A relatively new channel, with its first upload going live in January 2021, Mandarin Click is a small but focused channel with roughly one new video every week. I'm a big fan of this channel, often watching and rewatching videos multiple times to perfect my understanding. The channel offers a small variety of videos to use as study resources, all free of charge, with a majority of videos being part of their Slow Chinese series.
The channel's content mostly focuses on listening and comprehension skills, with most content perfectly crafted for students to self-study and practice such skills in a comfortable and relaxed format. All videos on the channel feature the host, an experienced language tutor who clearly considers the student when presenting. In every story and lesson, pronunciation is both standard and clear, often accompanied by gentle yet helpful gestures and motions, aiding viewers understanding - especially so with new or advanced grammar and vocabulary.
My favourite feature of this channel is how the lessons are divided into HSK level groups. Rather than simply being HSK1, 2, 3 etc, lessons are merged between levels, covering 1-2, 2-3, 3-4 and 4-5. This makes it a comfortable and approachable way to push your understanding and begin slowly exposing yourself to new grammar, vocabulary and concepts without finding yourself confused. This system helps to blur the boundaries between HSK levels also, making the exponential jump in vocabulary much less daunting.
Videos are short, ranging from two minutes to twelve, depending on the series. The straight to the point - no intro, warmup nor preamble, gets you practising Mandarin immediately. Unless you choose to enable close-captions, there is no English in the videos whatsoever, further immersing you into the story and learning environment. This efficient, short length makes the lessons perfect for quick study sessions or even as a productive break between other tasks.
So far, most of the videos posted are part of the Slow Chinese series; a series of stories told at an understandable pace, along with imagery, expressions and 汉字 (Hànzì, Chinese characters). It's also possible to read English transcriptions of the lessons by enabling captions.
Each lesson invites you into a new scene, not far off the short stories told in premium graded readers or textbook excerpts. Each line of dialogue is carefully and clearly spoken by the presenter, encouraging you to immerse yourself in the story.
Moreover, this format remains no matter the HSK level of the material covered, fostering a comfortable environment even for advanced students to follow - a rarity in language resources often only reserved for beginner materials.
Anecdotally, following the less-than-conversational pace of Slow Chinese lessons has greatly improved my confidence in Chinese listening so far.
Beyond the staple Slow Chinese, Mandarin Click also offers a slowly growing range of listening and grammar study videos covering Chengyu and idioms, ancient Chinese folktales, grammar structures and more.
Stories, Folktales and Chengyu (Idioms)
Presented as an interactive whiteboard lesson, the folktales are read whilst the literature behind each breath is broken down and explained onscreen. This teaching method is quite unique, as the story is told without breaks or pauses for context like in a structured lecture.
I find this method to be a perfect middle ground between attempting to self study a text and following a lecture - as the onus of understanding remains on the student, with plenty of opportunities to pause and study further, yet the breakdown of each new word aiding to hold the hand of students in the case of small understanding pitfalls - letting viewers quickly gain context between phrases and lines, without having to leave the immersed story environment.
Sentence Structure and Grammar
This series is presented in a similar style to the staple Slow Chinese lessons, with each episode focusing on a different grammar structure. In these stories, the grammar structure covered is used frequently throughout, providing plenty of examples and real-world language practice for the student. Further, the structure is highlighted in the transcription, drawing attention to the structure.
If you're a fan of the free content, there is also an option to sponsor the channel for approx £5 a month (or similar in your local currency), giving you access to supporting materials for each video, including MP3 audio, videos without 拼音 (Pīnyīn, romanised Chinese), PDF downloads with comprehension tests and more.
The supporting PDFs are a superb resource, rivalling handouts offered in language classes - boasting fully translated and transliterated transcripts, the story in just 汉字, 'comprehension test' quizzes to gauge your understanding, and more.
The premium package offers incredible value for money, especially considering the monthly cost for access to the entire catalogue is half the cost of a typical graded reader. After taking out a premium subscription via YouTube myself ahead of this review, I strongly recommend considering membership for all serious students - especially those who are self-taught.
Ultimately the effort and polish put into each video this channel produces is astonishing and it makes for a great addition to your study resources. With the majority of the channel's incredibly well-produced material being available to watch entirely free, something quite uncommon in this field, every student should take advantage of Mandarin Click, even just to watch once.
It's impossible for me to fault the channel in any rating category, ergo its glowing scores in the 饺子 Jiǎo zi rating scale below.
The only negatives I can find for this resource involve me being extremely picky: the once-a-week upload frequency (which is still both incredibly frequent for a small operation, and more consistent than I am with this blog!) and the shortness of the videos, although I would prefer to count that as a positive, making them more digestible and convenient.
Mandarin Click is an incredible resource for all Mandarin learners, bar the highly advanced. The thoughtful and considerate teaching style behind the site and the perfectly polished videos and materials make this an excellent resource I recommend to all Mandarin learners.
Total score: 🥟🥟🥟🥟🥟/5 饺子 Jiǎo zi
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