Here are some guidelines on how to get the most out of your Rocket Chinese course:
Rocket Chinese contains
1) audio lessons, which you listen to;
2) textual lessons, which you read; and
3) learning games, which you play.
But all three components have one thing in common: each one of them involves your own active participation.
With the audio lessons in the Rocket Chinese Interactive Audio Course, you will add your own voice to the conversations that are the focus of each lesson, both by repeating words to practice your pronunciation, and by saying the correct word or phrase when prompted by your host. These audio lessons come with supplementary written transcripts.
With the textual lessons, which focus on the grammar of the Chinese language and view it in its contemporary cultural context, you will walk through the various steps of how to build more and more complex sentences, and how to write in Chinese. These text-based lessons are illustrated and contain embedded audio clips for new words and phrases.
With the software-based learning games, you can test your memorization of Chinese words, sounds, and verb changes through dynamic game-play and receive active feedback in real time.
By including all of these components, the course caters to many different learning styles, and you are free to explore the course material in whatever way you'd like.
But there are some GUIDELINES that you may want to follow when taking your first steps on the path to understanding and speaking conversational Chinese:
Listen to the first three lessons of the Interactive Audio Course. This is the best way to acquaint yourself with the sound and rhythm of the language, as well as your two speakers, Lin Ping and David Lewis.
For the first time you listen to these first few lessons, we suggest doing so without the written transcripts, so that the focus remains on listening comprehension.
Go back and listen to the lessons again. This may sound like unwelcome advice, but you will find that you will often have to go back to go forward when learning any new language. The process is incremental, which means you will only be able to take in so much at any given time. But you will notice not only how much more of the material you recognize, but also how much quicker you pick things up the second time around.
The second time you listen to the Interactive Audio lessons, you should be comfortable enough to refer to the written transcripts of the conversations.
You'll find that your comprehension will skyrocket when you are able to see what the language looks like. Keep in mind, however, that even if you keep the transcript in front of you when you listen, you should always try to THINK of the meaning of what you hear BEFORE you read it (even if that means continually pausing the audio track to give yourself more time for the meaning to appear in your head).
When you have found that you can comfortably listen to the audio lessons, AND participate in them on cue without getting lost or overwhelmed, then it's time to explore the lessons that make up the Rocket Chinese Grammar & Culture Series.
These lessons dive deeper into the mechanics of the language, and also reward you with relevant explanations about where, how, why, and when to use the language skills that you have gained.
The added benefit of the "cultural notes" that are included in each section is that you will gain a richer understanding of Chinese society and - ideally - you will have much more to talk about!
In total, there are 31 lessons in the Grammar & Culture Series, and these correspond closely (but not exactly) to the 31 lessons in the Interactive Audio Course. When you reach the stage where you are confident with the audio lessons, it may be a good time to set yourself a more regimented schedule of progress. For example, you may do one audio lesson plus one grammar lesson each day for a month, or every other day (getting through them in two months).
However strict a path you want to follow, always remember the magic word: incremental. That is, if you decide to set one day aside to stuff your head with five lessons, it is very unlikely that you will retain most of what went into it! Also, even when you are well into the course, you can only make things easier when you go back and listen to the lessons over again. You'll hear your own Chinese accent getting sharper each time.
Get your game on with Rocket Chinese's range of software-based learning games. Even though we've listed this as a possible step four on your fast-track to learning conversational Chinese, you can use these learning games at any time, and especially when you feel like you want a break from sustained listening or reading with regard to the other course material. Because they are so entertaining and easy to use, the MegaChinese games make "motivation" an after-thought.
No matter how "competitive" you think you are, you will find these games a welcome challenge, and gain great satisfaction when you see your score improve each time!
There are two types of MegaChinese games:
These two games will allow you to build your vocabulary (MegaVocab) and improve your recognition of spoken Chinese (MegaAudio), and these two games do not require much if any background learning.
With both games you have the choice of being tested using pinyin or classical Chinese writing.
A fifth step in the process of learning conversational Chinese with your Rocket Chinese learning package doesn't necessarily DIRECTLY involve any of the materials included IN the package! But it is still a most essential step: PRACTICE and SHARE what you've learned.
We implore you to take what you've learned and practice it in the real world. Whether that means saying the date and time in Chinese whenever you check it yourself, or teaching your dog commands in Chinese, do whatever it takes!
There is also a fantastic resource to share thoughts and get answers to any questions that may be stumping you: the Rocket Chinese Leaner's FORUM. The place where you are right now! This is a virtual helpdesk where you not only get answers and advice from the Rocket Chinese team but also from fellow learners who are often working with the same material you are.
Even better, YOU can give answers and advice to them, and that's a great way to reinforce your own knowledge.
All of the components of the Rocket Chinese language learning package were mentioned in the suggested "Learning Path." In summary, those components are:
The 31-lesson Interactive Audio Course
The 31 Grammar & Culture Lessons
The MegaChinese range of software-based learning games:
AND the Rocket Chinese Learner's Forum on our web site
All the best for your Chinese learning!
Your Rocket Chinese Team