Learning Chinese: 3 Types of Chinese Language Learning Programs

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All online and software-based Chinese language program makers claim that their products are best. The fact is, however, that none of them are necessarily the best. Certain programs work better for certain people. And different programs are better suited for accomplishing different learning goals. To get the best program for you, you need to be able to recognize the different types of learning programs, of which there are three. This post will explain the three types of Chinese language programs and make recommendations in regards to choosing a program that is best for your own personal needs.

1. Audio-Based Chinese Language Programs

As the name implies, these courses are 100% audio-based. These programs do not offer vocabulary lists. They do not provide learning games, and they do not teach any kind of reading or writing skills. What do they do? They provide audio recordings. These audio recordings are designed to teach you Chinese grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure through total immersion in the higher chinese tuition language. They do this by using listen and repeat drills. Learners first listen to and repeat words. Then they gradually move up to listening and repeating phrases and complete sentences. In the end, users have simulated question and answer types of conversations with the software.

2. Activity-Based Chinese Language Programs

These programs employ a learning strategy that is quite different from the immersion strategy used with audio-based courses. Activity-based programs use what I call the busy-work strategy. They provided lots and lots of different types of learning games and activities. These include word puzzles, fill-in-the-blank activities, word-find games, word association games, grammar drills, and sentence completion activities. The idea is to get a good base of theoretical knowledge about the Chinese language before actually trying to use it verbally. If you like busy work, you’ll like activity-based Chinese language programs.

3. Consumer-Friendly Chinese Language Programs

Finally, there are what I like to call consumer-friendly language programs. These programs are a bit more balanced in their approach to teaching Chinese. The designers of these programs understand that many people are going to have a hard time learning in a total immersion environment. They also understand that most people don’t want to sit around and do Chinese grammar drills all day long. So, what they do is provide interactive dialogues, just like the 100% audio-based courses. But they also provide vocabulary games and grammar instruction at a basic level. The vocabulary lists and learning games, along with the grammar lessons, are specifically designed to help students complete the interactive dialogues–no more, no less. These programs focus on situational communication, for example, “buying a train ticket,” or “ordering food in a restaurant.”

How to Use This Information

When deciding which Chinese language program to purchase, try to ignore claims made by manufacturers; they all think their learning methods are the best. Instead, think about your past learning experiences. How have you learned well in the past? How do you think you’ll learn best now? Then, based on that information, decide which type of Chinese language program would be best for you? Once you make that decision, start looking for a program that fits your learning style and your learning goals.


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