Robert D., New York, USA

I’ve listened to most of the Mandarin language podcasts since they began emerging on the new media scene, and the good news is that they all have something to offer to the Mandarin language learning community. Being a part of this community, I appreciate the fact that choice among content providers is a good thing for all of us to have. When it comes to the Mandarin language, itself, like any language, it’s made up of the same words regardless of who is teaching it. Of course, which teaching methodology you prefer will depend upon your learning style. After more than a year of listening and searching, I’ve found the methodology that works best for my learning style at CLO (Chinese Learning Online). Here are some of the reasons why:

– Overcoming the Gap with Progressive Lessons. Each CLO lesson is a continuing buildup from the preceding lesson and a preparation for the next lesson. There are no sudden gaps between lessons or chasms between levels. If on the other hand, you expect to stay comfortably and indefinitely at the same level, then CLO won’t let you. Discrete and isolated lessons and levels are not to be found at CLO. There’s just one continuous progression upwards.

– Lesson Roadmap. Each lesson is summarized on a lesson outline, and this serves as a roadmap to show you exactly where you are in the progression of lessons. With this roadmap in hand, you don’t have the sense of aimlessly wandering around from one disjointed lesson to the next. You can start at the beginning if you’re completely new to Mandarin, or you can easily trace the lesson outline to find the starting point that’s most appropriate to your level.
– Full Transcripts. CLO provides full transcripts of all their lessons. As lessons progress to more advanced levels, and an increasing amount of Mandarin is spoken throughout the lesson (and not just in the prepared dialogues), the value of having a full transcript with translations at hand will prove to be tremendous. In addition to the full transcript, there’s a more summarized version of the transcript, which provides the lesson dialogue, vocabulary, and additional study material. What CLO gives away for free on their website is about what other sites provide on a premium subscription basis. What CLO offers on a premium subscription basis – such as the full, complete transcript – is something that you can’t even get on some other sites.
– Active Participation. While the podcasts on some other sites make you a passive listener, CLO offers you more opportunity to actively practice while you listen. Most of us learn better by actively practicing rather than by just passively listening.
– Premium Tools. The premium online tools are simple to use, are well integrated with the lessons, and offer additional opportunities to practice what you’ve learned in order to develop stronger communication skills and retention.
– Video Lesson Dialogues. CLO provides a video of the dialogues for many of the lessons. Though the videos are quite simple in their production, I find that seeing the Mandarin speakers and their natural body language, after having listened to the corresponding lesson, helps me to understand the language and the culture at a deeper, perhaps more intuitive level.
– Extra Features. There are also many other extras, such as lesson notes and hints & tips for each lesson. New online tools and additional features seem to appear all the time.
– Responsiveness. CLO is truly responsive to listener feedback in a way that I haven’t experienced at other sites.
– Reasonable Price. The price of CLO’s subscription is about half of what some other major sites charge, though the overall methodology is more effective. For me, this made subscribing to CLO a no-brainer.
I’ve summarized some of the key reasons why I not only listen to CLO’s podcasts but decided to support it with a premium subscription. I haven’t really tried to provide an all-inclusive list, so I’m sure that I’ve left out many other good reasons for doing so. But I hope that, if nothing else, I’ve been able to point out how the Mandarin language learning community has been enriched by having this new podcaster enter the world of the virtual, online classroom.
好好学习 (Hǎo Hǎo Xuéxí) !

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