Yoyo Chinese Overview
Mandarin Chinese is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, second only to English. In terms of native speakers, Mandarin is the number one most highly spoken language. Imagine how many more people you could communicate with if you mastered this beautiful language?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably already thought about it and started researching Chinese language learning programs, which brings us to the subject of today’s post. Yoyo Chinese, one of the most popular online resources for anyone looking to learn Mandarin. With easy to follow lessons and engaging practice exercises, it’s no surprise that language learners love this program.
Led by the founder, Yangyang Cheng, this comprehensive program offers lessons from a native Chinese speaker who truly understands how English speakers think. No matter whether you’re a complete newbie or already speak some Chinese, Yoyo Chinese offers learning resources for all fluency levels.
yoyo chinese pricing
The lessons are divided into courses. You can purchase courses individually or save a little money by purchasing them in bundles.
Beginner Conversational Course
Intermediate Conversational Course
Upper Intermediate Conversational Course
Conversational Course Bundle
Chinese Character Course
Chinese Character II Course
Chinese Character Reader Course
Character Course Bundle
Six Course Bundle
Chinese Grammar Video Series
Chinese Learning Tips Video Series
Initial Thoughts Of Yoyo Chinese
My initial thoughts upon encountering this program were all fairly positive. The website is well designed, although I found it to be a bit too commercial for my taste. I do like that the main page contains all the basic information that you would be looking for as a newcomer.
You can find a quick overview of the entire program as well as a clear price list, which is nice. The homepage gives you a solid look at what you can expect from this program in terms of what the platform looks like as well as what the lessons will contain.
The only thing that I found disappointing about the platform is that it is completely web-based. There isn’t a mobile version and the videos are not downloadable. They do allow you to download some of the learning materials, but the majority of your learning has to be done on the website itself.
That being said, they make up for this in many ways. There is so much learning material here that you can start learning as soon as you open the website, even before you sign up for anything. The main page contains an extremely helpful interactive Pinyin Chart that I’ll talk a little more about in the Extras section. You can also access a wide variety of Yoyo Chinese videos on their YouTube channel.
Once you do sign up, the platform continues to be quite pleasant and user friendly. The main student dashboard displays your most current lesson as well as your other study stats such as your study streak, the number of lessons you’ve completed today, and your average quiz score.
Overall, I would say that they have a well put together layout that is vibrant and fun enough to be appealing, but not so busy that it’s distracting.
Signing Up For Yoyo Chinese
According to their website, you can sign up and start learning in less than 8 seconds and that is no exaggeration. You can sign up using an existing Google or Facebook account or start an independent account which only requires an email address and password.
As soon as you log in, you’ll be directed to Lesson 1 in the Beginner Conversation Course. Level 1, which includes 45 lessons, is free just for signing up. This is a great feature because it allows you to fully experience the program before you have to make any purchases.
I chose to use an existing account, so I got right in and was finished with my first Chinese lesson and quiz in less than 7 minutes.
Anyone who has ever considered learning a new language has probably heard that Mandarin is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn. This has led many people to avoid it, even if they really wanted to learn it. This program removes a lot of that intimidation by presenting Chinese as an accessible language that anyone can learn.
I speak very little Chinese and have often found Chinese lessons to be overwhelming and frustrating, but not this time. I found these lessons to be inviting and helpful. In fact, the first lesson explains all the reasons why Chinese is a great second language for English speakers. It certainly convinced me that I should give it another try.
Before I go into the details of how the lessons work, let's take a quick peek at the lesson plans overall.
The Conversational Courses contain logical lesson plans that are easy to follow. Each course is divided into Units that contain two to six lessons each. Each unit is based on a specific subject and they aren’t locked, so you could bounce around between subjects, but I wouldn't recommend it. The lessons build on each other, so they will be more effective if you complete them in order.
The lesson structure is also straightforward and sensible. In the early lessons, you start by watching a short video and then you take a quick quiz. As you progress, the lessons will contain longer videos, audio reviews, speaking practice, and harder quizzes.
Each course is designed in a way that if you study for 30 minutes a day, six days per week, it should take you about six months to complete each course.
The video lessons, which are the bulk of the learning material, feature Yangyang, the enthusiastic and informative teacher who created Yoyo Chinese.
Yangyang's teaching style is pleasant and reassuring. She doesn’t rush or overwhelm you, but she doesn’t doddle either. Sometimes beginner language lessons can feel very slow and cumbersome since they have to cover such basic materials, but these lessons remain interesting throughout.
The videos are a good mixture of grammar and vocabulary, all presented in a way that makes the information understandable and memorable.
Once you move into the more intermediate lessons, the videos become even more interesting. Not only will you have lessons from Yangyang, but you’ll also get to see interviews with other native Chinese speakers so that you can hear the way Chinese is spoken in the real world.
As language learners, we know that every language has slang and colloquial phrases and euphemisms that are usually grammatically incorrect, but so common that if you don’t learn them you’ll never be able to speak like a true native.
Chinese is no different. Thankfully, these lessons will help you overcome that barrier. These interviews serve to highlight those unique phrases and pronunciations that you would only learn from a true native speaker.
Some of the videos even include interviews with members of Yangyang’s family. These lessons are particularly fun, in my opinion, especially the episodes with her parents.
The Audio Reviews are basically what the name implies. They are high-quality audio recordings that review the materials from that particular lesson. Like the video lessons, these are short and simple in the beginning and increase in difficulty as you progress.
These recordings coincide with the lecture notes that you can download for each lesson. The review will go over words and phrases with spaces in between for you to practice saying the words out loud. These audio clips can range from just a few minutes to upwards of 20 minutes, depending on the complexity of the lesson.
After completing the Audio Review, you’ll have the chance for even more speaking practice. During this segment, you’ll be presented with a word or phrase in Chinese with the corresponding Pinyin. You’ll be able to listen to a recording of the phrase and then record yourself repeating the phrase for comparison. You can play the recording at full or half speed so that you can focus on each individual sound.
Following the lesson and reviews, you get to take a ten-question quiz. The quizzes contain many of the question styles that you would expect, such as multiple-choice translations and listening exercises.
The great thing about these quizzes is that as you progress, they get harder. Many of the multiple-choice questions will have multiple answers that are close to the correct answer, forcing you to pay close attention in order to pass.
You can go back and review any of the lessons at any time if you need a refresher. You can even do the quizzes again which is a good way to keep the information fresh in your mind.
If you have any questions about a lesson there is a discussion section just below the video player where you can quickly submit questions or comments.
Many people use this as a place to leave little notes of thanks or encouragement, but you can find helpful information sometimes too. If you do have a question, you can leave it there and the Yoyo Support Team will get back to you fairly quickly.
The Secret To Success
When it comes to learning a new language, there is one thing that can make all the difference and that is consistency. Although many programs promise to teach you a new language in just five minutes a day, that simply isn’t realistic.
You won’t find any big unrealistic promises on Yoyo Chinese. Yes, the lessons are short, but it is still meant to take you six months to complete each course. These lessons cover each subject in great detail so that you are sure to know the information inside and out before you’ve finished the course.
This process does make the program feel a bit slow at times, but in this case, the old adage is true: slow and steady wins the race. It is better to go over each element methodically than to race through and not retain the information.
Chinese has a lot of subtleties within the sounds of each syllable. Pronouncing the syllables incorrectly could lead to some awkward misunderstandings. For example, the Chinese word for panda is xióng māo. If you do not pay special attention to the accent marks and use the correct tones, you could easily confuse xióng māo with xiōng máo, which means chest hair.
Nobody wants to be running around telling everyone that they love chest hair when they actually love pandas, so it is extremely important to pay close attention to the details that you will learn in each of these lessons.
The character lessons are split into three courses: Chinese Character Course, Chinese Character II Course, and Chinese Character Reader. The Chinese Character courses provide in-depth lessons about Chinese characters and how to properly write them.
The first course is taught by Yangyang and the second course is taught by Zhiyun Zhou, another enthusiastic and helpful instructor. Together Yangyang and Zhiyun will teach you 600 Chinese characters along with plenty of tips and tricks to help you remember them. With both courses combined, you will learn over 2,500 HSK words.
These lessons are similar to the conversation lessons in that they contain short, but very informative videos. Each video will feature three similar or related characters, what they mean, how to write them, and how they can be used in a sentence.
After each video lesson, you will be able to review the material just like in the conversational lessons. These reviews will involve a few practice exercises where you can fill in the blanks and build sentences using the characters you’ve just learned.
Once your review is complete, you can move on to your quiz. The quizzes are also similar to those that accompany the conversational lessons, although these are a bit more visual since you’re learning the characters. These quizzes also combine Pinyin and Chinese characters so you can become accustomed to both forms of written Chinese.
The lesson notes that come with these courses are very helpful. Each lesson will include a set of printable lesson notes that you can use for further practice. The printouts will show what you learned in that lesson, which is to be expected, but they also include a few other interesting things such as the characters printed in different fonts.
The notes will also include some translation exercises and some worksheets so you can practice writing the characters by hand if you so desire.
Chinese Character Reader Course
The third step in your Chinese Character journey will be the Chinese Character Reader Course. This course is designed to take you beyond just memorizing characters and into the realm of actually reading in Chinese. The lessons include an online experience as well as physical books to read along with.
Don’t worry, these are not dry textbooks that you’ll have to force yourself to read. These are fully illustrated comic books with stories that you’ll want to read for fun as well as language learning. You’ll be able to follow along with short video lessons that cover approximately three to five pages of the story at a time.
The only downside is that the stories are short. Hopefully, they’ll be adding more comics in the future, because there doesn’t seem to be quite enough content here to justify the cost.
Outside of the actual courses, Yoyo Chinese offers a few fun extras that you may find helpful along the way.
- Pinyin Chart
The Yoyo Chinese Pinyin chart is probably one of the most helpful free resources that I’ve ever seen from any language program. This isn’t just your typical Pinyin chart where you just try to read it and hope that you’re pronouncing everything correctly. This is a fully interactive chart that helps you learn the correct sounds for every syllable.
You’ll find both audio and video clips for many of the sounds, so not only can you hear what they are supposed to sound like, but you can see the way you should be positioning your lips and tongue as you make the sounds. For anyone who has struggled to master some of those more unusual sounds in Chinese, this is an invaluable resource.
These are pretty much what you would expect from online flashcards, but the layout is a bit more sophisticated than many similar flashcard tools that I’ve seen. You can organize your flashcards based on Course, Level, Unit, or Lesson, making it easy to find the cards you’re looking for.
If there are certain cards that you find particularly difficult or useful, you can add them to your favorites and create a set of flashcards unique to you.
You can also rely on spaced repetition programming for the most effective flashcard experience. The system will keep track of which cards you need to review and automatically generate decks of 25 cards for you to go through.
You can go through as many decks as you like and the system will just keep generating new sets based on how you rank each card as you go through them. If you say the card was easy then you won’t see it again for a while. Say that it's hard and it will pop again in the near future. Remember to be honest so that the cards you most need to review will come up more often.
- The Yoyo Chinese Official Blog
Sometimes the blogs associated with language learning programs are a little on the blah side, but this blog is actually quite interesting. They have all kinds of fun and informative articles about a wide range of subjects. There are posts about Chinese culture and foods, fun reading activities, and more. This is a fun place to find interesting study tips and learn more about Chinese culture.
- Downloadable Materials
Although you can’t download the lesson videos, there is quite a bit of learning material that you can download for offline use. There are lecture notes, audio files, worksheets, and practice quizzes available for all the lessons that you’ve completed. If you use Anki for mobile flashcards, you’ll be happy to know that Yoyo Chinese also offers Anki files so you can add your Yoyo flashcards to your Anki collection.
Drawbacks To Yoyo Chinese
Just like every other online language learning program, Yoyo Chinese does have its drawbacks. The main drawback of this program is the cost relative to the amount of learning material you receive.
As I mentioned earlier, I am new to Chinese, so I found these lessons very helpful, mostly because Yangyang explains everything in exceptionally clear English. That being said, some more advanced users mention that there may be a bit too much English in the intermediate lessons and that it would be more helpful if the advanced lessons offered more listening practice.
This program also offers little to no speaking practice. There are the speaking exercises that go along with the conversational lessons, but that won’t be enough to get you to true fluency. This, combined with the minimal practice exercises and lack of mobile options, has led some to question whether Yoyo Chinese is worth the slightly higher price point.
Personally, I enjoyed the style of this program and would feel comfortable purchasing it in the course bundles. I think the individual courses are a bit overpriced for what they offer, but if you choose the bundle that includes the three Conversational Courses or all six courses, the price becomes much more reasonable.
Of course, these courses are only worth the higher price if this is a learning style that you enjoy, so I strongly recommend that you try it out before making any big purchases. Remember, you can go through the entire first level for free. That’s 45 lessons, plus all the downloadable materials for those lessons, for free. There’s no reason not to try it.
If you do purchase a course and find that you don’t enjoy it as much as you thought you would, you can contact Yoyo Chinese within the first 7 days for a refund.
If this doesn’t seem like the program for you or you simply want to know what your other options are, here are a few alternatives that you may enjoy.
ChineseFor.Us offers a similar format to that of Yoyo Chinese. There are video lessons, practice exercises, and more. This program focuses mainly on beginners and offers a subscription-based payment option, which may be easier for some students to fit into the budget.
For those who prefer audio lessons over video lessons, I highly recommend Pimsleur. Pimsleur is a subscription-based program that gives you access to over 80 hours of high-quality Chinese lessons that will have you speaking Chinese in no time.
If you’ve been studying Chinese for a while, but are looking to improve your reading skills, then look no further than The Chairman’s Bao. This app offers a vast amount of reading material to keep you entertained and help you learn to read Chinese at the same time.
Yoyo Chinese Review: Final Thoughts
Overall, I was highly impressed with this program. Mandarin can be an intimidating language to take on, but with Yoyo Chinese I feel like there’s no reason to be intimidated. The video lessons are easy to go through and yet packed full of useful information. After just a few lessons, I felt like I had improved my Chinese skills exponentially.
The best thing about this program is that it is designed specifically with English speakers in mind, so the lessons and the examples are tailored to fit the way English speakers think. This isn’t something that you see too often in language programs designed to teach the Asian languages, so it was a pleasant surprise.
Even with the few drawbacks, I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who is interested in gaining a true knowledge of Chinese. This isn’t a quick fix that you would want to use to prepare for a short vacation in China, but if you want to become truly fluent, Yoyo Chinese is a great place to start.
Remember, no matter what language program you choose, the important thing is to keep studying. Learning Chinese will be a challenge, but it will also be extremely rewarding. So stick to it, you won’t regret it.