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Chinese Class 101 Review

Wednesday, September 28th

2022 Chinese Lesson Reviews

Chinese Class 101 Review 4 Star Rating

Chinese Class 101

4 Star Rating
  • Five levels of Chinese instruction, from Absolute Beginner to Advanced
  • Several paid plans to choose from
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Content refreshes weekly
  • 7-day free trial of Premium features
  • Get one-on-one help from professional teachers with Premium Plus membership

Innovative Language Learning offers a vast number of target languages in their "Pod 101" and "Class 101" series. Their Chinese Class 101 content doesn't disappoint, with lessons ranging from Absolute Beginner to Advanced (and three other levels in between).

Dial down the sales pitch, please

One thing we notice with all of the 101 courses by ILL: they're heavy on the sales-y introductions. Sure, you can sign up for lifetime free access and get quite a bit to study with your no-cost account - but you'll have to wade through several pages of "pay $1 to get these offers, today only!" and "you'll never get this offer again!" Feel free to take advantage of it, but know that you will have more than enough to try out Chinese Class 101 without the dollar intro materials. On the plus side, when you create your free account, it usually comes with seven days of access to the Premium features and then reverts to the no-cost package automatically, no credit card necessary.

What's your fluency level?

Remember those different options for difficulty? When you set up your Chinese Class 101 account, you'll be asked to self-identify your fluency: Absolute Beginner (you might be able to introduce yourself or say "ni hao" or "xie xie"), Beginner (can already read from 180-350 hanzi, count to 100), Intermediate (can read from 350-650 hanzi, use prepositions), Upper Intermediate (can read from 650-1,000 hanzi, use more advanced grammatical constructions), or Advanced (can read from 1,000-1,500 hanzi, know how to use adverbs, understand complex sentence structure). It's exciting to find Chinese lessons with such extensive content for more experienced students: most programs assume you're a beginner and fail to include much beyond that level. And, if you get in over your head (or underestimate yourself), you can change your level at any time in your student dashboard.

It's okay to muddle your way through the pretest

For reasons we still don't understand, Chinese Class 101 starts out with a proficiency test, even if you've chosen "Absolute Beginner" as your level. There are 26 questions, and you can't skip any of them; there's no shame in selecting "I'm not sure" for all of them, or making random guesses just for fun.

Well-rounded Chinese instruction

Your next lesson is automatically loaded into your student dashboard. Most lessons here include an audio lesson (look for the large "play" triangle at the top of the page), dialogue (which can be viewed in Simplified or Traditional Chinese Characters, English, Pinyin or all of the above), vocabulary that you can listen to and then record yourself for comparison, followed by lesson notes that may explain grammar, illustrate cultural highlights, and so forth.

Best Chinese Lessons

...and there's more

Your lesson pathways aren't the only ways to study Chinese on this platform. On your dashboard, you'll also find bonus audio and video content, vocabulary lists for specific situations (like legal terminology or phrases for writing an email), and free monthly gifts that may include PDF cheat sheets, apps and audiobooks, and beyond.


  • Free access to thousands of lessons
  • Basic membership: plans range from $8/month to $96 for two years
  • Premium membership: plans range from $25/month to $240 for two years
  • Premium+ membership: plans range from $47/month to $549 for two years

Options for getting personalized help

You'll need to pay for a membership if you want to keep access to all of the features we mentioned (like full dialogues and detailed lesson notes). Chinese Class 101 isn't very explicit in explaining what the Basic membership gets you for about $8/month, because their focus is on the Premium packages. For $25/month, all of those tools are open to you, but if you need a little extra guidance you should consider the Premium Plus tier. At $47/month, you'll be assigned your own teacher. They'll customize a learning plan for you, assign homework and give you feedback when you turn it in, and assess your written and spoken fluency in Chinese. No matter which pricing level you choose, there are discounts for paying for a year or two in advance, all covered by a generous 60-day refund policy.

Best resource for multiple fluency levels

Chinese Class 101 is an excellent choice if you expect to study Chinese for a long time: there'll be no need to switch platforms as you advance in levels, because it's all right there. We recommend working one-on-one with an instructor through the Premium Plus service, particularly if you tend to get overwhelmed and would benefit from some hand-holding to keep you focused. Although we'd like to see all of Innovative Language Learning's services drop the sales pitches, we still give Chinese Class 101 a big thumbs-up overall.

Where Can You Find the Best Chinese Lessons?

If you're interested in the language, you're in good company: according to recent statistics, there are more than 25 million people worldwide learning Chinese as a second language, with over 200 million people outside of mainland China who speak it! A few decades ago, eager students had to find a college offering Chinese lessons in order to learn, but today Chinese can frequently be found in high schools, enrichment programs, and even dual language or immersion programs for elementary school children.

Not one of the lucky ones to have classes nearby? Don't worry! There are many different options for taking Chinese online now too. Whether you want traditional-style lessons with detailed grammar explanations, multiple choice quizzes, and lots of repetition with flash cards, or you prefer a more modern, game-like approach, you'll have no trouble finding something that fits your learning style and your available study time.

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...

Of course, Chinese probably isn't going to come to you as easily as a Romance language like Spanish or French. Not only do you have a completely new writing system to comprehend - one that uses characters instead of letters, too - but the tonal aspect of Chinese is notoriously difficult for English-speakers to master. (For example, a single change in tone can make the difference between saying "to buy" or "to sell" , "flower" or "painting" , or "panda" and "chest hair" !) You'll want to choose Chinese lessons that help you learn what you need most - like travel phrases or everyday conversation - while teaching you the well-rounded basics too.

How can you tell which Chinese lessons are right for you? Here are several things to look for as you consider different programs:

  • Pricing Structure. Will you be locked into a monthly membership fee, or is it a one-time cost? A recurring subscription might keep you motivated to learn, or it might go to waste if you're not diligent in your studies.
  • Approach to Teaching. Some lessons are very traditional, while others immerse you directly into Chinese with no grammar lessons at all. There is Chinese instruction that focuses mostly on conversation through memorizing important words and phrases, as well as programs that teach you how to read, write, understand and speak the language.
  • Difficulty Level. Almost all Chinese lessons are suitable for beginners. What if you've already studied the language for a while? Be sure any program you're considering has enough material for you to make progress, and take advantage of the sample lessons or free trial that may be offered so you can see for yourself.
  • Satisfaction Guarantee. Once you've paid for your Chinese lessons, can you get your money back for any reason? Not every provider offers a refund policy, making it even more important to see if there's a way to try it out before you commit.

To help you get the most out of your language studies, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best Chinese lessons available online today. We're confident that this information will help you pick a program that fits your unique learning style and fluency goals.

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