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The Best Chinese Lessons

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.

Monday, April 15th

2024 Chinese Lesson Reviews

Rocket Languages Review Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award 5 Star Rating

Rocket Languages

5 Star Rating Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Rocket Languages is a top-notch language learning tool to help you learn Chinese. You'll enjoy their easy-to-understand video lessons, friendly audio lessons, and their intuitive platform that lets you see your progress. Their program starts at $149.95 and has different levels which can be purchased a-la-carte to suit your needs. If you're not happy with your purchase, you can get a full refund within 60 days. There are tools to help you practice speaking and writing, lessons about Chinese culture, and a fantastic writing tool for learning character stroke order - because unlike some other platforms, each Rocket Languages course is designed to fit that language's unique features. You can compete against other Chinese learners on the Leaderboard for fun, and ask questions in their forums. Rocket Languages is our top choice for online Chinese lessons.

italki Review 4.5 Star Rating

italki

4.5 Star Rating

italki offers you a unique opportunity to connect with over 1,000 Chinese tutors through one-on-one video calls. Differing from gamified apps, italki delivers a more personalized and immersive learning experience. It allows you to choose between Professional Teachers and Community Tutors. You have the freedom to filter tutors based on your preferences and test out lessons at affordable prices. You can even take part in the italki Language Challenge or Group Classes. Keep in mind, you'll need a solid internet connection and a quiet place to study. italki tutors are dedicated and the platform holds a strong 4.6-star rating on Trustpilot. If you're seeking to enhance your Chinese skills, especially aiming for native-like speaking proficiency, italki could be your ideal choice.

Memrise Review 4 Star Rating

Memrise

4 Star Rating

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

Busuu

4 Star Rating

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.

Pimsleur Review 3.5 Star Rating

Pimsleur

3.5 Star Rating

Pimsleur's language learning method centers on interactive speaking practices. As a user, you can start learning by focusing on essential vocabulary and speaking in just 30 days. The offer includes audio lessons from $14.95 and comprehensive audio and text-based exercises for $19.95. You can use it anywhere and it syncs across all devices. You can also share it with three additional users. Pimsleur's lessons fit into your lifestyle and can be used during commuting or chores. However, writing practice doesn't start until later with the Premium subscription. Also, their new pronunciation practice feature might not be as accurate as expected. But, by the end of the course, you'll be able to understand fast-paced conversations and express yourself in depth. Pimsleur is great for audio learners, but it's best to try their free Chinese lesson first to see if it suits you.

Chinese Class 101 Review 3.5 Star Rating

Chinese Class 101

3.5 Star Rating

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

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.

Mondly Review 3 Star Rating

Mondly

3 Star Rating

Mondly is a language learning app that offers you the opportunity to learn over 40 languages. It's designed for beginners and uses voice recognition, conversation-based learning, and daily lessons to help you progress. You can practice speaking, reading, and writing, and even learn your target language from 31 different languages. The app features categories, lessons, statistics, and a leaderboard. There's also an Augmented Reality (AR) feature for interactive learning. However, be aware that Mondly, which was acquired by Pearson in 2022, might not prioritize updates for all languages other than English and its offerings are considered pretty average. You can try out their premium features with a 7-day trial, but remember, they have a strict no-refund policy.

Rosetta Stone Review 2.5 Star Rating

Rosetta Stone

2.5 Star Rating

Rosetta Stone, a long-established language learning platform, offers immersive lessons to learn new languages, including Chinese. It costs $47.97 for three months or $126 for a year, but live tutoring sessions cost extra. As you start using Rosetta Stone, you'll be speaking Chinese aloud right from the start, with a unique learning pathway designed just for you. However, it seems to lack character writing practice. The immersion approach, which doesn't provide English translations for words and phrases, will be frustrating. Even with extra tools like Stories and the Audio Companion for offline use, Rosetta Stone may not be worth the price because of its issues. So, you might find better ways to learn Chinese elsewhere.

Fluenz Review 2.5 Star Rating

Fluenz

2.5 Star Rating

Fluenz is a language-learning platform where you can learn Mandarin Chinese. It's a bit more expensive than other programs, and it doesn't let you try out a lesson before buying. We also thought it looked a bit outdated. The lessons feel like a traditional classroom, with videos, practice exercises, and a tutor in the videos to explain things in English. The course has three levels to help you go from basic to advanced skills. But remember, they only teach from the English perspective, and you won't learn to read or write Chinese characters. You can use the program on any device, but Fluenz just isn't competitive among the other online Chinese language classes in our review.

Preply Review 2 Star Rating

Preply

2 Star Rating

Preply is an online platform founded in 2012 to help people learn languages, including Chinese, by connecting them with tutors from around the globe. As a Chinese language learner on Preply, you have access to over 2,000 tutors who are either native speakers or highly proficient. You can pick a tutor based on what you want to achieve, their teaching style, and feedback from other students. Once you've chosen a tutor, you can schedule lessons at your convenience using Preply's virtual classroom for video calls, messaging, and sharing study materials. You'll start by telling Preply about your language goals, current level, and preferences, like wanting a tutor from a specific Chinese-speaking region. You can also set your lesson budget and schedule. Despite its benefits, Preply doesn't pay their tutors well and has a subscription model that could lead to customers feeling they've lost out due to unused credits or less-than-ideal experiences with scammers posing as tutors. Preply is not the best choice if you're looking for one-on-one Chinese tutoring.

Compare the Best Reviews

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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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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.
The Best Reviews of Chinese Lessons