One new year’s celebration down, one to go. Chinese New Year falls on January 31 this year, and ChineseCubes, a new Chinese language education system, wants to get you in the spirit with a little lesson in Chinese.
On February 1 (yeah, it might be the day after Chinese New Year, but don’t worry – it’s a week-long celebration), a Chinese teacher by the name of Vicky Juan will be coming to Book Culture on Broadway in New York at 11 AM for story time, to get some of the younger learners interested in the Chinese language. There will be a story about Chinese New Year in New York, followed by lessons on how to write the Chinese character for horse, as we’re heading into the year of the horse in the Chinese zodiac. There will also be food – dumplings (yes) and bubble tea (double yes). You should go, if only for those last two.
The whole thing is being put on by ChineseCubes, which is taking a different kind of approach to teaching Chinese. They sell sets of blocks with Chinese characters, which have little codes resembling QR codes on some of the sides, with a character on another side. The cubes work with a webcam and PC software to create an augmented reality experience, where you can mix and match the blocks to create new words and phrases, while getting direction from the software. It seems like a great idea for tactile learners, and looks to be a little more fun than the dry, Rosetta Stone method.
ChineseCubes sells a starter pack that includes 40 character cubes, which can be mixed and matched to create over 2,500 words and phrases. They also have a 160-character booster pack, which bumps up the word/phrase count to over 30,000. And, you can learn both simplified (mainland) and traditional (Taiwan) characters, so you can learn whichever set matches your travel plans.