Jemma’s Review of Ninchanese

Her Twitter bio says she’s a linguist, gamer, and cosplay addict… She discovered Ninchanese through our Kickstarter campaign and quickly became one of our #1 fans, using Ninchanese to get a headstart in her college degree’s Chinese program. Let’s hear why she likes using Ninchanese so much and loves learning Mandarin.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hello everyone! It’s lovely to meet you! My name is Jemma – I’m 28 years old, I live near London (soon to be in central London!) with my partner, and I both work and study. I presently work in moderation for a large corporation as a contractor, using my existing language skills (primarily English and Swedish) in my job role.

How did Chinese come into your life?  What made you decide to learn Chinese?

In the VERY beginning, I was 10 years old and my family began housing long-stay live-in foreign students, many of whom stayed with us for six months or more, and came from Taiwan, to learn English immersively in my tiny hometown in North Devon. I was fascinated by how different the written language was and would ask the students to show me words like animals or family words in their characters, and loved it! The words, the poetry, the art, the completely different lifestyle and, later on, learning about the history both ancient and modern, was a total hook.

How long ago was that? What happened since? 

Fast forward 18 years, and I am on the verge of starting life as a University student studying intensive Chinese language for the next four years! I couldn’t be happier! To prepare myself, I spent a year studying distance part-time on a basic Chinese, with which I cannot at all pretend Ninchanese has not helped hugely!

What do you love most about Chinese? 

It’s such a hard question! I think it’s the poetry and poetic way in which people use words and convey their intentions. I feel, for me, Chinese is not about saying what you think – it’s about saying what whoever is listening or reading will not misconstrue. I have gained a lot from reading poetry, especially of Han Shan (Cold Mountain) in learning more about how one can convey their thoughts and feelings well, but without being blunt and potentially uncouth! Coming from a culture in which people either avoid confrontation, or are quite vulgar in their expression of it, I find the way the Chinese language deals with negativity, in particular, absolutely wonderful!

What are the hardest things for you in learning Chinese?

At this point in my studies and knowledge, everything is still difficult, but I have to be honest and say that going from Germanic language specialisms into Chinese is a whole different ball game, and the grammar quite often induces a very special kind of headache!

What is your Chinese learning routine like?

My routine has changed several times in the last eight months as my work and study patterns and needs have changed, but there are a few things I often do as much as possible to help myself!

  1. Keeping on top of my Ninchanese reviews;
  2. Listening to recorded learner dialogues with Mandarin and English subtitles;
  3. Chinese pop music is one of my favorites – you aren’t always conscious of how much you learn about rhythm and pronunciation just from having it in the background!

I also have a few things such as beautiful picture cards from another educational Chinese brand stuck to my wall, so I can look over at them and the imagery helps build my ability to recall and associate the meanings. I am a very visual person – pictures and colour are important in helping me retain information!

How is Ninchanese part of your learning routine?

I love to log in and go through my reviews, seeing myself find the content more recognizable – it feels like real success when that one item you couldn’t remember for weeks suddenly clicks into place!

It’s also easy on the eyes and the combination of points, bonuses, and different ways to challenge myself (time attacks, listening exercises, writing practice, etc.) keep things interesting and as easy or difficult as I choose to make it! There’s no pressure with the system, and if I don’t have a huge amount of time, it’s easy to spend a few minutes doing it and then putting it down again. It CAN work on my phone, but I personally don’t use it on mine as the screen is not really big enough for my liking so I prefer to sit with my laptop – not a problem as I spend a huge majority of my time sat with it!

On lunch break at work, for a couple of hours of intensive grind, or for a 30 minute flirt with hanzi – it is perfect for everything. Oh! And of course, the Ninchallenges add a fun, friendly competitive element!


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What’s your favorite thing about Ninchanese?

Everything! It’s fun, it’s friendly and colourful, and best of all, it’s low maintenance. It’s as hard or easy as you want to make it, you can work at a pace that suits you and, as long as you’re committed and put in the little effort required to keep on top of your reviews, it never feels overwhelming. It feels encouraging, the characters are adorable (who doesn’t love Chinese-speaking cats!?) and I really feel my knowledge growing and being reinforced by the exercises.

The Ninchallenges are a great way to, not just show off what I’ve learned, but sometimes pick up new words completely or decipher words you haven’t seen based on your existing knowledge – it’s extremely rewarding and really makes you feel proud of yourself! It motivates you to keep going.

Also, CATS. Did I mention the cats? Because seriously, CATS. Lupishu the baby dragon is totally adorable, too. BUT CATS.

Any last thoughts?

Ninchanese has made my Chinese learning experience a whole lot more enjoyable, and something that, at the start, seemed so utterly impossible, to learn such a different method of writing and reading and in such volume, has been proven to be far simpler than I anticipated, and all it took was a little persistence and the happy faces of some meowsome personalities! I also have to thank the Ninchanese team for being amazing – this game has been wonderful from the outside, and I am so glad I found this on Kickstarter and invested in it – it has been the best decision I’ve ever made regarding my Chinese studies. Thank you for making such a fantastic product!

Read Alexis’ Interview on life as a Shanghai expat and his take on Ninchanese>>

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NinchaneseInterview and Review of Ninchanese by Jemma