**This post is sponsored by Language Monkey. As usual, all opinions and thoughts are mine and mine alone.
Friends, I want to apologize. I have never checked out a single language learning pen ever in my entire life because I’m a snob. I just didn’t see the need for it. We have actual Chinese books with actual Chinese speakers in the house. There are CDs (don’t @me, I’m old), mp3s, QR Codes – shoot, I even have so many YouTube videos of me reading Chinese books out loud for your children to watch and listen.
Why would I ever need a reading pen?
Well, I was wrong, friends.
I was wrong, uninformed, and very arrogant. And not only do I apologize to you, dear reader, I am annoyed at myself for not taking advantage earlier of reading pens like Language Monkey to their fullness. The reading pen and book set has been a boon to my youngest child, Sasquatch (3.5). For once, he is interested in speaking Chinese – and has even asked for “the Baby Monkey” toy over the iPad. If you know anything about my children, that’s a high compliment indeed.
For the TL;DR crowd, you can watch my video review and demo of Language Monkey here:
What is Language Monkey?
Language Monkey is a multilingual encyclopedia that is focused on learning through listening and seeing vibrant images. Targeted at beginners and non-native speakers whose primary language is English, Language Monkey is an quality learning tool.
Created by 1st generation Chinese New Zealanders with limited Chinese, Holly and Theo had looked into multiple reading pens to teach their children Chinese as a secondary language. Though there were many on the market, Holly and Theo felt as if the current products didn’t quite meet their needs as people with limited Chinese fluency. After extensive research into the best approaches and techniques to immerse children in a language, they created Language Monkey Books to help children learn Chinese as a second language.
Language Monkey comes with two bilingual encyclopedia books, reading pen, pen dock, charging cable, and instruction manual. The books have English, pinyin, and Simplified Chinese. The pen supports Mandarin, Cantonese, and English, as well as has music, games, and additional information about each picture.
Who is Language Monkey for?
Language Monkey is for families with children aged 1 to 6 and have either limited or no Chinese background and want their children to learn some daily vocabulary in Chinese. While you do not technically have to be present in order for your child to use the books and pen (especially for older, more independent children), if you do have some Chinese background, it is a good idea to be present and help with pronunciation. It is best for parents and families who have minimal or no background in Chinese and want a product that doesn’t add screentime for their children.
This product does not claim to teach your children Chinese conversation or even help your child read. It’s main function is to teach your children 500+ Chinese and English vocabulary and some additional information or definition of the terms.
Where can you get Language Monkey?
You can purchase it at Language Monkey’s website.
Here are Gamera and Sasquatch unboxing Language Monkey.
What’s good about Language Monkey?
Language Monkeys is ready to go out of the box. The reading pen is fully charged and using it is intuitive. (The easy to understand instruction manual helps, too.) You can start on any page and have your child dictate where they want to begin.
The books are made of very solid cardboard like those of the best children’s board books. The pieces are well packaged and protected in the box. I love how the vocabulary is representative of what a child would encounter in their daily life: animals, foods, people, feelings, body parts, toys and numbers. Once your child is familiar with the terms, there is even music, dialog, and games to further reinforce their language learning.
Sasquatch, my 3.5 year old, absolutely loves the books. He calls them his “Baby Monkey toy” and has even started asking for it first thing in the morning. If you knew my son, you would know that he normally starts the day asking for the iPad. This is nothing short of revolutionary.
Glow Worm (~7) is not too interested, but Gamera (8.5) likes to use the books with Sasquatch in true big sister fashion. She will hold open the book for the baby and he will go through every single picture and listen carefully. Sasquatch is very methodical and is extra proud of himself when he finished each page. He has even begun to repeat the Chinese terms after the pen. Granted, his pronunciation is terrible, but I suppose this is where I would come in as a parent and correct his tones, or just let it go because he’s the fourth child and we’re just relieved he’s trying.
Here’s a video of Sasquatch and Gamera going through the different functions of Language Monkey. Be sure to check out them dancing to the music near the end.
What could be improved?
Truthfully, the only think I can think of being improved is adding more books soon. While the games and music are fun, after a certain point, your child will learn all the vocabulary and will want new material.
Language Monkey is a fun and easy to use product for non-speaking or limited families with Chinese families to introduce their young children to Chinese. The songs and games are cute and a nice way to practice comprehension. The interface is super easy for my 3.5 year old son to navigate and doesn’t require a screen in order to practice Chinese – but also doesn’t require me to be there! The best of both worlds.
Will your kids become fluent? Of course not. But they will learn a lot of daily vocabulary and have a great time doing so.
Thanks for your review. How many pages? How many Hanzi characters and/or words? You mention 500+-ish but I was wondering if you know exactly.
For visitors to Mainland China, and if you happen to go to Shanghai, it is well worth your while to walk 1.5km up the famous and touristic East Nanjing Road that everyone visits at least once, and look for the large toy store on the left. You’ll see it past the Huawei store but perhaps 200M before People’s Park. If you take the elevator or stairs to the (I think) sixth floor, there’s a floor dedicated mostly to educational products. You can find a lot of “talking pen” products at many different levels of complexity, and staff on hand to demonstrate these products. Some of them may be nice complement to Language Monkey.