Having started in 2015, Ninchanese is a recent entry to the language learning course world, but one that promises great things for Mandarin learners of all levels. Their gamified approach to learning Mandarin is quite different to the classical standards according to which Chinese is usually learnt: in Ninchanese, a whole level of Chinese aptitude is structured as in an RPG adventure. In order to advance, you clear mini-missions one by one, collecting vocabulary and testing your abilities in each of these sections, and, ultimately “becoming a dragon”. The story is amusing, and its characters and world simple but attractive and well designed. As if it wasn’t enough, Ninchanese also features a separate “Challenge” section through which you can challenge any other member (random, or from your friend list) of the Ninchanese community to a knowledge test; whomever knows more Chinese characters wins.
I was lucky enough to interview Ninchanese’s co-founder, Sarah Aberman, on the ocassion of a crowdfunding event Ninchanese held in June 2015, and I got some very interesting replies as to why Ninchanese is a necessary new approach to learning Chinese.