Chinese Language Publishing's Ulearn Chinese is, alongside Harold Brown's adaptation of Michel Thomas' method for adults, the most important development to date in teaching Mandarin to English speakers. The scheme covers all of the areas in which an English speaker - or speaker of another European language - needs to adjust his or her thinking to learn Chinese, and presents new material, including the sound and writing system, in a way that is easy to learn for a beginner. Children and adults can learn together.
A screenshot of the Chinese soundbooth. Note that hearing, speaking, and reading in pinyin and characters are presented together, maximising the use of available channels of communication.
Writing in characters is carefully and effectively taught, with large hand movements, alongside the phonic pinyin writing, and there is even a virtual pinyin keyboard. The cost is £250 for the first of 6 units, or £1000 for the complete course (so far, Units 1 and 2 have been completed). All resources can be copied or printed off as required, and an unlimited site licence allows children and their parents to practise at home. Even with money as tight as it is, this is a bargain, and the publishers are negotiating with several Spanish regional authorities to provide online services to all of their schools.
All in all, a major contribution to European-Chinese understanding, and an intellectual tour de force by its author, Kate Hammond, and by the software team. Click here to visit the publishers' site.