Wink To Learn – Speak & Read Chinese

At almost 4 years old, I have always believed my daughter to be too old for flash cards.  In fact, I had to endure a period of smug I-told-You-So looks from my techno-skeptic wife when my earlier investment in a full set of Tweedlewink DVDs went up in smoke because I could not even get my daughter to sit and watch the programme.  When I tried to show it to her while she was strapped in the child seat in my car, she just pretended to fall asleep!  Mind you, this young lady has no problems getting glued to the TV for hours when it comes to her favorite Disney, Numberjacks or The Word Machine programmes.

I don’t blame the Tweedlewink product as it was targeted at a younger audience, but as an educational medium, it had issues which I thought could have been better addressed, given the price we paid.  In any case, this experience made me quite skeptical when I got my hands on a set of Wink To Learn Speak & Read Chinese DVDs.  I wasn’t sure I can even run fast enough to catch my daughter to put her in front of the TV to sit through this new flash card DVD programme.

Yesterday marks a month after I started showing her the series.  I’m pretty lazy and easily distracted myself, and I only managed to show her the contents of the 1st DVD for no more than 3 times in the first week.  So it took me a while yesterday to understand what she meant when she asked if she could watch the 中国北京 "movie", instead of her usual Donald Duck requests.  She could even remember most the animals depicted in the programmes in the given sequence while I could only recall seeing the 猫.  I almost fell off my chair.

The product comprises 6 DVDs encased in an oversized DVD box.  Each DVD has a standard structure.  It contains a series of 6 lessons, followed by 4 different revision methods.

The Lessons

Each lesson is a 2 minute slide show of static flash cards catering to a specific theme, which includes Animals, My Body Parts, Fruits, Actions, Numbers, Nature, Personal Belongings, Even Numbers, Food, Things In The House, Colors, etc.  There are about 10 items presented per theme.  Each item is first displayed as a picture, followed by the Chinese character, with a voice-over accompanying both the picture and the character.  The entire sequence is then repeated once.

At the end of the sequence of learning flashcards, the viewer is then treated to a montage of high resolution pictures of various cities, birds, culture, etc.  This was where my daughter’s 中国北京 came from .

The Revisions

The revision lessons go through the entire 6 sets of flash cards on the DVD in various formats:

  • Pictures & Words.  This is essentially the same as each individual lesson, except that all 6×10 picture and character flashcards are displayed in 1 sequence.
  • Picture Only.  This is similar to Pictures & Words, except only the picture cards are displayed.
  • Words Only.  This is similar to Pictures & Words, except only the character cards are displayed.
  • High Speed Right Brain Training.  This is similar to Pictures & Words, except that the playback is at about twice the normal speed.

Analysis

The product does pretty much what it promises, which is to captivate the child’s attention with beautifully taken high resolution photographs while reinforcing the learning with clearly articulated and proper Chinese narration.  The sound quality is good, and the background music is soothing, not sleep-inducing, and caters to all ages.

A key differentiator in this product is the very high quality images.  This is not some poorly rendered or copied-off-the-web production.  You can easily watch this on your spanking new full-HD to enjoy the professionally taken close-ups of animals, birds, and nature which could well double up as a screen-saver too.  The stunning images draw the viewer in, setting up the context for the lessons.  The picture on the left of the closeup of a bird is captured off the screen and down sampled for web publishing.  Yet, it is able to still retain its clarity.

There is really little to explain about the pedagogy.  It’s about using flashcards to induce right-brain learning in children.  If you subscribe to the Glen Doman, Shichida, Little Neuro Tree methods, which are all variations of the flashcard method, then you should have no problems accepting fundamental pedagogy espoused by the Wink To Learn DVD flashcard system.

Here are the key features offered by the product:

  1. The Chinese characters are color coded to highlight the distinct components that make up the parts of the character.  This is a good feature – it clearly shows the child how different symbols can be put together to form new characters in Chinese.  As a lay person, however, I felt that the color coding is a little inconsistent, as there doesn’t appear to be any clear rules as to why certain parts are color coded in a certain way while others are not.  It would be good for the publishers to provide the rules they used for coding.
  2. The publisher took particular care with choosing the best font sizes and rendering to make character learning a lot easier on the eyes, and provide more impact to young viewers.
  3. The speed of flashing is constrained under 3 seconds, the recommended speed by flashcard protagonists such as Glen Doman.  Together with alternating between characters and pictures, it was able to engage my daughter effectively despite her short attention span.
  4. The length of each lesson is also just right to maintain interest without making the process into a chore for the child.  Each lesson is only about 2 minutes, and includes a "reward" of eye candy of pictures taken all around the world.  The child gets to learn 10 Chinese characters or phrases within that time.  The product actually removes the autoplay feature from the DVD, and it is necessary to manually go to the menu and start the next lesson.  This is to prevent parents from using the product as an entertainment tool, where parents just put the child in front of the TV and run off to do other things.  The publisher recommends showing only 2 lessons a day.  Some parents, however, might find this troublesome, especially if the product is to be shown in the family car where it will be difficult to safely operate the player controls when the car is moving.  The publisher is planning to put back the autoplay feature in future releases of the product.
  5. The revision lessons are useful for reinforcing the learning.  By flashing only character or picture cards in separate sessions, the child could be taught to associate sounds with characters only or pictures only.  The Right-Brain training accelerates the flashing to about 2 cards per second to achieve high-speed learning.  However as a result of this acceleration, the pitch and pronunciation of the narrative becomes distorted and cartoonish.  The publisher is aware of this problem and will be enhancing the Right Brain flashing programme in its next release.

Conclusion 

The Wink To Learn Speak & Read Chinese DVD is an effective tool for exposing young children below the age of 7 to Chinese characters and phrases.  This augers well with the focus coming back on the use of Chinese characters in Primary schools, after decades of experimentation with Hanyu Pinyin as a replacement for written Chinese.

If you are looking for something to supplement what your child is getting from right-brain training programmes such as Little Neuro Tree, or Chinese enrichment courses such as Berries or Tien Hsia, then the Wink To Learn DVD series should be an easy buy decision for you.  It is a very good first attempt by the publisher who has managed to put up a high quality product.

If you are looking to replace the right-brain training programme with this DVD series, then the product may not meet your expectations.  It still lacks the animated interactivity that a live right-brain training session will provide, such as flashing with synchronized music.

However, the product has demonstrated its potential as an educational tool.  Hopefully, we will continue to see even better products coming from our local publishers!

Editor’s note:

KiasuParents.com will be holding a special 1 hour online auction event for a set of Wink To Learn Read & Learn Chinese DVDs kindly sponsored by Wink 2 Learn from 9pm and closing at 10pm on 30 Apr 2009.  The auction will be done using KiasuPoints, and not cash :).  So go ahead and start collecting KiasuPoints today by rating services, inviting friends to KiasuParents.com, and getting Kudos from other people!  You will need the points for the auction.

Where to Buy

 Hi, may I know where to get this wink to learn DVD? TIA.

Awesome blog.




Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!

 

Hi all.. Any other reviews

Hi all..

Any other reviews for Wink to Learn Chinese and Sing to learn? I am thinking of getting them for my sons… :))

Thanks ya!!

Hi Jedamum, that's great!

Hi Jedamum, thanks for the update. That’s great. Makes all that stressful auctioning worth while, eh! 

Kudos to you for keeping it up.

犀牛

Just now, my ds2 climbed the shelves to pull down the oversize box cover and point to the picture of the rhino and said 犀牛xī ni.

So he has been paying attention after all!

Thanks! Will try that. :)

Thanks! Will try that. 🙂

Instructions

According to the publisher, you are supposed to run up to 2 lessons on the disc per day.  So in 3 days, you finish the 6 lessons on the disc, and then you go through the 3 revision sessions 1 day at a time – pictures only, characters only, and then the high speed training.

Then proceed to the next disc and so on, until they are completed, and you can go back to the first disc again.  Try not to flash the same content too many times in too short a period of time.

Tried the first disk this

Tried the first disk this morning. Started off, I was quite skeptical that my 2.5yo will be attracted to the static pics (a far cry from his usual cartoons). After the first topic, I was quite surprised that he was actually paying attention. 🙂 He particularly likes the one on Body Parts (where he points to his own when the programme displayed that pic) and the numbers (where he recited each word after the ‘reader’). So far so good. I also like the Revision Feature of Pictures and Words only (without the montage), as my boy is easily distracted when the montage comes on.

As this is my first time with such ‘card-flashing’ lessons, I would just like to find out, how should a typical lesson consist and last and when to move on to the next topic. Do I flash 1 dvd of 6 lessons daily and moved on to the next disk the following month? Or do I flash 1 lesson (2min) daily and moved on to the next the following week? Do I do it once or twice a day? Hm….

Although my P1 has not seen the dvd yet, I’m sure he’ll benefit from the word recognition part, expand his chinese word bank (2 weeks back – during Oral E Preparation, I realised that he don’t even know ‘Zebra’ or ‘Hippo’ in Mandarin!!) and also appreciate the montage more than ds2.

 

oops, my apologise Chief! 

oops, my apologise Chief!  I read as 9am to 10am.  Must be too excited.

What?!? Only equivalent to Paris Hilton in terms of KiasuPoints?

Heyya Chief…

"And since buds (our equivalent of rich Paris Hilton in terms of KiasuPoints) has officially declared her intention to stand aside for more "deserving parents", maybe she can be your fairy Godmother if you pitch your "business case" well enough."

Whaddya mean equivalent to Paris Hilton only in terms of KiasuPoints?!?

I am as thin as her in real life…. ermmm… ok, mebbe not too anorexic.

I am as "hawt" as her in real life….. ermmm… NOT! Hahahahaa!

If only here in KiasuParents i get to be thee Paris Hilton… then i’m fine with that, yo! Haha!

Yup, yup people, i’m looking out for genuine interests… so pitch them well. I am also an active user here, so i’ve read almost all the threads here and from these cyber conversations here, i WILL KNOW if you are FAKING it!!! Wuahahahhaa!

Another way to know if you’re gonna win it, is also to seek the creepy inside knowledge of the great Ouija Board…. But, be warned. It may……. just not be true. Wuakakakaa! 😉 http://www.brainjar.com/dhtml/ouija/

 bÜds

buds is on the sidelines

Well, mod_toomuch… I think your idea of exchanging your wares for KiasuPoints is definitely creative .  And since buds (our equivalent of rich Paris Hilton in terms of KiasuPoints) has officially declared her intention to stand aside for more "deserving parents", maybe she can be your fairy Godmother if you pitch your "business case" well enough.

Once again, we’ve got a couple more of Memory Magic CDROMs to auction away, so don’t use up all your KiasuPoints at one shot.  If one of the KiasuParents (our "elite" class whose articles have been published on the Portal) decides he/she wants it, it’s going to be difficult to outbid them since they all have at least 1000 KiasuPoints to begin with.  It might be easiest if you post something useful to the forum that our editors think are good enough to be published on the Portal, so that you can also be promoted to KiasuParent status (1000 points) + 100 points for that article being published.

Of course, if you achieve Grandmaster status like jedamum and buds, hey… you’ve had it made.  Check out how you can earn more KiasuPoints here.

Good luck.

Planning,,,, to get more kiasu point to win the bids...

hi hi..

Had set my HP alarm to stand by to log in at that timing…..

wish me luck!!!

After office hours?!

But… but… 9pm is AFTER office hours for most sane parents   You must really like your job .

Anyway, I chose the night before Labour Day so that we all can have a nice long night of sleep after that.

Auction Date & Time

Thanks, Chief.  Ok, will work hard to gain KiausPoints.  But can I request that the auction time be after office hour?  How to bid if we are engaged in a meeting.  Hey, need to work to pay for those expensive enrichment course!

May I suggest anyday between 10pm to 11pm when our children are already in bed?

English winktolearn

Hi all,

actually I have all the wink to learn DVD – Chinese, English and the Sing to learn.

I must say my gal loves them all and it indeed is very good as revision.

Now my child will shout ‘chinese’ to watch the Chinese DVD. THe English DVD is not as comprehensive and there might be some argument on the usage and pronunciation of certain words. The words are also colored according to phonetic sounds.

I must however sing praise for the SING TO LEARN. Its entertaining and interesting and my child did catch more words and phrases from it. She enjoys this very much and dances and sings to the songs every time. SHe even reads the words there!

A professor said that teaching Chinese to a child less than 6 years old is much easier than teaching him throughout his lifetime. The percentage of a child, less than 4 years old, remembering the characters and get interested in the language is 50% higher compared to his lifetime. this is because they capture the Chinese characters as pictures with the right brain. And a child uses their right brain only from birth and starts to ‘output’ information logically through their left brain from 1 year old onwards. Hence, its easier to ‘input’ these pictures to them before 6 yrs where they would have, in normal cases, switch totally to the left brain.

 

 

Good idea!

buds… great idea… ok… what we will do is to turn off all the award of KiasuPoints for ANYTHING 15 minutes before the auction, so really cannot go and try to collect more points DURING the auction.  The only way to get more KiasuPoints is to get some other member to give it to you.  So better make more buddies if you want to win these auctions.

For the deserving parent...

Yes, i’m paving the way for you guys and will enjoy the sideline action. Like football match like that! Will be cheering for the deserving parent. Mebbe parents can also get pity-points heheheheh… for sharing why that set is best to be acquired by them in this auction… In my opinion, we should award it to someone whom we can tell, WILL be using it diligently and in earnest need for it… Not someone who takes it as a lucky draw prize and allows dust to collect like a KiasuParent trophy.

 bÜds

Think ala COE bidding..

You heard it people! Now bid low!

Think COE …

 bÜds

Yes, it's all in the name of fun

It’s just our little way of thanking our community for your contribution.  It’s an experiment too… we have no idea at this time how it will turn out 🙂 .  Since our leading KiasuPoints lady buds has said she’s not going to bid, I guess it opens the way a bit to everyone else 🙂  But really, we have already lined up another 2 items which are super good in my opinion for memory training.  We will be auctioning those too, assuming that the first auction is successful.  So really, if you use up all your points in 1 session, you may miss out on another.  So ya gotta strategize a bit, people :).

Very exciting indeed!

Hi Chief, 1 hour auction eh?? Very exciting indeed.. I think KSP.com will hit your all time high traffic during this time! Fun! Fun! Fun!! 

Never too late to start

Hi nonKiasu, the reason why we put the auction till the end of the month is to allow members to collect enough KiasuPoints to make meaningful bids.  Anyway, we are planning to hold these auctions at least once a month, so don’t blow away all your KiasuPoints in a single sitting .  We’ll post more information as we finalize some of these arrangements.

Wow, this is exciting! 

Wow, this is exciting!  Would want a copy as well.  Ha, I sure cannot win the bid one! How to ‘last minute hug the buddha leg’!  So, can I "register" for the notification on the special deals from the publisher? 

Btw, I saw the website has English DVD as well.  Are they as good too?

How much?

How much was it fo12eal?

And which shop in particular.

Thanks in advance.

 bÜds

I managed to get a copy at

I managed to get a copy at Suntec City… Glad to know there are positive feedbacks… I haven’t play for my gal… Will do so when she is awake…heehee…

I think this Wink DVD is

I think this Wink DVD is used as supplementary material at my younger son pre-school. The teacher did recommend us to buy it for home training also. If the pre-school is using it, it should be good.

We only "sell" good products

Hi RRMummy… glad you like the review .  As an independent site, we only "sell" the products that we have tried ourselves and think it is good enough to recommend.

You can buy the products immediately by going to the Wink to Learn website at http://www.winktolearn.com.  We are also working out something with the publisher so that KiasuParents.com members can get a special bundle or discount.  Stay tuned for more info.

If you are hoping to get a free copy, you can join the 1-hour Auction event on 30 April from 9pm-10pm, where you can bid for a copy of Wink 2 Learn Chinese (worth $129) using your KiasuPoints!  We will give you more details soon, but you need to start collecting KiasuPoints now.

WOW!!

Hi Chief, thanks for the detailed review!! You have definitely ‘sold’ this product to me.. can’t wait to get my hands on them.. btw, how much does it cost and where did you get your set from?..thx

 

 

one of my best investment

i have both english + chinese wink & sing to learn few months back,

both my girls like it very much, they will sit still (nothing can block them) while showing the words-pictures, they will dance and i will play chase and catch when those "break" part  for ex: showing The great wall of China. My first girl can relate those Pyramid, Machu Picchu with those own make flash cards.

here is a note from my baby dairy:

14 April 2009 Tue
————————

hl(16th months plus) can follow many words from Wink CDs: 鸭,鸟,鸡,牙, 舵儿 ….

 

ps:

From Glenn Doman: How To give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge, Pg5:

I feel a very strong obligation to tell all parents who’d like to know about it, that you can put quality in a baby’s brain as easily as you can put in junk.

It is easier to teach a baby the great paintings of the world than it is to teach him cartoons. It is easier to teach him the great music of the world than it is to teach him jingles.

 

Yes ! it works

Yes, i highly recommend this DVD set too.

It compliments all the enrichment, flashcards or chinese lessons very well. It’s  particularly  great for working parents like me. Its like additional lessons at the comfort of home.

My gal was sick  last week with stomach flu but all she wants is ‘CHINESE’ .. She will say ‘CHINESE!!!" to ask to watch her wink to learn chinese DVD.

Till date, she dont get tired of watching them over and over again but instead, now she follows the show and reads with them.

I also want to particularly recommend another product SING TO LEARN. This is an excellent follow up to wink to learn.

Its children Mandarin songs with emphasis on the certain words.. like SIGHT WORDS.

My now 19mth old gal picked up words like 当, 一起  among many others words from this DVD.

 

 

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