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Memrise vs Busuu

Monday, May 20th

2024 Chinese Lesson Reviews

Memrise Review 4 Star Rating


4 Star Rating
  • Free version available, Pro membership for $27.99/month or $130.99/year, Lifetime Pro access for $249.99
  • Allows users to pick a proficiency level that matches their knowledge
  • Combines pinyin, English translation, literal translation, and Chinese characters for an intuitive learning experience
  • Authentic pronunciation from native speaker videos
  • Lessons categorized by vocabulary and phrases from realistic scenarios
  • Engaging, rapid-fire Speed Review quiz to test memory and recall
  • Fun supplementary videos contain the words and phrases users have been learning
  • MemBot AI allows users to practice conversing in Chinese without the fear of making mistakes
  • High ratings with an average of 4.5 to 4.8 stars across Google Play Store and Apple App Store

Launched in 2009 with the backing of a Grand Master of Memory, Memrise offers a unique and fun approach to learning Chinese. Starting from any level of knowledge, you'll get a mix of pinyin, English and Chinese translations, characters, and videos from native speakers to immerse you fully. Lessons are delivered in the format of realistic scenarios. Despite some controversy over removing community courses, Memrise remains highly rated for its engaging content, including quick memory tests and AI chatbot conversations. With a free start and an option to upgrade to Pro for full access, Memrise is a dynamic and enjoyable way to boost your Chinese language skills, combining traditional methods with gamified learning to keep you motivated.

Busuu Review 4 Star Rating


4 Star Rating
  • Offers both free and premium options, with premium available at $128.79 per year ($10.73 per month)
  • 7-day free Premium trial
  • Provides two paths: "Complete Chinese" for an in-depth study or "Chinese for Travel" for quick basics
  • Content is fun, smart, and includes real-life conversations with native speakers
  • AI-powered Vocabulary/Grammar Review sections for mastering and maintaining knowledge
  • Provides certificates of completion for Premium users
  • Competitive aspect with the Busuu Leagues, motivating users to earn points and climb the leaderboard
  • Community of native speakers to aid in pronunciation and writing practice
  • High user ratings across Google Play and the Apple App Store
  • Ideal for beginners with bite-sized, manageable lessons

If you're beginning to learn Mandarin Chinese, Busuu might be just right for you. It offers straightforward lessons, both free and premium, to fit your learning pace and goals. With courses designed for thorough study or quick travel prep, Busuu makes sure you get language skills that fit your goals. While you might miss having a pinyin keyboard and might notice some inconsistency in content quality, the platform's strengths like personalized feedback from native speakers, motivating certificates for premium users, and competitive leagues make these issues minor. Plus, its high user satisfaction scores across app stores speak volumes. Busuu is perfect for new learners looking for an engaging and effective way to start their Mandarin 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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