My favorite online resource for learning Chinese

祝大家新春快乐!I’ve been studying Chinese for a considerable amount of time now and I want to share one of my favorite online-based learning resources. GoEast Language Center is a Shanghai-based Mandarin school. Beyond that they have a YouTube channel where they share some related videos. Part of that is their self-made programme “Beyond Class”. As the concept of these videos states, it teaches you the aspects of Chinese that won’t be taught in regular Chinese classes. Which is perfect, considering that I am taking regular Chinese classes 4 times a week at my university. BeyondClass mostly teaches you the modern youth slang or internet language words – which are seldom part of the language course book, but are often part of the conversation with (young) people from China. Some of these expressions even experienced development of becoming part of the day-to-day vocabulary. Just a few days ago I watched a movie with Chinese subtitles and saw八卦 (rumours, gossip) used a dozen times.

I particularly love how every video is 1 to 2 minutes long and doesn’t use any English to explain the material. Chinese is being spoken in a rather regular tempo during the showcase and a bit slower when explained. I found the script also improved over time, as they implement a good amount of humour. Some people online criticized the videos for inaccurate translation of terms into English. Which I think is an overstatement – first, teachers are native Chinese speakers and professional teachers of Chinese, not English, they are not supposed to find perfect translations; second – every word is pretty accurately explained in the final part of the video, when and in which context it can be used; third – there is a solid linguistic gap between these two languages, and it’s fairly hard to find accurate translations, especially when it comes to slang. Learners who passed the beginners’ level of Chinese have to start thinking and learning in Chinese, instead of their native tongue OR English. I also want to encourage everyone to find native Chinese speakers for language exchange and discuss these topics with them, talking to actual native speakers is the best source of knowledge. And in most cases they are also extremely happy to help you understand the language.

I’d conclude by saying that if your goal is not just reaching certain HSK level, but also become fluent in conversational Chinese and understand modern linguistic tendencies of Madarin – then these videos are the perfect fit. By now there are almost 160 episodes and I also made a spreadsheet with the episodes list.

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