Over the past few weeks I have been really getting into Popup Chinese, a really cool site with tons of great content for learning chinese. Popup Chinese produces chinese learning podcasts for learners of all levels which anyone can subscribe to for free. In addition, an upgraded Popup Chinese account will give you access to a ton of extra content like transcripts, characters sheets, additional exercises and a lot more. If you are serious about improving your chinese skills, read the rest of this Popup Chinese Review to see why you should be learning chinese from this site.
I had been a longtime Chinesepod fan and I loved being able to subscribe to their chinese lessons on iTunes and listen to them on my iPhone in my free time. Unfortunately, Chinesepod changed their policies awhile back, and now you can only access their newbie level lessons without paying. Luckily for us, Popup Chinese fills the gap, and all their daily chinese lesson podcasts are available for free. They have Absolute Beginners, Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced chinese lessons as well as podcasts dedicated to writing and speaking. In addition, there are sets of lessons designed specifically for people studying for the HSK test.
I’ve mainly been listening to the Elementary level lessons and I’ve been really enjoying them. The lessons are are usually about 7-8 minutes in length. Like Chinesepod, they start out in the beginning with a really short dialog acted out by native chinese speakers. For rest of the lesson, the hosts Brandon and Echo go over the dialog and introduce grammar points and cultural usage tips. The Popup Chinese lessons are definitely a step up in difficulty from the comparable Chinesepod lesson. Translations are only gone over once, instead of multiple times and it can be a definite challenge to keep up with the pace. I don’t mind this actually, because I think it’ss forcing my listening comprehension to improve that much faster. Once you’re done with the day’s lesson, you’ll want to visit the Popup Chinese site itself and check out the comments for the lesson. I am quite impressed with how active the Popup Chinese community is, and there is always lots of discussion on each lesson. It’s also nice that the staff, like Echo and others are always there to answer any questions and provide further insights into the dialogs.
Everything on the Popup Chinese site itself is very well designed and there are a lot of innovative features not found anywhere else. The dictionary, chinese annotation tool, and writing pad are a few of the tools that are freely accessable on the site. If you are trying to learn how to write chinese, I was really impressed by how well the Writing Pad works to help teach you to write chinese characters using the proper stroke order. I only wish you could select a set of characters to practice with, which would really make it a killer app for learning how to write chinese. The only other quibble with the site was that there doesn’t seem to be a way to search for a specific lesson. However, this looks like it will be fixed shortly.
The free content of Popup Chinese is great for the casual chinese learner, but serious learners may want to look into the paid content to really solidify the what they have learned. Popup Chinese offers a few different subscription plans. A basic plus subscription is only $49.99 a year which gives you access to all the downloadable content including the podcasts, transcripts, character sheets, and hsk. The premium subscription gives you access to everything on the site. This includes on-site annotated transcripts with audio playback. All the vocabulary of the lesson is annotated as well, and you can add the words you want to practice more with into the Flashcards application. You also have the ability to export your vocab into PlecoDict and Wenlin if you are using these programs. All this is backed by a 30 day refund policy so you can always get your money back if you are not happy with the results.
I really haven’t explored all that Popup Chinese has had to offer yet, but I am really enjoying what I have seen so far. The daily chinese lessons are a fun way to learn chinese, and it’s super convenient to be able to listen whenever I want. The community seems great, and I really like where the site is headed. The recently announced interactive Learn Chinese Video Lessons look to be an awesome new addition to the site. I really encourage everyone to check the site out, and then come back and tell me what you think.