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Our approach

We believe that the best approach for beginning learners is to use a product that requires only discipline. No method will work if the learner has no discipline. On the other hand, a method that requires too much knowledge or skill may bring no benefit to its user.

We believe that beginning learners should concentrate their beginning studies on fluency if they ever wish to become advanced learners . Once fluency is established, phrases will come naturally, and vocabulary will be easy to learn through context and questions. On the other hand, vocabulary and phrases without fluency leaves one unable to communicate.

Fluency gives you the power to learn vocabulary and phrases.

Our competitors


Pimsleur’s language products require 30 minutes a day, assume no background knowledge, and require very little skill. The learner is directed through each lesson by easy to follow instructions, and when the lesson is over, the learner will usually find that he has accidentally memorized most of the lesson’s concepts. This feature makes Pimsleur our best competition for those who are not endowed with superhuman language learning skills. Pimsleur mixes phrases, vocabulary and fluency in their goals. Their overall pace is roughly the same as ours, so by the end of their courses you will have substantially more phrases and special purpose vocabulary, but may find yourself substantially less fluent.

Instant Immersion

Instant Immersion’s program is a good example of a program that requires superhuman skill. Their program does not contain any explanation as to how it should be used. The courses speak slowly, but advance at a break-neck speed. It is clear that the student must do something extra to retain all the information being fed to them, but it is not clear what that something would be. On the upside, since the program advances so quickly, by its end it is teaching some of the most advanced material at its price point. Our recommendation, however, is to use it as a review and vocabulary builder after you already have some fluency. Since our product concentrates heavily on fluency, using Instant Immersion after finishing our courses is a good way to round out your vocabulary and see just how effective your Chinese has become.

Barron’s Mastering Chinese

Barron’s program consists of a textbook and exercises on audio CD or tape. The student may advance through the courses as quickly or slowly as he likes. The explanations of grammar tend to be quite detailed and informative, but may at times be hard to understand. It is up to the student to memorize the vocabulary. The exercises primarily reinforce the grammar. Their goals tend to be heavily focused on grammar, which is closely related to fluency. They also teach extensive vocabulary and phrases. If you are good at memorizing large lists of vocabulary, and at turning grammar explanations into fluency, Barron’s programs will get you much farther than other programs in the same price range.

Other Products

There are many other products on the shelves. Typically, cheap products are similar to Instant Immersion, or are simple phrase books. Expensive products (especially those that contain books) are typically similar to Barron’s.

Other brands that appear frequently in book-stores include:

In Flight
Living Language Ultimate
Teach Yourself

We would like to hear your experience with any of these or other competing products.


About our evaluations

We'd like to be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all of our competitor's products. Unfortunately, the only way to know if a product is effective is to try it. But if we've already learned the language, the product will be easy. So for each product we want to evaluate, we have to choose a new language. Since some languages are simpler than others, it's hard to know whether Joe's Arabic Lessons teach at a slower rate than Jane's Hindi Lessons, or Arabic is simply trickier than Hindi and requires more time to learn.

Brand names written on this page are copyrights of their respective owners. We have tried to link each brand name to its official site, however we were unable to find an official site for a few brands. Some product lines may vary their teaching method or quality between language offerings. Our evaluations are based on Chinese and or Japanese offerings. These evaluations may not be accurate for other language offerings. We recommend that you read the reviews at amazon.com for the product and language that interests you.