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ChineseClass101 Review: See Features, Cost, and Alternatives

Kelsey Wetherbee Published on May 25, 2022
ChineseClass101 review

One of the best Chinese language learning apps available

ChineseClass101 uses engaging podcast-style lessons to teach Mandarin Chinese. There is a strong emphasis on vocabulary and culture, which is a nice touch. The lessons are usually 15-20 minutes long and include additional practice activities to help you remember everything. All of these features together make the price completely worth it.


User Experience 8.5
Quality of Content 8
Features Available 8.5
Value for Money 8.5


  • Tons of lessons and additional content
  • Listen to conversations between native speakers
  • Learn about Chinese culture and how it influences the language


  • Too much talk in English
  • Little variation in the lessons
  • Hardly any tool to study writing/characters
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ChineseClass101 Overview

ChineseClass101 is a Mandarin Chinese course developed by the Innovative Language Learning company. It is a highly-developed course that offers tons of lessons and additional resources to help you learn Mandarin. They use podcast-style lessons so you can hear Mandarin spoken by a native speaker. Each lesson has a conversation that they break down to explain different vocabulary and grammar topics. There is also a strong focus on Chinese culture and its impact on the language.

How Long Will It Take You To Learn Chinese?​
What is your current level?
Upper Intermediate
What level do you want to reach?
Upper Intermediate
How many hours will you study each day?
0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4
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ChineseClass101 is one of the best Chinese learning apps out there, both in terms of content and price. For speakers of Western languages, Chinese is a notoriously hard language. ChineseClass101 does an excellent job of breaking down every single element, including pronunciation, intonation, and the importance of formal vs informal language. Each lesson might not teach a lot of material, but it teaches it thoroughly to help you understand.

ChineseClass101 Price

ChineseClass101 offers many different levels of subscriptions to fit your needs and budget. The Basic subscription costs between $4.00 and $8.00 per month. The Premium level costs between $10.00 and $25.00 per month. The Premium+ subscription costs anywhere from $23.00 to $47.00 per month depending on the length of your subscription. You can also access a small amount of the lessons without paying if you sign up for a free account.

germanpod101 price table

So which subscription is worth it? The free access is a good way to try ChineseClass101, but you probably won’t learn much. The Basic level gives you access to all the audio lessons but doesn’t include any of the comprehensive study tools that you get with the Premium subscription. The Premium+ level gives you access to a 1-on-1 Chinese teacher that will correct your written assignments and give you feedback.

The basic subscription is an inexpensive price for the amount of material you get. Chinese apps with a similar price, such as Mondly and MosaLingua, usually don’t offer as in-depth lessons as ChineseClass101. In my opinion, the Premium+ subscription isn’t worth it. You get access to a 1-on-1 tutor, but you aren’t taking a class with them and all contact is done through messaging. I would rather take a class with a real teacher on a site like Verbling, Preply, or italki.

ChineseClass101 Free Trial

ChineseClass101 offers a 7-day free trial. You can access the trial by entering and confirming your email address. You do not have to enter a credit card to get started. With the free trial, you have access to all content available for all levels so you can get a sense if the app is right for you before you buy.

chineseclass101 trial

ChineseClass101 Discount

ChineseClass101 offers many discounts. When I first signed up, I was offered a 10% discount for upgrading during the free trial. There is usually a discount coupon at the top of your dashboard when you log in.

chineseclass101 discount

ChineseClass101 also offers a $1 deal. When you sign up, they offer you a premium subscription for 30 days at the cost of $1.00. I jumped on this deal because it allowed me to try the app for longer without committing to a long-term subscription. But be careful, if you do not cancel your subscription before the 30 days are over, they will start charging you full price for a premium subscription on day 31.

Students can get 20% off of a year-long subscription. You can get this discount without verifying a student email address.

ChineseClass101 Review: How It Can (or Can’t) Help You

Getting started on ChineseClass101 only takes a few minutes. You have to confirm a valid email address, but you don’t have to enter any credit card information. Next, you choose your level: absolute beginner, beginner, intermediate, upper-intermediate, and advanced. There is no placement test, but you are given certain criteria to help you choose what level you are at.

chineseclass101 level

In my case, I chose the absolute beginner level because I only know a few words and phrases in Mandarin. After I selected my level, the absolute beginner pathway was added to my dashboard. This was a series of 77 lessons and quizzes that will guided me through the Chinese basics. There are also additional study resources, but you have to look for them to find them.

Starting my first lesson with ChineseClass101 was a breeze, but I quickly saw that learning Mandarin would not be so easy. With every language, there are challenges that learners can face. So let’s take a look at some of these challenges to see if ChineseClass101 can help you overcome them.

Challenge #1: Beginning a New Language

ChineseClass101 is one of the better resources out there for beginners. I’m just starting to learn Mandarin, but I found that the lessons were easy to follow. The explanations are in English so even if I didn’t understand what was said in Mandarin, they later explained it. Since there are 2 levels dedicated to beginners, there are a ton of lessons to introduce you to this difficult language.

chineseclass101 beginner

Challenge #2: Learning & Remembering New Words

ChineseClass101 has a strong focus on vocabulary. Every lesson includes vocabulary practice so you can work on memorizing the words and phrases you learned in the lesson. Most of the additional resources are ways to practice vocabulary. I especially like the list of 100 Most Common Words to get me started with learning the most used words in Mandarin.

chineseclass101 vocabulary

Challenge #3: Understanding & Speaking to Native Speakers

Because all of the lessons include a conversation between 2 Chinese speakers, it’s a good way to practice listening to spoken Chinese. Of course, they are speaking slowly and clearly, but I thought it was a good start to being able to understand. Even after a few lessons, I was already beginning to understand the dialogues.

chineseclass101 dialogue

On the other hand, there is almost no way to practice speaking. During the lessons, you are prompted to repeat after the teacher, but I don’t think this is a very effective way to practice speaking. There are other platforms out there that are better to help you start speaking such as italki or Preply.

Challenge #4: Making Language Learning a Routine

ChineseClass101 is geared towards adults, and therefore they treat you like an adult. They don’t send many annoying notifications or emails reminding you that it’s time to practice like other apps do. But they do make it easy to practice. The online platform is synced with the mobile app, so you can change devices and pick up where you left off. You can also download lessons to learn when you are offline.

ChineseClass101 Review: Overall Learning Experience

In my opinion, ChineseClass101 is one of the best apps for learning Chinese. For Western language speakers, Mandarin can be a very difficult language because of the differences. It’s a tonal language that uses a different writing system and has different grammar structures. But ChineseClass101 does a decent job of trying to overcome these hurdles.

Each lesson provides a reasonable amount of content that can be learned by listening to the lesson and then doing the practice activities. All of the words are also displayed in Pinyin, which is the phonetic spelling of the Chinese words. You can toggle this feature on and off if you are more advanced and don’t need the Pinyin anymore.

Since the lessons are taught mostly in English, beginners will easily understand. Everything is thoroughly explained and repeated so you won’t get lost. Each lesson also has a transcript to help you follow along. They also give quite a bit of cultural explanations which I found useful since Chinese culture has many differences from Western culture.

ChineseClass101 Review: Areas of Improvement

ChineseClass101 is good, but of course, there are some ways that it could be improved or supplemented with another app. For example, there is a lot of chit-chat in English that makes the lessons longer than they need to be. Every lesson is hosted by an English speaker and one or two Chinese speakers. They read the dialogues and explain what you are hearing. To make the lessons seem more personable, they have a lot of extra conversation that starts to get boring. I’d rather they got to the point faster, making the lessons shorter. Apps that use shorter lessons are Mondly and Duolingo.

I hardly found any practice to practice writing and learning Chinese characters. The characters are included in each lesson, but learning to read and write them is very difficult and, I don’t think I could learn them just by seeing them next to the vocabulary word. To learn how to read and write characters (hanzi) you will probably need to use another app like Skritter or The Chairman’s Bao.

ChineseClass101 Alternatives and Competitors

I think that ChineseClass101 is an excellent way to start learning Mandarin, but maybe it isn’t right for you. There are many alternative apps out there. Two of the most similar apps out there are ChinesePod and Rocket Languages. If you are interested in learning more vocabulary, you could try Memrise or Drops. Duolingo might not be the most effective app to learn, but it still has lots of free content. Mondly and FluentU are also other popular options you could try.

ChineseClass101 vs Rocket Chinese

Rocket Languages App Homepage

ChineseClass101 and Rocket Chinese are similar because they both have audio lessons that focus on a conversation between native speakers. Rocket Languages offers more practice material for each lesson, but ChineseClass101 offers a lot more additional content outside of the lessons. With Rocket Languages, you pay by the level, but ChineseClass101 offers a monthly subscription. The better choice depends on if you want to buy the Rocket Language course upfront, or pay a monthly subscription for ChineseClass101. To learn more about Rocket Languages, you can check out this review.

ChineseClass101 vs Mondly

Mondly App Homepage

Mondly and ChineseClass101 use very different lesson styles. ChineseClass101 uses longer, audio lessons, while Mondly uses shorter, flashcard-style lessons. Mondly is easier to use on the go because the lessons are short and quick, but ChineseClass101 is better to have a deeper understanding of Chinese language and culture. The price of a ChineseClass101 Basic subscription and a Mondly subscription are similar. The choice is up to you. If you are interested in Mondly, you can read more about it in this review.

ChineseClass101 vs italki

italki homepage

For this match-up, it makes the most sense to compare the Premium+ subscription of ChineseClass101 to italki. The Premium+ subscription of ChineseClass101 gives you access to 1-on-1 feedback from a tutor. However, it is all down through messages and written communication. You don’t have classes with a teacher. But italki is a platform that connects you to a live teacher that will give you an hour-long class. The price of a ChineseClass101 Premium+ subscription is about the price of 2 classes on italki. I think if you are a beginner, ChineseClass101 is better, but if you are looking to become conversational, italki will help you more. If you are interested, you can read more about it in this italki review.

ChineseClass101 vs ChinesePod

chinesepod home

ChineseClass101 and ChinesePod often go head to head because they are so similar. They both use audio and video lessons to teach a chunk of the language. Both have tons of lessons and resources to help you learn. Comparing the Basic subscriptions of both, ChineseClass101 is slightly cheaper. Because ChinesePod makes you enter a credit card to try the free trial, and I don’t like doing that, I’m going to give this one to ChineseClass101.

ChineseClass101 Review FAQ

Is ChineseClass101 worth it?

In my opinion, ChineseClass101 is a good way to learn Mandarin Chinese. There are tons of lessons and other content that you use for a relatively inexpensive monthly subscription. It’s an especially good app for beginners.

Is ChineseClass101 free?

ChineseClass101 offers some material for free. You can access the first 3 lessons of every pathway and get a few new lessons every week without paying. You can also use the 7-day trial for free and access all the lessons on the platform.

Is ChineseClass101 legit?

Yes, ChineseClass101 is a real online site and mobile app. It is one of the many courses offered by Innovative Language Learning.

What kind of Chinese does ChineseClass101 teach?

ChineseClass101 teaches Mandarin Chinese. Innovate Language Learning, the company that made ChineseClass101, also offers CantoneseClass101 for people interested in learning Cantonese.

About This ChineseClass101 Review

This is an independent ChineseClass101 review, and the company has not sponsored this article. To write this review, I signed up for the 7-day free trial and used it for a few hours to thoroughly test its content and features. I also found additional information on the ChineseClass101 website to verify my findings.

Kelsey Wetherbee

Kelsey is the Content Manager and Editor of Langoly. She is a TEFL-certified English teacher with more than eight years of classroom experience in three different countries. She’s an avid language learner with an advanced level of Spanish and is currently studying French. Whenever possible, she loves to travel and enjoys meeting people from all over the world. Connect with Kelsey on LinkedIn.

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