Reviews for the Best Mandarin Chinese Learning Programs

Rocket Chinese Review

Introduction:

Rocket Mandarin Chinese - Learn from home

Whether you are planning to travel to China as a tourist, business partner, or are just interested in learning Mandarin Chinese as a second or third language, you may want to consider the “learn-at-home” option.

There are a number of downloadable courses over the internet, but we have selected “Rocket Chinese Premium” as the best option available so far.

Company profile: "Libros Media" (Official company name) and its brand Rocket Languages (commercial brand name) have been around since 2004. The company has a good track record of customer service and product development. It offers online chat and a US toll-free phone number for customer support.

Visit the Publisher´s website here

Summary for "Rocket Chinese" learning course:

Easy of use: 5 stars
Value/Cost: 5 stars
Materials included: 5 stars
Spoken skills: 5 stars
Written skills: 5 stars
Language proficiency level reached: 3 stars

After testing Rocket Chinese ourselves, we found that this software really helps you to learn Mandarin Chinese starting from zero (no prior knowledge required).

It focuses on everyday, useful conversations and vocabulary, instead of the typical boring and endless vocabulary language lessons (table, chair, chicken, pencil,...), for example: greetings, food, getting around the city, etc.

We found that it to offers a good value for the money. The package includes:

  • Audio lessons, compatible with iPod, iPhone and other MP3 players
  • Written lessons in English, Chinese and Pinyin (readable equivalences to help occidental-speaking people to pronounce)
  • Culture lessons, to better understand the language structure and its background
  • Vocabulary Software
  • Video explaining how to write Chinese characters
  • Quizzes (Auto-assessment)
  • Lifetime Personal Coaching via Private Forum (Chinese teachers answer your specific questions)
  • Bonus: 10 extra vocabulary sessions (it was a limited offer when we obtained the course, but it could be valid today, you may check it here)

It also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, backed by Trust Guard and ClickBank.

Pros:

  • Audio/Written/Multimedia materials, (other courses are audio-only)
  • Reasonable priced: $99.95 USD as of the writing of this review, lower than similar Chinese self-learning courses
  • Good value/cost ratio
  • Money-back guarantee (not available in other language courses)
  • Good personal support via forums and e-mail
  • Instant on line access as soon as the payment is completed

Cons:

  • Physical version with 20 CDs raises the price to $299.95 + S&H
  • One of the speakers is not native, although his pronunciation is very good. He"s like the “occidental host” who explains the details and guides you through the lessons. Other speakers are native.
  • Only covers basic-to-intermediate levels. For more advanced learning you would need to buy the “plus” Rocket Chinese lessons, or similar course from other companies.

The Package:

Rocket Chinese premium downloadable version consists of a set of files (Total size is over 750 MB). The physical version comes in a package of 20 CDs, but you may also download the files when purchasing the physical option.

main screenOnce you download the software, it"s easy to install in your PC, and it includes all the needed modules. When you first run the software, it has a clean interface with the following side-bar options:

Rocket Chinese (Home)
Your course
Your practice
Your community
Your account
Help & support
Logout

If you"re new to this course, you may Take a Tour Video, that would help you starting. It says “your” course, because It has the ability to track and save your advance. From the main screen you may choose to take the actual lessons in “Your course”:

Audio

MP3 audioThe audio lessons themselves sum up a total 15 hours of running time, and you are able to play them at your PC or copy them into your MP3 player, so that you may listen to them anywhere you want.

The audio quality is very good, it seems like it was recorded in a professional studio, as opposed to other “home-made” courses we have tested where they used low-quality microphones/pre-amps/ADCs.

It"s important that you study your Chinese lessons in a quiet place where you are able to repeat the words/phrases or answer the questions in loud voice. Somehow our brain is designed to learn better when we actually “do” things instead of just listen of watch, this is specially true when we learn a foreign language. You will “participate” in conversations using modern Mandarin Chinese topics and wording. So you may not want somebody listening to your practice.

The audio lessons are designed so that you “absorb” the language naturally, just like children do (they learn to speak first, then the grammar and the writting).

Burning your Physical CDs

CD AudioEven if you decide to purchase the downloadable version, it"s easy to burn your own CDs using a number of free software options on the net. Even Windows Media Player (included since Windows XP) is able to burn a CD from the MP3 files provided. Other free burning software option is CDburnerXP.

This way, you"ll be able to listen and practice your lessons with standard audio mini-components and/or car stereos (although it is not advisable to distract yourself with anything else than driving while on your car/van).

Final thoughts on the audio lessons:

I have impressed some friends with my new Chinese abilities. When I talked a bit with a friend of mine who is native Chinese speaker she laughed for half a minute, I though I was making mistakes or speaking with a terrible pronunciation, but she then explained “It´s so funny to see a non-Chinese person speaking with such a good accent!”. That was really encouraging to me!

Software

MegaVocab

MegaVocab

This application shows more than a thousand words, each with their related pictures and the written form of the word, in Chinese characters, Pinyin (the standard system of using the alphabet to represent the sounds of Mandarin Chinese), and their English equivalent.

One thing I found useful in the MegaVocab module is that it lets you add your own words and pictures into the database.

MegaVocab covers around 20 different every-day topics.

MegaAudio

MegaAudio

The aim of this software is to teach you more than 1000 spoken words. You may listen each word, while you see the related pictures and their English translation.

Interactive quizzes and self-tests

quizz

The quizzes and self-test are designed to let you know how much your Chinese has improved. The tests are presented in written form (using your PC), not in oral form.

When you finalize your tests, you may even get a “Rocket Languages Certificate”, which is equivalent to the A1 and A2 levels of the Common European Frame of Reference for Languages.

Support and Forums

We found that Rocket Chinese support team is friendly and useful. They are willing to answer your questions and guide you through your learning path.

One thing we liked was the access to forums, where both students and teachers interact in a friendly way. The following is an actual screenshot from one of the forums we have visited.

Forum with Chinese teachers

Conclusion

If you`re interested in self-learning Mandarin Chinese, or you need more flexibility than the one from a personal teacher or a language school, Rocket Chinese is a valuable product that really helps people to learn this language, given the amount of material provided, and the results attained compared to the price.

If you consider the 60-day guarantee, there is no risk from your side, anyway.

Click here to learn more from the publisher site. It sometimes offers special bonuses or discounts. It also offers a 6-day trial course for free.

We hope that you find this review useful for your future purchase decisions.

Sincerely

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Senior Editor
BestMandarinChinese.com

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