Sitone is a pronunciation training tool that helps Chinese learners quickly pickup the basic four tones in Chinese Mandarin. The device combines digital interface with tactile feedback, creating an engaging learning environment.
Why is learning chinese hard?
In English, the tone or the pitch of your voice usually conveys a feeling or an emotion. However in Chinese Mandarin, tones are used to distinguish the meanings of words. For example, mà(scold) is very different from mā (mother). In addition, each tone in Mandarin doesn't have a specific pitch, instead it is identified through the change of pitches (as explained by the music notes above).
During my brainstorming, prototyping and user testing stages, I quickly mocked up several prototypes and invited people to interact with my models. For each subject, I asked them to:
1. Pick a prototype based on look, feel and ergonomics.
2. Pick a Chinese phrase from the testing booklet.
3. Interact with the device and try to pronounce the Chinese characters.
Although none of my test subjects speak Chinese Mandarin fluently, most of them were able to successfully finish the task with the assistance of the device they picked (32 out of 40). More than half of my test subjects thought the device (24 out of 40) was helpful.
After comparing my testing results and user comments, I decided to choose the book strap for my final design because it is intuitive to use, small and compact and it also attaches to books without falling out.
use it with a book
Sitone can be used with any Chinese learning books, simply strap it onto the opening page and speak to the device. If the LED lights indicate the same tone as your prounciation, that means you have mastered your tones!
If the user doesn't remember how to pronounce a tone, they can simply press the buttons to hear the correct tone.
Potential users who want to learn Chinese Mandarin can discover Sitone through multiple channels such as news feeds, friends' recommendation, brick-and-mortar stores and subway ads. Upon opening the packaging, the user will find the main device, an instruction manual, a charging port and an interchangeable elastic band.
Learning a new language takes time. Sitone can easily be transported with any book, so user can study and practice Mandarin pronunciation anywhere, anytime. After months of practice, the user will notice significant improvement in their Mandarin. They can then recommend Sitone to their friends and families.