Wukong Literacy Review (悟空数学): Chinese character app for young learners
This post is a review of Wukong Literacy (悟空数学) app, a fantastic app for kids learning Chinese. It also includes a comparison of Wukong Literacy to iHuman another great Chinese App for Kids.
Wukong Literacy (悟空数学) is a Chinese literacy app, advertised for children from 3-8 years old. It’s been thoughtfully designed and illustrated, and really brings simplified Chinese characters and words to life for a primary schooler.
Wukong is named after Sun Wukong, (aka the Monkey King), who is one of the main characters in the highly influential 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West and many later stories and adaptations (including the cult TV show Monkey Magic).
The animation in Wukong Literacy is most impressive and really brings the meaning behind the characters to life, as the child completes their quest with the Monkey King.
I recommend the game for kids above 6 years old, given there are other game apps with a simpler interface which are perhaps more appropriate for pre-primary (such as iHuman).
The course systematically covers 1300 Chinese words, focusing on character recognition through play, and it includes test reading, writing and comprehension activities.
The graphics are A-mazing. The selected screen shots below will not do justice for it – these are just to show how the character visualisation works.
PROS of Wukong Literacy (悟空数学) app
- Concept is largely based on vivid imagery, which is helpful for memory. With this app, my elder child is able to concentrate for a long time, and focus on the sounds and words.
- Has some great 2 – 3 minute learning animations showing how the character is used in words, and supported by imagery to help remember the radicals.
- Child may be already familiar with the Monkey King fables, which makes it an instant win
CONS of Wukong Literacy (悟空数学) app
- You can only learn up to 10 Chinese characters per day (or less, based on a setting). It’s impossible to “skip” ahead, so admittedly there is some non-learning time if the child already is familiar with a particular character
- On the flipside, once a character is learnt, it’s not reviewed again (I wish it could be)
- It’s still a game – so needs to be done in moderation. It’s not a learning tool per se, but it can reinforce learning and give a fun outlet to practising the language.
- It takes longer to complete each ‘game’ than in some other apps so it’s not a “10 minutes a day” type of game
- The entire app installation, payment and set up is in Chinese, so hard for a non-Chinese reader to navigate (although it’s great for encouraging full language immersion!)
Comparison of Wukong Literacy to iHumane
Comparing the two Chinese learning apps.
Very similar; each covers 1300 characters, using high quality animation and imagery.
iHuman has stroke order, which Wukong Literacy doesn’t include.
Wukong Literacy has more videos, books to read, and spoken content, which might make it more interesting for older children.
Another feature is that when there a “multiple choice” questions on character recognition, in iHuman the options are really random, making the answer quite obvious. But in Wukong Literacy, it does show similar looking characters which increases the challenge.
Ease of use:
iHuman follows a systematic linear map where each character is learnt, and then child progresses to the next one.
Wukong Literacy has a few different parts to where the child can play, which makes it more confusing for the adult to assess progress.
Also, I feel Wukong literacy is more addictive for this reason. Wukong do have the option for a weekly email on progress, which iHuman doesn’t really need to cater for.
Here’s a screen shot comparing the “maps” for iHuman versus Wukong, and you’ll understand the difference in complexity.
iHuman is slightly easier for a non-Chinese reading parent to navigate, as the interface has less options and menus, so less likely to get lost in a rabbit hole.
Additionally iHuman does have an English version of their website, and I found the customer service was able to work reasonably well when I wrote to them in English, and they wrote back in Chinese, and Google-Translate was our translator in between!
I didn’t get the same response from Wukong Literacy.
Wukong Literacy is available as an iOS and andriod app, same as iHuman. But the great thing is that is also works on Windows!
For our family, we prefer to encourage computer use over tablet, so this is a great benefit. Also, using it on a PC enables me to better use Google Translate
A three year subscription costs about US$30. To actually sign-up is a minefield if you do it on anything other than an iPad or iPhone! Try the free app first, and see if it works for you.
If you have access to the Apple store, you can pay through this, and then set up either a login (account number + password) or bind it with your WeChat account. You don’t need a Chinese mobile number, so just skip that step if it asks you.
If you aren’t on an Apple, the easiest way would be to get a friend in China or Taiwan to help you pay. The second solution is to sign up for “Alipay Tourpass” (a payment service intended for tourists to China).
Chinese Apps for Kids
Hopefully this Wukong Literacy App review will help you decide if this Chinese app is right for your family. Looking for more Chinese apps? Check out our main post: Best Chinese Apps for Kids.
You may also be interested in the Bilingual Kidspot FREE Chinese learning series: Chinese for Kids which has lots of resources for parents with kids learning Chinese.
Author: Emma Lee is a mother of 3 living in Singapore, bringing an engineer’s skillset to her bilingual parenting. Her website has detailed reviews on literary tech gadgets & books to assist children learning Chinese.
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