ChinesePod Review: A Great Way to Learn Chinese

Do you want to learn Chinese? I found a site with a big community-based in Shanghai. The Website called ChinesePod. The site is very active.
If you are looking at the name ChinesePod, you can see two names
first Chinese and second pod.

How can I learn Chinese on ChinesePod?

chinese stands for the language and pod stands for?
The answer is “Podcast.”
You learn Chinese with podcasts.
You have the choice of 5 different levels of podcasts.
Newbie, Elementary, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced
How long does a lesson take?
Every lesson is 10- 20 Minutes long.

With that being said, Chinesepod does over a free 7-day trial of their services, so I decided to sign up to see what else they have to offer.

Chinesepod Site
When you first log in to your Chinesepod account, you will first enter the ‘Me’ section which shows you a list of all the lessons you’ve bookmarked. Chinesepod has more than 1000 lessons available (and growing daily), so this provides you with a way of organizing the current lessons you’re working on. The site will also keep track of the vocabulary that you are interested in reviewing and you can easily add words to your lists from other sections of the site. With your vocabulary lists, you can use them with the built-in Flashcards or the Concentration game. I found the Flashcards to be a little on the simple side and sort of clunky. Concentration is sort of fun, but I’m not sure how useful it is for me.

Chinesepod Lessons
The lessons are where you will probably spend most of your time. The main hosts are Jenny Zhu, Ken Carroll, and John Padsen. I think most will agree that Jenny Zhu is the face of Chinesepod and she is the co-host for all the different levels. Ken hosts with Jenny on the lower level lessons and John hosts with her on the advanced ones. Like I’ve mentioned above, I’ve only been doing the Elementary level, but the lessons I’ve listened to usually consist of a short dialog, a dialog review, and then a more in-depth explanation. Teaching are quite practical and vary from topics like “Hold the Elevator” to “Bad Cell Reception.” Besides the different lesson levels I was familiar with, Chinesepod also offers other “channels” including video lessons like ‘Vocab Tour’ and ‘What’s The Story’ to ‘Qing Wen’ which is an audio lesson based on ChinesePod member questions. One thing I really like about Chinesepod is the active community. Chinesepod members are able to add their comments to each lesson, and the discussions are all quite interesting. You’ll even see Jenny and the other hosts participating in the discussions.

Included with the lessons is a lot of other supplementary material. In the dialog section, you will see a transcript of the dialog for the lesson. Chinese characters and their English translation are shown, and if you place your mouse over each of the characters, you can see the pinyin as well. You can also play back the audio of each line in the dialog.

The Vocabulary section contains the essential Chinese characters from the lesson. Also included are additional words that are related to the teaching, but were not involved in the dialog. You also get the ability to hear the audio of each word.

The Expansion section includes some extra dialogs for you to practice with and once you have finished with them, you can go on to the exercises where you can practice what you have learned. There are three types of exercises, matching, multiple choice, and listen to & type. My only quibble with the various choice exercise is that the font is a little hard to read on my computer and there doesn’t seem to be a way to adjust it since it is Flash-based.
ChinesePod Resources
There’s a lot of useful Chinese learning study aids in the resources section. John Pasden has written up a grammar guide, and while I have not had a chance to read through it all, it looks pretty good. I really like the Chinesepod glossary. It allows you to search by English or Chinese characters and gives you some sample sentences for each word. Audio is provided and what I like the most is that it links you to the ChinesePod lesson that the conviction was used in. Very neat! The pronunciation guide also looks quite comprehensive and seems like it would be handy to beginners.

ChinesePod Pricing
Chinesepod offers several different subscription plans. If you are at the beginning level of your Chinese learning, you can get access to the Newbie level lessons only for free. The basic idea starts at $5 a month and gives you access to all the audio and video lessons plus access to the PDF lesson transcripts. A premium subscription is $17 a month and primarily provides access to all the Chinesepod content except for some personalized coaching. There are some higher tiered subscriptions as well if you are really serious with your learning.

Is It Worth it?
Although I was quite familiar with the lessons as a long time ChinesePod listener, I am quite impressed with the added extras, and I think they will enhance my learning of the material quite a bit. There’s really a ton of Chinese content on the site, and it will take you thousands of hours just to go through the old stuff. That’s not even taking into account the new lessons and content that come out daily. Although ChinesePod will probably not be your one-stop shop for all your Chinese studies, I think it can be a great supplement to it. I suggest you check out their 7 days free trial of their services to see if it will work for you. You don’t have to enter a credit card or anything, so it really is risk-free to try. Give ChinesePod a shot, and see if you like it.

Popup Chinese Review – The Fun Way To Learn Chinese

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. Also, 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 a while 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. Also, there are sets of lessons explicitly designed 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 usually about 7-8 minutes in length. Like Chinesepod, they start out in the beginning with a brief dialog acted out by native Chinese speakers. For the 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 accessible 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 other quibble with the site 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 excellent for the casual Chinese learner, but serious learners may want to look into the paid content to really solidify 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 ask. 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 interpreted as well, and you can add the words you want to practice more with into the Flashcards application. You also can 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 high, and I really like where the site is headed. The recently announced interactive Learn Chinese Video Lessons look to be an excellent new addition to the site. I really encourage everyone to check the website out, and then come back and tell me what you think.