Review: The Chinese Talking Travel Guidebook by Parrot Learning

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This set comes with a paper guidebook and an audio pen which allows you to "hear" the text“Ni Hao”, or as we say in English, “hello!” As a linguist enthusiastic, I was thrilled when I received the Chinese Talking Travel Guidebook China edition by Parrot Learning. Although China is not in my immediate travel plans, I spent over four months backpacking thru China. Let me tell you, there were many moments where I which I could speak Mandarin Chinese fluently. Thus, I was intrigued by this travel guidebook that allows the user to magically scan text and have it read aloud. Although it is a good concept in theory, I did found some benefits and limitations you need to be aware off before you make a purchase.

My first impression when I received the box package was its weight. I like to travel light and this baby is heavy! The box-set was easy to open. It comes organized by scanner pen, language books, and other cables. The scanning pen is bulky and robust. It has simple rudimentary buttons that turns the scanner on, changes the volume, changes the language, and repeats the conversation. The box set comes with four books: A basic Chinese-English dictionary, and three multi-level Chinese talking travel guides. All of these books have both English and Chinese translations side-by-side or up-and-down. The Chinese is written in both Simple Chinese characters and pinyin (Chinese Latinized script).

On the plus side, this box-set allows a traveler to point and scan a text that they want to be read aloud. It is an extension of the typical audio-lingual language learning method, except that you can use it on the spot in China. Thus, you can learn as you travel. The four books cover more than enough phrases that a typical tourist or business traveler in China will encounter. Keep in mind that Chinese is a multi-tone language so perfecting the tone is a key to being understood or alternatively offending someone carelessly. In order to have the phrase read by the scanning pen, one must click on the book icon on the top of each page. Then you can either scan the English text or the Chinese text. The pen comes with both a speaker when you need it in public and some head-phones for when you want to practice in privacy.

On the flip side, the Parrot learning box-set does come with some limitations. I already mentioned it is heavy and bulky so this is not for a light traveler. Another major limitation is that the scanning pen is not as smart as it sounds. You must read the four books that came with the box set. Thus, you must take the whole box set with you on your trip. If you leave behind even one book, you feel short-changed. So do not expect   to be able to scan your favorite travel novel and have it magically translated for you. Also, the book is made in one Chinese dialect. China has dozens of dialects so if you go to a remote province you may not be understood at all.

Overall, the Parrot Learning English-Chinese Talking Phrasebook is a wonderful asset to have at home and to take if you can afford the extra bulky space. It will not make you fluent in Chinese, but it will teach you, or at the very least, translate some basic Chinese phrases for you. Enjoy!

 

Disclaimer:  A free copy of this guidebook book kit was provided with an expectation that the reader would write an honest and unbiased review of it.

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by Fernando Milmo

Fernando Milmo is an English as a Second Language Teacher from Texas. He loves to travel on his spare time.

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