Chinese Zero to Hero Review (2023) – Is It Worth It?

Chinese Zero to Hero Review
  • What is the best course to study for the HSK?
  • Is Chinese Zero to Hero worth my time and money?
  • Is Chinese Zero to Hero better than other Chinese courses?
  • Who should buy Chinese Zero to Hero?
  • What is the best course to study Mandarin Chinese?

Yoyo Chinese. Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur. ChinesePod.

I’ve taken so many online Chinese courses and I’ve finally found the ultimate one.

Spoiler alert: Chinese Zero to Hero is my favorite Mandarin course of all time. I’ll explain why below in my full review.

Chinese Zero to Hero Review: Our Verdict

Best Overall Mandarin Course for All Levels

Chinese Zero to Hero is the best learning resource for preparing for and passing the HSK test. And is my favorite overall for any type of Mandarin learning. The instructors teach the material in a very well-structured way that is both engaging and easy to follow. The best part? The folks at Chinese Zero to Hero are constantly adding new content, making them a place you can continue to learn Chinese with over time.

Pros of Chinese Zero to Hero

Complete coverage of HSK 1 to HSK 6 and beyond
Videos are available for offline download and learning
Flashcards are provided (with native pronunciation)
Videos are very well done and easy to follow
Pay once, get access forever
Lots of free content

Cons of Chinese Zero to Hero

Learning with a textbook may not be for everyone
No exclusive, private community

In this review, 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 on their website.

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 fluency 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 the most popular and standardized way Chinese learners can test their proficiency in Chinese. There are a total of 9 levels – 1 is beginner and 9 is native-level fluency.

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:

Learn a wide-range of Chinese, both for tests and for real-life use
Pass your HSK exams
Learn formal and informal Chinese
Test your retention with built-in quizzes
Learn from a structured, all-in-one course system

Courses Offered by Chinese Zero to Hero

As of 2022, Chinese Zero to Hero offers HSK courses from 1 to 6 with a wide range of additional courses that help with various areas of your Mandarin learning.

The following courses are currently available on Chinese Zero to Hero:

  • HSK 1-2 (Beginner Mandarin Chinese)
  • HSK 3-4 (Intermediate Mandarin Chinese)
  • HSK 5-6 (Advanced Mandarin Chinese)
  • New HSK 7-9 Words
  • Learn Chinese with Poems
  • Learn Chinese with Songs
  • Chinese Movies and TV Dramas
  • Chinese History
  • Learn Chinese with TV News
  • Path to Fluency
  • Chinese Word Builder
  • Phonetics with Chinese Characteristics

Chinese Zero to Hero 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. They are affordable and easy to follow online.

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.

HSK 1A Sample Student Dashboard

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.

HSK 5B Course Dashboard Sample

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 the answer key that they provide.

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!).

HSK Textbooks 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 and did 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 (I also hired a 1-on-1 tutor for HSK 4 and the cost was, verifiably, substantial).

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.

Does Chinese Zero to Hero Work?

Although I have not taken the HSK 5 test (yet), I have made progress working through the textbook and feel that I will be ready when the time comes. The practice workbook is getting filled up, my vocabulary is expanding, and the amount of Chinese I am able to understand is increasing. It’s very fun to be able to watch some of the expansion videos they have and be able to understand words that you have just learned in the texts!

So, while I do not have a true transformation of posting my HSK test score here (yet), I do feel like I am making progress and am excited to continue working hard to reach that goal.

The Verdict for Chinese Zero to Hero

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you are preparing for an HSK test, this is hands-down the best option.

Or, if you are simply looking for an online course to learn Mandarin from or to continue learning Mandarin from, I think this is the best course on the market.

With their clear instruction, helpful practice resources, and real-life expansion sections that showcase what you are learning in the real world, you will be preparing for the HSK test in a way that also prepares you for using Mandarin in the real world.

My recommendation? Check out their site, look at their freebies, and enroll in a course, even one of their free ones. They have a money-back guarantee so, if it isn’t a good fit, you can always request a refund.

Happy learning and I hope this review was helpful for you!