Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Trying Chinesepod's Premium Subscription

After a little more than a year using chinesepod's basic subscription level, I decided to upgrade to the next level (premium) to coincide with Chinesepod's own upgrade to Version 3.

I am in the fortunate position of not knowing what CP was like in version 2 for premium subscribers - many are feeling aggrieved with the hitches that an upgrade inevitably brings (I'm a software engineer - I'm immune to bugs :-) ).

I had vagues notions of what was available - things called expansions, and exercises, and goodness knows what else. I had held off for so long because I felt that I had enough with the podcasts and pdfs, alongside my local teacher here. But our classes are on a break right now, and I know that I'll be away for the Summer and won't have the chance to attend lessons, so I decided to take a closer look at CP and upgrade for a month.

Five days in, and I'm really pleased with the decision. I have a lot of things to manage in my life, between work, family, masters and planning a big trip, so one thing that CP Premium definitely does for me is to help me manage my learning. I can schedule what lessons I want to do. As I study them, I can save off the vocabulary that I'd like to acquire (and later play with flashcards and memory games based on my vocabulary). I can set up a feed that sends me the lesson podcasts (and the dialog only versions - very important point that) for what I should be studying that day (I've cleared down all the other podcasts I had saved and now I'm building up a collection organically from scratch).

The big revelation for me was the expansion section. All there is to it is a bunch of other sentences that use the salient structures and vocabulary from the podcast. But the effect is terrific. I have a dreadful memory, but the extra step of going through the expansion sentences makes things sink in much deeper. Not just in terms of memory, but also meaning. And the exercises are great. Having a goal during the process is something I have blogged about recently, and I find that completing the exercises correctly is nice little short-term goal to spur me through to the end.

I can't learn Chinese in my car. I realise now that I need some quiet study time. Chinesepod premium has become my desktop, my library, and my classroom. I'm looking forward to trying out the next level - Practice (where I get some telephonic time with a native speaker and tutor) - during the summer. Jeremy Uriz is already blogging about this.

PS: I know there are bugs, and some of them are very irritating. I have confidence in these guys to sort it all out quickly.


Jeremy Uriz said...

Yes, the premium stuff on CPod is terrific and you are correct, the additional sentences can be very helpful as long as you have access to a computer with speakers and (in my case) are not restricted by website filtering software at your job!


William Smith said...

I also learn Chinese language by a special and innovative service in Beijing Chinese School. I like to learn in live class with teachers from Beijing directly. I also like to practice Chinese with volunteers freely everyday. Watching Chinese learning TV on CLTV is also interesting and helpful to practice listening and learn more about Chinese culture.

Learn - Chinese said...

There are some free podcast mp3 Chinese lessons designed by Shanghai East Radio Station on Learn Mandarin. You can try.