Project : ToneWars

Connecting Language Learners and Native Speakers through Collaborative Mobile Games


We present ToneWars, a collaborative mobile game for learning Chinese as a Second Language (CSL). ToneWars provides a learning experience that combines mastery learning, microlearning, and group-based interaction between CSL learners and native speakers. The game explores how unique input modalities, like touch gestures and speech recognition, can improve language acquisition tasks on mobile devices. We report the design motivations and lessons learned through the iterative design process. We believe many insights from developing ToneWars are generalizable to designing productive language learning technology. We further address the scalability issue via asynchronous modeling of native speakers, and propose a novel metric to quantify whether a CSL learner achieves native level proficiency for a specific tone at a given moment, thus enabling adaptive training for fine-grained mastery of tones.


  • Fan, X., Luo, W., and Wang, J. Mastery Learning of Second Language through Asynchronous Modeling of Native Speakers in a Collaborative Mobile Game. In Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017), Denver, CO, May 6 – 11, 2017. ( to appear )
  • Head, A., Xu, Y., and Wang, J. ToneWars: Connecting Language Learners and Native Speakers through Collaborative Mobile Games. In Proceedings of 12th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS 2014), Honolulu, Hawaii, June 5 – 9, 2014. ( pdf )