Product Review: Yoyo Chinese – Chinese Taught in Plain English
I’ve spent a long time looking for Chinese video lessons. Let’s face it, learning Chinese is not like learning other languages. If your native language uses the latin alphabet, Chinese characters present a whole new way of looking at language (literally!). Beginners also have to grasp pinyin with its unusual spellings and tone marks. And let’s not forget training your ear to hear the nuances of a tonal language. Wouldn’t this all be so much easier if you could see and hear the teacher? How do you do that online?
Fortunately, I found Yoyo Chinese. It’s the next best thing to learning Chinese in a classroom. Yoyo Chinese is a video blog site with a ton of lessons, taught by the site’s founder and host Yangyang. Originally form Hunan China, Yangyang speaks fluent English and Chinese. She’s also a self-described “language nerd” with a passion for teaching. Her enthusiasm for teaching Chinese to foreigners is evident in every lesson. Each of the video lessons runs around five minutes and generally stays within the bounds of a single topic. The blog format compliments most students needs, with a comments section where questions are promptly answered by the instructor.
So far, there are close to two hundred lessons including audio, with new videos being posted almost daily. This overwhelming amount of content solves the problem of students arriving on the site with different levels of Chinese ability. Absolute beginners will want to start at the beginning with the introductory lessons that make sure you get started on the right foot. If you’ve already studied Chinese for a while you may may prefer to flip through the growing collection of lessons. This is where Yoyo Chinese differs from a traditional classroom environment. Rather than teaching everything in a building block format, you are free to jump around according to your needs. The lessons are organized by category, such as pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and other aspects of the language. The site’s thoughtful layout and effective search function will make sure you find the right material easily.
Like many high quality podcast/video lessons out there, Yoyo Chinese is a paid service. But there are sample videos you can watch for free including topics such as Chinese word order, an overview of pinyin and some learning tips. You’ll also want to look at some of the reference materials Yangyang has written, including common mistakes when learning Chinese.
You’ll need a computer capable of watching online videos. Other than that, all you need is a few minutes a day and the patience and wherewithal to trust Yangyang. If there is another video lesson site that equals Yoyo Chinese in terms of value and ease of use, I have yet to find it.
Yoyo Chinese can be found at www.yoyochinese.com