In a nutshell what am I saying:

I think it is important to work on these skills:

  1. Listening
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Speaking
  5. Understanding

You may want to think about getting material for each one of these aspects of learning Chinese and learning language as a whole. I’d recommend readers for reading and Memnonic books to learn the Hanzi and a course with a lot of audioto train your ears and understanding of the language.


For reading: John DeFrancis’ Chinese Reader textbook

For writing: Tuttle’s Learning Chinese characters  by Alison and Laurence Matthews.


I tried both Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur for learning Japanese in 2003. 2003 was what I’d consider to be my Internet days. Emule, a P2P programme, was on 24/7 downloading everything and anything and that is when I came across Pimsleur. I tried Pimsleur for a couple of weeks and I almost died of boredom. I know it works for some and does not for others but I downloaded it and remembered falling asleep. The idea is great but you better have solid concentration and I did not or have solid reasons for learning and you will succeed with Pimmy.

I then considered Rosetta Stone. I was ready to fork out 500 dollars (I had drastically reduced my food budget to save money to buy this programme), it promised so many things, I believed and the reviews were positive. Just before I did,  I found a pirate version of Rosy and really and truly I was not impressed. The FSI course (you can either buy it or download it) and the Teach Yourself series did a much better job.  Again this is my subjective opinion and I am more of a visual than an auditory learner.

How did this little story end?  I lost 4 kilos and I spent more time searching for the course that would guarantee my success in language learning and I never did find it until I went to a library and I bought my first book in 2006.

Just like Prince Charming does not exist nor does the ‘all in one course’ exist. One course for 300 dollars will only mean you will fork out another $$$ for another course. Just like you do shop around to find the ideal mate and to discover yourself (may the Lord smite those who deny!), I would suggest you do the same with your language learning material. You will discover your polygamous tendencies 😀

Confucius my love, que piensas?

‘Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous’.