If you’ve been learning Mandarin Chinese for a while, you’ll know how important extensive reading is to your progress.
But how do you read extensively in Mandarin Chinese if you can’t read Mandarin Chinese very well to begin with? Well, graded readers are the ticket, and I’ve written about them here.
In addition to graded reader books, some very smart people have decided to embrace the digital age and create something called the graded reader app.
Benefits of Graded Reader Apps
Now, although I’m a huge fan of graded readers in all forms, let’s take a quick look at why a graded reader app might be preferable to a good old fashioned graded reader book.
- Instant Definitions – When you’re reading a paper or kindle based graded reader and you come across a character or word you don’t know, looking up said character or word is kind of annoying and can disrupt your reading flow. In both The Chairman’s Bao and Du Chinese, you’re able to highlight characters and words for instant definitions.
- Helpful Add-ons – As well as instant definitions, there are a range of other useful bells and whistles in The Chairman’s Bao and Du Chinese apps. You can toggle pinyin on or off, you can choose to have words highlighted by HSK level, and you can alternate between simplified and traditional characters. You can’d do that stuff with a conventional book!
- Audio Transcripts – Although there are audio transcripts provided with some paper based graded readers, everything you read on both The Chairman’s Bao and Du Chinese has a corresponding audio transcript that you can play at different speeds. That reading/listening combination is seriously powerful for language learning!
- Digestible Content – Articles and stories in both The Chairman’s Bao and Du Chinese are considerably shorter than a graded reader book. If your attention span is as short as mine, you might find it much easier to concentrate on short articles from a graded reader app.
If you’re looking for a walk-through of both apps and how to use them, check out the video below. The tutorial for both apps begins at 2:15.
Du Chinese VS The Chairman’s Bao: Features
Both Du Chinese and The Chairman’s Bao apps share many similar features, so we’ll take a look at those first.
Later, we’ll check out the differences between the apps and why you want to choose one over the other.
One of the most powerful and effective ways to learn a language is to combine extensive reading and listening. However, it can often be tough to find suitable reading material that is accompanied by matching audio. Textbooks offer this, and so do both The Chairman’s Bao and Du Chinese apps.
The pop-up dictionary in both apps makes it incredibly simple to get instant translations for words in any text. From here, you can add highlighted words to flashcard decks really easily.
Both apps have effective, very easy to use flashcard functions which offer in-sentence context examples for most words. It’s incredibly simple to add words from the reading content in both apps into their respective flashcard decks.
This is an underrated and incredibly useful feature for both apps. Having lessons downloaded onto your phone allows you to read and listen to them at any spare moment whilst not eating into your phone’s data.
Not sure how to download lessons on The Chairman’s Bao app, but it’s easy to do on the desktop version.
Du Chinese VS The Chairman’s Bao: Differences
There are very few things that separate these two magnificent apps, but I feel like now is the time to be picky.
Let’s take a look at a few areas where it becomes easier to pick one app over the other.
Back in the day, The Chairman’s Bao looked a bit like it was made with Window’s 95. However, things have improved a lot in this regard. Like Du Chinese, you are now also able to toggle pinyin on and off, alternate between simplified and traditional characters, have the characters highlighted by HSK level, change the font size, etc.
However, you are only able to have full sentence translations in Du Chinese.
Why does this matter? Well, every Mandarin learner will tell you how frustrating it is to come across a sentence in which you understand every character and word, but you have no idea what the sentence means.
Du Chinese addresses this problem and The Chairman’s Bao doesn’t.
Although Du Chinese offers a more varied style of content, when it comes to quantity of content, The Chairman’s Bao is a clear winner here.
Multiple news articles are added to The Chairman’s Bao database weekly. Du Chinese usually adds one or two pieces of content a week, and this isn’t ideal if the added content isn’t at your level.
Every article on The Chairman’s Bao comes with extra study activities to help you make the most out of every article. You can do reading comprehensions and other listening activities exercises that help you review article content.
Unfortunately, Du Chinese doesn’t offer any of these ‘extras’.
The Chairman’s Bao VS Du Chinese: Who Wins?
So, which app is better?
Honestly, I’d say they’re both pretty excellent and there is very little that separates them.
If you’re looking for a huge amount of reading content that is all based on news articles, then The Chairman’s Bao is for you.
If you’re looking for slightly more varied content with line-by-line translations available, then go with Du Chinese.
If you’re looking for more information regarding all graded readers, why not check out the video below!
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