About Me

Welcome to Learn Chinese!


My name is Ronan and I live in Shanghai. When I first came to China; I was shocked to meet long-term expats who didn’t speak the language. My immediate manager at the time had been here six years and couldn’t even say ‘hello’. It was embarrassing. I swore I wouldn’t be the same. That was five years ago.

In that time I’ve tried every conceivable method of learning Chinese. Books, flashcards, group classes, one-on-one classes, I’ve even taken time off work to study full time! I’ve had some success, but I’m nowhere near where I should be.

The truth is that I lost months at a time using the wrong method, or letting one skill atrophy whilst working on another. I’d get frustrated and take six months off, and then it’d be like starting from scratch. I’ve started from scratch several times. At long last, I feel like I’m making the kind of progress I should’ve been making all along. But it’s taken a lot of experimentation.

The main thing I’ve learned in all this time was not actually Chinese-it was how to learn. Working as an English teacher helped me to see things from the educators side. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter what you learn, or how you learn it-what matters is that you actually show up consistently and do the work.

Different people are suited to different learning styles. You will have different learning styles at different points in your life. This is not some high-minded observation on human nature, it’s actually quite practical. We have different resources, especially in terms of time and attention.

The high-power high-stress business person doesn’t have the luxury of learning like a relaxed exchange student. And the exchange student doesn’t have the benefit of life experience(read: existential fear of failure and poverty). The result is that the business person needs highly targeted instruction. Whereas the exchange student might be better suited to longer classes, with a more social atmosphere.



This website was started to stop you from making the same mistakes I did. There is a cost to any learning system, and I’ve spent a lot of time and money on things that just don’t work. I have friends and co-workers who are starting to learn, and they’re making the exact same mistakes as I did!

I don’t want that to happen. This website was started to grab them by the shoulders and scream “No! You fools! You blind fools! Don’t do it!”. But that might get me in trouble with HR, so I started this website instead.



Having worked with both children and adults, I can say without question that the most effective way to learn anything is to live with your parents. This effect is doubled if your mom checks your homework every night, and regularly calls the teacher to check if you’ve been behaving in class. This system is powerful beyond measure. But it comes at a cost most adults aren’t prepared to pay-living with their parents.

The goal of this site therefore is to showcase all the different methods and techniques that are out there for learning Chinese-and their cost. When I say cost I mean time, money, and energy. .

This website was started to help you figure out which system is the best for you, right now. And what factors will help you make that decision. Learning Chinese is hard, picking a system you can stick to is absolutely crucial.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,



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