Chineasy Tiles: 5 Minute Review

**I received a review copy of Chineasy Tiles, as well as an accidental set of silverware, from the lovely staff at Chineasy. As usual, all opinions and thoughts are my own. I use affiliate links in the post.

Game: Chineasy Tiles

Price: $89 $71.20

How to Purchase: Amazon

Company: Chineasy Limited

Ages: 3+

Level: Beginner

Description: Based off of the Chineasy Methodology (you may be familiar with their (affiliate links) Chineasy book and flashcards), this award-winning game is a fun way to learn or review 48 characters that can be combined into 235 phrases/composite words.

The game comes with 48 flash cards of high-frequency characters (these characters are the same in both traditional and simplified), 100 tiles, 1 master board, 4 play boards, and 1 cotton bag.

No resource guide or instruction manual is included, but you can download a constantly updated guide online. The guide has 10-20 activities you can use the Chineasy Tiles to play.

Sample Pictures:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Review: First things first. Is this going to make your child literate in Chinese?

No.

That’s a lot to expect from a game that only has 48 characters (although there are 235 word/phrase combinations).

However, it is a fun and multi-use game for kids – regardless of Chinese ability.

All of my children, (~8, 6, 4, 1) enjoyed Chineasy Tiles and considering just how many children I have, that’s not easy. (Plus, we invited Rhythm Girl (5.5) to join us and she loved it, too.)

We’ve only had the game for about a week and the kids have asked to play with it every single day. Glow Worm (4) especially likes to take out all the tiles and look at them and fill up the play boards. Gamera (6) begs to play BINGO every time and Cookie Monster (~8) eagerly joins in.

I can easily see this game being played with a Chinese tutor, a Chinese Immersion classroom, or family members – even family members who don’t know any Chinese.

Here are a few things that I loved about Chineasy Tiles.

1) I love the quality of the materials. Everything down to the box is sturdy, quality stuff so I don’t feel as if my children will IMMEDIATELY ruin the game. Love the tactile feel of the tiles and the play board. The drawings are familiar from the Chineasy book and are also fun and beautiful.

And yes, even though we had barely opened the box, Sasquatch (1) decided that he enjoyed the taste of the flash cards (there are a few teeth imprints already – THIS IS WHY I CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!) and enjoys grabbing tiles by the fistful, wreaking havoc as he is wont to do. (This totally gives me hives because I really don’t want to lose any of these lovely pieces.)

2) I love the versatility of the games and activities. There are so many ways to play and use the tiles, flash cards, and board. We tried out 4-5 of them (BINGO, Find It First, Charades, Spot the Twins, Tug Tug) the first afternoon and I look forward to trying out more games with the kids.

3) My kids LOVE the BINGO game. They also enjoyed trying the different activities and were really excited to try as many as possible.

4) I think it’s a good product for beginners – especially if they are just folks who are checking out Chinese and looking for a fun way to learn some characters but may be intimidated. The flashcards and tiles make it easy to remember and associate pictures with the characters.

5) There are lots of activities for total beginners, kids/people who have no exposure and background to Chinese or Chinese characters.

6) I think this would be a fun tool/game for Chinese teachers to employ with students. It is a fun way to engage kids even before they know too many characters. It’s also a lot of fun even if your kids know a bunch of characters. (My older two know 1200+ and still had a great time.)

With that said, there is some room for improvement.

1) It cannot be avoided. This is a pricey product.

However, it is evident that the quality of materials is above your average game. My contact at Chineasy mentioned that their whole team is comprised of perfectionists and they only sourced the best materials as well as hired award-winning artists and illustrators so it’s clear the money went into the product.

2) As I mentioned before, there are no instructions included and I hate hunting and finding things. I want everything I need to be there to be there. Obviously, this is a small quibble, but it does need to be pointed out.

3) Another minor thing is that there doesn’t seem to be a master list of how many tiles there are per character. Some of them have only one tile, others have three. Since I’m anal retentive, I really want and require a list because I know my children will lose one and I will have no idea which tile it is and that will bother me forever.

4) A few of the games don’t seem to work as well with the tiles. Charades seemed okay, but some of the terms are too hard to act out (at least for children) such as PEACE, or MAN. Some of the games (such as making phrases/combo words) would benefit from including measure words like 個隻, etc.

An easy way to get around this is to just remove the harder tiles before the kids play. (I am lazy so I did not.) Also, there is nothing preventing us from adding measure words of our own on pieces of paper

5) My older two children know about 1,000-1,200+ characters so the Memory Game and some of the other ones were simply too easy (and also, not possible to play because they can actually read the characters).

Obviously they are not the target market, but keep in mind, they still really liked playing all the games. In fact, the easiness of the characters and funny pictures (their favorite is the flash card for 大 because it is the butt of a Sumo wrestler) is a huge selling point because they don’t have to think super hard and just enjoy playing.

I mention this in case you’re a super Tiger Parent and you want the game to be more challenging. There are definitely ways to play more challenging versions (like composing phrases and combination words), my vocabulary just isn’t wide enough to take advantage.

6) I think this game would benefit from future expansion sets (and if more of you purchase Chineasy Tiles, the greater the likelihood – so do it for ME) but it’s a good start.

All in all, I think it’s a solid game for beginners and for folks who want to learn more about Chinese. It’s definitely geared towards kids who are not fluent and don’t come from heritage families – but I can see how heritage families would also be drawn (no pun intended!) to the game.

Highly recommend.

Here’s a video of my kids playing BINGO. You can also get a good view of the flash cards, tiles, and play boards.

Here’s another video of my kids and their friend playing BINGO .(What can I say? It was their favorite.)

Did you know I wrote a book on how to teach your kids Chinese? You can get it on Amazon (affiliate link) and it’s conveniently titled, So You Want Your Kid to Learn Chinese.

It’s full of practical advice, detailed applications, and heavy amounts of snark. Find most of the answers to your questions about how you can help your kids learn and speak Chinese (as well as read).

How to Turn Your Car into a Mobile Chinese Learning Center

**You can find an updated version of this piece, along with exclusive new chapters, in the ebook, (affiliate link) So You Want Your Kid to Learn Chinese.

If you are anything like me, you likely spend 87% of your time in the car shuttling your kids to and from school, activities, and errands. That adds up to a lot of time that could be used to passively (and also actively) cram Chinese into your children’s brains.

So, if you’re not currently using your “dead” time in the car, you are missing out on some great opportunities to support your children’s Chinese language learning.

Here then, are some ideas of how you can turn your car into a Mobile Chinese Learning Center.

1) Listen to Chinese audio resources.

There are so many possibilities here, it’s a veritable goldmine. Think of what you can listen to in a car and there is a Chinese version. For a great resource on where to find and what to find, check out Guavarama’s awesome post.

– children’s songs
– children’s stories (I bought several CD sets full of Chinese stories)
– audio books fiction or non-fiction (either on ximalaya, podcasts, CDs from Chinese books, etc.)

2) Watch Chinese shows/DVDs, etc.

If you have one of those fancy cars with DVD players, you can easily put in a movie or show and have kids watch in Chinese. Or you can preload tablets with Chinese shows.

I don’t have a fancy car nor do I allow screen time in the car (because quite frankly, they get enough screen time at home) so I don’t use this option. But plenty of my friends do!

3) Read.

Have stacks of Chinese books in the car available for your kids to read. This only works if they are literate enough to NOT need you next to them – or YOU have to be literate enough that when they describe the character, you can actually know what character they are talking about. (This ALSO requires your children to know how to describe the character – knowing what the strokes are called, what the radicals are called, and what the parts of the characters look like and how to describe them.)

Also, this requires your children not to get car sick while reading.

My kids are not at this level of expertise yet so I do not use this. Also, I am terrified of my kids losing a book in the great black hole of our vehicle so I am not likely to utilize this option. (Not to mention, my Chinese literacy is NOT at all up to par. My kids can describe a character – I am just not equipped to envision their accurate descriptions.)

Of course, if your children can read zhuyin, the problem of character recognition is remedied and not as big of a deal. (There might still be then occasional hiccup while they’re improving their zhuyin, but by and large, much easier than reading without it.)

4) Talk

This is a little silly and Captain Obviousy, but you could just have a conversation with your kids in Chinese. (Of course, if you can’t speak Chinese, this is a little more difficult.)

5) Word games

There are so many fun word games you can play in the car (or anywhere, really). Here are a few examples:

a) I Spy

Just like how you would play in English, players take turns choosing something they “Spy,” describing it, and everyone else guesses what they have “spied.”

b) 接龍 (jie long2/Build up a sequence – although literally, Connect the dragon)

You can play this in so many ways, but the basic idea is that you connect the last word in an entry to the first word in the next.

So, if I use numbers as an example, let’s say you start with “123.” The next person has to start a number with “3.” And so on, and so on.

Some possible variations:

Chinese Idioms/成語 – This game has an actual name called 成語接龍 (cheng2 yu3 jie long2) and is basically where the last word of an idiom is the first word of the next.

– Chinese sentences/phrases/compound words – Where again, the last word of the sentence/phrase/compound word is the first word of the next sentence/phrase/compound word

Really, if your or your kids knowledge of Chinese is vast, you could play with any topic. (eg: song titles, book titles, movies, shows, etc.)

c) How many can you name?

Choose any category (eg: fruits, vegetables, animals, occupations, colors, flowers, trees, insects, etc.) and take turns naming them. Whoever repeats an item first loses.

My kids usually start off with some variation of: 水果園有什麼? (shui3 guo3 yuan2 you3 shen2 me?/What does a fruit garden have?)

Incidentally, I learned this game from overhearing them play in the back of the van. They learned how to play from watching Taiwanese game shows on YouTube. (Who says YouTube is a barren wasteland?)

d) Guess that word.

Again, this game only works if the participants have the appropriate terminology to describe character components. (see above re: reading in the car).

In short, you describe a character until the other person guesses it based on your descriptions.

This sounds abominably hard to me but my kids have actually played this in the car. They have also gotten it right (although sometimes, just randomly guessing until they hit the right word).

Again, I don’t know where they learned this game. Likely YouTube – but maybe they were just bored one day and started playing. Or maybe their Chinese tutor taught it to them.

I don’t know. Do I look like I keep good tabs on what my kids do?

A variation of this game is when they start to write a character a stroke at a time on a magnetic drawing board (affiliate link) (or use their feet on the back of chairs or fingers in the air) and the other person tries to guess the word before they finish writing.

6) Sing songs or tell stories.

Similar to having a conversation or listening to Chinese audio, this is just your kids singing or telling stories or jokes in Chinese. Of course, this requires that they know at least one song/story/joke. And if you use this in conjunction with listening to Chinese CDs, your kids will eventually start singing the songs they know.

I am amazed at how many songs my children know and can sing or recite from what they’ve learned listening to Chinese CDs alone. (They also know a ton from their Chinese tutors.) This doesn’t even include all the stuff they consume from YouTube.

Anyhow, these ideas aren’t original or even that difficult to think of. I’m sure off the top of your head, you can think of stuff I didn’t mention. (If that is the case, please let me know in the comments! The more ideas the better!)

These are just some examples of how you can maximize your traveling time. And since your kids are stuck in the car anyway, you might as well unleash your inner Tiger Mom and get the kids working on their Chinese already.

Good luck! And let me know how your kids end up liking these games if you try them at home (or on the road, as the case may be).