ChineseClass101 Review

  • May 18, 2017

Review of: Chineseclass101

Use: Chinese lessons organized as podcasts. Chineseclass101 also contains several self-study tools to supplement their audio content.


Engaging podcasts help you learn words in context. But you'll have to practice speaking on your own


Free content and monthly plans at $4 to $47 per month

Time Commitment

Each podcast is around 15 minutes long.

Ease of Use

Digital immersion without the tedious work


Podcasts are sorted by level of difficulty and subject.

I Like

  • Over 1,200 podcast lessons
  • Free content and affordable price
  • Lessons are fun and interesting
  • Built in flashcard system

I Don't Like

  • No speaking required
  • Limited community features

Summary: Chineseclass101 is a solid learning tool for beginner and intermediate mandarin learners. The closer you are to fluency the less likely you are to find the site helpful. That being said, Chineseclass101 it good for learning vocabulary and new grammar ideas, especially if you’re looking to change this up in your learning. The site really shines though in the pronunciation and listening department. With native speakers and slow playback features it can be a valuable asset for developing your “Chinese ear”.

Monthly subscriptions run from $4 up to $47 per month, depending on the amount of features you want access to. The more expensive the subscription the more features are included. In most cases the less expensive price points give the most value.

All of the site content is also available on mobile, meaning you take your chinese practice with you wherever you go.  

Chineseclass101 offers a free account with limited access in addition to a 7 day trial with premium access. Neither requires a credit card so it’s easy to sign up and check out the site before you pay for anything.

Subscription plans starting at $4 per month (Free plan available too)

Is Chineseclass101 right for you?

If you’re just starting out in your Chinese learning, or if your Mandarin is at an intermediate level, then Chineseclass101 has a lot to offer you. If you’re closer to fluency then you may want to look elsewhere because the majority of the content is for new and mid level learners.

Each podcast is designed around a scripted conversation between two native speakers, so the site is a great tool if you want to get more experience listening and understanding spoken Mandarin. The lessons also do a good job of teaching grammar and vocabulary without being too dry or boring. More the most part the lessons are pretty interesting.

Chineseclass101 is also great if you want an easy and effective way to learn Chinese on mobile. They offer an app for Ipad, Iphone, and Android users at no extra cost.


Podcast episodes

Though the site offers other features it is first and foremost an audio based course. It’s organized into podcast episode which will run anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes long (more or less). The core of every podcast is the featured Chinese conversation, which usually has to deal with a particular topic. The topics range from Chinese cultural situations, grammar rules, to common Chinese phrases (like how to greet someone).  

Chineseclass101 provides well structured lessons around difficulty level and subject

Lifelike situations

The Chinese conversations in each episode typically follow a circumstance or scenario you could actually encounter in a Mandarin speaking community. The help keeps the material relevant to the real world so that you learn things you can actually use.

Lessons feel natural and interesting

Podcast episodes usually have two hosts who explain and expound on upon the featured Chinese conversation. They help keep the podcast interesting by sharing learning tips, cultural facts, and even personal comments. Ultimately they help keep the podcast feeling like personable podcast versus an audio companion to a mandarin textbook.

​Tools & Resources

There also a good amount of extra learning tools on Chineseclass101. There are some more common ones that you can easily find on other sites for free, like the dictionary, word lists, and grammar, and pinyin chart. There also ones particular to the site that learners could find useful like the flashcard system, slow playback, and lesson transcriptions (just note that these features are only available with the premium and premium plus subscriptions). 


Chineseclass101 includes a flashcard system much like Anki or Memrise in that it uses spaced repetition to determine which cards you study. The chief advantage of using their flash cards is that it’s very easy to add words and make cards. All you have to do is click on any Chinese word from a lesson and you can add it to the deck.

Slow playback

Chineseclass101’s slow playback feature is helpful if you’re working on your accent, trying to master tones, or listening native speakers. You can select any word from a lesson dialogue and play it back slowly or at normal speed.

Lesson transcripts

Having a full transcript of each lesson is useful for review. It’s also nice to follow the dialogue by reading the text. Transcripts are available in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, pinyin, and English. 


Subscription options

There are 3 types of subscription plans for Chineseclass101 and all of them are monthly: There are the basic, premium, and premium plus levels. Like so many other subscription services the more months you purchase at one time the cheaper the monthly rate is.

Basic will get you access to the podcast but little else. It’s lowest price per month is $4 for 24 months. Its highest monthly rate is $8 for a single month subscription. 

The premium plan has the podcast episodes and the full tools & resources (the most important probably being the lesson transcripts). The lowest monthly rate for premium is $10 for 24 months and the highest is $25 per month for one month.

The final option is the premium plus plan. This includes everything from the premium plan with the added benefit of personal counsel and help from a real teacher. The lowest monthly price point for this level is $22.88 a month for 24 months while the highest is $47 for one month. 

Which subscription is the best?

The basic level leaves you with the most value. Premium is okay too if you want the added content. However the premium plus is highly priced and the benefit of “teaching advice” is questionable. It wouldn’t be hard to purchase a basic subscription and take at least two one on one Chinese lesson with a tutor on Italki for the same or even cheaper price.

Chineseclass101's limitations

No Chinese speaking required​

Chineseclass101 serves well as an audio learning tool. However it can’t ever replace the need to practice speaking Chinese Mandarin with real people. If you decide to use the site that’s great. Just remember that if you want to be fluent you’ll need to do more than listen to podcasts. 

Best way to use Chineseclass101​

Study & review

Chineseclass101 doesn’t work as a course or main method of learning, but it is an excellent choice to help you study and add some extra kick to your Chinese learning. Justing listening to one lesson a day and a few minutes of flashcard review can work wonders. Think of the site as a bonus to whatever course or method you use to learn Mandarin. 

Listening & pronunciation​

Mandarin can be a rough language for anyone trying to navigate its pronunciation, especially when you consider its tonal aspects. The lesson transcripts and slow playback can help you make sense of the Mandarin sound system. It’s a great way to analyze what’s side and mimic native speech. 

Using your time wisely

Chineseclass101 lets you practice your mandarin pretty much anywhere, assuming you have your phone. You can get the most out of your day by practicing your chinese whenever you find a spare 5 or 10 minutes. ​


Chineseclass101 is a great tool for reviewing and studying Mandarin Chinese. It doesn’t have enough structure to it to be a considered a true course or class, but most Chinese learners will find a lot of the value in it. The podcast episodes are useful for developing your pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. With low cost monthly subscriptions, it’s an affordable resource. 

The site also provides a 1 week free trial. With the free trial you can access all the premium features of the site without having to fork over your credit card info. Not a bad deal if you ask me. Chineseclass101 is worth checking out!

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