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Chinese Class 101 vs Duolingo

Thursday, April 18th

2024 Chinese Lesson Reviews

Chinese Class 101 Review 3.5 Star Rating

Chinese Class 101

3.5 Star Rating
  • Plans priced at $4/month (Basic), $10/month (Premium), $23/month (Premium PLUS)
  • $1 for 30-day Premium Membership trial
  • Free resources including initial lessons, daily Chinese word, and popular Chinese word list
  • Audio lessons with cultural information
  • Variety of learning aids like transcripts, notes, and quizzes
  • Paid plans offer extras like in-depth notes, tests, word banks, and teacher access (Premium PLUS)
  • Suitable for all learner levels
  • 60-day refund guarantee

Short Chinese Class 101 is a more intensive way to learn Chinese than gamified apps provide. As a free user, you can access limited lessons, a daily Chinese word feature, and a list of the most common Chinese words. You can choose from different paid plans, including Basic, Premium, and Premium PLUS, but be aware that you have to pay for two years upfront. The audio lessons are filled with cultural insights and offer a deep understanding of Chinese context and grammar. You'll also have access to transcripts, notes, and audio of vocabulary words. Premium plans offer more resources like in-depth notes, tests, word banks, and even teacher access. Despite some complaints about advertisements on the homepage and the sales tactics here, if you're serious about learning Chinese, Chinese Class 101 could be a good choice for you.

Duolingo Review 3.5 Star Rating

Duolingo

3.5 Star Rating
  • Free to use
  • Useful for building good study habits and acquiring basic vocabulary
  • Step-by-step learning path with progress tracking
  • Gamified learning that's addictive and encourages daily practice
  • Competitive leaderboard
  • Easy to switch between learning different languages
  • Lessons for learning Pinyin (Chinese phonetics) and Chinese characters
  • Practice lessons to improve pronunciation and understand tones
  • Provides stroke order practice for writing Hanzi (Chinese characters)

Duolingo, sometimes called "the Bird App," is a free and fun language-learning app that offers Chinese. As a user, you'll navigate through a step-by-step learning path and participate in gamified learning that can be quite addictive. Despite some valid criticism for teaching phrases that might not be very practical, Duolingo can be a great springboard for building good study habits and acquiring basic vocabulary. You can also learn Pinyin and Chinese characters, and even get a feel for stroke order. However, be aware that there might be some issues with pronunciation as the AI voice model might not perfectly replicate native speaker pronunciation. Despite its flaws, Duolingo can be a solid starting point for your Chinese learning journey.

Where Can You Get the Best Chinese Lessons Online?

The motivations for learning Chinese are as diverse and compelling as the language itself. Perhaps you're fascinated by the rich history and culture of China, eager to read its classical poetry or modern literature in its original form. Maybe you're looking to expand your business skills and communicate directly with the vast Chinese market. Or, you might dream of traveling through China, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes, all while engaging with locals in their native tongue.

Learning Chinese, however, presents a unique set of challenges unlike those found in learning languages like Spanish or French. For one, there's the intricate system of Chinese characters, each carrying its own meaning and pronunciation, which can seem daunting at first glance. Then, there's the tonal nature of Mandarin Chinese, where the meaning of a word can change dramatically with the pitch of your voice.

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Chinese Lesson FAQ

With China being the most populated country in the world, it will come as no surprise that an estimated 1.31 billion people speak Chinese - approximately 16% of everyone on the planet! And, that only includes those whose first or native language is Chinese, not those who are learning it as a second (or third!) language.
There are seven primary dialect groups in Chinese: Mandarin, Yue (or Cantonese), Min, Kejia, Gan, Xiang and Wu. Mandarin is the most widely used and is the dialect you'll most likely use if you travel to Taiwan, Singapore, or China, particularly in the northern regions. Most Chinese lessons are based on Mandarin.
Chinese is one of four languages ranked as a Category IV by the State Department's Foreign Service Institute: a designation that means that, for native English speakers, Chinese is "exceptionally difficult" (along with Arabic, Japanese, and Korean). However, if you're patient and hard-working, you can learn to speak and write in Chinese!
Many experts recommend focusing first on learning how to speak Chinese. The written language is extremely complex, because it's based on pictographs and not a phonetic alphabet, and most learners have a bigger need to communicate orally than in writing. Chinese is a tonal language, where shifting the "shape" of one's voice can change a syllable into a different word. (In Mandarin, for example, the syllable "ma" can mean everything from "mother" to "horse" and even "to scold" depending on the tone!) That can be very tricky for non-Asian learners to master, making it a great place to start.
There's no way to study Chinese that's more convenient than online lessons. You don't have to worry about making it to class on time, being able to register for a course, or turning in homework! Studying Chinese online is also much more affordable, and it lets you take things at your own pace.
Depending on whether you're using a Mac or PC (or an iPhone or Android), there are different steps you can take to enable a Chinese keyboard. Your best bet is to do a search based on the operating system you've got and follow the steps to turn on the Chinese language functionality.
No! You can choose classes with one-time fees for a complete course or a monthly subscription for continuous access, but both types of Chinese lessons are very affordable. For example, one popular program has a 12-month membership for just $16.66 per month, and another offers two levels of Chinese lessons for $249.90. You'll have a hard time finding an in-person class for less than that!
Sometimes. If you've subscribed to a monthly plan, you'll probably be able to cancel future recurring payments. If you've paid for a package of Chinese lessons, some platforms will allow you to request a refund within the first 30-60 days of use. However, your best option is to use any free lessons or resources that the language program offers prior to purchase: many sites have partial or full lessons you can try before you buy, or a 7-day trial you can use before your payments kick in. That's a great way to find out if the Chinese lessons you're considering are a good match for how you learn and what you want to get out of your studies.
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But don't let these hurdles deter you. With commitment and the right resources, you're on your way to fluency. Mastering Chinese opens up a universe of cultural, professional, and social opportunities, allowing you to connect with over a billion speakers worldwide.

Online Chinese lessons offer a variety of approaches to suit different learning preferences. For auditory learners, there are programs focused on immersive listening practices, helping you attune your ear to the nuances of the language. If you're game for a challenge, gamified learning platforms make acquiring new vocabulary and grammar points engaging, rewarding your progress with points and badges.

For those who prefer a more structured learning path, comprehensive courses provide a blend of video lessons, interactive quizzes, and writing exercises, ensuring you develop a well-rounded skill set, from character recognition and writing to speaking and listening.

And if personal interaction is what drives your learning, tutoring services connect you with native Chinese speakers for real-time conversation and cultural exchange, enriching your study with authentic experiences.

Feeling overwhelmed by the options? Here's what to consider as you begin your journey to learn Chinese:

  • Current fluency level. Assess whether you're starting from scratch or if you have some knowledge of Chinese. Choose lessons that align with your starting point.
  • Learning medium. Determine whether you prefer app-based lessons, audio files, desktop platforms, or another format that fits your lifestyle and learning habits.
  • Skill focus. Decide if you want to concentrate on listening and speaking, reading and writing, or a combination. Remember, Chinese characters are essential for reading and writing, and tone practice is critical for understanding and being understood.
  • Pinyin vs. characters. Consider if the app emphasizes learning through pinyin (the Romanization of Chinese sounds) or focuses more on teaching Chinese characters. Some learners may prefer starting with pinyin to master pronunciation before moving on to characters, while others might want to dive directly into character recognition and writing.
  • Cost. Evaluate whether the lessons are priced as a one-time payment or require a subscription. Consider the value of free options and the benefits of paid upgrades.
  • Learner reviews. Look for feedback from other learners. Their experiences can provide insight into the effectiveness of the platform and the time it may take to see progress.

To guide you to the best Chinese lessons for your goals and preferred learning style, our team at Top Consumer Reviews has tested today's leading options and provided honest feedback on what each one offers. So, what are you waiting for? Embark on your Chinese learning adventure today!

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