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Busuu Review

Monday, May 20th

2024 Chinese Lesson Reviews

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

Back in 2008, Busuu started with a simple idea and an endangered language from Cameroon as its namesake. Fast forward to today, after being snapped up by Chegg in 2022, Busuu has become a go-to for people wanting to learn Mandarin Chinese. It's a mix of free lessons and a premium option that steps up the game. With its easy-to-use app and a thumbs-up from tons of users, Busuu seems like a solid pick if you're a beginning learner of Chinese.

No placement test for Chinese

Beyond Mandarin, Busuu opens doors to learning other languages too. But focusing on Chinese, you get two paths: "Complete Chinese" for a deep dive or "Chinese for Travel" for quick basics. It's a bummer that there's no Placement Test for Chinese to see where you stand from the get-go. However, the way Busuu guides you from beginner (A1) to upper-intermediate levels (B2) is pretty straightforward.

Effective learning content

Busuu nails it with content that's both fun and smart. They bring real-life conversations into play with help from native speakers, making each lesson feel more authentic. The app throws in videos, quizzes, matching games, and audio to keep things interesting. While they do a good job explaining grammar and vocab, adding literal translations every time Chinese pops up would make things even clearer. For instance, we were presented with the phrase "nǐ ne?" spoken by a native speaker. The next page provided an explanation: "When we finish introducing ourselves, to ask someone else for their name we say "nǐ ne?" (And you?) Nǐ means "you", and ne is a particle." We appreciate that they don't just expect you to learn the phrase without explanation. However, it would be beneficial if a literal English translation was provided every time Chinese text appears on the screen, similar to some other apps. In our experience, this is a more effective way to learn grammatical rules.

No pinyin keyboard

The way you move through Busuu's courses, hitting checkpoints to unlock new topics, is motivating. But, the instructions for writing exercises could be clearer - at the end of the first chapter, you can choose to participate in a community exercise, either by writing or speaking your answer to a question in Chinese. However, it's unclear whether you're supposed to write in pinyin or characters. We would assume pinyin, as Busuu has not yet introduced characters. However, there's no built-in pinyin keyboard, so you'd need to install it on your phone or desktop's keyboard settings to avoid penalties for missing tone indicators.

Best Chinese Lessons

AI-powered vocab and grammar review

On Busuu, you'll find a smart Vocabulary Review section that uses an AI-powered algorithm to help you master and maintain your word knowledge. For grammar, you can take a deep dive into specific topics and track your progress using color-coded mastery levels. What's super impressive is that Busuu's language learning approach is so effective, an independent study found that just 22 hours on Busuu Premium equates to a whole college semester of language learning. So, you're not just playing around on an app, you're making serious strides towards fluency in Chinese.

7-day free trial

Let's talk money. If you're curious but not ready to commit to Busuu, the free version lets you progress through lessons in a linear fashion, and you can always review lessons you've completed. Premium users, on the other hand, can jump around as they please. For a taste of the full experience, Busuu offers a 7-day free trial of Premium. If you decide it's for you, there's a chance to get a year of Premium at half price for $128.79 ($10.73 per month). This deal includes a bunch of perks like ad-free learning, access to all lessons, priority native speaker feedback, and extra tools to practice grammar and vocabulary. Just be mindful of the auto-renewal policy to avoid any surprises.

Keeping track of your journey

Staying on top of your progress is key when learning a new language, and Busuu has got you covered. Imagine finishing a level and getting a Certificate with your name on it, shining proof of your hard work and the skills you've mastered in Mandarin, according to the well-respected CEFR standards. However, it's good to know that these certificates are reserved for Premium users and are currently only offered for the A1 level.

Making learning social and fun with leaderboards

Have you ever thought about learning as a sport? With Busuu, it kind of is. After you finish a couple of lessons, you're thrown into the Busuu Leagues, where you can earn points and see how you stack up against others. It's all about keeping the learning spirit alive and kicking, from Monday to Monday, with top learners climbing up and others finding new motivation to push harder.

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Nail pronunciation with help from native speakers

Let's face it, pronunciation can be a real hurdle in learning Mandarin. But Busuu's got your back with a community of native speakers ready to lend an ear and offer feedback on your spoken and written efforts. Through video flashcards and direct submissions to the community, you get to hear the real deal and practice until you get it just right. It's like having a tutor in your pocket, always there to guide you towards sounding like a local.

High ratings across platforms

On Google Play, Busuu has nearly 700,000 ratings, averaging an impressive 4.7 stars at the time of this review. While it's not as widely used on the Apple App Store, it maintains the same 4.7 star average across over 80,000 reviews. Feedback from users sheds light on what works and what could use a tweak. The consensus? Busuu's content, especially for languages like French and Spanish, is top-notch. The app's focus on practical phrases and the chance to interact with native speakers are big wins. But, some learners find the Chinese course wanting, with a call for better grammar support and more consistent content quality across languages. Plus, the ability to drill down into vocab or grammar sections more deeply would be a welcome improvement for many.

Good for beginners

So, is Busuu the magical key to becoming fluent in Chinese? Well, it might not take you all the way to advanced levels, but as a starting point, it's hard to beat. The lessons are bite-sized and manageable, never leaving you feeling overwhelmed. And with the risk-free chance to give it a go, why not see if Busuu's method clicks with you? If you're new to the language, Busuu offers a well-rounded approach to learning Chinese that's definitely worth exploring.

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.

The Best Chinese Lessons Compare Chinese Lessons Compare Chinese Lesson Reviews What are the best Chinese Lessons Best Chinese Lesson Reviews

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.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

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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