Dad made app to help his child with Chinese

Software developer Daniel Chong, seen here with daughters Trenice, 12, and Alexis, nine, paid a native speaker $430 to record the audio tracks on his apps.
Software developer Daniel Chong, seen here with daughters Trenice, 12, and Alexis, nine, paid a native speaker $430 to record the audio tracks on his apps.ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

While helping his daughter, 12, revise for Chinese and Higher Chinese, software developer Daniel Chong wondered if there was a simpler and more efficient way to prepare her for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Mr Chong, 41, noted that the PSLE required pupils to condense a sizeable amount of information and revising for the Chinese subjects usually takes up a lot of time.

The senior project manager at mobile app development firm Originally.US eventually did what he does best - he came up with mobile apps that cover the thousands of characters in the Chinese and Higher Chinese syllabi.

He explained: "I thought it would save me and my daughter a lot of time if there was such an app. It is a more productive way to revise the characters. She could read through all of her textbooks, but that would be more time-consuming."

Over a few days last month, he wrote two such apps, which his daughter, Trenice, has been using daily to revise for her Chinese and Higher Chinese PSLE papers .

The apps rely on virtual "flash cards", which each contain an audio recording of a character's pronunciation and its usage examples.

Mr Chong had paid a native speaker $430 to record the audio tracks.

He had found actual flash cards to be useful tools in helping his daughter learn the different Chinese characters and decided to incorporate the feature into his apps.

"She now uses the apps to test whether she can recognise the characters, much like practising with actual flash cards, except it is much faster with the apps," said Mr Chong, who also has a younger daughter aged nine.

The apps, PSLE Chinese Flash Cards and PSLE Higher Chinese Flash Cards, which are available for $3.98 each from the Apple App Store, allow parents to monitor their children's progress as well.

"With the apps, we discovered there were quite a number of rarely-used characters that my daughter couldn't recognise," he said.

"So there were some blind spots which we were able to address before the exams."

Trenice, a Primary 6 pupil at Maha Bodhi School, said she might have had to spend more time on her revision, if not for the apps. She said: "I would probably need to refer to my textbooks or a dictionary to learn the words and their usage. I could ask my father, but he's sometimes unsure about the words."

Mr Chong is confident that his daughter will excel in the PSLE, with the apps freeing up more time for her to clarify her doubts and attempt other schools' test papers.

"And with the apps, she also doesn't have to face me all the time," he said with a laugh.

Calvin Yang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2015, with the headline 'Dad made app to help his child with Chinese'. Print Edition | Subscribe