Rocket Chinese offers a comprehensive package to learn Chinese language on the student’s own pace. The product’s major claim is that it is easy to use and could get a student start speaking the language in a short time. To validate these claims, a pilot study has been rolled out with 40 volunteers who were eager to learn a new language.
The volunteers were a group of students, business people, educators, travelers, and web developers. All have been provided with the complete Rocket Chinese Premium package, and were encouraged to sign up on forums that are helping students of the language learn better.
As various factors can affect the success of learning the language, everybody was encouraged to follow the guidelines so uniform measurement can at least be drawn from the test subjects:
- Listen to audio lessons for at least 15 minutes a day;
- Learn as many as five words a day;
- Practice speaking the language for at least 15 minutes a day;
- Join the online Mandarin community once a week to get feedback from native Chinese speakers.
Participants need to abide by these guidelines so results can be evaluated once a month for the next three months.
After four weeks, participants were able to speak basic Chinese that is useful for day to day use: greeting, meeting, ordering food and drink, and making travel plans. A native Chinese speaker had been consulted to evaluate the collective progress in learning Chinese, and he concluded that almost everybody can carry basic conversations with native speakers with very few errors.
Routines for the next four weeks were also set as follows:
- Listen to the audio lessons for at least 30 minutes a day;
- Learn as many as 10 words a day;
- Practice speaking the language for at least 30 minutes a day;
- Join the online Mandarin community twice a week to get feedback from native Chinese speakers.
After the end of the second month, participants were again evaluated with their progress with the language. At this point, all participants were able to carry basic conversations that are well-understood by the native speaker, and the majority (70%) are beginning to learn the language that one might find useful if he or she or getting around in Chinese-speaking regions. Conversations are still on the low-end of intermediate level, but participants are beginning to understand the nuances of learning Chinese.
Routines for the next month were laid out as follows:
- Listen to the audio lessons for at least 60 minutes a day;
- Learn as many as 15 words a day;
- Practice speaking the language for at least 60 minutes a day;
- Join the online Mandarin community as often as participants can to get feedback from native Mandarin speakers;
- Watch Chinese films without English sub-titles.
At the end of the third month, all participants were individually evaluated to round up their general score. They were given oral examinations to find out their level of proficiency. Of the 40 participants, 38 can speak basic Chinese with very few errors, 19 can speak the language comfortably in Chinese-speaking regions and be well-understood, and six can speak Chinese on an intermediate level that they can confidently interact with native speakers on matters and discussions beyond everyday life (like politics, trade, E-commerce, fashion, entertainment).
In conclusion, the program was seen as an effective starting point to learn Chinese. The level of proficiency is always dependent on the student’s amount of time and effort invested to learn the language. The learning program is most effective when students integrate understanding of Chinese culture and history in their journey to learn the language.
Rocket Chinese Review
Nick Carreno, Florida(Posted October 2010)
I am a video game designer, and we in the tech space can see that China is fast becoming a dominant player in the online game industry worldwide. Badly wanting to take advantage of this vast market, I signed up with a Chinese course before, and boy do they come very expensive! But you know I figured they are worth the investment, so I started learning Mandarin. But the program was not quite convenient for me because it was hard to reach their support group once you need them.
Chinese is a tonal language, and it is hard for Western speakers not to have a constant tutor to correct you as you go along. A web developer friend came to me one day telling me he had fun learning Chinese with this upstart learning program called Rocket Chinese. So I signed up with the course (which by the way was only a fraction of what the other programs cost), and in one week I was able to brush up on my speaking skills using what I had learned before! The great thing is that you get to have interactive audio tutorials that let you test your spoken Chinese so your pronunciations and inflections can be corrected on the spot. I usually go through with my day’s work when I am stuck in traffic, and now, I include learning Mandarin when I find myself in a traffic jam. Before I knew it, I could understand dialogues in Chinese films without having to depend on English sub-titles. What’s even better, I am beginning to understand the Chinese subtitles too! I can’t wait to get on board big projects that are aimed for the Chinese market, and impress clients with my handiness with the language. In fact, I am starting to look for Chinese clients I can directly work with, so I can polish my Chinese better.