Chinese|October 4, 2011 9:12 am

How to Choose a Chinese Language Program


There are quite a few good Chinese language programs available today. Just because a program is good, though, doesn’t mean it’s the best product for you personally. To see if a Chinese language program is best for you, you’ve got to consider several things.

1. What’s your learning style? Are you a strong visual learner? Do you remember information best if you hear it? Do you learn best when you work with your hands?

2. Are you a skilled learner who prefers open and flexible learning environments? Or do you like structured, step-by-step learning.

3. Most Importantly, what are your specific Chinese language learning goals? Preparing for a trip to Beijing? Or do you hope to be negotiating business deals in Shanghai?

Keep the answers to those questions in your mind. They will help you choose the right program.


Rocket Chinese

My favorite Chinese language program is Rocket Chinese. Here is why I like it.

  • It’s fun and easy to use
  • I learned a ton when using this program myself
  • It’s main focus is verbal communication skills
  • It has a great learning forum
  • It comes with free Chinese native-speaker support
  • It offers the best value for money

Read My Full Rocket Chinese Review

I like the Rocket Chinese program, yes, but is it the best program for you? Let’s find out.

If you’re just starting to learn Chinese, and if you want a product that is well priced and quite fun and easy to use, then, yes, Rocket Chinese is a good program for you. Let’s revisit our core questions, though, to make sure.

1. What type of learner are you?

One of the strong points of the Rocket Chinese program is that it offers a well-rounded learning experience for all types of learners. The program is built, primarily, around interactive dialogues, so if you’re an audio learner you will definitely like this program. Supporting the audio programs are learning games, games that use pictures heavily, which makes for a good visual learning experience. Finally, there are great videos showing how to write Chinese characters. These activities provide a great hands-on, kinesthetic learning experience.

2. Do you prefer step-by-step learning?

The Rocket Chinese language program provides a simple, easy-to-follow, step-by-step learning experience. Basically, you just start the interactive audio dialogues and follow along. You do, however, get some activities to complete on your own, like the learning games, culture and grammar lessons, and the Chinese character learning videos.

3. What are your Chinese language learning goals?

The Rocket Chinese program is geared towards beginning learners. If that’s you, you’ll love this program. If, on the other hand, you are an intermediate or above Chinese language learner, this program will not meet your needs. Also, this program is designed to get you speaking Chinese. It does offer some grammar, reading and writing instruction, but they are pretty basic. So, if communication is your primary goal, this is the program for you. If you’re an academic looking to gain a deep understanding of Chinese language structure, move on.

Try the Rocket Chinese Language Program for FREE!


Tell Me More Chinese

The TELL ME MORE Chinese language program is another good one. Here is what I like about it.

  • It’s got cool speech recognition technology
  • It comes with a ton of in-depth Chinese learning material
  • It features lots of different learning activities and games
  • It provides learners with good assessments
  • It has great role-playing activities
Read My Full Tell Me More Chinese Review

Is the Tell Me More Chinese language program for you?

If you are really into studying grammar and language structure, this program is good for you. It’s also good for learners who have an intermediate or advanced level of Chinese. And don’t forget that Tell Me More has Chinese a business program in addition to their general language programs.

1. What type of learner are you?

The Tell Me More Chinese language program has tons of learning activities. These activities are things like word games, crossword puzzles, fill-in-the-blank exercises, and word-association games. If you like lots of “busy work,” you’ll like learning with Tell Me More Chinese.

2. Do you prefer structured learning?

The Tell Me More Chinese learning program is advertised as being a step-by-step learning program. I, however, found that not to be the case. The reason is because even the beginning exercises are quite difficult, which meant that I spent a lot of time jumping around the software learning things that were assumed I already knew. At first, this can be frustrating, but once you get used to it, it becomes quite easy. If ease of use is important to you, definitely go with the Rocket Chinese program.

3. What are your Chinese language learning goals?

If your goal is to dive deeply into Chinese grammar and structure, this is a good program for you. If, on the other hand, your primary goal is to learn to communicate, you should go with Rocket Chinese.

Try the Tell Me More Chinese Language Program for FREE

 


Pimsleur Chinese

The Pimsleur Chinese language program is a bit different than most others. It has no reading, writing, or grammar lessons, and there are no learning games. It is 100% audio-based. Here are the highlights.

  • It is very easy to use–just push play
  • It is 100% focused on developing Chinese speaking skills
  • It is very effective and grounded in years of academic research

What type of learner are you?

This Chinese language program is best for strong audio learners. Strong visual learners, or people who prefer to learn with a variety of activities will not like this program.

Do you prefer structured learning?

Pimsleur is the most structured of any Chinese language program. Each lesson is 30 minutes long. You start the audio and follow along. You do not stop or rewind the program. You complete exactly one lesson per day–no more, no less.

What are your learning goals?

The Pimsleur language program does not teach reading or writing at all. Obviously, this is important. If you want to learn to speak Chinese and nothing else, this is a good program. If you want to develop all four second language acquisition skills–reading, writing, listening, and speaking–go with Rocket Chinese or Tell Me More Chinese.

Try the Pimsleur Chinese Language Program for $9.95!

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