CLO User 4's blog

Gilla E., Translator, Germany

I've been following your Chinese course for several months now (I am on lesson 22)and I recommended it to other learners since it's the most professional course I could find on the internet. The course is highly systematic and, at each step, motivating.

I really enjoy your way teaching Chinese. It's so helpful to hear/read how you are breaking the sentences down and how you repeat words and phrases of former lessons etc. and I can see the difference from books and DVDs I had bought before I found your course: Your teaching method is worth the subscription fee!

Joe H., Circus Performer, Massachusetts, USA

Your website and podcast have been extremely helpful to me in my recent trips to China. I've become a premium subscriber because it's been so useful. I've tried several other Chinese language resources,but have found yours to be the best.

I am a performer and I decided that since I would be spending so much time in China, it would be nice to learn some of the language. I thought it would be respectful to at least try, and based on my experience, the Chinese people love it when Americans try and speak their language. I managed to learn to speak 90% of my act in Mandarin.

Regarding your course, I am relatively new to it, and am only on lesson 17. I must confess that I skipped around a little to learn words that I knew I needed right away. But I am going back to make sure I have the previous lessons learned before I get too far ahead of myself. I like the approach of breaking down words to their roots. it has helped me with cab drivers, restaurant workers, store owners etc. One thing I found out by being in China and trying to get around, is that when I am shopping, shopkeepers will take out calculators to show you the price they are asking, and then I can take the calculator to make a counter offer. So learning all the numbers up to 1000 wasn't as urgent to me as some other things. But you can only learn what it is you need to know by being in China, (or Taiwan). There is no substitute for jumping right in and trying to make yourself understood. After that, try to understand what people are saying to you, then try and understand what they are saying to each other. I had just started picking up things that people would say to me when I left. It was so much fun ! A cab driver told me my Chinese was very good, I was so happy to hear that, and understand what he said. A lot of the people in our group would ask me to go with them, because I could translate a little for them. I would also suggest to your listeners to try and learn a few phrases in the local dialect. When I said Thank You, Your Welcome, Hello and Good Bye in Shanghai Dialect, the people loved it ! It made feel good as well. A simple act of respect can go a long way.

I think the difficulty between lessons is OK. As in learning anything, practice, practice, practice. Without practice, it doesn't matter how much or how little the difficulty increases, you won't learn anything. I am fortunate in that I have been going to China, so I have a need and a place to speak what I learn. There is a Chinatown in Boston, near where I live, so I may go there to try and to speak some Chinese. ( I tried to speak Chinese to some people I've run into, but there are a lot of Vietnamese people around here, and I've embarrassed myself a few times. I can't tell what part of Asia people are from by sight.) I will also be going back in February and May of next year. Hopefully I'll be much further along in your excellent course.

I like your course because of the way the words are broken down to their roots. I like the fact that they are always broken down, even if you've already explained it 3 times in previous lessons. It's hard to fall behind with your course. I like the way you explain which tones are being used. Like I mentioned, I'm a little hard of hearing, and I haven't developed an ear for the tones yet, so for you to tell us which one it was is very helpful. You must be a very patient man to go over things so thoroughly. I like the support materials for premium subscribers. Again, I need to see the words, it helps me remember them. The practice exercises are helpful as well.

One thing that I do to help me learn is to have an imaginary conversation with someone, could be a bus driver, or a cab driver, store owner, person attending the festival and try to uses as many words as possible. That's one way I discover what I haven't learned yet, but need to know.

Keep up the good work. I think you've helped a lot of people learn what they once thought to be a difficult language.

Due East Blog

...I think the podcasts are really good. The grammar explanations are well done, they give good attention to teaching proper tones, and the subject matter of the lessons is on par with what Chinese Pod covers. They certainly don’t cut any corners. And since the teachers aren’t all from just the mainland or just from Taiwan, listeners are exposed to the slight accent, vocabulary, and tonal differences they’re likely to encounter in their daily encounters with Chinese people from different areas of the world. That’s a big advantage that this site has over Chinese Pod because not everybody who speaks a given language speaks it with exactly the same accent. So the more exposure you get to different regional accents, the better your listening comprehension will be. You still won’t get as much exposure to as wide a range of [bad] Chinese accents as you’re likely to encounter in real life, but that’s actually a good thing; you don’t want to learn sloppy Chinese, anyway. It’s a difficult thing to achieve balance between exposing students to what they’ll encounter in real life and teaching them correctly, and they do a good job with it. It could potentially prove a bit confusing to beginners, but as long as they keep in mind that the differences are simply a matter of accent, they’ll be just fine...

You can read the complete review here.

Adrian K., I.T. and Business Consultant, Singapore

I've been learning Chinese characters for a couple of years (after I learned Japanese for a while). Reading simplified characters is therefore relatively easy for me, but there is a big gap to my listening and speaking skills, incl. usage of grammar.

What I like most about Chinese Learn Online is really the English-to-Chinese practice, something others (incl. ChinesePod) don't have enough of even though it is THE key skill I believe. The more is really the better here. I just feel the CLO approach is more organized, at least it helped me more.

The other good thing about Chinese Learn Online is the gradual phasing in of Chinese conversation into the lessons. I think you are doing it right. Example: For texts that I would easily understand from its written form (Simplified) but never if spoken, I get a chance to grasp the listening comprehension because you have both the natural and the slowed-down version. Other example: Lower-level lessons may be very easy for me if I read the text, but they are just the right level (short with very common words) to train my listening comprehension.

Bottom-line: I find multiple levels of CLO a good fit, depending on the focus I want to place.

Alex T., Student, Durham, NC, USA

Thank you! I tried a lot of Chinese learning programs before finding your site (ChinesePod, Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone) but none of them really worked too well for me. Some went too slow, some went too fast, some just kept you stuck at the same level. CLO really teaches Chinese at a great pace, with short lessons, and progressively. I love that every week you can get better and better and never feel like the jump from one lesson to the next is too big.

So far, the premium services are great! I think if there's one thing that the original podcasts lacked, it was an opportunity to practice producing the language, which the review podcasts and practice exercises do wonderfully.

Anesia R., Communications Manager, Ministry of Tourism, Youth and Sport, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

My name is Anesia and I am a participant in Taiwan ICDF workshop on Community development and the Tourism Industry. Today, I'm writing to you to thank you for your site where one can learn chinese. A friend from St. Vincent introduced me to it while I was at home because I wanted to be able to say a few words in mandarin while here in Taiwan.

Well, I can truly say that your site has helped me. I don't know a lot of chinese but my pronounciation seems to be spot on! At least, these are the comments I get from the Taiwanese every time I say something in Chinese. recently, each participant had to give a country report and I thought it would be a good idea to introuce myself-my name, say hello and my nationality in all 4 main languages represented among us: Mandarin, Spanish, French and English. I did it and was met with a big applause from the Taiwanese. Now, I know they are often happy to hear even just a small word in Mandarin but it was more than that for me. They told me on more than one occassions now that my pronounciation was very good and wanted to know where I had learnt Mandarin. I was happy to tell them about your site.

I'm so busy at work that I didn't have alot of time to learn Mandarin from your site but I put alot of effort in when I did go through the lessons. So once again Adam, thank you! And may God continue to help you as you seek to help others develop their Mandarin speaking skills.

David C., High School Teacher, Los Angeles, United States

What you are doing right and the others aren't is two fold.

First of all, you have a progressive series. A person can actually start from the beginning and work their way up to a conversational level. All the words are accounted for. You remind people of what is new and what has been covered already. You remind them in Chinese and use English sparingly.

This is the way that it should be done. After the initial stages, a language should be taught in the target language as much as possible.

The second thing – Lessons are introduced in Chinese. It isn't until new words are introduced that English is heard. This puts the person in Chinese mode.

Karan M., Student, Stanford University, United States

I stumbled upon this excellently programmed podcast back in Spring and I am ever so glad that I did, because I think it is one of the major reasons for my improved listening ability. One of the things I believe Stanford’s program doesn’t get right is the listening speed. We learnt grammar properly, vocabulary was good and we spoke about as fast as beginners at our level ought to, but we sucked at listening. This is because the teacher always spoke at a slower-than-normal speed which we could easily understand. In fact, when she sped up just a little bit, most of the class stopped understanding what she was saying. Also, when we heard our teacher talking with other native speakers, it felt so uncomfortably fast that it sounded like a whole other language. Basically, the course did not place enough emphasis on listening exercises.

This is where CLO excels because the best and most useful feature of the podcasts, I believe, is the 正常语速的对话 (dialogue at normal speed). The average podcast goes like this: conversation at normal speed (basically, fast), conversation at slowed down speed, conversation explained at slowed down speed. In the average podcast, I tend to grasp all the general meaning and 80-90% of the exact meaning during the 正常语速 section, and by the end of the 慢语速 (slow speed) section, I’ve usually grasped 100% of the exact meaning. Occasionally, I stop listening to the podcast at this point because the explanations are unnecessary. However, this proficiency is something that I have developed since June with CLO’s help. One of the key aspects of the dialogues in the podcasts is that each of them introduces only about three or four new words every lesson and this actually makes it possible for students to understand most of the content. Another is that all the explanation is done, as much as possible, using Chinese, and this has gradually increased as the course has progressed. For one, this makes the student feel better (or, cooler) and just immerses the student in a complete Chinese environment for a few minutes.

Jan K., Statistical Consultant, United States

This course is a fabulous way to learn a language. Adam is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher who has used his computer programming skills to present an entertaining and reasonably priced course. He has truly leveraged the internet to present a variety of teaching aids, such as being able to choose translations, Chinese characters, or pinyin - with a mouse over effect of getting 2 of the 3 possibilities. So if you choose Chinese characters, placing the mouse over the characters will provide pinyin as a highlighted callout below the Chinese characters. This allows one to practice reading Chinese characters with a quick pinyin translation if you get stuck. Adam has thought of things that are important and made
adjustments to suggestions. One feature that I like is that one can easily increase the size of the Chinese characters. I also find useful the premium podcast reviews. I have tried other methods but this method is by far the best. I have even put the website on my cell phone!

Jeff W., Businessman, United States

Dear Fellow Mandarin Chinese Students, I am a US businessman studying Mandarin Chinese.
I highly recommend Chinese Learn Online. I tried several online Mandarin Chinese courses. I found Chinese Learn Online to be by far the best. This podcast will help you learn Chinese quickly and efficiently.

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