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28 Reviews
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy-to-follow guide to learning a not-so-easy language
I've learnt French, dabbled in Italian, so for a challenge thought i'd try my hand at something a bit different. This short Mandarin course was wonderful and within a few days I'd learnt the basics of conversation (including social etiquette surrounding such conversation). There are 3 CDs which guide you through the basics; each CD has examples of several different people...
Published on 4 Aug 2008 by H Pedder

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine -- as far as it goes
This CD-based language course is fine, as far it goes. It is an excellent introduction to Mandarin for those wishing to accustom their ears to the language and to learn a few key phrases for helping to cope with the essentials of a short trip to China. The pacing of the course is good, with plenty of opportunity for you to review your progress in the comprehension of...
Published on 17 July 2008 by Steve Benner


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy-to-follow guide to learning a not-so-easy language, 4 Aug 2008
By 
H Pedder "bookworm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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I've learnt French, dabbled in Italian, so for a challenge thought i'd try my hand at something a bit different. This short Mandarin course was wonderful and within a few days I'd learnt the basics of conversation (including social etiquette surrounding such conversation). There are 3 CDs which guide you through the basics; each CD has examples of several different people saying the same phrase so that you can get used to hearing various voices speaking. There are frequent prompts for you to repeat words/phrases, along with nifty word-association tips to help you remember words.

Overall, a well-formulated and easy-to-use tool for learning Mandarin. I've yet to complete all CDs so can't comment on how comprehensive my conversation skills will be by the end of it! The only thing I'd have liked to have had is a workbook style learning aid. The 'manual' that comes with it is really just an overview of each 'chapter' on the CD. It would have been extra helpful to have had some written exercise to help make the link between English and Mandarin, and our writing system and the Chinese logographic system.

Other than that, a great way to learn conversation Mandarin - apparently a MUST if you're to visit China...I've been reliably informed that in some areas little (if any) English is spoken! You've been warned! :-)
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine -- as far as it goes, 17 July 2008
By 
Steve Benner "Stonegnome" (Lancaster, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This CD-based language course is fine, as far it goes. It is an excellent introduction to Mandarin for those wishing to accustom their ears to the language and to learn a few key phrases for helping to cope with the essentials of a short trip to China. The pacing of the course is good, with plenty of opportunity for you to review your progress in the comprehension of snippets of Mandarin spoken by a variety of different speakers. It also uses a variety of different techniques to help a Westerner get to grips with the essentials of this difficult language. Some seem to work less well than others -- the mnemonics, for instance, for remembering key phrases struck me as being somewhat forced on occasions, and so while I could recall the mnemonic key (I had no difficulty remembering to think "gin and tonic" at the appropriate time) that key frequently did not unlock the appropriate phrase of Mandarin within my brain (the gin and tonic didn't help). But at least the variety of techniques means that there are probably sufficient for there to be something there that will work for you.

Where this product falls down, of course, is that in common with all other CD-based courses, while it is easy for you to test your comprehension of what is being said on the disc, there is no way to assess whether or not your own pronunciation is approaching anything that would be understandable to a Mandarin speaker! Given the vast difficulty that the Western brain has in picking out many key components of Mandarin, I would say that, unfortunately, this is a major drawback in this case. Nor does the material extend very far into conversational Mandarin -- it only touches the basics of exchanging greetings, asking directions, getting food, drink and accommodation, etc -- so it runs the risk of the falling into the standard phrase-book trap of teaching you how, for instance, to ask directions somewhere, without really equipping you with sufficient vocabulary or understanding of the linguistic elements to make much of most of the replies you're likely to get in reality! And finally, as an aural-based course, backed up with minimal written material in the accompanying booklet, it does not tackle any aspects of written Chinese, so it does nothing to equip you for reading signs or other written materials on a visit.

In summary, then, this is a good introduction to the basics of spoken Mandarin but it is no substitute for real tuition in a proper interactive language learning environment. It may, however, provide you with enough confidence to make a trip to China and to talk to people while you are there and so immerse yourself in the best interactive Mandarin learning environment possible!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear and straightforward course. Proving enjoyable!, 18 July 2008
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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Languages weren't my strongest point at school but Easy Learning Mandarin has turned out to be useful and enjoyable. It gives a superficial taster of the most common language used in China, and covers a good variety of the phrases which you're going to need as a tourist or if you are travelling to China on business.
I'm in my 40s and have found the short lessons to be an ideal length. Chunks of background information are scattered throughout the segments so you learn a little cultural detail along with each new phrase. This helped me to understand what I was saying, not simply parrot back the pronunciation. I've worked through the first of the three cds and have been able to nip backwards whenever confused; the segments are short enough to listen to several times without getting bored.
I have struggled now and then to understand which consonants are being spoken (was that 'Tai tai' or 'Pai pai'?) so have needed to refer to the booklet (which is hard to do while driving!). I've also discovered that I do need to concentrate quite hard on the lessons so although it's ok to work through a segment on a clear motorway, you can't really concentrate on driving and learning in a satisfactory way.
This series also uses some tricks to help memory, and some of these have really put me off. For instance, the phrase for 'goodbye' is something like 'sigh ti-en'. The lessons suggest you think of 'say gin' to remember this and then prompt you with a gin and tonic when you come to say goodbye. This kind of misdirection actually made it harder for me to remember the real phrase, so I've taken to ignoring those bits!

Overall though I have found the cd to be very useful and (as its tital suggests) pretty easy to get along with. This level of language skill is never going to earn a qualification -- and goodness knows what a Chinese person would actually think of my pronunciation -- but it has given me enough confidence to continue learning Mandarin. The cultural tips also make me feel more confident about visiting China.
So if you have a holiday or business trip looming, then I'd recommend giving this course a bash.
8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New standard Chinese... A lot of work, 28 July 2008
By 
Gisli Jokull Gislason "Jokull" (Iceland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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I have an adopted daughter from China and I have studied a little Chinese including evening class. Let me tell you it is hard so there is no easy way to get there. Chinese is very different from European languages and for this reason it will be harder to learn on your own.

That being said I find Collins has made a very good effort. I have a number of Chinese language CD's and this is the best of their kind, hench the 5 stars (since for basis of comparison this is a 5 star product of its kind). You will get basic Ice breakers and can possibly manage a bit more but don't raise your hopes too high. The chapters are cleverly built up by throwing you into conversation straight away and this approach is brilliant.

There is no Chinese characters, which is understandable, the CD's are about the spoken language but the problem is that there is no one spoken Chinese language and while many educated Chinese can speak Mandarin (actually more like New Standard Chinese) there are in fact many different spoke languages in China and no certainty that 2 Chinese can speak to each other, let alone someone who has learned a little from CD's.

I found this a helpful revision and without doubt the best audio cd's I have tried - but be warned learning Chinese is NO simple affair.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent primer!, 15 Aug 2008
By 
K. Jamison (Co. Down, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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The first thing I noticed about this course is that the booklet is very helpful. The first few pages give tips and a pronunciation guide for Pinyin; a latinised version of Mandarin characters.

It's important to remember that this is a spoken course and not a written course although there are examples of common characters that you will need to learn - if only to avoid embarrassment when deciding which door to open when you need the toilet!

There is a section on `tones', the four ways of pronouncing words. The rest of the booklet contains these `tones' accents upon letters to aid in the correct pronunciation of the whole word.

The narrators also use similar sounding English words to help you with pronunciation and they apply the necessary tones as well.

The pronunciation is difficult but the language itself is made up of very, very simple words. And there are 'social etiquettes' to master as well, given the Chinese culture. Take your time and give it ten minutes a day - then you won't sicken yourself.

It deals with everything a tourist might need to know to get by comfortably when on holiday. Well worth the money!

Zài jiàn!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mandarin - intro for beginners, 14 Aug 2008
By 
Elaine Simpson-long (Colchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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The Collins Mandarin is excellent as an introduction to the language and for acquiring enough Mandarin to buy things, be polite, wish people good morning, good afternoon etc. Its great stregnth is the use of Pinyin, which is picture language turned into our alphabet which makes learning much easier. If one wished to go further with the language then something like 'Teach Yourself Mandarin' would be useful, but if one has completed this Collins course then future learniing will much easier especially for people unused to learning languages.
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4.0 out of 5 stars not bad for the price, 28 July 2008
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Mandarin is not an easy language to learn even with a real teacher, so any potential buyer must not think you can learn the language with this short 3 CD course. That said, for the price, I think it's a good taster for someone who wants to get a taste for the language and learn some basic phrases. Maybe suitable for someone going on holiday to China to get some very basic knowledge of the language perhaps?

Inside the double thickness DVD style case are 3 audio CDs and a thin booklet that goes with the CD lessons. The Chinese phrases are printed in as English sounds, eg in Unit 1, you have "ni hao - hello". The course only teaches spoken Mandarin, and does NOT teach any written Chinese, not even the most basic such as toilet, male, female etc are shown.

I give this 4 stars considering its low price. If it cost more then I might only give it 2 or 3 stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to Mandarin, 29 Aug 2008
By 
M. Young "M. Young" (London) - See all my reviews
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This 3 CD set comes with a small booklet to follow each chapter as you go. A user certainly won't be an expert after using this but it is definitely a really useful introduction to basic phrases (along the lines of "Hello, how are you?", "Goodybe Mr Wang" etc).
Each phrase is repeated several times for you, and also repeated by different male and female voices, so that you can establish the correct inflection and emphasise the right syllables.
I would personally recommend this to anyone who, like me, had no previous knowledge of Mandarin and wants to start from the very beginning. Next I plan to move onto a more advanced CD or book, but this is definteley a worthy starting point.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to a complex but useful language., 12 July 2008
By 
Flickering Ember "I need a break and I wanna ... (Once Upon A Long Ago.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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I chose this course as the demand for Mandarin speakers is at a premium, and I thought it would be useful for this reason and because I am trekking the great wall of China for charity and would like to communicate with the locals in their own language as much as possible.

The course is well thought out, with the CDs clearly and succinctly spoken with emphasis on the pronunciation and repetition, as well as explaining context.

The accompanying booklet explains how to pronounce things the way they are written which is of course useful but I would have liked to see it in phonetics too, which is why I can only give it 4 out of 5 stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It isn't easy learning Mandarin, but it isn't this products fault, 13 July 2008
By 
Mr. G. Carroll (LDN | HKG | SZX) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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Language learning is a tricky area. I been wanting to get at least some basic Mandarin under my belt. To date, I haven't made much progress but thats more down to my inability to learn the language rather than these CDs. The CDs ripped straight through to my iPod and I then listened to the lessons on the go. The course makes basic Chinese convenient if not easy to learn. If I have one criticism it is that I think the CDs need to provide western speakers like me with better tools to capture the six tones that are an intrinsic part of the Chinese language.
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