child with homework. Face it -we all struggle to recognise some words in children’s textbooks and story books from time to time. And, it gets even harder when they need to do a report on news article. New words spring up or we just can’t recall how to read them or what they mean.

This App is a (bi)lingual lifesaver! With most Chinese Singaporeans being bilingual -“rusty” at times but bilingual nonetheless- you’ll find yourself intuitively using it to search for that part of the missing puzzle in your mind. Very soon, your child and teenager will learn to use it too, without your help.

For example, you can look up words by writing or drawing them on the screen. It’s tolerant of stroke order mistakes, making this insanely useful for anyone who does not know to execute Chinese brush-strokes accurately. Left-handers who often struggle with this, will heave a sigh of relief! After you scratch, draw or doodle something on the screen, the App will suggest the word complete with its definition in English and pronunciation in hanyu pinyin,

The speech input function is most impressive. It allows you to toggle between Chinese and English to work out what a word or phrase means. It recognises what you say, and will suggest several options. To help you work out what is said, you get the word or phrase’s definition in both English and Chinese. A quick test of it shows that it works with Singaporean-accented English and Chinese. But it’s more accurate if you speak clearly and slowly, of course.

Don’t just use Pleco for your children’s homework. Keep it on your smartphone. It’ll come in handy when anyone in the family wants talk to an older relative or chat with to a native Chinese speaker.

For those who do not know Chinese or Mandarin at all. use it as a translator. It’s world without borders!

Categories: Apps, Free, Indoors, Short

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