It is no secret that Mandarin is one of the hardest languages to learn, and for this reason the tried and tested Rosetta Stone learning methodology is ideal for immediately getting to grips with the basics. The Rosetta Stone Chinese teaching method is the standard image recall system it uses across all its language software. However, in this instance the program uses Pinyin. Pinyin is Mandarin Chinese written using Romanized letters. For instance, you are shown an apple and the words "ping guo" appear below the image to indicate that "ping guo" means apple. And so the repetition continues. You will then hear a native speaker's pronunciation to help you become familiar with the word. After a period of study you will be able to assign the correct audio (word) to the correct picture. A correct answer warrants a green tick mark and a wrong answer an orange cross.
The process used by Rosetta Stone Chinese will enable you to steadily build up your Chinese vocabulary. You will slowly begin to be able to develop basic sentences and become familiar with grammar and sentence construction. The general idea is to learn lots of words through image association and then start to piece the words together to create sentences.
During the course of the program you will also improve your listening and speaking skills by listening to conversations of native speakers. By using the headset and microphone that comes with the package you can repeat the words spoken by natives to hone your pronunciation. Your accuracy is monitored by voice graph and voice recognition software, which you may feel is not entirely trustworthy. Your writing skills are improved by transcribing the Mandarin letters via the Pinyin method for Romanization which you will find useful - the program provides you with an online keypad with both regular and accented Pinyin letters.
Rosetta Stone Chinese is available in both an online and boxed format. The online version is handy but often slow to load; you will also need to renew your subscription after either 6 months or 1 year, depending on your choice of package. Having the physical CD format for life is a far better, albeit expensive, investment.
Rosetta Stone Chinese is a solid way to learn Mandarin Chinese. It provides a natural learning environment with progressive lessons that allow you to master grammar and vocabulary at a controlled pace. However, the key problem with this program is the approach of learning by hearing in the context of what we see. New research has discovered that while children up to the age of about 12 do learn that way, teenagers and adults learn second languages more effectively by using their first language to help them learn another. In light of this, Rosetta Stone is far too one-dimensional, limiting the learning process to one that may not be suited to everyone. Because of this, and because of the extortionate price tag, looking into some of the other more affordable, multi faceted Chinese Mandarin learning programs is advisable. If you're looking for a better Chinese course at a lower price, I recommend checking out the comparison.