We have been using talking pens for a while now, and this post has been a long time in the writing. Like over a year! Well, at least it shows we have been using them diligently for over a year now? 😀 As there are quite a number of talking pens in the market, and since I have 5, I thought I would do a little comparison between them to help anyone out if they are looking for pens 🙂
Our first audio pen, the Leapfrog Tag, was gifted to us. Slowly over the years, I have acquired a grand total of 5 audio or talking pens now, and a whole range of books compatible with the pens.
Apart from the Leapfrog Tag, we also received one from the Berries enrichment centre. Then there was the Emoti Talking Pen and several other Chinese books to go along with the pen. When Mittens started primary school, I discovered that there was the EtutorStar which went along with their bi-weekly 新朋友 magazine which follows the Chinese Language curriculum closely. The final pen, was kindly sponsored by Pen Pal Whizz when I enquired with them on whether they were interested for me to review the pen for them. (Thank you also to JLB who are the makers of the pen who have patiently waited a year for this post. Oops!!!).
How do audio books work? JLB explained to me that as a local Singapore publishing house, the audio pen is an extension of their business line. If you look closely at the audio books, each page is actually layered with tiny dots which the pen is able to recognise and play back the relevant audio tracks.
You might wonder why I like the talking pens so much, and here are just a few of my reasons:
Some breathing space
I like that the kids can work independently with the pens. However, it can get a little noisy at times if the kids have the volume up too high. If I need to focus my attention on one child, I need to occupy the others without resorting to the iPad, TV, chocolates, etc. I readily invested in FOUR audio pens because I thought I would be able to occupy each child with one if necessary. The truth is, they sometimes fight over WHICH pen to use! Kids.
I can imagine that they would be good tools for kids to use without parental supervision, when parents are away at work.
I first received talking charts a few years back from Berries. They said the charts were particularly useful for teaching the proper pronunciation of words, and I found that to be very true. Heck, it even taught me to pronounce so some words properly. So as a potato who struggles with Chinese, the audio charts and pens are very useful for ensuring the proper pronunciation. However, with some of the titles that come from China, the English pronunciation is er…let me just say please don’t use those to learn English. If you do want to use it for English, please make sure you get the titles from JLB’s Pen Pal. I will tell you more about those in the next post.
Many of us seldom read Chinese characters anymore in our daily lives, so I am extremely rusty when it comes to reading. if there is a character I don’t recognise, (and there are MANY that I don’t!!) and there is no Han Yu Pin Yin available, I would have to pause to check the pronunciation on my PLECO app on my phone and write it down, and…imagine someone reading a story to you and doing that several times in a paragraph? If I were the listener I would easily lose interest. So it is very useful to have someone or something else (in this case, the pen) read it fluently. Of course nothing replaces the warmth of a human, and research shows babies learn best from real voices and not audio tracks (ok in extreme cases lah), but I still do try to read the simpler books whenever I can.
In my next few series of posts, I will share more about each of the pens with you. Stay tuned!