US20110015920A1 - Apparatus for chinese language education and method thereof - Google Patents

Apparatus for chinese language education and method thereof Download PDF

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US20110015920A1
US20110015920A1 US12/692,343 US69234310A US2011015920A1 US 20110015920 A1 US20110015920 A1 US 20110015920A1 US 69234310 A US69234310 A US 69234310A US 2011015920 A1 US2011015920 A1 US 2011015920A1
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chinese character
chinese
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Rex How
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Locus Publishing Co
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Locus Publishing Co
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06KRECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
    • G06K9/00Methods or arrangements for reading or recognising printed or written characters or for recognising patterns, e.g. fingerprints
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B19/00Teaching not covered by other main groups of this subclass
    • G09B19/06Foreign languages
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06KRECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
    • G06K2209/00Indexing scheme relating to methods or arrangements for reading or recognising printed or written characters or for recognising patterns, e.g. fingerprints
    • G06K2209/01Character recognition
    • G06K2209/011Character recognition of Kanji, Hiragana or Katakana characters
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06KRECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
    • G06K2209/00Indexing scheme relating to methods or arrangements for reading or recognising printed or written characters or for recognising patterns, e.g. fingerprints
    • G06K2209/27Recognition assisted with metadata

Abstract

An apparatus for Chinese language education includes a set of Chinese character pieces, a Chinese dictionary database, an input unit, and a processing unit. Each of the Chinese character pieces is associated with a distinct Chinese character, has the distinct Chinese character visibly indicated thereon, and is provided with a distinct machine-readable identification code. The Chinese dictionary database contains a plurality of dictionary entries, each of which corresponds to a respective one of the Chinese character pieces and includes information of the distinct Chinese character, such as pronunciation, evolution of a character form, stroke sequence and a radical of the distinct Chinese character, and meaningful Chinese phrases including the distinct Chinese character. The input unit reads the identification code of a selected one of the Chinese character pieces. The processing unit determines the dictionary entry corresponding to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application claims priority of Taiwanese Application No. 098124238, filed on Jul. 17, 2009.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to an apparatus for Chinese language education and a method thereof, more particularly to an apparatus for Chinese language education that is capable of providing a Chinese phrase building game and a method thereof.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • Learning how to make Chinese phrases and sentences is important when learning Chinese. While a conventional Chinese electronic dictionary provides the meaning and exemplary phrases of Chinese characters, other features of the Chinese characters, such as evolution of a character form, stroke sequence, and radicals of the Chinese characters, are not provided. Moreover, the conventional Chinese electronic dictionary lacks an interactive and interesting environment that promotes Chinese language education.
  • Other existing Chinese educational materials, such as Chinese word cards, books, toys, and educational websites, are generally designed for specific uses. They are unable to provide an integrated and interactive environment for Chinese language education. The existing Chinese educational materials commonly provide traditional methods for Chinese language education through reading and writing. However, such traditional methods are often found by most students to be uninteresting. Moreover, the contents of the existing Chinese educational materials are similar to each other and lack variety.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Therefore, an object of the present invention is to provide a Chinese character piece adapted for use in Chinese language education.
  • Accordingly, a Chinese character piece is associated with a distinct Chinese character, and comprises the associated distinct Chinese character visibly indicated thereon, and a distinct machine-readable identification code corresponding to the associated distinct Chinese character.
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for interactive and integrated Chinese language education.
  • According to an aspect of this invention, an apparatus for Chinese language education of the present invention comprises a set of Chinese character pieces, a Chinese dictionary database, an input unit, a processing unit, and an output unit.
  • Each of the Chinese character pieces is associated with a distinct Chinese character and has the associated distinct Chinese character visibly indicated thereon. Each of the Chinese character pieces is provided with a distinct machine-readable identification code corresponding to the associated distinct Chinese character.
  • The Chinese dictionary database contains a plurality of dictionary entries. Each of the dictionary entries corresponds to a respective one of the Chinese character pieces, and includes information of the distinct Chinese character associated with the respective one of the Chinese character pieces. The information is selected from pronunciation of the distinct Chinese character, evolution of a character form of the distinct Chinese character, stroke sequence of the distinct Chinese character, a radical of the distinct Chinese character, meaningful Chinese phrases that include the distinct Chinese character, and combinations thereof.
  • The input unit is operable for reading the identification code of a selected one of the Chinese character pieces. The processing unit is coupled to the input unit and the Chinese dictionary database, and is configured to operate in an educating mode for comparing the identification code read by the input unit with the information stored in the Chinese dictionary database to determine the dictionary entry corresponding to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces. The output unit is coupled to and controlled by the processing unit to generate an output associated with the information included in the dictionary entry determined by the processing unit to correspond to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces.
  • Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an interactive method that promotes interest in Chinese language education.
  • According to another aspect of this invention, a method for Chinese language education to be implemented using a computing terminal comprises:
  • a) configuring the computing terminal to execute a gaming program for playing a Chinese phrase building game;
  • b) configuring the computing terminal to enable display of a gaming image associated with the Chinese phrase building game, the gaming image including virtual Chinese character pieces, each of which is associated with a corresponding Chinese character;
  • c) configuring the computing terminal to enable user manipulation of selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces in the gaming image;
  • d) configuring the computing terminal to determine if a meaningful Chinese phrase is obtained as a result of user manipulation of the selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces; and
  • e) configuring the computing terminal to generate a gaming output based on the determination made by the computing terminal in step d).
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent in the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawings, of which:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first preferred embodiment of a Chinese character piece of an apparatus for Chinese language education according to the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the Chinese character piece viewed from another angle;
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic block diagram of the first preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a table showing a plurality of dictionary entries stored in a Chinese dictionary database of the apparatus of the present invention;
  • FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram for illustrating operation of the apparatus that executes an educating program for Chinese language education;
  • FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram for illustrating operation a pronunciation module of the educating program;
  • FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram for illustrating operation a stroke sequence module of the educating program;
  • FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram for illustrating operation of a radical module of the educating program;
  • FIG. 9 is a schematic block diagram of a computing terminal configured for executing a gaming program for playing a Chinese phrase building game that involves a plurality of participants;
  • FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram for illustrating operation of the computing terminal that executes the gaming program for playing the Chinese phrase building game with a plurality of participants;
  • FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram for illustrating a second preferred embodiment of the Chinese character pieces used with the apparatus of FIG. 3 that is provided with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader according to the present invention; and
  • FIG. 12 is a schematic diagram for illustrating the Chinese character pieces used with the apparatus of FIG. 3 that is provided with another RFID reader.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • Chinese language is unique to all languages in the world, since each Chinese character by itself has an independent and complete meaning, and the character form of each Chinese character will not vary with tenses or parts of speech in Chinese grammar. The way to learn Chinese language is to learn how to use Chinese characters to make Chinese phrases and sentences so as to learn Chinese words, Chinese grammar, reading and conversation. An aspect of the present invention is to represent the unique feature of the Chinese language, i.e., Chinese characters.
  • Referring to FIGS. 1 to 3, according to the present invention, the first preferred embodiment of an apparatus 1 for Chinese language education includes a set of Chinese character pieces 31, a Chinese dictionary database 11, an input unit 12, a processing unit 10, a memory unit 13, a user operating unit 16, and an output unit. In this embodiment, the output unit includes a video output device 14 and an audio output device 15. The apparatus 1 according to this invention can be a desktop computer, a notebook computer, a smart phone, a personal digital assistant, or any portable electronic device.
  • The set of the Chinese character pieces 31 includes two hundred Chinese character pieces 31. Each of the Chinese character pieces 31 is associated with a distinct Chinese character that is most commonly used in the Chinese language. Each of the Chinese character pieces 31 has a simplified character form and a traditional character form of the associated distinct Chinese character visibly indicated thereon. In this embodiment, each of the Chinese character pieces 31 is, but not limited to, a cubic body with six sides provided with the associated distinct Chinese character and a distinct machine-readable identification code corresponding to the associated distinct Chinese character. In this embodiment, the identification code preferably is in the form of an optical pattern code 311, such as a bar code. Moreover, the sides of the cubic body are also provided respectively with images representing the associated distinct Chinese character, such as a foreign language translation, a pronunciation, and an illustration.
  • It should be noted that the above-mentioned pronunciation can be presented by Pinyin or Chinese phonetic alphabets. The foreign language translation corresponds to the country where the Chinese character pieces are sold. In other embodiments, each of the Chinese character pieces 31 can be any type of polyhedron, and is not limited to a cubic body. Any configuration of the Chinese character pieces 31, which has a Chinese character form of the associated distinct Chinese character visibly indicated thereon and a machine-readable identification code, belongs to the spirit and scope of the present invention.
  • The Chinese dictionary database 11 contains a plurality of dictionary entries 2 as shown in FIG. 4. Each of the dictionary entries 2 corresponds to a respective one of the Chinese character pieces 31, and includes information of the distinct Chinese character associated with the respective one of the Chinese character pieces 31. The information contains pronunciation of the distinct Chinese character, evolution of a character form of the distinct Chinese character, stroke sequence of the distinct Chinese character, a radical of the distinct Chinese character, and meaningful Chinese phrases that include the distinct Chinese character.
  • The user operating unit 16 is adapted to be operated by a user 5 for inputting data, and includes a mouse 161 and a keyboard 162. In this embodiment, the input unit 12 is an optical reader, such as a camera, operable for reading the optical pattern code 311 of a selected one of the Chinese character pieces 31. It should be noted that, in other embodiments, the user operating unit 16 can include a touch screen or a trackpad instead of the mouse 161 and the keyboard 162.
  • The processing unit 10 is coupled to the input unit 12, the user operating unit 16, the Chinese dictionary database 11, and the output unit. The processing unit 10 is configured to receive the optical pattern code 311 read by the input unit 12, and perform a comparing procedure for comparing the optical pattern code 311 with the information stored in the Chinese dictionary database 10 to determine the dictionary entry 2 corresponding to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces 31. Then, the output unit is controlled by the processing unit 10 to generate an output associated with the information included in the dictionary entry 2 determined by the processing unit 10 to correspond to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces 31. Further, the processing unit 10 is configured to operate in an educating mode for Chinese language education, and a Chinese phrase building game mode for playing a Chinese phrase building game.
  • Referring to FIGS. 1, 4 and 5, when operating in the educating mode, the processing unit 10 is configured to execute an educating program 131 stored in the memory unit 13 for Chinese language education. The educating program 131 includes a pronunciation module 43, a character form module 44, a stroke sequence module 45, a radical module 46, a phrase module 47, an identification module 48, and an output module 49.
  • First, the processing unit 10 is configured to provide the user 5 an activate interface 41 for activating the educating program 131. Through a menu interface 42, the user 5 can select one of the pronunciation module 43, the character form module 44, the stroke sequence module 45, the radical module 46, and the phrase module 47 for execution by the processing unit 10. Then, the input unit 12 reads the optical pattern code 311 of the selected one of the Chinese character pieces 31 selected by the user 5. For example, the user 5 selects a first one of the Chinese character pieces 31 that is associated with a distinct Chinese character
    Figure US20110015920A1-20110120-P00001
    (love)”, and the input unit 12 reads the optical pattern code 311 (i.e., 0001) of the first one of the Chinese character pieces 31. Subsequently, the processing unit 10 executes the identification module 48 to perform the comparing procedure for determining the dictionary entry 2 corresponding to the first one of the Chinese character pieces 31, i.e., the simplified character form
    Figure US20110015920A1-20110120-P00001
    , the traditional character form
    Figure US20110015920A1-20110120-P00001
    , the foreign language translation “love”, the pronunciation “ai”, and the illustration. Accordingly, the processing unit 10 executes the output module 49 to control the video output device 14 and the audio output device 15 to generate the output associated with the information included in the dictionary entry 2 corresponding to the first one of the Chinese character pieces 31.
  • The following description is provided for describing the educating program 131 in detail. When the pronunciation module 43 is executed, the audio output device 15 is configured to pronounce the pronunciation of the distinct Chinese character corresponding to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces 31 after the comparing procedure. FIG. 6 shows an image generated by the video output device 14 corresponding to the pronunciation module 43 when an exemplary one of the Chinese character pieces 31 that is associated with a distinct Chinese character “
    Figure US20110015920A1-20110120-P00002
    (you)” is selected.
  • When the character form module 44 is executed, the video output device 14 is configured to illustrate evolution of the character form of the distinct Chinese character corresponding to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces 31 after the comparing procedure. In practice, the audio output device 15 can be configured to generate an audio description about the evolution of the character form.
  • When the stroke sequence module 45 is executed, the video output device 14 is configured to illustrate stroke sequence of the distinct Chinese character corresponding to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces 31 after the comparing procedure. In practice, the audio output device 15 can be configured to generate an audio description about the stroke sequence of the distinct Chinese character. FIG. 7 shows an image generated by the video output device 14 for illustrating the stroke sequence of the distinct Chinese character
    Figure US20110015920A1-20110120-P00002
    when the stroke sequence module 45 is executed.
  • When the radical module 46 is executed, the video output device 14 is configured to illustrate a radical of the distinct Chinese character corresponding to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces 31 after the comparing procedure. In practice, the audio output device 15 can be configured to generate an audio description about the radical of the distinct Chinese character. FIG. 8 shows an image generated by the video output device 14 for illustrating the radical
    Figure US20110015920A1-20110120-P00003
    of the distinct Chinese character
    Figure US20110015920A1-20110120-P00002
    when the radical module 46 is executed.
  • When the phrase module 47 is executed, the user 5 is required to select several ones of the Chinese character pieces 31, and the input unit 12 reads the several ones of the Chinese character pieces 31 in sequence. After the comparing procedure, the processing unit 10 is configured to determine whether the distinct Chinese characters corresponding to the selected Chinese character pieces 31 can compose a meaningful Chinese phrase. The video output device 14 is configured to show an image for notifying the user 5 that the Chinese phrase is correct when the distinct Chinese characters successfully compose a meaningful Chinese phrase, and another image for notifying the user 5 that the Chinese phrase is wrong when otherwise.
  • Further, the processing unit 10 is configured to execute a gaming program 132 stored in the memory unit 13 for playing the Chinese phrase building game when operating in the Chinese phrase building game mode. In the Chinese phrase building game mode, the video output device 14 is configured to display a gaming image associated with the Chinese phrase building game. The gaming image includes virtual Chinese character pieces, each of which is associated with a corresponding Chinese character. The memory unit 13 stores 3500 or more virtual Chinese character pieces. Then, the processing unit 10 is configured to allow user manipulation of selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces in the gaming image through the user operating unit 16, and to determine if a meaningful Chinese phrase is obtained as a result of user manipulation of the selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces. Accordingly, the video output device 14 and the audio output device 15 are configured to generate a gaming output based on the determination made by the processing unit 10. The Chinese phrase building game can be a crossword game, a Chinese shiritori game, and a memory game.
  • Regarding the crossword game, the gaming image displays a first group of the virtual Chinese character pieces. Then, the user 5 selects some of the virtual Chinese character pieces from a second group, and tries to use the Chinese characters corresponding to the selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces to make a meaningful Chinese phrase with Chinese characters corresponding to the virtual Chinese character pieces in the first group. The user 5 can get a score if the user 5 successfully makes a meaningful Chinese phrase. A longer meaningful Chinese phrase corresponds to a higher score. In another embodiment, the Chinese character pieces 31 can be employed instead of the second group of the virtual Chinese character pieces.
  • Regarding the Chinese shiritori game, the virtual Chinese character pieces displayed on the gaming image are separated into at least one of a beginning one and a plurality of to-be-selected ones. The user 5 selects one of the virtual Chinese character pieces from the to-be-selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces, and tries to make a meaningful Chinese phrase which begins with the Chinese character corresponding to the beginning one of the virtual Chinese character pieces. In the following turns of the Chinese shiritori game, the user 5 tries to make a meaningful Chinese phrase which begins with a final Chinese character of the previous Chinese phrase made in the last turn.
  • Regarding the memory game, the virtual Chinese character pieces displayed on the gaming image are initially shown face down. The user 5 selects several ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces, and the several ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces are subsequently shown face up. The user 5 can get a score if the Chinese characters corresponding to the selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces can make a meaningful Chinese phrase, and the selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces are shown face down again if otherwise.
  • Furthermore, the apparatus 1 shown in FIG. 3 can be configured as a computing terminal for playing the Chinese phrase building game with a plurality of participants through a communication network. The virtual Chinese character pieces used in the Chinese phrase building game are stored in the computing terminal, and there are 3500 or more virtual Chinese character pieces.
  • Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, the computing terminal is a server 62 capable of communicating with a plurality of user terminals 61 through a communication network 60. The server 62 is configured for executing a multi-player gaming program that includes a crossword game module 73, a multi-player Chinese shiritori game module 74, a character matching game module 75, a multi-player memory game module 76, a poker-based game module 77, and a story game module 78.
  • First, the server 62 is configured to enable each of the users 5 to activate the multi-player gaming program through an activate interface 71 displayed on each of the user terminals 61. Then, through a menu interface 72, the user 5 can select one of the game modules 73-78. Accordingly, the server 62 is operable to execute the selected one of the game modules 73-78.
  • When the crossword game module 73 is selected, one of the users 5 who selects the crossword game module 73 can play the crossword game with other users 5 who also select the crossword game module 73. Similarly, when the multi-player Chinese shiritori game module 74 or the multi-player memory game module 76 is selected, one of the users 5 can play the Chinese shiritori game or the memory game with other users 5. In the Chinese shiritori game, the gaming image 610 of each of the user terminals 61 is configured to display ten of the to-be-selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces, and the beginning one of the virtual Chinese character pieces. The beginning one of the virtual Chinese character pieces on any one of the user terminals 61 is the same. A first one of the users 5 who successfully uses the Chinese characters corresponding to all of the to-be-selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces displayed on the user terminal 61 wins that turn of the Chinese shiritori game. Since procedures of the crossword game and the Chinese shiritori game have been described above, details thereof will be omitted herein for the sake of brevity.
  • When the character matching game module 75 is selected, a character matching game proceeds. In the character matching game, the gaming image 610 of each of the user terminals 61 is configured to randomly display sixteen private ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces, and a plurality of to-be-drawn ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces that are initially shown face down. The users 5 are required to use the Chinese characters corresponding to two to four private ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces to build meaningful Chinese phrases, and the users 5 are allowed to draw one of the to-be-drawn ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces and to discard one of the private ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces during each turn. A first one of the users 5 who successfully uses the Chinese characters corresponding to all of the private ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces to build several meaningful Chinese phrases wins.
  • The multi-player memory game module 76 is executed for playing a multi-player memory game. In the multi-player memory game, the gaming image 610 of each of the user terminals 61 is configured to display a plurality of the virtual Chinese character pieces that are initially shown face down. The users 5 take turns to select several ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces, and the several ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces are subsequently shown face up. The users 5 can get a score if the Chinese characters corresponding to the selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces can make a meaningful Chinese phrase, and the selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces are shown face down again if otherwise. One of the users 5 who gets the highest score wins that turn of the multi-player memory game.
  • The poker-based game module 77 is executed for playing a poker-based game. In a first step of the poker-based game, the gaming image 610 of each of the user terminals 61 is configured to randomly display five private ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces, and three community ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces. The users 5 are required to use the Chinese characters corresponding to at least part of the private ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces to build a meaningful Chinese phrase with the Chinese characters corresponding to the community ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces. The users 5 are allowed to change one of the private ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces in turns. In a second step and a final step, the gaming image 610 of each of the user terminals 61 is configured to randomly display one more community one of the virtual Chinese character pieces, respectively. In each of the second and final steps, the users 5 are allowed again to change one of the private ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces in turns. One of the users 5 who successfully builds a meaningful Chinese phrase including the most number of Chinese characters wins.
  • The story game module 78 is executed for conducting a story game. In the story game, the gaming image 610 of each of the user terminals 61 is configured to randomly display two private ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces. According to the Chinese character corresponding to one of the private ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces, each of the users 5 is required to compose a portion of a story that builds up from the portion of the story composed by a previous one of the users 5. The story game is only for encouraging the users 5 to build meaningful Chinese phrases.
  • Referring to FIGS. 3, 11 and 12, in the second preferred embodiment of the apparatus 1 for Chinese language education, the machine-readable identification code of each of the Chinese character pieces 31 is in a form of a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag 312 disposed thereon. The input unit 12 is a RFID reader instead of the optical reader for reading the RFID tag 312 correspondingly. In another embodiment, the RFID tag 312 can be disposed within each of the Chinese character pieces 31.
  • The RFID reader 12 can be configured as an antenna with a specific detecting area of coverage as shown in FIG. 11. The user 5 is required to move the selected ones of the Chinese character pieces 31 through the detecting area of the RFID reader 12 in sequence. Therefore, the RFID reader 12 can read the RFID tags 312 in sequence to identify the Chinese phrase. Alternatively, the RFID reader 12 can be configured as an antenna gate as shown in FIG. 12. The user is required to move the selected ones of the Chinese character pieces 31 through a detecting area defined by the antenna gate in sequence. Therefore, the RFID reader 12 can read the RFID tags 312 in sequence to identify the Chinese phrase.
  • In sum, the apparatus 1 of this invention is capable of providing integrated Chinese language education with interaction and sustained interest. The Chinese phrase building game is used for encouraging the user 5 to build a meaningful Chinese phrase in an interactive and interesting method. Further, since each of the Chinese character pieces 31 is provided with the distinct machine-readable identification code, it is relatively easy to access the information of the dictionary entries 2 stored in the Chinese dictionary database 11. Therefore, the objects of the present invention can be achieved.
  • While the present invention has been described in connection with what is considered the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is understood that this invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiment but is intended to cover various arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and equivalent arrangements.

Claims (21)

1. A Chinese character piece associated with a distinct Chinese character, comprising the associated distinct Chinese character visibly indicated thereon, and a distinct machine-readable identification code corresponding to the associated distinct Chinese character.
2. The Chinese character piece as claimed in claim 1, wherein the machine-readable identification code is in the form of an optical pattern code.
3. The Chinese character piece as claimed in claim 1, wherein the machine-readable identification code is in the form of a radio-frequency identification tag.
4. The Chinese character piece as claimed in claim 1, being in a form of a cubic body with six sides, wherein said sides are provided respectively with the associated distinct Chinese character and the machine-readable identification code.
5. The Chinese character piece as claimed in claim 1, further comprising at least one image that represents the associated distinct Chinese character, and that is selected from a foreign language translation, a pronunciation, and an illustration.
6. A method of Chinese language education, comprising:
a) providing a set of Chinese character pieces, each of which is associated with a distinct Chinese character and has the associated distinct Chinese character visibly indicated thereon, each of the Chinese character pieces being provided with a distinct machine-readable identification code corresponding to the associated distinct Chinese character;
b) establishing a Chinese dictionary database containing a plurality of dictionary entries, each of the dictionary entries corresponding to a respective one of the Chinese character pieces and including information of the distinct Chinese character associated with the respective one of the Chinese character pieces;
c) reading, through an input unit, the identification code of a selected one of the Chinese character pieces;
d) comparing, through a processing unit, the identification code read by the input unit with the information stored in the Chinese dictionary database to determine the dictionary entry corresponding to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces; and
e) generating, through an output unit, an output associated with the information included in the dictionary entry determined by the processing unit to correspond to the selected one of the Chinese character pieces.
7. The method as claimed in claim 6, wherein the machine-readable identification code is an optical pattern code, and the input unit is an optical reader operable for reading the identification code.
8. The method as claimed in claim 6, wherein the machine-readable identification code is in a form of a radio-frequency identification tag disposed at the Chinese character piece, and the input unit is a radio-frequency identification reader operable for reading the radio-frequency identification tag.
9. The method as claimed in claim 6, wherein the information of the distinct Chinese character associated with the respective one of the Chinese character pieces is selected from pronunciation of the distinct Chinese character, evolution of a character form of the distinct Chinese character, stroke sequence of the distinct Chinese character, a radical of the distinct Chinese character, meaningful Chinese phrases that include the distinct Chinese character, and combinations thereof.
10. A method for Chinese language education to be implemented using a computing terminal, comprising:
a) configuring the computing terminal to execute a gaming program for playing a Chinese phrase building game;
b) configuring the computing terminal to enable display of a gaming image associated with the Chinese phrase building game, the gaming image including virtual Chinese character pieces, each of which is associated with a corresponding Chinese character;
c) configuring the computing terminal to enable user manipulation of selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces in the gaming image;
d) configuring the computing terminal to determine if a meaningful Chinese phrase is obtained as a result of user manipulation of the selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces; and
e) configuring the computing terminal to generate a gaming output based on the determination made by the computing terminal in step d).
11. The method as claimed in claim 10, the computing terminal being a server capable of communicating with a plurality of user terminals through a communication network, wherein:
in step b), the computing terminal is configured to enable display of the gaming image on the user terminals of participants of the Chinese phrase building game;
in step c), the computing terminal is configured to enable the participants of the Chinese phrase building game to take turns in manipulating the virtual Chinese character pieces in the gaming image; and
in step d), the computing terminal is configured to determine for each turn taken by the participants of the Chinese phrase building game if a meaningful Chinese phrase is obtained.
12. The method as claimed in claim 11, wherein the Chinese phrase building game is a Chinese shiritori game.
13. The method as claimed in claim 11, wherein the Chinese phrase building game is a multi-player memory game in which the virtual Chinese character pieces in the gaming image are initially shown face down in step b) and are subsequently shown face up upon user manipulation in step c).
14. An apparatus for Chinese language education, comprising:
a set of Chinese character pieces, each of which is associated with a distinct Chinese character and has the associated distinct Chinese character visibly indicated thereon, each of said Chinese character pieces being provided with a distinct machine-readable identification code corresponding to the associated distinct Chinese character;
a Chinese dictionary database containing a plurality of dictionary entries, each of said dictionary entries corresponding to a respective one of said Chinese character pieces and including information of the distinct Chinese character associated with the respective one of said Chinese character pieces;
an input unit operable for reading the identification code of a selected one of said Chinese character pieces;
a processing unit coupled to said input unit and said Chinese dictionary database, and configured to operate in an educating mode for comparing the identification code read by said input unit with the information stored in said Chinese dictionary database to determine said dictionary entry corresponding to the selected one of said Chinese character pieces; and
an output unit coupled to and controlled by said processing unit to generate an output associated with the information included in said dictionary entry determined by said processing unit to correspond to the selected one of said Chinese character pieces.
15. The apparatus as claimed in claim 14, wherein the machine-readable identification code is an optical pattern code, and said input unit is an optical reader operable for reading the identification code.
16. The apparatus as claimed in claim 14, wherein the machine-readable identification code of each of said Chinese character pieces is in a form of a radio-frequency identification tag, and said input unit is a radio-frequency identification reader operable for reading said radio-frequency identification tag.
17. The apparatus as claimed in claim 14, wherein said output unit includes at least one of an audio output device and a video output device.
18. The apparatus as claimed in claim 14, wherein said processing unit is further configured to operate in a Chinese phrase building game mode, in which said processing unit
enables, through said output unit, display of a gaming image associated with a Chinese phrase building game, the gaming image including virtual Chinese character pieces, each of which is associated with a corresponding Chinese character,
enables, through said input unit, user manipulation of selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces in the gaming image, and
determines if a meaningful Chinese phrase is obtained as a result of user manipulation of the selected ones of the virtual Chinese character pieces, and generates a gaming output accordingly.
19. The apparatus as claimed in claim 14, wherein, when said processing unit operates in the educating mode, said processing unit is operable to control said output unit to generate the output associated with the information that is selected from pronunciation of the distinct Chinese character, evolution of a character form of the distinct Chinese character, stroke sequence of the distinct Chinese character, a radical of the distinct Chinese character, meaningful Chinese phrases that include the distinct Chinese character, and combinations thereof.
20. The apparatus as claimed in claim 14, wherein each of said Chinese character pieces is a cubic body with six sides provided respectively with the associated distinct Chinese character, at least one image representing the associated distinct Chinese character, and the machine-readable identification code in the form of an optical pattern code.
21. The apparatus as claimed in claim 20, wherein said image representing the associated distinct Chinese character is selected from a foreign language translation, a pronunciation, and an illustration.
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