Chinese Zero to Hero Review (2021) – HSK Study Guide!

Chinese Zero to Hero Review

This is a review of Chinese Zero to Hero.

The HSK test is one great indicator of your current Mandarin level and is required by some jobs and university enrollments in China, Taiwan, and other Mandarin-speaking countries. I have learned Mandarin Chinese in college and lived in China as well for a period of time, but I actually never had my HSK level tested. As I prepare to go abroad once again to explore career and life opportunities, I found myself needing to prepare for an HSK test.

How does Chinese Zero to Hero do in preparing you for the HSK test?

Chinese Zero to Hero provides you the step-by-step framework to go from HSK 1 (absolute beginner) to HSK 6 (absolute beast) in Mandarin Chinese. They use the popular and well-crafted HSK textbooks for their lessons and are very thoughtful in creating educational materials that make learning and practicing Mandarin easier on the learning, including giving you premade flashcards, on-the-go audio recordings, and even real-life videos and texts to practice what you just learned in the real world.

With all of the above, Chinese Zero to Hero comes highly recommended by me for anyone that is preparing for an HSK test. Though, even if you are not preparing for an HSK test and just want a structured approach to learning Mandarin, you will also be well-served here.

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 is the best learning resource for preparing for and passing the HSK test. The instructors teach the material in a very well-structured way that is both engaging and easy to follow. The courses go above and beyond to give you additional materials that make practicing what you have learned easy with premade flashcards, audio recordings, and more. And, 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
Very affordable price
Lots of free content

Cons of Chinese Zero to Hero

This is more of a wishlist item but would love to see them run a cohort of people through one of the modules, like HSK 5, over a period of a number of weeks for accountability.

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, with a few more being added above level 6, 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:

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 2021, 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 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!).

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 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.

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. 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.

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