Duolingo’s flashcard app Tinycards has made its way to Android, which is big news for anyone into that style of learning. But while the app can be used for anything, one of its best uses actually covers Duolingo’s biggest weakness: learning Arabic and Mandarin.
There’s no comprehensive website or app solution for these two languages in the style of Duolingo. All those aiming to provide that service have eschewed the languages that read right-to-left, and I imagine the tonal nature of Mandarin makes it even harder.
There are also lots of apps with good intentions (but lower production values) aiming to do similar things for Arabic and Mandarin. Tinycards is combining the best of both worlds there.
Because anyone can make their own courses in Tinycards, lots of options exist for learning Arabic alphabets, Chinese foods, common phrases, names of animals, etc. There could be more options in terms of actually hearing the words, but this is unfortunately a very slow moving area for developing educational apps.
Right off the bat, my installation of Tinycards actually asked me if I wanted to use the Chineasy set of flash cards, which I absolutely do. It’s a good starting point for Mandarin, and all the user-created content can supplement that.
As someone who has used lower quality flash card apps to learn Arabic over the last few years, it’s great to have something with decent UX. It’s just a shame there hasn’t been more progress when it comes to learning these two beautiful languages. Whoever cracks that nut is sure to have a lot of users.