You know when you search online and you happen to stumble upon a product that just completely and utterly blows you away?
I, for one, did not expect that product to be a Chinese course – one that prepares you for a test, nonetheless.
But, Chinese Zero to Hero has done something very special with their curriculum, focusing on preparing students for the Chinese HSK exams by teaching through the most popular and standard HSK textbooks. But, they haven’t stopped there. They have courses on pronunciation as well as outlining a path to fluency for those at the advanced levels.
So, do I recommend them? It’s a big YES from me. And it’s definitely not just for people preparing for the HSK.
In this guide, I will evaluate Chinese Zero to Hero based on my experience with their HSK 5 course (which I am currently enrolled in and taking). I have also gone through a number of their Path to Fluency courses and have utilized their resources page quite a bit on their website.
Chinese Zero to Hero Review Summary
Chinese Zero to Hero breaks down the most popular HSK textbook series in easy to understand videos accompanied with an extremely useful suite of resources ranging from audio recordings to flashcards.
Pros of Chinese Zero to Hero
Cons of Chinese Zero to Hero
Now, let’s take a deeper look into Chinese Zero to Hero and see what they have to offer and if it is the right solution for you. For your convenience, use the table of contents to navigate to different sections of the review.
What is Chinese Zero to Hero?
Chinese Zero to Hero is an online course platform focused on helping take Chinese students of any level to a hero in Chinese, eventually being able to pass their respective HSK levels.
HSK? What’s That?
To explain why Chinese Zero to Hero is so valuable, it’s important to know what the HSK is. The Chinese HSK exam is one way Chinese learners can test their proficiency in Chinese. There are a total of 6 levels currently (there will be 9 in the future but that’s for another day) and each of the levels denotes where your Chinese is at, which 6 being the most fluent. To oversimplify, someone who cannot pass HSK 1 is a beginner, someone who passes HSK 3 is intermediate, and someone who passes HSK 5 is advanced.
Why study for the HSK? Well, if you plan on studying at a university in China, many require a certain proficiency, like HSK 5 or 6. It also may be asked when applying for jobs in China. Or, if you are a self-learner, it can be a great way to gauge your actual language level in a standardized way.
Here are the benefits you can expect by taking a Chinese Zero to Hero course:
Courses Offered by Chinese Zero to Hero
As of 2020, Chinese Zero to Hero offers HSK courses from 1 to 6. They also offer a few a la carte courses like Path to Fluency, a (free) pronunciation course, and a word builder course.
1. Course Content Style
Each of the courses is very well-thought-out. After an introduction section that gives you a glimpse into the many bonuses and resources you get for being a Chinese Zero to Hero student, you can begin the first lesson of the book.
*Side note: The books that the lessons follow need to be purchased separately from the courses.
The lessons start with a warm-up to highlight important vocabulary and phrases. I love this because, in my current course of HSK 5A, I am able to listen to the warm-up, familiarize myself with the phrases and words while repeating after the speaker (and viewing the on-screen cues), and gain some confidence before jumping into the main text.
After the warm-up, you can read through/listen to the main text. The HSK books also have audio recordings you can review, such as the main text recording and the vocabulary, which are really useful.
After the main text, there are typically a few grammar points for each lesson. The instructors have individual videos / posts about each of these grammar points, expanding upon what is already in the textbook and providing more examples to help solidify the information.
Once you have successfully watched the videos, you can complete the exercises in the book and check your answers. There are also accompanying workbooks for each of the textbooks that you can fill out and check your answers with to their answer key that they provide.
At the end of each chapter, they have a list of recommended homework and extra videos you can watch to expand the textbook knowledge into real-world situations. This is another great expansion beyond the textbook that I think elevates this course to another level.
I mean, these guys really think outside the box here. They even made flashcards for all of the lessons and recorded custom recordings with explanations for each of them. THAT is impressive (and extremely useful!).
2. Textbook VS. Chinese Zero to Hero
I’ve ordered dozens of Chinese textbooks and actually started using the HSK Standard textbooks before I found Chinese Zero to Hero. You may be asking, “What if I just used the textbooks by themselves and not go through Chinese Zero to Hero?”
Well, you definitely could. In fact, that’s what I did for HSK 4. But, if I could go back, I would definitely recommend going through with Chinese Zero to Hero.
Put simply, for about the same price as the textbook itself, you are able to get weeks upon weeks of detailed instruction for each of the chapters and lessons. From getting the flashcards made for you, grammar points explained, readings demystified – if you hired a 1-on-1 tutor to go through all of these with you, the investment would be substantial.
Granted, I love myself a good online course. And the investment in Chinese Zero to Hero is like having a professional teacher teach you concepts whenever you need to. It’s amazing and better than just going solo with the textbook.
3. Does It Work?
I have a confession – I have never taken an official HSK exam. I have taken the HSK 4 unofficially (and passed it) after going through the textbooks but never an official exam. Do I think it works, though? 100%. You can see the testimonials on the site that they have helped a number of students pass the HSK exam successfully. And, they offer a money-back guarantee on all their courses so if you feel it isn’t working for you, you can always get a refund.
Personally, I feel like the structure it adds to my Chinese learning, the knowledge they share beyond the textbook, and the amount of practice materials they supply for me as a language learner make it well-worth the money and I feel I have made tremendous strides in my Chinese since enrolling in their courses.
For those that are looking to pass an HSK exam, look no further – this is the solution for you. But, even if you aren’t looking to pass an HSK exam, the structured learning they bring to a fantastic series of Chinese textbooks should not be overlooked. For those that just want a path to Mandarin fluency, this is an excellent option.
If you want to give Chinese Zero to Hero a try, you can sign up for some of their trial lessons below to see if it is a good fit.
Happy learning and I hope this review was helpful for you!