- Comprehensive Mandarin course
- Innovative teaching method
- Well-structured curriculum
- Strong community
- Lots of content
- Lack of 24/7 customer support
- A bit pricey
If there’s one thing that we can all agree on it’s that learning Chinese is challenging. The language has unique pronunciation – where your tone changes the meaning of a word – and features a complicated alphabet that not even native speakers know fully. So, it’s not surprising that around 90% of Mandarin students give up. But Mandarin Blueprint is here to save the day. Created by two people who learned the language from scratch and became fluent, the app offers a fresh perspective on teaching Mandarin – where students start by learning the different tones. After getting a grasp of the pronunciation, you’ll begin to learn characters and components. To achieve this, Mandarin Blueprint follows a unique teaching sequence called Optimal Character Learning Order (OCLO) that speeds up the learning process tremendously. If that wasn’t enough, the company offers a 14-day trial to test everything out, which is enough time to learn the first phase of the course for free.
Mandarin Blueprint boasts 4,200 lessons and over 1,000 videos, covering 4,000 common words and including more than 100 stories and dialogues. But there are two main characteristics that help Mandarin Blueprint outshine its competition. First, the unique teaching method to learn Chinese characters – Optimal Character Learning Order – offers a fresh perspective and ensures students learn the right characters at the right time. In this sequence, each new piece of the alphabet has been carefully chosen to speed up your learning process. Nothing is random, and you’ll quickly find yourself motivated by your own progression. On top of this, the app also applies the Hanzi Movie Method, which takes advantage of mnemonic visualization to accelerate memorization of character components, tones, and Pinyin initials and finals.
But a language isn’t just about characters and tones – you need to learn vocabulary and grammar too. Mandarin Blueprint saves this for the more advanced phases of the course. When it comes to learning new words, the platform helps you link vocabulary to things that you already know, such as characters, sounds, and images by using a vast card deck with over 10,000 flashcards.
Meanwhile, grammar exercises are divided into two sections. You start with sentence construction and then proceed to paragraph building. Again, Mandarin Blueprint goes above and beyond to make sure you have an efficient and fun learning experience. All content is created in-house to make sure you’re only reading and listening to things you can understand. The idea is that you’ll get to know new words by their context instead of checking the dictionary every five minutes. As the last step, Mandarin Blueprint provides stories from ancient China and western classics to hone your skills even further.
Mandarin Blueprint’s curriculum is divided into six courses called Phases 1 through 5 and an Intermediate Course, and these are then split into several units. Classes are held by the cofounders, who explain everything you need to know about Mandarin in short clips. Each lesson takes around three minutes to complete, but you can delve deeper into each theme by downloading the reading materials found in the sidebar. It’s important to be aware of these, as Mandarin Blueprint provides hundreds of interesting ebooks, study sheets, and more. Additionally, we suggest going over the comments at the bottom of the page, as many students leave helpful tips to improve your learning experience.
Although you can skip lessons as you see fit, it’s recommended that you follow the set course structure. Mandarin Blueprint’s curriculum was created meticulously, and each step is required to get the full benefits of the course. Exercises become increasingly difficult with your progression, and the platform introduces new tools as you go. Finally, at the end of each unit, you have a video review with a native speaker, a quiz to check whether you have understood everything so far, and some bonus lessons with Mandarin tips and tricks.
On desktop, Mandarin Blueprint is only available via a browser. Although it would be good to have a desktop app, the online platform is accessible and videos load quickly – we didn’t face any problems while testing it. You also have the option to download the content to study offline.
Mandarin Blueprint doesn’t have a dedicated mobile app either, but it’s possible to learn on the go by creating a free account on Kajabi. There, you can link your Mandarin Blueprint account and access a lighter version of the website. All features are still available, and it’s quite intuitive to go through the classes. Our only minor critique is that the layout isn’t as pretty as the desktop browser version, but it’s a nice workaround to have all your Mandarin lessons at your fingertips. Another option is to access the online platform through your mobile browser, but it will take longer to load content and consumes more battery power.
There are three ways to get Mandarin Blueprint: signing up for a monthly subscription, making a one-time purchase, or paying in installments. All of them offer full access to the course but they have a few differences. The monthly plan costs $39, and you can cancel anytime you want. On the other hand, the $599 full bundle offers you lifetime access to the platform, including future classes and features. For those who can’t afford this investment right away, Mandarin Blueprint also provides the option to get lifetime access through 12 monthly installments of $65 each. Bear in mind that this increases the total price to $780, though.
Before you commit to a purchase, we recommend taking advantage of the 14-day free trial available. The trial offers access to the first phase of the course, which you can complete before the trial ends by studying every day. If you decide to proceed with a paid account, you still have a 30-day money-back guarantee to try out the other courses and ask for a refund. Speaking of refunds, Mandarin Blueprint has committed itself to give your money back if you don’t reach the expected results, provided you send them your flashcard review statistics.
It’s important to understand that Mandarin Blueprint is still a small company. This means that it doesn’t have the workforce to maintain a 24/7 customer support department. Still, the company has various ways for you to reach them. Besides email and live chat, Mandarin Blueprint has a forum where you can ask other students for help. Plus, the company is active on Facebook and Twitter, which is a great place to get in touch and find frequent discounts. But things don’t end there.
Mandarin Blueprint’s cofounders host a weekly podcast that you can listen to for free on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher. Finally, you can download the informative ebooks available with useful tricks on learning Mandarin and visit the company’s blog to find articles about Chinese culture and grammar tips.
If you want to learn Chinese, you won’t find much better than Mandarin Blueprint. By using its own OCLO technique and the Hanzi Movie Method, it really speeds up the process and makes Mandarin easier to grasp. Plus, its detailed course design makes the curriculum well-structured and ensures you never bite off more than you can chew. Still, the course is primarily self-taught, which means you don’t have someone to tell you whether you’re using the correct tones or appropriate mouth movements. Fortunately, Mandarin Blueprint is backed up by a strong community of happy students, making it easy to find a study buddy. The 14-day free trial is also quite generous – if you study every day, you’ll be able to complete Mandarin Blueprint’s phase one for free. Although there isn’t a way to save on Mandarin Blueprint, it’s nice that the company offers various purchasing options to cater to all types of students.