Top 5 Mandarin Chinese Materials for Self-Learners

 

Top 5 mandarin - 1With the rise of China as a major economic force, Mandarin is gaining popularity like never before. In the UK, learning a foreign language likes Mandarin, Latin or Greek will be compulsory to primary school students from seven and many language schools all over the US and Europe start offering Mandarin Chinese classes for adults.

In fact, you don’t have to attend a language school to learn Mandarin. There are hundreds of self-learning materials (books, websites and audio-visual courses) available in the market and you can learn the language at your own pace and budget. However, the cost and quality of these courses can vary and I am going to recommend the Top 5 Mandarin Chinese Language Materials for Self-Learners here.

Top 5 Mandarin Chinese Materials for Self-Learners

1. Rocket Language

Chosen by PCMag.com as the Editors’ choice, Rocket Languages is among the most useful language-learning software in the market especially for beginners and travellers.

What it Offers

Top 5 mandarin - 2

The program is arranged in 5 sections: Interactive Audio Lessons, Language & Culture Lessons, Writing, Survival Kits and Games.

  • Free trial account gives you some complimentary lessons at each level
  • Audio lessons that can be listened to online
  • Downloadable lesson in PDF
  • Forum
  • Charges with lifelong membership as follow:
    • Basic: 31 interactive audio language lessons, 31 culture lessons, interactive quizzes and more…
    • Premier Plus: Same structure as Basic with more lessons
Price (USD) Lifelong membership
Basic 99.95
Premier Plus 149.95
Premier Plus on CD & online access + FREE Bonus Package 299.95

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • User-friendly navigation
  • Clear lessons and culture tips
  • Website well optimized for tablets allows learning on the go
  • Interactive features like pronunciation correction with recorder
  • Intelligent dashboard displays to show progress
  • Lifetime membership and free upgrades
  • Some long scrolling pages
  • Multiple-choice quizzes

Cons

  • Some long scrolling pages
  • Multiple-choice quizzes
Click here to learn more about Rocket Language.

2. ChinesePod

By far the website with the most audio, video and text content with more than 2,000 lessons

What it offers

Top 5 mandarin - 3

ChinesePod offers lots of courses at all levels (Elementary, Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate) and topics (Business, Daily Life, PinYin, Love Tangle, etc).

  • Free trial account gives you some complimentary lessons at each level
  • Free learning material for beginners
  • Podcast lessons that can be listened to online or downloaded
  • Downloadable lesson and worksheet in PDF
  • Forum
  • Subscription is available in the following format:
    • Basic plan: Lessons and downloadable PDF
    • Premier plan: Basic + Lesson review activities (dialogue, vocabulary, expansion, grammar, exercises) + Mobile access
    • Light/Standard Classroom: Premier + 1-on-1 Skype lessons
Price (USD) 1-mo 3-mo 6-mo 12-mo 24-mo
Basic plan  14.00  39.00  74.00  124.00  199.00
Premier plan  29.00  79.00  149.00  249.00  399.00
Light Classroom (2×20-min Skype per wk)  N/A  539.00  974.00  1,774.00  N/A
Standard Classroom (5×20-min Skype per wk)  N/A  1,068.00  1,899.00  3,549.00  N/A
Face-to-Face Class with New Concept Mandarin – Price plan refers to NCM

Pros

  • Massive number of lessons
  • Various learning media – audio, video, transcripts, quizzes, flash cards, vocabulary lists, writing practice
  • Community feature – subscribers can comment on each lesson and interact with other learners
  • Available on tablets and smart phones allows learning on the go

Cons

  • Limited grammar explanations
Click here to learn more about ChinesePod.

3. ChineseClass101

This site is a great source for podcasts, and if you sign up for a free membership you can download as much content as you want during the trial period

What it offersTop 5 mandarin - 4

  • Free trial account that gives you 7-day access to all materials exclusive for paid subscribers
  • Paid basic or premium subscription
  • Dashboard displays to show progress
  • Mobile app at additional cost
  • Subscription is available in the following mode:
    • Free lifetime membership: First 3 lessons at each level and the latest 3 weeks worth of lessons (both audio/video) at any given time
    • Basic member: Free + audio/video lesson + downloadable notes in PDF
    • Premium member: Basic + interactive quizzes, pronunciation correction with recorder, vocabulary flashcard and more …
    • Premium+ member: Premium + 1-on-1 Skype lessons
Price (USD) 1-mo 3-mo 6-mo 12-mo 24-mo
Basic  8.00  21.00  36.00  60.00  96.00
Premier  25.00  66.00  120.00  180.00  240.00
Premier+ (1-2-1 online 2 hrs/week)  47.00  125.00  220.00  316.00  N/A

Pro

  • Community feature – subscribers can comment on each lesson and interact with other learners
  • Affordable prices with flexible subscription periods

Con

  • Boring website design and navigation
Click here to learn more about ChineseClass101.

4. Transparent Language

A wide range of language products that can fit your needTop 5 mandarin - 5

What it offers

  • Large number of learning tools, both online and offline
  • Smooth and easy learning experience
  • Emphasis on using flashcards
  • Podcast lessons that can be listened to online or downloaded
Price (USD) One-off 6-mo 12-mo 2 -mo (live)
Mandarin Audio Course (Offline)

49.95

Mandarin Byki Deluxe (Offline)

69.95

Transparent Mandarin Chinese Complete Edition (Offline) (Window Only)

179.95

Transparent Language Online

149.95

199.95

Transport Connect Live Classroom Course

299.00

Pros

  • Great content
  • Built-in quick reference dictionary
  • Free, downloadable flashcard program under Byki, an acronym for “before you know it.”
  • Large variety of learning tools like flash cards, MP3, multimedia mini games and even a karaoke system where you can compare your pronunciation against that of a native speaker
  • A number of tiered products for both Mac and Windows but the Completed Edition is available for Windows only
  • Interface (hyper-modular design) can be confusing at the beginning
  • Too much emphasis on flashcards

Cons

  • A number of tiered products for both Mac and Windows but the Completed Edition is available for Windows only
  • Interface (hyper-modular design) can be confusing at the beginning
  • Too much emphasis on flashcards
Click here to learn more about Transparent Language.

5. Teach Yourself

Top 5 mandarin - 6Ideal self-study material for learning Mandarin but it is better if used with a teacher. Optional audiotapes or CDs at an extra cost can help with listening and pronunciation difficulties.

Pros

  • Methodical introduction to vocabulary and pronunciation
  • Lots of exercises for review
  • Logical layout

Cons

  • A bit advanced for true beginners unless you have a tutor
  • Concentrates on listening and speaking to the expense of reading and writing characters
  • Some of the phrases and sentences are ambiguous
Check here to learn more about Teach Yourself.

Conclusion

Of course, my advice is to remind you that key element for online language programs is you, not any course or book you buy. If you’re diligent, online language programs are an extremely cost-efficient and flexible method for picking up some foreign language proficiency. However, if you’re not discipline enough to learn it on your own, you might want to force yourself into a classroom paying a higher tuition in hopes of a more structured environment and a teacher to keep you motivated.

Let us know what you think about these tools if you have used that before or share this blog with your friends if you find it useful!

 

 

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