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Chinese Class 101 Review

Monday, May 20th

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

Chinese Class 101 is a member of the Innovative Language family. They offer lessons in 34 languages, with the course titles stylized in the "[language name] Class 101" or "Pod 101" format. They provide apps, audiobooks, iBooks, video lessons, and more, with additional features for paid subscribers.

Free learning materials

Let's start out by getting into what you can do for free on Chinese Class 101. A Free Lifetime Account gives you access to the first 3 lessons in each Pathway, new weekly lessons, the Chinese Word of the Day (which you can also have delivered directly to your inbox if you choose), a list of the most frequent 100 Chinese words, lists of Chinese vocabulary and phrases, and full access to the Survival Phrases Pathway. You can select from one of five levels to start, suitable for beginners, intermediates, or advanced learners. Or, if you're not sure what level you are at, you can take a Diagnostic Test of 40 questions. Then you'll see a learning path on your dashboard based on the level you've chosen or been placed in. This helps you get started learning easily, though you'll find that the site has many different paths to choose from, all with lots of lessons.

Audio lessons are full of cultural insights

Your very first lesson with Chinese Class 101 as an Absolute Beginner is a 15 minute audio lesson in the style of a conversation between Amber and Victor, who walk you through the vocabulary and grammar involved when meeting and greeting new people in Chinese. If you've only used gamified language learning apps, you might be overwhelmed by this format - but stick with it. We really appreciated the wealth of cultural context provided in the audio lesson, and we found it a refreshing change from the surface-level vocabulary lessons of those gamified apps. For example, in Amber and Victor's conversation, we learned that you can't use your Western name in Chinese due to the deep and meaningful nature of Chinese names, which can include parental aspirations for their child.

Humorous anecdotes make it fun

They also gave a couple of humorous anecdotes about Chinese names, including one about a family with a father named Money and a son named Cash - who were ironically not all that rich, which is why it's important to be humble when choosing an aspirational name. Amber and Victor also advise against selecting a name randomly from a dictionary to avoid ending up with a name that might be amusing or inappropriate in Chinese culture. Instead, they recommend seeking help from a Chinese friend or asking Chinese Class 101 to come up with a Chinese name for you. We saw users doing just that in the comment section below the audio lesson - like one user named Iris who was then given the Chinese name Ai li si.

Lots of ways to retain information

On the lesson page you'll also find a full transcript of the audio lesson, notes on the concepts discussed in the lesson, and playable audio of the individual Chinese vocabulary words and phrases discovered in the lesson. You can also add these vocabulary words to your Word Bank or Flashcard Decks and take quizzes to test your memory, which includes multiple-choice and writing questions.

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30-day trial of Premium for $1

When you create an account with Chinese Class 101, you'll get an offer for a $1 trial of their Premium Membership that includes 60 video lessons, one product download, and access to the 7-day Fluency Fast course. If you click "No Thanks" , you won't have another chance to take advantage of the trial. If you do go ahead with it, just make sure you cancel before your subscription renews after 30 days if you decide it's not for you.

Three paid plans

We've covered what you can do for free on Chinese Class 101, so let's take a closer look at the paid plans and what they include. There are three: Basic, Premium, and Premium Plus.

  • $4/month Basic Plan
    • Everything in Free, plus:
    • Access to All Lessons
    • In-Depth Lesson Notes
  • $10/month Premium Plan
    • Everything in Basic, plus:
    • Multiple-Choice Assessments
    • Line-by-Line Audio Dialogue
    • Premium Lesson Tracks
    • Personal Word Bank
    • Spaced Repetition Flashcards
  • $23/month Premium PLUS Plan
    • Everything in Premium, plus:
    • 1-on-1 Access to a Teacher
    • Hand-Graded Assessments
    • Guidance & Personalized Assessment
    • Writing & Pronunciation Practice

You have to pay for 2 years in advance

The prices we've shared are the standard ones, yet nearly every time we've checked out this language site, there's been some sort of deal going on. The latest offer we saw gave a 40% discount. However, be mindful of the little asterisk pointing to the details in small print: the prices apply to paying for two years upfront. (That works out to a $96 charge for the Basic plan, $240 for Premium, and $552 for Premium Plus.) The good news is that each plan at Chinese Class 101 includes a 60-day money-back guarantee, and they won't ask you why you want a refund.

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Advertisements for paid plans are annoying

On a minor note, we didn't love how busy the homepage was, with flashing banners advertising discounts for Premium and Premium Plus, chat alerts from Chinese teachers (who you can only learn with if you're a Premium Plus member), and a "Latest News" tab that displays... you guessed it, more advertisements for the paid plans. We would hope that these ads go away when you're locked into a paid plan, but we didn't see confirmation of this anywhere. Some users have also complained about getting too many promotional emails, and some have felt like the service relies on "used car salesman tactics" .

Great for serious learners

Overall, we think Chinese Class 101 takes a very thorough approach to teaching Chinese. You won't be lacking for explanations of grammar or cultural context behind the characters you're learning to write. We like that their lessons cover beginners to advanced learners. However, the paid plans require a commitment of two years at a time for best pricing, which will probably deter more casual learners. But, if you're committed and enthusiastic about learning Chinese (and you're not easily put off by their gimmicky sales tactics), Chinese Class 101 could be the right choice for you.

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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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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