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Linguaphone is a popular CD course through which you can learn Chinese Mandarin. It is comprised of eight audio CD's containing over 2000 Mandarin words and phrases that can be used to improve your experience as you travel or work in China. It is designed to develop and enhance your everyday conversational abilities in Mandarin whether you are a beginner or an intermediate level speaker. You have a few choices of packages: you can buy the CD package which includes vocabulary textbooks for £52.43 or if you prefer to learn on your computer you can download the program direct to your PC or laptop and the textbook come in PDF format for a mere £41.93. Excellent prices, indeed, but beware if you want to study from beginner level right through to advanced level when you must buy the complete package which totals at £209.93. Now questions remain, what method does Linguaphone use and it is effective for learning Mandarin?
Linguaphone is an audio based CD course, primarily focused on an audio-lingual approach, which is based on listening and repeating vocabulary and sentence structures spoken by native speakers of Mandarin. The audio contains 'real life' conversations (spoken by actors) as well as an English guide who explains things to you in English. This is suitable for those wishing to improve conversational Mandarin, and for those who want to learn on the move, or brush up on their Mandarin skills without immersing themselves in an intensive study program. Linguaphone prides itself on the fact that there is no reading and writing in the beginner to intermediate package. This can be a positive or negative feature depending on what you are looking for. The beginner to advanced contains a more detailed study of Mandarin in terms of grammar and sentence structure as well as reading. So, you must decide on what you want from Linguaphone - simply to improve your conversational Mandarin or grapple with the complexities of Mandarin grammar and sentence structure.
There are limits to the effectiveness of the audio lingual approach. In short, you can only learn so much when listening to audio and repeating it. That said it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with the sounds of a language and it is great to hear the words spoken by a native which ensures your pronunciation is accurate. Yet the lack of focus on reading and writing may be of a concern depending on the depth of learning you want to pursue. It must be said that each package does contain a textbook of vocabulary and the beginner to advanced package contains even more activities based on oral exercises, writing and pronouncing pin yin. So it is a little misleading to say Linguaphone is simply listening and repeating but to a large extent it is.
Overall, Linguaphone is a good package, but is perhaps better suited to a learner who already has some knowledge of Mandarin. How effective simply listening and repeating would be for a beginner is hard to evaluate. It really depends on prior knowledge and, if you have little of that, there are other language learning programs better suited to your needs. If you run a business or want to supplement this package with other Mandarin learning material Linguaphone would be entirely suitable. Why not give the free demo a try and see if it works for you? The choice is yours.
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