Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A Review Of The Baidu Translation App With Image Recognition

As a learner of Chinese as a second language (my first language is English although I am a Chinese), I have been searching for a free translation tool that translates from Chinese to English and back and supports audio and image recognition. I found it in the Baidu Translation App.

The Baidu Translation App translates images in 4 ways. They are:

1. Word
2. Snapshot
3. Screen
4 Object

Simply swipe your fingers across to move from Word, Snapshot, Screen or Object Translation.

This is how they work.

1. In Word Translation - Snap a picture of a word or phrase and Baidu will translate it for you. This is quite accurate. See the little lock at the bottom? At first, I thought this function was off limits to me unless I pay for it but that is not the case. Press the button to lock the function, aim your camera at the word or phrase you want, then press the button again to unlock and get your translation. 

Baidu Translation App

You can hear the audio of the word or press the lines you see at the bottom right of the translation for further information. Further information includes the pinyin for the word.

Baidu Translation App

2. In Snapshot Translation - You take a snapshot of the word, phrase, sentence or paragraph which you want to translate, circle to highlight it and the Baidu app will translate that for you.

Here is my snapshot. After taking a snapshot, I circle the part, I want to translate with my finger. Then I click the "tick" at the bottom to get my translation.

Baidu Translation App

The Baidu Translation App translate the parts I circled for me, providing me with the original words as well as the translated version. Of course when it comes to translation of whole paragraphs of words, the translation is not 100% accurate but you get enough of it to understand what the passage means.

Baidu Translation App

In Screen Translation - At first you lock the screen by clicking the lock button, you point your screen to a part of the passage you wish to translate. There is no need to take a picture of it, translation is done instantaneously and over the words you wish to translate. However, if you have a long passage, translation takes a bit more time. Simply shake the screen to remove the translation and move it to another part of the passage to get a new translation. Again, translation of entire passages is never 100% accurate but it is good enough to help you understand the passage.

Baidu Translation App

Finally, in Object Translation - You take a picture of the object, circle the object you wish to have translated with your finger and click the sign "tick". This translation is hit and miss. You do get accurate ones at times but most of the time, the translator gets it wrong. It does give you a lot of laughs though. We take pictures of each other and my boy was translated as a film star or musician, while my girl was a prince and I was a hairstylist. Here are some other object translations we did. The translator gives you a few options you can choose from as you can see from the light bulb keychain example. Poor Hello Kitty was translated as a pig while the colorful Geronimo Stilton storybook was translated as a baby crawling pad.

Baidu Translate AppBaidu Translate App

Baidu Translate App

Baidu Translate AppBaidu Translate App

Baidu Translate App

In addition to the above translation modes, it also translates common expressions and acts as a dictionary.

This translation app is also useful for those who are travelling abroad and need a quick translator or interpreter on their phones. It  has a conversation  translation mode. Just tap to speak and the app translates your conversation for you. Very useful indeed for travelling.

Languages available at the point of writing include English, Japanese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Korean, Cantonese, French, Spanish, Thai, Arabic, Russian and Portuguese. However, you will have to try to see whether translation from one of these languages to another is supported as not all two way translation between these languages are fully supported yet.

My verdict? I am keeping this download in addition to my Google Translate app. It is definitely useful for me as I do not know Chinese but I have two Chinese School going kids.

Where to download Baidu Translate:

1. Baidu Translate for Apple ios devices including both iPhone and iPad in iTunes

Sorry for Android users, at the moment the link to the Baidu Translate app for Android appears to be a broken link. You can do a search here at Google Play Store to see whether a new link turns up later on.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Tips For UPSR BC Penulisan Paper 2

With the UPSR in September, I thought it would be a good time to look for tips for UPSR for my girl to read, especially the UPSR Chinese Penulisan Paper 2 or BC Paper 2 which my girl is weak in. I found a few good ones and I am including them in this post as a bookmark for ourselves as well as to share with the members of my FB group the Malaysian Primary and Secondary School Parents on Facebook Group.

1. Modul Interaktif BC UPSR from Scribd uploaded by user Y.S.Chai on Scribd. This is a 137 page powerpoint presentation on the Chinese UPSR Paper 2. Examples given in the discussion are from actual past year papers.

2. 2009 BC Ceramah By Low Siaw Phin. Also on Scribd. Although dated 2009, it is still relevant. It talks about how the papers are graded and the differences between an A grade compared to other grade papers in the Karangan or Chinese Essay. Altogether 113 pages in all.

3. 写作技巧- Writing Skills Presentation From Slideshare. This is a brief 43 page presentation on what the Chinese Penulisan Paper 2 is all about

4. 作文顺练营- Essay Writing Training from Issuu.com. This is an 86 page presentation on how to write better Chinese Paper 2 answers with examples from actual past year papers.

5. 作文技巧 - How to write a good opening and closing for Chinese Essay. A short 28 page presentation on slideshare. This is for SPM level actually but still a good read according to my girl.

6. Govyi.com Zuowen - Last but certainly not least is this site. This site has lots and lots of example Chinese essays for various standards from Standard 1 to Standard 6 and beyond. Lots of titles and essays in various lengths, 100 words, 200 words, 300 worded essays and more. Excellent. My kids refer to this when they need to write an essay and are at a loss for words.

I hope UPSR students and parents will find this useful. You can check out the links for yourself to see which is more useful as my translation is just so so since I do not know Chinese Mandarin.

If you are a parent and you know Chinese, well then great  you can use these teacher prepared UPSR presentations to explain to your child. If you are a parent who does not understand Chinese, you can let your child read it himself or herself.

The only problem I face now is finding the time for my girl to read these. She doesn't even have enough time to sleep with all the homework and tests she is being given at school.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

School's Out!

School's Out

It's really fast how time flies. School's Out again and the first half of the schooling year is over. This year is a hard year for my girl, for all of us in fact. The girl has to sit for her UPSR tests in September this year and she is being pushed hard at school to prepare for the test. Even with school out, she has to attend extra classes in school. Fortunately, it is only for a couple of days and not more than a week. At least, she can still have a holiday before she goes back to school to face tests in July, August and September. 

As for the boy, he will be having tests in July and October. Ouch!  Tests for every month! Anyway, school's out, so I'm not going to be thinking about tests for now. Happy School Holidays to everyone.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

When Is Dumpling Festival 2014

Dumpling Festival also called Dragon Boat Festival or Duanwu Festival 端午节in Chinese falls on the 5th day of the 5th Month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar annually. This means that in 2014 Dumpling Festival or Dragon Boat Festival falls on June 2, 2014.

While we are on the subject, here are some delightful videos you can watch together with your children to teach them about this Chinese culture and celebration.

Video 1: The Dragon Boat Festival Story (A video story in bilingual language English and Mandarin), great for English speakers who are learning Chinese as a second language.

Video 2: The Story Of Qu Yuan. You can watch this video together with your children while telling them about the famous poet. Parents can tell the children the story of Qu Yuan by watching this video together. This video is in English. So if you your child is learning Chinese, while you don't know Chinese, this one will be good for you.

Video 3: The Duan Wu Festival explained to the kids in Mandarin. This is a Chinese Mandarin video that is excellent for kids learning Chinese as it will help them to recognize the Chinese character or words associated with this festival.

Video 4: Wrap up your Dragon Boat Festival lesson by letting the kids watch this video on how to make Chinese Sticky Rice Dumplings or Zong Zi 粽子。If you don't know how to make rice dumplings yourself (like me) then this video will be very interesting for the kids to watch as a way to let them know what goes inside the sticky rice dumplings and how they are made.

Ah.. this makes me feel like running out to buy some zong zi now. :) I hope you enjoy this compilation of videos on Duan Wu Jie.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5 Reasons Why You Need To Buy Your Own KSSR Textbooks

KSSR Textbooks
KSSR Textbooks

My kids are studying in Std 4 and Std 6 at a Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina. They receive school textbooks on loan.

My son always gets his "四年级课本" (Standard 4 Textbooks) in great form because he is the first one using the new KSSR syllabus. However, the next child who gets his books won't get them nice and lovely like he does. His bag is so full and heavy that no matter how I try to tell him to take care of his books, they always look bad at the end of the year because they are all squashed up in the school bag.

My daughter who is in Standard 6 gets hand me downs used by students from previous years. If she is lucky, she gets the old textbooks from someone who has taken good care of it previously but most of the time, they look bad with dog ears and tears which we have to mend with a tape.

Since our children are given school textbooks on loan each year, this means that we do not have to buy them or do we? I know many parents who buy their own KSSR Textbooks even though they are using the textbooks on loan. I didn't know that you could buy your own set at first but when my daughter was in Standard 2, we received a whole set of textbooks from another mum who didn't need them anymore. I found them really useful.

Here are 5 Reasons Why You Need Your Own KSSR Textbooks
  1. Reduce The Load On Your Child's Back. It reduces your child's bag load. You can ask your child to leave their on loaned textbooks in school while you have a set of spare books at home for them to refer to. This means they will never forget to bring it home when they need it. It is also useful for times when your child is absent from school and he needs to refer to his textbook for homework. You don't have to drive all the way to school to get that textbook that you asked him to leave in school to lighten his bag.
  2. Make Notes, Write Or Draw Relevant Information On The Book. You want to write and make notes on the book itself. You can't do that with the on loan textbooks. For example I find it especially useful to translate words by writing the pinyin and English meaning in the "华语课本" or Chinese Textbook.
  3. Repetition and Reinforcement By Revising Using The Same KSSR Activity Books At Home Just Before Tests. You can get the KSSR Activity Books that come in a set with the KSSR Textbooks instead of other workbooks. You can use this for extra revision and practice because it is directly relevant and repetition  helps your child to remember better.
  4. A Spare Or Backup Is Useful When Your Child Has To Move His Textbook Around A Lot. If your child goes to an after school tuition center or "An Ching Pan", it helps to keep an extra set of textbooks at the center so you don't have to go through the hassle of forgotten textbooks. The same applies if your child goes to grandma's place after school before heading home. 
  5. A Spare Textbook Is Useful For Others Who Need To Refer To It Like A Tutor Or Yourself If your child is having one to one tuition, it will be a good idea to let the tuition teacher have access to a spare textbook from home easily so that they can follow the school syllabus closely.
However, having said this, I must mention that having a spare textbook is not an excuse for a child to be disorganized or forgetful. We should always still teach our children to take care of their books and to be mindful of their belongings.

What do you think of owning extra textbooks? Do you find it useful or wasteful?
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