Site icon Lah Lah Banana

Reading Pen Review: eTutor Education Star

What is a talking pen for learning Chinese?

Our house has many different reading pens to assist in our Chinese learning journey.  One of those pens is the eTutor Education Star Pen (易笔通), which is what this review is about.  

There are several other online reviews about eTutor Star Chinese pen …… from a quick google search prior to composing this post, it would seem that every other blog post about eTutor Pen was gifted the set from the manufacturers several years ago.  Not us!! We did buy this pen at full price, online in 2020! So no bias here from LahLahBanana! This is a genuine and unaffiliated review.

Each of our family’s reading pens is used for a slightly different purpose, but essentially they will all read Chinese text from children’s books, when pointed at the specific page or character. I’ve put a comparison of how we use all our reading pens for learning Chinese in an earlier post.

The different reading pens assist our children to enjoy Chinese literature independently, and without screen time – and in the absence of a parent who can speak or read Chinese. So why would we buy the eTutor Star when we already have so many other Chinese reading pens? Here goes our explanation….

What is the eTutor Education Star Pen?

This pen is from Singapore, and retails at Popular Bookstore and online through the manufacturer’s website.

The EtutorStar Pen – like all of the reading pens we have – uses a combination of optical recognition technology and speech synthesis, to read traditional written books and magazines. 

This particular pen is the only one on the market which reads the reads the common children’s Chinese magazines, and also the fortnightly publications which many of the Singaporean primary schools subscribe to.   It can be used with 好朋友 (Hao Peng You), 知识报 (Zhi Shi Bao), 知识画报 (Zhi Shi Hua Bao), 新朋友 (New Friends), 新天地 (New World) and 新列车 (New Express), for all versions published from 2015 onwards. For us, this was the main reason we bought the pen.  I think if you are a parent who grew up in Singapore, chances are these would be familiar names, as perhaps  your parents or school would have subscribed to these magazines too!   

For my daughter, as we’re unable to help her actively with her Chinese reading – we know that in 知识画报 magazine, there are often many words that are difficult to read and hence she would ignore entire sections of the publication.  But with the reading pen, she does read along and go deeper into the magazine, and hopefully it’s not as daunting to open as before. 

Chinese does seem to be a subject that many children have difficulty coping with, and many parents feel ill-equipped to support their children in.  By the time P3 comes along, even children who were coping previously can start to have difficulties as the Chinese characters become harder to read, and more challenging to speak.  The eTutor Star is the only one of our pens which has deep content for children at P3 level and above – I’ve actually even heard of a neighbour who only bought the pen when her child was in PSLE, to help him through the exams! 

The pen can also read some English books and bilingual publications.  A full list is available on their website. This lists includes the ETutor Star voice-enhanced learning series written based on MOE syllabus requirements (covering Oral, Listening Comprehension, Composition, Reading Comprehension).

好朋友 magazine ….. it looks very similar to the P1 Chinese textbook, right?

Pros of the eTutor Star Pen?

Cons of the eTutor Star Pen?

How is eTutor Star different to other pens?

ETutor Star is actually very similar to the Pen Pal Whizz in most respects. The difference is that because each pen is made very a different publisher, and thus has different books that it works with. Overall, the range between both of the Singapore manufactured pens (JLB Penpal Whizz and the eTutor Education Star Pen) are very similar, however we’d say the JLB range has higher quality books with better illustrations, which my younger kids prefer.

The eTutor’s main distinction is that can read some of the subscription fortnightly magazines which follow the Singapore MOE school syllabus (like Zhi Shi Hua Bao 知识画报, and Hao Peng You” 好朋友 ) which is why we ended up buying it to support my elder child’s studies.

I personally would think that you only really need one of these Singapore-made pens (either Pen Pal Whizz or eTutor), depending on which syllabus of books is most appealing.

I’ve also compared it to our other pens which we have in the table.  You’ll see that the Le Le Chinese Pen and Luka are a totally different ball game, which is why we have all four! I have done a detailed review of our Le Le Chinese Pen here, which is more suitable for younger readers.

Comparison of eTutor Star and other reading pens

Which Chinese Reading Pen is right for me?

Different reading pens and curriculums suit different learning stages, ages, family situations, and intended learning outcomes. I’ve put together a diagram showing how we see them all fitting together.

ETutor Star is a good choice if you’re in Singapore and looking for something which can follow the local MOE Chinese syllabus through to P6.

Comparison of different Chinese reading pens (including Luka, Penpal, Ciaohu, Le Le, Habbi Habbi)

Refer to my previous posts for more information about our other Chinese reading pens – these include:

I would love to hear from you, especially if you have experience with other Chinese reading pens. It’s only through meeting other wonderful parents virtually, that this shared language journey becomes a more valuable one. All comments welcomed!

Other tips for eTutor Star

Exit mobile version