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Fluenz Review

Monday, May 20th

2024 Chinese Lesson Reviews

Fluenz Review 2.5 Star Rating


2.5 Star Rating
  • Packages range from $187 to $322
  • Over 100 video lessons for Mandarin fluency
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • Mimics one-on-one tutoring
  • Tutors provide clear explanations based on English grammar
  • Three levels of proficiency
  • Accessible on all devices

Fluenz is a digital language learning platform co-founded by Sonia Gil, an entrepreneur and travel vlogger. Gil herself went to China to develop the Mandarin Chinese program for English speakers. The Fluenz Mandarin course features over 100 videos, provides a realistic pathway for English speakers to achieve verbal fluency, and connects learning with targeted practice.

No trial and seems outdated, but offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee

The first thing you'll notice about Fluenz is that it appears quite old-fashioned - it gives the impression that it hasn't seen an update in the last ten years. Out of all the programs we reviewed, Fluenz is the only one that doesn't provide any options for you to test it out first. They don't provide a sample lesson or give you free access to the student dashboard for a week. The best they have to offer is a slideshow with screenshots from the desktop application. Unfortunately, that means that if something is broken (like an image matching game that grades you incorrectly or a recording that won't play) you won't know about it ahead of time, and Fluenz will already have your money. But, if you decide to purchase Fluenz Mandarin without trying it first, they do have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee to protect your investment.

Priced higher than competitors

Fluenz offers their Mandarin courses at rather high prices. The "Fluenz Mandarin 1+2+3" package costs $322, while "Fluenz Mandarin 1+2" and "Fluenz Mandarin 3" are priced at $258 and $187, respectively. (For comparison's sake, you can get lifetime access to all levels of some competing services for around $100.) Their homeschooling options, "Homeschool Basic Fluenz Mandarin 1+2+3" and "Homeschool Pro Fluenz Mandarin 1+2+3" , are available for a whopping $954 and $1,908. If you share your email address with them, you're eligible for a discount, but nothing big enough to make their prices competitive in this review.

Feels like the classroom

With Fluenz, your learning starts with an introduction video that sets the stage for the lesson. Afterward, you practice through exercises, known as "workouts" . Between these workouts, you watch more videos to dig deeper into the material. This alternating format of video and practice is effective, but the videos can seem a bit too formal at times. Unlike many other language programs that feel pretty hands-off, Fluenz feels more like a traditional classroom and aims to mimic a one-on-one tutoring session. But remember, the videos are pre-recorded.

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Video lessons led by tutors

If you struggle to stay engaged without face-to-face interaction, like when studying new vocabulary on a screen, you might find Fluenz useful. It's unique among most language learning platforms because it provides clear video explanations in English while you work through the program. For Mandarin Chinese, a teacher named Yi Wei will guide you with easy-to-understand explanations about how sentences are constructed, the order of words, how to pronounce tones, and vocabulary.

Three levels of proficiency

In the first two levels of the Fluenz Mandarin course, you'll start with the basics: introducing yourself, talking about countries, ordering food, shopping, and planning trips. You'll also understand how Mandarin sentences work, ask questions, compare things, count, and learn important Mandarin concepts. This course preps you for real-life Mandarin conversations. In the third level, you'll build on your basics and learn advanced skills. You'll practice in situations like making plans, eating at restaurants, or even visiting a factory and ordering materials. You'll also learn how to talk about the past and future. After finishing this level, Fluenz says you'll be able to handle most conversations in China or keep learning Mandarin if you want to.

They only teach from English

Another thing Fluenz highlights about themselves as a point of pride is that they teach foreign languages from the point of view of an English speaker. They claim to be the only ones who do this, but pretty much every other service in our review of Chinese language classes works this way. Fluenz might be trying to say that they make more direct comparisons to English grammar structures during the lesson than other platforms, but either way, we don't find this super impressive. It might actually be a reason you don't want to choose Fluenz - for example, if Spanish is your first language and you were hoping to use it to learn Mandarin Chinese, Fluenz doesn't have a unique set of video lessons for your needs.

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Study on any device

You can use Fluenz's program on any device, including your computer, iPhone, Android phone, and iPad. Whether you're watching videos or doing workouts, you can switch devices anytime and continue learning Mandarin. Don't worry about losing your place because Fluenz remembers where you stopped, so you can pick up from there on any device.

Only Pinyin

From what we can tell, Fluenz Mandarin doesn't teach you to write in either simplified or traditional Chinese characters. It only focuses on Pinyin. If being able to read and write in Chinese is a priority for you (and we think it should be) this program won't be the best fit.

We can't rate it well without more transparency

Even though Fluenz Mandarin is popular and used by some top organizations like the Navy's Special Warfare Command, it needs to do better to compete with other Chinese learning programs. You wouldn't be able to learn Chinese characters, and it only offers three levels of learning. It's not as complete as some other higher-ranked programs, but it is a lot more expensive. To improve its rank in our review, we'd need to see more, like a sample lesson or access to a student dashboard.

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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