Immersive Chinese seeks to give you the tools to learn practical spoken Chinese in a natural and effective way. Genuine progress in language learning is made not through memorizing vocabulary, but through spending an extended period of time listening to the content you are able to understand.
The lessons in the Serial Course are designed to be as easily comprehensible as possible, and great care was taken to avoid any unnecessary complexity. The aim of the content is to demonstrate how the language works at its core, and give you the necessary building blocks to form your own simple sentences. The learning curve is extremely gentle, and if you progress through the course in the order you should never be confronted with a word you don't know.
In terms of fluency, Repetition Training is where real progress will be made. Although it’s important to familiarise yourself with the content first, the vast majority of your time in the app should be spent in Repetition Training. A language is learned through prolonged exposure to comprehensible input. The carefully designed content in the Serial Course helps tick the "comprehensible" part, and Repetition Training is all about achieving prolonged exposure.
If you have a long commute or an uneventful office job, put on some headphones and run Repetition Training for extended periods (using autoplay). It needn't be active studying; you can switch the screen off and passively listen all through the day. The longer the time spent listening, the better the results. Once you’ve heard sentences dozens of times, they will embed themselves in your brain and start to become second nature. For a beginner, it’s much better to hear the same 50 sentences 20 times than listen to 1000 different sentences once.
Slow and normal speed audio
Beginners often find natural sentences are spoken far too quickly, so Immersive Chinese offers separately recorded slow versions. Hearing a sentence pronounced very slowly and clearly can help you notice details in the pronunciation and tones. The slow audio is mainly intended to be used during regular lessons rather than Repetition Training, although learners consistently struggling to make out the pronunciation can consider using slow audio for a Repetition Training session with limited range.
Note that after lesson 40, most lessons only have one speed of audio, although story lessons still have both speeds. It’s useful to play a story all the way through from start to finish on autoplay using the slow audio as it gives you the sensation of fully understanding prolonged sections of content.
Within the settings menu is a powerful set of tools for customizing sentence playback. "Delay settings" apply to both autoplay and play on swipe, and allow you to set the exact buffer before and after each sentence plays. The idea is to make long Repetition Training sessions as efficient and effective as possible. If you want to want to hear sentences at a fast rate, set both pre-delay and post-delay to something short (you can experiment and see what fits best). If you need more time to process what you've just heard, set post-delay to something longer. If you want time to read the text first before the audio plays, increase the length of pre-delay.
It's also possible to set the delay to be relative to the length of the sentence. This is to give you time to repeat the sentence out-loud in the gap before the next sentence. Because learners will usually speak relatively slowly, it's recommended to use "1.5x audio length", or "2x audio length".
"Repeat delay" sets the time interval between repetitions of the same sentence (used when "Repeat (autoplay)" is set to "play twice" or "play three times"). This time delay can also be scaled to audio length if required.
This app focuses on natural language and basic spoken sentences. It does not aim to be a universal resource for all aspects of the Chinese language, and in particular, does not make any attempt to teach written Chinese (an entirely separate area of study). Ideally, you should use Immersive Chinese alongside other teaching materials.
Listening to audio is also not a substitute for actually speaking. Learners should always try to seek out opportunities to converse with others using the target language.