Chinese Learn Online - Progressive Mandarin Course


Created for English speakers by English speakers. Get Me Started
Hello, I am Adam

I'm Canadian and like you, I wanted to learn Chinese. Many years ago, when I first came to Taiwan, I assumed that just by being here I would absorb the language. After all, I'd seen many immigrants to North America pick up English after a few months, just by being there.
But a year later, I found myself only knowing a few key words. And even when I knew what I wanted to say, nobody understood me! It looked like if I was going to learn Mandarin, I would have to put in some real effort!
  • Some concepts didn't make sense
  • I kept forgetting key vocabulary
  • I kept hitting walls where I wasn't making enough progress
  • Even when I knew what I wanted to say, nobody understood what I was saying
Even though I was really busy, I tried enrolling in local classes. But there, I found myself spending hours and hours practicing how to write characters that I knew I would never need to write. I would rather have used this time to improve my listening, speaking or reading.
I also found that while it made sense that I was being taught by native Chinese speakers, how they learned the language natively was different from how I was learning it, coming from an English background.

Surely there had to be a better way!

I Wanted To

  • Learn on the go. During my commutes, while at the gym, while standing in line.
  • Be explained concepts that made sense coming from English
  • Be constantly pushed to reuse what I had learned before
  • Focus on listening, speaking and reading. I found that being able to read meant I could type and text, which I found far more useful.

So finally I decided to put my Computer Science background to use and create an online course to learn Mandarin Chinese for native English speakers. This was the course I wish I had when I first began learning.

It would:

Be audio based- As Chinese is a tonal language, it's important to get your English brain used to the sounds of Chinese. This is why books (on their own) don't work. You have to get your brain to hear the same sounds over and over until they make sense to you.

  • Have transcripts of everything ever said- In many podcasts I heard vocabulary that didn't make sense to me until I saw it written down. I found I remembered things better if I heard it and saw it.

  • Be progressive- This was the key that was missing from so many of the other programs I found out there. Some of their lessons are all in English with not much Chinese actually being taught. Whereas others are all in Chinese that I haven't learned yet that I find too difficult. Ideally I'd like lessons to increase in difficulty as I learned more and incorporate more of the Chinese I'd already learned within the lesson. This way I would be forced to review what I'd learned earlier in context.

  • Have proper review tools- to help me remember key vocabulary and concepts. Chinese Learn Online (CLO) is what I've created. I designed the course material with the help of teachers at a local university here in Taiwan. Over the years, the lessons have been downloaded millions of times by learners from nearly every country on this earth. Many have provided feedback that has gone back into improving the course material and review tools.

CLO is an online course that you can complete in your spare time, from your computer, tablet or phone.

Sign up for the course and work your way through the lessons. For each lesson, do the following:

Works on Most Devices

Use PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android phones and tablets

Learn to Listen and Read

Focus just on listening or learn to read along with Chinese characters

Ensure Progress

Make sure you understand the material before continuing

Avoid the mistakes many other learners make

There are two main challenges that new learners have, when it comes to learning Mandarin Chinese

1). Tones: Unlike English, Chinese is a tonal language. This means if you say the right word but with the wrong tone, you can be easily misunderstood.

CLO gets your brain used to these tones by providing you with a LOT of material to listen to. As you get used to it, later lessons speed up the Chinese you're hearing as your brain adapts to it. You'll find Chinese being used throughout the lesson. But this is all Chinese that was taught to you before, so it will be mainly review. Imagine being able to have complete, in depth conversations with Chinese people - using their native language - and being able to understand everything they say, and more importantly have them understand you back! We slowly replace the English used in lessons with Chinese that was taught before. This gets your brain used to hearing Chinese. Later lessons are conducted mainly in Chinese, that was taught earlier. If it ever gets too difficult, review earlier levels to get back on track.

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2). Characters: Do Chinese characters scare you? After all, there are thousands of characters out there - however will you learn them all?

CLO solves this problem in two ways. If you find it overwhelming, then just focus on listening and understanding. All the transcripts and exercises can be done in pinyin (writing out the Chinese using the English alphabet). You can always go back and redo the course using characters when you're ready for it. Ready to get into characters now? Then choose between simplified or traditional characters (the course fully supports both). As the course goes from easy to more difficult, so will the number of characters. Flashcards and other exercises are provided with each lesson to test your understanding of the characters learned so far.

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Other Testimonials:

Great teaching methods and great teachers, well worth the price

"I recently started using this site in addition to a few other programs to try and learn Chinese without taking any classes. I am a native Russian speaker, and have previously learned to be fluent in English and decent in Spanish, but knew nothing of Chinese and was not sure I could manage to learn it without a traditional class. Fortunately, I think these audio lessons and online materials are exactly what I need to enable me to do it."

Andrey Kurenkov
College Student, Atlanta, United States

Very useful site

"I have found CLO to be very useful for me to learn Chinese. I started by going to some basic classes but since then I have been self taught. I have several beginners reading books and I had made progress learning characters but because I don't have access to other Chinese speakers for practice, it is hard to have a conversation. Finding CLO has made an enormous difference to my learning. I like being able to work at my own pace, it is great to be able to hear the spoken lessons and I really like the typing tests and exercises. Being able to get feedback on my answers is also a great plus point. The lessons progress at a good pace, fast enough to hold interest but not too fast that I have to keep repeating them. I am just starting level 2 and try to do at least one lesson each day. Overall I think CLO is very good value for money."

Lyn Randall
Artist, Wamboin, Australia

Great Language Learning Method

"I am 67 and have been studying Mandarin for a little over 2 years. Before this I was a mono-lingual American, who was never interested in leaning to speak another language. I take Mandarin classes in the US and China, but I find CLO provides the most effective method for helping me hear and understand, speak and read the language. I am currently HSK Level 2 certified, and am told I could easily pass Level 3. I believe the 'Progressive Teaching Method' used in CLO has been most effective in helping me advance in learning Mandarin. I would also add that Adam provides great support with language questions as well as on line and mp3 issues. I highly recommend CLO for anyone interested in an effective and fun method for learning Mandarin."

Ben Gilbert
Engineer, Raleigh/Shanghai, US/China

Excellent CLO course

""I have been doing this CLO Chinese Course for around six months and very happy with it . Currently I only concentrate on reading simplified version ( Vocabulary , Complete , Podcast ) . Even though I did not have time to do exercises , tests , writing etc... I am still able to make good progress that does impress my Chinese friends. Unlike other Chinese courses , This one is very well structured, easy to follow and understand . It is very suitable for me and I am sure it will be for all other new learners as well . In comparison this CLO is the best so far."

Artist, Wamboin, Australia


"I have tried different methods from other website, and I believe that the chinese learn online courses are well structured. Also it is important the comprehension is not too easy or too hard. you would think that learning chinese is not fun, but these guys actually make it quite enjoyable because if you study a bit everyday (or almost) you will see your progress."

Cyrille ERIEAU
Project manager, Hangzhou, France

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact Us if your question isn't answered below

There are over 200 hours of content on the site. Go at your own pace and comfort level. You may breeze through some lessons but may want to slow down for other lessons that introduce new concepts. There are review lessons at the end of each level to make sure you understand everything before the difficulty level increases further.

The main focus in this course is listening. However, there is also material and exercises to learn and practice reading, writing and typing. Pick and choose what skills you want to focus on and learn those. Practice what you learn in this course with Chinese speakers in your local area. Get ready for compliments!

The speakers we use are Taiwanese. We chose them for their clear accent, which makes it easy to learn the tones. While there are regional variations of Mandarin Chinese in different parts of the world (just like there is with English), what you learn here can be used to communicate with Mandarin speakers around the world.

Both! Pick the character set you want – traditional (Taiwan) or simplified (China). All the Chinese content will then be provided to you in your selected format.

Yes! Select pinyin as your character set and you don’t have to look at a single character throughout the course. If you later decide you do want to learn characters, you can always redo your lessons using your selected character set.

The first 180 lessons of the course is also available in mobile app version (iOS or Android), so you can learn on the go, as part of your purchase. Note that the website version of our course (also accessible by mobile devices) features more exercises and content than the mobile app version.

If at any time during your learning, you are unsatisfied with any aspect of the course, send us an email and we’ll send you a full refund.