OK – so you’ve just moved to Wuhan, or in the planning stages, and you’re thinking….”Maybe it would be handy to learn some Chinese”. And you’d be right! It is handy! But where to start? Here’s a list of some methods tried by WOW ladies:
Rosetta Stone. This is a very interactive visual & audio course – which throws you straight into learning Chinese. No English is used to explain things – as you learn intuitively through trial and error. You start by learning nouns, then pronouns…then short sentences…then longer sentences. And there is revision throughout. It’s a well structured course but it doesn’t come for free 🙂 Also you need to be pretty self-disciplined as it means sitting at your computer….instead of having a coffee with your friends! From the official Rosetta Stone site – the first set (No.1) costs US$179 + plus postage, with a box set (No.1,2,&3) for US$399. Alternatively you can sign up for 12 months of access for US$299. You can also pick up slightly cheaper sets from Amazon.com.
Pimsleur. This is an audio course. It’s perfect for those on the go as you can just pop it onto your portable sound machine (iPod, mp3 player or the like) and listen to it when walking, busing, or in a taxi – very practical. Unlike Rosetta Stone, the first lesson takes you straight into basic sentences. You start with a dialogue at each 30 minute lesson, and the rest of the lesson is based around dissecting the dialogue – new words, new sentence structures etc. The dialogues are pretty useful too. You can purchase Pimsleur courses from their official site http://www.pimsleur.com/ (where you can also try a free lesson) or from Amazon.com. From the website you can only purchase the MP3 versions – $119.95 (30 x 30min lessons), unless posting to the US where you can purchase the CD set for US$345.
ChinesePod. This is an interesting series of conversational bite-sized podcasts (around 12-14 mins each) which teaches you both Mandarin and about Chinese culture. Complimentary to any Chinese studies, especially for pronunciation and listening practice. The speakers are chatty and interesting and the topics relevant to everyday situations. Some podcasts are for beginners and others for intermediates. Their official webiste is http://chinesepod.com where you can sign up for their Basic study option = $124/12 months (downloadable pdf’s and thousands of lessons), Premium study option = $249/12 months (above+extras) or their Online Class option = $1068/3 months (5×20 mins per week). However, you could also just download their 30 free lessons from http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/chinesepod-free-question-culture/. …to get a gist 🙂
Rainbow Reading. This is an actual physical school. There are 3 locations in Wuhan; Wuchang, Zhuankou & Hankou. They sometimes have group classes, but usually people go there to learn 1:1. Set your own schedule and your own pace. These lessons follow textbooks (Elementary, Intermediate etc), which is all very oldschool -however their teachers can be pretty flexible if you want to learn specific vocab (eg: how to catch a taxi and then make it stop!). Courses are 38hrs, and the cost (as of Jan 2012) was 3040 rmb (that’s 80 rmb an hour). Check out their info at http://www.readingcafe.com.cn/
Jianghan University, Hanyang. Every semester Mandarin language classes are held at Jianghan University http://www.jhun.edu.cn which is located in Hanyang (near the Wanda Shopping Plaza). The cost for one semester is around 8000rmb. Books are extra, about 130rmb each. Each semester is 16 weeks and is comprised of 4 components: speaking, listening, reading, and comprehension. Each week is 14 school hours: 4 for speaking, 2 for listening, 2 for reading, 6 for comprehension. For more info contact: Li Laoshi – email@example.com. Or, if you’d like to contact one of the expats who has been on a course, please email Lexi at firstname.lastname@example.org.