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StoryLearning Chinese Uncovered Review

Story Learning Review Chinese

StoryLearning Chinese Uncovered

Rating 4.0

Summary

StoryLeaning Mandarin Chinese Uncovered comes from Olly Richards, the creator of the super popular polyglot blog. It’s quite a bit different than most courses as it revolves around a story. It can be a bit more challenging than other courses, as you begin reading somewhat long texts right off the bat. Overall, I found it to be a more fun way to approach language learning that will be great for some but not ideal for others.


Quality 4.0

The instruction is clear but can have too much information crammed into a single lesson.

Thoroughness 4.0

You’ll practice every aspect of the language.

Value 4.0

It has a pretty high price, but if you stick with it, you’ll get good value from it.

I Like
  • Immersive narrative approach
  • Comprehensive vocabulary, literacy, and culture lessons
  • Qualified Chinese tutor to explain grammar concepts
  • Introduction to Hanzi (Chinese writing system)
I Don’t Like
  • Offers speaking activities, but no interactive software
  • Pricier than many competing language learning programs
Price

A one-time purchase costs $297. There’s also a 7-day free trial.

StoryLearning’s Chinese Uncovered course promises the ability to communicate freely in Mandarin Chinese. This course takes a new approach to language learning, teaching vocabulary, grammar, and literacy through a narrative. 

Because you have the need to find out what happens next hardwired into your brain, engaging with a story is one of the best ways to activate your long-term memory and help you truly learn a new language. This immersive, context-based approach focuses on listening comprehension.

Chinese Uncovered operates differently from a language learning app like Duolingo, which teaches through memorization. Chinese Uncovered offers a comprehensive course aimed at long-term retention rather than short-term success. 

Chinese Uncovered provides over 100 hours of lessons and coursework, including games, activities, and grammar lessons as well as the ongoing story. Can you really learn a complex language like Chinese by listening to a story? Let’s review StoryLearning’s Chinese Uncovered to find out!

Things to Consider Before Buying Chinese Uncovered

Two of the biggest struggles you will face as a native English speaker learning Chinese are learning a tonal language and mastering the Chinese writing system.

Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language that uses four tones. This means that you can speak a Chinese word in four different tones, and it will mean four different things! Learning the tonal system is essential both for your speaking fluency and for your listening comprehension.

On top of this, Chinese is a logographic language, meaning that it uses characters to represent words, rather than spelling out the sounds of the word. You need to learn thousands of characters to read a blog or even a text in Chinese!

Because of these unique challenges, the best language learning program should focus on listening comprehension and speaking practice with an emphasis on the tonality of the language. It should also focus on literacy, helping you learn Chinese characters.

Features & Benefits of Chinese Uncovered

Before you decide if Chinese Uncovered is the right program for you, take a look at this breakdown of its key features.

Narrative Structure

The basic concept of Chinese Uncovered is that you learn by listening to a story told by native Chinese speakers. The story, called “City of Lost and Found,” follows a group of university students becoming friends, experiencing cultural highlights like a festival, and searching for a missing family member.

The beginner course consists of 20 chapters. Each chapter includes lessons on vocabulary, grammar, reading and writing, pronunciation, culture, and speaking activities focused on the elements of the narrative you heard.

For the reading portion, you will find a transcript in both Hanzi characters and Pinyin (Chinese words written phonetically), as well as a lesson on reading and writing to build your literacy. Chapter 1 introduces easy characters and simple strokes, but the lessons progress quickly, reaching compound characters like  and zhú in Chapter 7.

Expert Tutors

Another great feature Chinese Uncovered offers is lessons taught by an expert Chinese tutor. For the beginner course, tutor Maggie Wong has over 10 years of experience as a professional Chinese teacher. She has a degree in Chinese Education as well as a Master’s in Language and Cultural Diversity.

The Story Learning program and many of the explanatory videos throughout the course come from program creator Olly Richards. Richards invented the Story Learning approach and has used it to teach himself 8 languages.

Games Within Lessons

The vocabulary and grammar lessons within each chapter often incorporate a matching game to keep you engaged as you learn. 

That said, this program does not have the sleek, game-based style of an app like Duolingo, which is built on the concept of rewarding the learner with many small wins.

Speaking Practice

While Chinese Uncovered has an exceptional listening comprehension focus to help you understand the tonal quality of Mandarin Chinese, it does not use any software to allow direct speaking practice. 

However, it does feature speaking practice lessons that consist of a practice conversation in both Hanzi and Pinyin for you to say out loud. You can find tips to train your ear in the pronunciation lesson in each chapter, too. 

StoryLearning Communities

Chinese Uncovered gives you the option to join an online community of language learners. This feature gives you access to potential conversation partners, as well as a great resource when you have questions about the course.

Downloadable Resources

Finally, the course allows you to download almost all of its materials, from speaking activities to the transcript from each chapter of the story. This makes your learning flexible and allows you to easily review course materials.

Chinese Uncovered Cost and Payment Options

Chinese Uncovered has a fairly high one-time cost of $297. This may seem steep when you compare it to a program with a monthly subscription like Rosetta Stone, which charges a fee of $11.99 per month. 

On the other hand, Chinese Uncovered offers several significant perks. First, you can sign up for a free seven-day trial to find out if you like the narrative approach of StoryLearning.

Second, StoryLearning offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you do buy the program and decide it does not work for you!  

Alternatives to Chinese Uncovered

Chinese Uncovered certainly has many great features, but you may also want to consider alternative programs to see which course will work best for you.

ChineseClass101

If you like the idea of learning through podcast listening, you may find ChineseClass101 presented by Innovative Languages a great resource. This unique program consists of over 500 podcast-style lessons that convey a grammar concept in context.

  • ChineseClass101 costs just $8 per month.
  • The online course offers additional resources like transcripts and vocabulary sheets.
  • The program does not feature games or direct speaking practice.

If you consider yourself an auditory learner and you like a self-directed study program, you may want to try a free trial of ChineseClass101 here!

Pimsleur’s Chinese App

Pimsleur’s app-based course uses Spaced Repetition Theory to help you store new concepts in your long-term memory. The program emphasizes speaking practice and pronunciation, which is key when learning a tonal language like Chinese!

Pimsleur also provides the option to learn either Cantonese or Mandarin, which is a feature you do not get in Chinese Uncovered.

  • Pimsleur charges a monthly subscription fee of $19.95 for access to the app
  • The course has a simple structure with a one-lesson-per-day design. It covers literacy elements including both Pinyin and Hanzi.
  • The course does delve into grammar, but it emphasizes everyday, usable vocabulary and practical conversation skills.

If you want a comprehensive introduction to either Mandarin or Cantonese with an emphasis on practical conversation and correct pronunciation, check out Pimsleur’s Chinese course here!

Yoyo Chinese

Yoyo Chinese may be lesser known compared to Pimsleur or Babbel, but its strength is noteworthy. Often, we find that the best resources for learning a language are those that have been designed specifically for that language. Yoyo Chinese has a user friendly app interface with loads of lessons clearly laid out. It is a complete stand-alone course that will teach you Mandarin Chinese in an engaging manner. See our detailed review of Yoyo Chinese here, and try it for yourself.

Conclusion

Chinese is a beautiful language spoken by over a billion people worldwide, but learning this language can challenge English speakers because Chinese is tonal and uses a logographic writing system. 

StoryLearning’s Chinese Uncovered online course does a great job teaching literacy elements. It also provides a solid introduction to Chinese grammar, taught by an expert.

The narrative structure of the program draws you into the “what happens next” element of a story. 

But it focuses on listening comprehension to teach the tonal quality of Chinese, rather than offering a direct speaking element. This means that the program may not offer the best pronunciation training.

If you learn best through a structured program based on listening comprehension, you can click here to give Chinese Uncovered a try! 

Did you know that All Language Resources started out by reviewing Chinese language learning materials? We have so much knowledge in this language that we don’t know where to begin! Make sure to check out our many helpful articles, such as: “How To Learn Chinese (Mandarin)“, “The 19 Best Online Courses For Learning Mandarin Chinese“, “Best Apps For Learning Mandarin Chinese: We’ve Tried Them All“, and “Look No Further: 30 Best Podcasts To Learn Mandarin Chinese“.

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