help me not sound completely stupid.
July 28, 2010 2:57 PM   Subscribe

Rosetta-style programs for brushing-up on Mandarin?

Chinese-American who speaks reasonable Cantonese, and I took a lot of Mandarin in college. It's been more than a couple years, though. Work is paying for me to brush up and do it quickly, in advance of a business meeting next week.

Amazon seems to indicate that my two options are Rosetta Stone and Fluenz.

I'm worried that they'll be a little basic, but what do I know? I haven't been doing anything with Chinese for the past half-decade except telling my mother that I can't come home this weekend. In another dialect.
posted by joyceanmachine to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
They're both pretty basic. Speaking as a military-trained Mandarin linguist who hasn't used the language in a few years, hopping back in with R.S. was good for about two days, then totally worthless.

My advice is listening to the news via BBC podcasts in Mandarin or something else. Won't help with conversation, obviously, but may get your listening and vocabulary coming back.
posted by jasondbarr at 3:40 PM on July 28, 2010

It appears that Livemocha has Mandarin Chinese. They're very Rosetta-like, but free! Personally I love it. Good luck!
posted by mcarthey at 5:03 PM on July 28, 2010

Best answer: Check out It has lessons ranging from beginner to advanced, and you can try it for free.
posted by bearette at 9:56 PM on July 28, 2010

Best answer: I ordered Rosetta Stone Mandarin Level III (the highest available). My mandarin sucks and it was still mostly YAWN. Although I did learn how to say "She jumped over the fence." On the upside, if you order directly from the Rosetta website and don't like it, they have a 3 or 6 month money back guarantee. I returned the program and got a full refund.

I would highly recommend downloading/subscribing to one of the mandarin podcasts on iTunes. They are much more specific (e.g. short programs focusing only on business terms, travel, etc.).

Some guy named Serge Melnyck does a good one. Recent topics include Office Manners and Japanese Food.

Warning: Mandarin is hard. I don't even remember how to say "fence" anymore.
posted by KimikoPi at 10:00 PM on July 28, 2010

How about hiring a tutor?

I think talking to a person would help in many ways that software can't.
posted by jstarlee at 10:23 PM on July 28, 2010

Best answer: Similar to Chinesepod but IMO better is Popup Chinese since it has MeFi's own bokane among the presenters. You can listen to a lot of the content for free, and if work is paying I think you get one-on-one feedback if you sign up. The other thing would be to just dive into the videos on YouKu or Tudou etc., everything from TV to mobile phone footage of arguments in the street.
posted by Abiezer at 10:30 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Much like LiveMocha is mentioned above, I suggest you check out I personally study Japanese there, and Japanese has official support since the site is partly Japanese. They also have a few official courses in intermediate-level Mandarin and there should be dozens of user-created Mandarin study lists.
posted by Senza Volto at 1:12 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

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