What’s the best way to learn Chinese? Over the past year, our editors have tested and compared the most popular Chinese language learning resources available. Here’s our honest review of the offerings from Yoyo Chinese.
First Off: Why learn Chinese?
Chinese is often considered one of the most difficult languages on the planet to learn, but it’s certainly not an impossible feat. While Chinese characters (or Hanzi) are indeed difficult to learn, many people have done it with the right study plan.
And on the grammar front, Chinese is a lot simpler than other languages. Chinese grammar is structured in many of the same ways that English is structured with sentences consisting of the subject, verb, and object. For example,
“I wash my hands.” in Chinese is Wo (I) xi (wash) shou (hands).
There are other ways in which Chinese can be easier to learn than other languages: Chinese language does not classify nouns by gender, singular or plural, and verbs do not have a present or past tenses.
Approximately 15% of the world’s population speaks Chinese, which is more than all the combined speakers of French, Spanish, and Arabic. Nearly 1 in 6 people in the world speak this fascinating language. Needless to say, learning Chinese can open up many doors.
So now that you’ve decided to put in the time and effort to learn Chinese: Is Yoyo Chinese the best way?
YoYo Chinese offers the first twenty lessons completely free of charge, and it’s clear the creators have spent a lot of time designing a thoughtful, efficient language learning program.
YoYo teaches Chinese through a combination of video & audio lessons, written supplements, a completely customizable flashcard database, and progress quizzes.
The structure for the program is divided into five main courses with a supplementary Chinese Character Reader. Each course consists of dozens of individual lessons that are logically divided into different levels that are designed to teach Chinese from the ground up.
The structure of the program follows a sort of level of priority in teaching Chinese reading, writing & speaking skills in a manner that will have you practicing them in the real world as you would speak your native language.
Yoyo evenly splits the narrative of their curriculum in a way that focuses on learning Chinese grammar in the context of speaking the language, and also in learning many of the thousands of Chinese characters that compose the Chinese writing system. While many language learning programs seem to ignore the learning process of Chinese characters entirely; Yoyo Chinese address the subject head on.
Here’s What We Liked Most About Yoyo Chinese
The Yoyo Chinese curriculum is easy to understand, and the lessons are designed in a manner that will aid in the instruction of the language naturally and efficiently. Yoyo Chinese had us learning how to structure sentences, and begin to learn a usable vocabulary in a matter of hours. We believe this is the result of the uniform appearance of all of the lessons, the simple manner of explanation that Yangyang uses when teaching, and the quality of the supplementary materials that are available with each lesson.
Uniformity in the Curriculum
One of the things we loved most about Yoyo Chinese was the fact that the program gives off the appearance that the founder, YangYang Cheng is our personal Chinese instructor. Each and every lesson contained within all six modules of the program consists of a video with YangYang leading the lesson and providing clear and concise instruction on the material for the lesson you are currently learning.
This sort of personal dedication to the quality of the content by the founder of the company is something that is almost devoid amongst competing Chinese language learning programs and was something we thought makes Yoyo Chinese stand out from amongst the competition.
Heavy Emphasis placed on Practical Application
From the first lesson, you will be learning practical Chinese that you could practice with any native speaker. The first lessons focus on helping users understand the fundamental structure of the language, the number system tones, and basic introductions. Each lesson provides an incredible level of detail in the instruction that has a uniform flow to it. This is thanks in great part to the small team of Chinese language experts employed by the company who have grown their curriculum from the ground up.
Yoyo Chinese Is Excellent, But Not Perfect
While the quality of content contained within Yoyo Chinese is of the highest quality, there is a limited amount to the content. Each module contains between 100-200 lessons and those lessons tend to be on the short size in terms of the subject matter.
Learning Chinese is no casual affair and while we believe Yoyo Chinese is great for beginner and intermediate learners of the language, the program does not contain materials that will help someone become completely fluent in the language.
Simplified Chinese Only
Yoyo Chinese only teaches Simplified Chinese characters and completely ignores the traditional characters that are widely used in cities like Hong Kong and countries such as Taiwan. So if you are looking to base your travels or the majority of your Chinese speaking in either of those places, then Yoyo Chinese might not be the language learning program for you.
No Mobile Application
Yoyo Chinese is a great program on a desktop computer, and even works well on a mobile browser. but in the age of the mobile application, we see that as a significant downside, especially given the fact that the majority of Yoyo Chinese’s competitors offer great mobile apps that can be easily used on the go.
What are the lessons like?
The lessons are all structured in a uniform manner. Each lesson begins with a video introduction that is typically between 4-8 minutes by YangYang. YangYang introduces the curriculum for that specific lesson and then the user is prompted to complete an audio or visual quiz to gauge their understanding of the material taught in the associated video. Each lesson also comes with a downloadable .pdf that the user can use to study the contents of that specific lesson at a pace and in a manner that best suits them. All lessons also include a flashcard portion which can be later accessed in the flashcard database.
Yoyo Chinese Alternatives
Chinese is not something you can learn casually, and it’s not something you can pick up just by just watching Chinese TV. It requires dedication, commitment, and a lot of memorization.
Thankfully, there are many different options out there on the internet that will make your ambitions to becoming a fluent Chinese speaker a potential reality. When compared to competitors such as Rocket Chinese and FluentU: Chinese; we believe Yoyo Chinese is a great product that represents the industry leading instruction that we have come to expect with complex language learning programs.
ChineseClass101 Is Our Favorite Alternative
The one program we’ve tried that really competes is ChineseClass101. That said, which one you chose will really depend on your learning style preferences, and which personality you want teaching you Chinese. We’d recommend reading our review of ChineseClass101 and signing up for both free trials to see which one you like more.
Yoyo Chinese Pricing
While many of their competitors offer monthly payment plans, Yoyo Chinese is a one time fee. When you purchase Yoyo Chinese courses, you are purchasing them for life. There are benefits and downsides to this, and if you are not sure about your dedication to Chinese, then we might recommend one of the more affordable options, or a program based on a monthly time commitment.
We loved reviewing this product and are more than confident that Yoyo Chinese will help make you a better Chinese speaker from day one. YangYang’s expertise being a Chinese language instructor for the past 15 years is well-reflected in this product. We believe that the combination of lessons focusing on both Chinese grammar and Simplified Chinese characters will make you a very capable and adept Chinese speaker in a short period of time!
If you’re still not sure, check out the Yoyo Chinese Youtube channel to see what the lessons are like.