What brought you here?

December 13, 2009, 05:07 AM posted in General Discussion

I'm trying to understand you, the people who use ChinesePod. I'm researching how you ended up here - the motivations that lead you  to learn Chinese, to choose CPod,  the route you took, etc. If you'd like to share your comments here that'd be dandy.

But I'm also hoping to go into the issue in some depth. I'm looking for about 5 people who would be willing to give me some time to chat over Skype - perhaps 15  mins or so - to form case studies of sorts. If you feel that is something you'd be willing to do, then please message me here.

All feedback is welcome.

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December 13, 2009, 06:25 AM

My motivation is pretty simple. Even though my wife is as American as they come, she still has strong ties to China since most of her family is there. I began learning Chinese to be able to travel to China and communicate with her family. Once I started, however, I found that I enjoyed learning it just for the sake of learning it.

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December 13, 2009, 05:56 PM

Hello everyone, I am currently majoring in Chinese at the University of British Columbia in Canada. I've always been fascinated by chinese culture since I can remember. I don't know if it was all the kung fu movies with Jackie Chan, the exotic food or the stories I've heard about the Great Wall, emperors and dragons.

Originally, I started to learn Chinese just for fun because at the time, my uncle was working at the Canadian embassy in Beijing and he invited us (my family and I) to go visit him in China. So I thought, wouldn't be fun to learn Chinese before going there? So I took a introductory course outside of school, nothing too serious, we didn't learn any characters just simple conversations. Needless to say that I fell in love with China but after that trip, I realised I really wanted to pursue my Chinese at a more academic level.

I actually found out about Chinesepod through my friend. He said you should really look into that website, it has a lot of great tools.

I think Chinesepod is the best thing that has happened to my learning experience yet. It makes learning more fun and engaging. I really don't like the learning style in classrooms. First of all, the textbooks are really boring and a lot of the words we learn are outdated and really not useful like (an aerogram 邮简). The second thing is that you need to follow this precise structure, you can't learn what you want. When I started learning English as my second language, I used to hate learning grammar in class so I started to watch TV shows I was interested in and thats how I learned English.

For me, I like Chinesepod for the freedom it gives me to learn any thing I want, whenever I want and nobody has to tell me what to do. I also love how Cpod uses technology as a medium of learning. It enables us to connect with thousands of other people with similar goals. And also, whenever I listen to a podcast on my mp3 player, I feel I have like a team of teachers in my pocket. Thank you Chinesepod!

I would also be very happy to have the opportunity to share my thoughts with Ken.


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December 13, 2009, 07:25 AM


jckeith, good stuff. Any more detais on how you came to know about CPod and the route you took to get here?

chanelle, that's hepful.

I appreciate all feedback.


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December 13, 2009, 07:54 AM

I've been doing Chinese martial arts for years and studying Chinese was just one of those things I wanted to do. I also entertained notions of learning Classical Greek at the time. I found few good resources for the latter, and ChinesePod for the former. This was around the very beginnings of ChinesePod, many years ago. I listened to the lessons leisurely, not subscribing, going on and off for a long time. When you changed your model to newbie only for non-subscribers, I stopped using the service. Later on, when I had a fulltime job instead of being a poor student, I decided to actually pay for a subscription and start my Chinese learning in earnest. The way I used the lessons changed (actually working with them instead of just listening) and my results changed dramatically. Now I'm hooked, and since I've decided to spend a year in China practicing martial arts, I've intensified my studies a lot, making CPod indispensible.

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December 13, 2009, 08:02 AM

Hi Ken

Back in 2003, I started learning Mandarin from the Pimsleur audio course, (I was living in the UK then.) I began studying on a whim, just to impress a Chinese friend I'd made. (Although it's also true to say that I've always loved language, and I wanted to see if Chinese was really as difficult and 'alien' as most western people seemed to think.)

As will happen though, I came to really enjoy the study, and I began to learn about China and to feel interest in the country and its history.

In 2004 I came to China to teach English at a medical school in Guangdong province, and quickly realised my ability to communicate in Mandarin was nowhere near good enough. I kept at it by studying various books and tapes, and I got sporadic help from Chinese friends and colleagues. (My work schedule at that time was quite heavy, so I felt unable to commit to a personal tutor or class.)

I discovered ChinesePod quite by accident. I think I was googling a book title one day, it must have been the Autumn of 2007. One of the search results mentioned something called ChinesePod, so I thought I'd have a look. I think it only took me a few moments to think: My god, why didn't I know about this sooner? I quickly signed up for the trial week and enjoyed my first ChinesePod lesson: The Pickup Artist. (Actually a bit difficult for me back then.)

When possible I became a keen user, and felt my ability expanding as it never had before. As I'm sure you know, these days I just love the Pod, and still love learning Chinese, although I now feel I'll probably never scale the real heights, (too old, too busy, too easily distracted!)

I never use skype I'm afraid, but if you would like to chat with me, just send me a PM and maybe we can make contact by phone.

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December 13, 2009, 08:20 AM

jckeith, good stuff. Any more detais on how you came to know about CPod and the route you took to get here?

Once I decided to begin learning Chinese, I looked around for a bit and decided to try Rosetta Stone. While I was using Rosetta Stone, I was reading a forum post where people were discussing resources for learning a foreign language and one of the posters recommended Chinese Pod. Once I looked into the site, I thought it sounded like a great model and signed up for my 2 week trial, and the rest is history, as they say.

I dropped Rosetta Stone not long after I started. I was also using Pimsleur's audiobooks alongside CPod, but that quickly fell by the wayside as well. CPod really is in a class of its own. A little over a year into my CPod subscription, I've advanced from newbie to intermediate and I'm still as enthusiastic as I was when I first started.

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December 13, 2009, 08:56 AM

While preparing to move to China I was searching i-Tunes for any language listening to supplement book learning and R-stone because I had been told that listening/comprehension should precede spoken/written. 

First I subscribed to C-POD, got the ten day trial, then became a member downloading lessons to my MP3 player and listening on my daily drive to and from work. I knew that I looked crazy to the other drivers as I repeated the dialoge in my car so I faked using a bluetooth device sometimes to avoid the fearful stares I sometimes received in bumper to bumper traffic. Very soon the other learning programs were secondary to the POD. I now live in China and credit finding the great teaching methods and materials found here for my quick use of the language and also helping adjust to the culture. Still listening and learning!!

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December 13, 2009, 09:09 AM

I first came to China in late 2007 to teach, and absolutely no intentions whatsoever of even attempting to learn the language...(too difficult, foreign, etc.) but then one of my colleagues had downloaded heaps of newbie lessons on our office computer, and like simmonpettersson, was just a casual listener. The thing is, I kept renewing my teaching contract, thus still living in China and still listening to ChinesePod, while my colleagues came and went.

Your ultra-practical lessons (ordering food, asking for a napkin, booking train tickets, booking into a hotel) made communication possible for me. I have said this before in a previous post, but it is not an exaggeration to say that ChinesePod has dramatically improved the quality of my life in China. Living in China can be frustrating enough - but not being able to communicate at all? (I think that's one of the ironies of being an English teacher here - you're illiterate in the country you are 'teaching').

I now regard myself as an Intermediate learner, and while my Chinese (speaking in particular) is far, far from perfect I can generally get around and make a reasonable attempt at communication in most everyday situations.

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December 13, 2009, 11:18 AM

I guess one place cpod should start targeting lead generation efforts would be marriage license records in the US.  I started learning Chinese because the woman that became my wife made it clear that I would have to come to China periodically.  I was up for the challenge I suppose.

My first attempt at learning mandarin was at a language school in Boston. I took an 8 week course.  It was fun, I learned speaking and reading and writing, but it was expensive, and I didn't see going into the city for the next couple of years to learn. 

2nd attempt was around the same time as the language school, and I used Living Language Ultimate Chinese.  I really liked it, and learned plenty. I think that course's problem for me was that it was very static, and didn't have many topics that I wanted (like internet-related lessons).

3rd attempt was Pimsleur's.  I really liked Pimsleur's for Chinese, and listened to all three levels.  It was expensive, but perfect for me, and I learned a lot. Of course, there are only three levels.  Had there been more, I might have done those as well.

Somewhere between Living Language and Pimsleur's, we moved to China and then returned to the US. My motivation to learn Chinese went through the roof, but upon our return, I went back to being semi motivated.  I guess if it had been more definite that we would move back to China, I might have taken advantage better of the opportunity to learn with less stress back in the US.  But I still didn't have as much motivation.

It was in this period that I came across Cpod in a New York Times article.  This was about March 2008.  I suppose the rest is history.

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December 13, 2009, 12:03 PM

I received a brochure in my letter box in early 2008  from my local evening college. I browsed through the available courses, and for whatever reason decided that the Mandarin course would be interesting.

After being struck by a car in late April last year, I was out of action for a few months, and my Mandarin lessons were put on hold. I wish I had discovered Chinese Pod at this time to help me pass the time.

I re-enrolled in a Mandarin course at the Centre for Continuing Education (an offshoot of Sydney University) in February 2009. In their self-prepared textbook, they listed a few useful websites, amongst them Chinese Pod. I checked out all the suggested sites, but Cpod was the only one that grabbed me. I've been hooked since then, and the University course has only been a secondary source of study. It was Cpod that finally convinced me to go Broadband back in February (dial-up had always been good enough for me before).

I have made some negative comments about the Cpod method in the past, and I still stick to those thoughts, but the fact remains that most of my (somewhat limited) progress has been due to Cpod.

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December 13, 2009, 07:14 AM

Sept. '07 I followed an introductory Chinese course at the Confusius institute in The Hague. One of my classmates recommended Cpod and I had a trial subscription, but was to busy preparing moving. After I settled down in China (begin '08) I became a paid subscriber and have been using the site almost every day (but sometimes less intensive for a few months when back in Europe).

Motivation : surviving China :-), be fluent in the (hopefully not too far) future. I just like to talk with people I guess! I think I would die if I could not communicate here.

Choice Cpod: like the site / the people and most of all like the content. This works for me.

Happy to help if needed.

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December 13, 2009, 12:14 PM

Having been born and raised in California suburbia, I was largely isolated from other cultures as a boy.  At Cal Poly SLO things changed a little bit as I was exposed to a more diverse community back in Concord, CA.

After graduating from college and living and working in San Jose, things really changed. 

Fast forward 20 years - I work in a large office with people from all over the world, many of them from China. 

In short, a couple of things brought me to Cpod.  First, it's clear that learning Mandarin can be a great asset for me personally as the diversity of people that I interact with only continues to grow.  I mentioned earlier that I work with a large group of immigrants from China here in San Jose, but recently the work we do directly with groups in China has grown dramatically.  It's a bit embarrassing to continually speak with people who have never even been out of their native China but posses good English skills while the US natives on the other end of the conversation know none (and I mean zero, not even one word) of Mandarin.

...which brings me to reason number two.

From my California experience I have found that when many native Chinese speakers hear an American utter even the simplest phrase " nǐ hǎo " it really goes a long way.  Putting it another way, I have Chinese friends to impress :-).

I've been a member for a couple of years now and at first was diligent but then let it just slip away.  I really want to succeed and and trying in earnest again.










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December 13, 2009, 02:24 PM

China brought me to ChinesePod.  I guess I came a conventional route, conventional except for my age.  In my early fifties I was looking around for something that might occupy me for another fifty years.  I started at Technical & Further Education Ultimo (middle of Sydney's Chinatown), two hours a week.  I probably learnt a reasonable amount but decided that I would have to go to China to learn the language. I enrolled in a university course because it included time in China. July 2006 I came to China and still hadn't looked at ChinesePod. Found it by Googling for resources and took the one week trial, but distinguished myself by doing no lessons at all (busy time at uni.)  Returned to Australia in July 2007 and decided I would try ChinesePod again (from memory February 2008.)  My wife says that I am an addict.  And we are living back in China.  

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December 13, 2009, 03:32 PM

These are awesome responses - lots of insights that help me understand you and what you want. One thing that strikes me is how long the time-frames are.

Please keep them coming. I definitely want to know more about how you guys decided to learn Chinese and ended up with ChinesePod.



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December 13, 2009, 03:47 PM

I found Chinesepod through word of mouth. Before I came to China I met a friend who already spent a year in Shanghai and by asking how he got so good at Chinese, that's how I found out about Chinesepod. My motivation of learning Chinese is of a few reasons (work, more opportunities). Another is as a British Born Chinese I initially got some pressure to learn Mandarin. Stereotypically alot of the locals look at me in a confused manner when they realise that I didn't speak of word (or character) chinese when I first got here. This made me feel abit embarassed and stupid because they would actually question and question why I just don't know Mandarin which made my stay very uncomfortable at the beginning.

After being in China for nearly 2 years, I can hold a decent enough conversation but there is a lot of room to grow in. Some friends say I've improved alot, some say I still got a long way to go, but I hope to reach my goal of being fluent. I can make locals think that I come from Guang zhou province, (the knowledge of Cantonese helps) so I guess its progress.

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December 13, 2009, 03:48 PM

I described a bit about why I wanted to learn Chinese, but not how I stumbled upon ChinesePod.  I remember trying to translate some poem from pinyin and using an online pinyin to English translator - mandarin tools I think it was.

With almost no idea with regards to the structure of the language, I did my level best to translate it bit by bit.  As you can imagine, I couldn't really make sense of what I ended up with and my Chinese friend couldn't help but laugh out loud at the result. 

It was then that I found ChinesePod and got this great idea to learn the language....

For giggles, I can dig up the poem and my original "translation".



Press ENTER to look up in Wiktionary or CTRL+ENTER to look up in Wikipedia

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December 13, 2009, 03:51 PM

I worked in Beijing for two months a couple of years ago and started learning the language. I found china a very exciting place and I have been back a few times. I use chinese pod to supplement my other learning which is with a Beijing teacher using skype.


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December 13, 2009, 04:22 PM

I think I described my motivations in other posts, but basically like other responders, I started because of some contact with China (business travel) and later study of Chinese became an end in itself, because it is interesting and a challenge.

I'd be very happy to have an opportunity to chat with Ken, though.  So, I responded.

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December 13, 2009, 05:14 PM

Ninghao Ken,

I signed up for Cpod last December in preparation for our trip to the World's Fair in 2010. I have been casually studying the newbie lessons.  About a month ago I realized I needed to ramp up my efforts if I was really going to be able to communicate.

I think an add popped up online while I was researching travel agencies to help us get around.  It may be that somehow you found me and sent me an email.  I am vague on how I discovered Cpod but am really glad I did.  I've recommended the various pods to anyone that mentions language studies.

My wife and I adopted two girls, one from from Hefei and the younger from near Changsha.  For those trips I learned some basics that really made a difference as we wondered around cities with our newly adopted kids.  It was great fun "talking" to people.  We're planning a trip next summer to Shanghai and the world's fair.  Since we have been to China twice (6 weeks total) and I love language I decided to really try to learn, at least enough to be a good tourist.

One of the plans I hope to fit in while in Shanghai is to visit your offices. I am amazed at all the great work you all are doing.

It would be a pleasure to talk with you.  I feel like I already know you and Jenny from the newbie lessons.  In fact I am signed into the Cpod school that takes place next week Tuesday and Thursday, so I'll meet Jenny via Skype then.

You can reach me via email at john@psandl.com so we can arrange a convenient time for both of us.  As a principal in a marketing company that works with colleges and universities in the US, I would enjoy talking about how you are promoting Praxis and the various pods you are growing.


John Stapleton


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December 13, 2009, 12:14 PM

For the record, here are other language programs I've used: Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, FSI, Colloquial Chinese and some program with "speech recognition" that was really expensive and didn't really work.

Here are the programs that really helped me get further: ChinesePod.

Though to be fair, ChinesePod didn't really get me very fast progress either until I really buckled down and got serious about it.