Mandarin Blueprint review


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Mandarin Blueprint: An In-Depth Look at This Popular Language Learning Course

Learning Mandarin Chinese is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor. With over 1 billion speakers, Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world. Mastering it opens up opportunities for travel, business, and relationships. Check out the Mandarin Blueprint review from Language Throne. But where do you start? Finding a high-quality language learning program can be difficult and expensive. You want an efficient, comprehensive, and engaging way to achieve fluency. You can also check out Italy Made Easy Review here as well. 

That's where Mandarin Blueprint comes in. This innovative online course has quickly become one of the top recommendations for learning Mandarin.

In this in-depth review, we'll examine Mandarin Blueprint's unique methodology, content, features, pricing, and more. You'll get an honest assessment of its strengths and weaknesses to determine if it's the right fit for you.

Overview of Mandarin Blueprint

Mandarin Blueprint is an online Chinese course designed specifically for English speakers who want to learn Mandarin from scratch.

It was created in 2017 by two non-native fluent Mandarin speakers - Luke Neale from the UK and Phil Crimmins from the US. Both had extensive experience living, working, and studying in China.

Frustrated by the limitations of existing language programs, Luke and Phil developed a new methodology optimized for adult language acquisition. Their goal was to recreate the natural process children use to attain native fluency.

The result is a comprehensive video course with engaging teaching methods, extensive supplementary materials, and a thriving community forum.

Mandarin Blueprint's Unique Teaching Methodology

What sets Mandarin Blueprint apart is its innovative blending of language learning techniques and memory strategies. Two key components form the core of their approach:

Optimal Character Learning Order (OCLO)

OCLO is Mandarin Blueprint's patented sequence for learning Chinese characters.

Rather than introducing characters randomly or alphabetically, OCLO teaches them in an optimized order. You start with the most basic building blocks and progress logically to more complex characters.

This allows you to rapidly acquire literacy by methodically building up your knowledge. OCLO aims to get you reading in Mandarin as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The Hanzi Movie Method

This proprietary memorization system helps you commit new vocabulary to long-term memory.

For each new character, you create a memorable "scene" or "movie" in your mind. This movie creatively encodes the character's meaning, pronunciation, tone, and written form.

By visualizing engaging, vivid mental movies, you can recall characters easily and accelerate your learning. It taps into mnemonic techniques used by memory champions.

Combined, OCLO and the Hanzi Movie Method enhance knowledge retention and comprehension. You learn Mandarin in a strategic sequence using brain-friendly memory strategies.

Comprehensive, Structured Curriculum

Mandarin Blueprint categorizes lessons into six core phases plus additional specialty courses. Here's an overview of what's included:

Phase 0: Pronunciation Mastery

A standalone six-hour audio course focused solely on Mandarin pronunciation. You learn proper tone production and all phonetic sounds from native speaker demonstrations.

Phase 1: Characters and Components

Starts teaching basic characters and radicals using the Hanzi Movie Method and OCLO. Covers the 1,000 most common characters and components.

Phase 2: Words

Builds your vocabulary using mnemonics and word association techniques. Introduces 2,000 essential words.

Phase 3: Sentences

Begins constructing sentences using grammar patterns from comprehensible input. Gains exposure to sentence structure and word order.

Phase 4: Conversations

Expands into dialogues, complex sentences, and paragraph-level content. Enables you to express opinions and discuss topics.

Phase 5: Stories

Focuses on reading short stories and articles using 98% learned vocabulary. Develops literary fluency.

Intermediate Course

For reaching higher proficiency. Covers advanced grammar, vocabulary, conversation skills, and reading. Prepares you for the HSK 4-6 exams.

In total, Mandarin Blueprint currently contains over 4,000 lessons across these phases. The structured progression takes you smoothly from beginner level up through intermediate.

Video Lessons and Extensive Materials

The video lessons form the core content of Mandarin Blueprint. They provide clear explanations, demonstrations, and step-by-step guidance.

Phil and Luke are friendly, engaging teachers who break concepts down thoroughly. Their instruction is highly detailed to ensure everything is understandable.

The short 3-5 minute videos keep the pace manageable while still delivering dense, valuable information.

Accompanying each video are downloadable PDFs with lesson notes, examples sentences, grammar explanations, study tips and more. These let yousolidify your understanding.

Mandarin Blueprint also utilizes Anki digital flashcards extensively. Pre-made decks with audio enable you to drill vocabulary and characters on your computer or mobile devices.

In total, the course boasts:

  • Over 1,000 teaching videos
  • 4,000+ common words
  • 100+ dialogues and stories
  • 10,000+ flashcards
  • 500+ downloadable resources

This wealth of study material will take most learners well into intermediate fluency. You get a lot for your money.

Community Features and Support

With over 150,000 enrolled students, Mandarin Blueprint has an active user community. The course forums and comments sections facilitate discussion and feedback.

Luke and Phil also host a weekly podcast covering learner questions, new developments, and language learning advice.

For direct assistance, you can contact the Mandarin Blueprint team through email and live chat. They provide prompt, knowledgeable support.

These community elements help create a motivating, collaborative environment. You can connect with fellow learners for tips, accountability, and inspiration along your journey.

Mobile Accessibility

While Mandarin Blueprint doesn't have a dedicated mobile app, the course is still accessible on smartphones and tablets.

You can easily view the web-based lessons in your device's browser. For offline access, the videos and materials can be downloaded for viewing anytime.

Additionally, the Anki flashcard app is available on iOS and Android to supplement lessons on the go.

So you can learn with Mandarin Blueprint on your computer or on-the-go with a mobile device. The platform is optimized for flexibility.

Who Is Mandarin Blueprint For?

Mandarin Blueprint is designed for English speakers who want to achieve Mandarin fluency, especially those starting from beginner level.

The structured curriculum and detailed teaching make it well-suited for:

  • Complete beginners new to the language.
  • Self-learners studying independently.
  • Visual learners who benefit from the video format.
  • Audiobook learners who prefer listening.
  • Motivated students seeking a comprehensive program.

The course can take an absolute beginner up to an intermediate level able to pass the HSK 4 exam.

Mandarin Blueprint's strategic approach may also appeal to:

  • Current Mandarin learners looking to improve their foundation.
  • Heritage learners who want to build literacy skills.
  • Anyone needing structure and guidance in their studies.

Learners who require accountability, feedback, and classroom interaction may find the independent self-study format too isolated. But it's an excellent option for focused, self-driven students.

Pricing Options

Mandarin Blueprint offers flexible pricing tiers to suit different budgets and needs:

Monthly Subscription

  • $39 per month
  • Cancel anytime
  • Full access to all current lessons and materials

One-Time Payment

  • $599 one-time fee
  • Lifetime access included
  • Payment plans available

Course Bundles

  • Foundation Bundle: $336.75 (Phases 1-5)
  • Complete Bundle: $449.25 (All courses)

The one-time bundles provide the best overall value if you plan to reach advanced levels. Monthly payments offer more flexibility for trying the course.

Free Trial and Money-Back Guarantee

Wondering about Mandarin Blueprint Cost?
Mandarin Blueprint lets you test drive lessons risk-free with a 14-day free trial. You can explore the Phase 1 content without providing payment info.

All purchases also come with a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee. So you can experience the full course and receive a refund if it's not the right fit.

For additional peace of mind, they offer guaranteed progress milestones. You get a refund if you don't achieve literacy within set timeframes using their system.

Pros and Cons of Mandarin Blueprint

Based on our extensive evaluation, here are the major advantages and disadvantages of using Mandarin Blueprint:


  • Innovative teaching methodology
  • Structured curriculum optimized for progress
  • Engaging, entertaining video lessons
  • Tons of supplementary downloadable material
  • Active user community for questions and accountability
  • Suitable for total beginners up to intermediate
  • Risk-free trial period and refund policy


  • No interactive speaking practice
  • Self-study format lacks real-time feedback
  • Relies heavily on Anki flashcards (third-party app)
  • Can feel slow-paced and repetitive initially
  • Expensive compared to some competitors

Overall, Mandarin Blueprint excels in providing a strategic, well-designed program for achieving fluency. But the lack of conversation practice should be supplemented if that's your main goal.

How Mandarin Blueprint Compares to Other Programs

Mandarin Blueprint isn't the only option out there. How does it stack up against the competition? Here's a look at how it compares:

Rocket Chinese

  • More interactive learning games
  • Faster pacing
  • Lower pricing
  • Less comprehensive grammar instruction


  • More real dialogues
  • Focus on conversational skills
  • Less vocabulary and characters
  • Audio-based


  • Heavy emphasis on conversational audio lessons
  • Minimal reading/writing
  • Tedious pacing for many
  • Expensive subscription-based pricing

Yoyo Chinese

  • Video lessons by native speaker
  • Beginner-oriented
  • Light on characters
  • Lacks long-term learning roadmap

Mandarin Blueprint provides more structured, academic learning for building an intermediate foundation. Alternatives like Rocket Chinese or Yoyo Chinese are better for conversational interests. Pimsleur focuses almost exclusively on speaking and listening.

For well-rounded fluency, a blended approach using Mandarin Blueprint supplemented with conversation practice can be very effective.

Inside the Mandarin Blueprint Learning Experience

To better understand what it's like learning with Mandarin Blueprint, let's take a peek inside the courses...

Step 1: Pronunciation Fundamentals

In the dedicated Pronunciation Mastery course, you'll get a strong handle on Mandarin phonemes.

Short video modules demonstrate how to properly produce every sound. You'll learn the 21 consonants, 13 vowels, 5 tones, and example words for each.

With native speaker audio and explanations tailored for English speakers, you'll train your ears and mouth to generate accurate sounds.

Mini quizzes reinforce key concepts. By keeping lessons under 3 minutes, you get information condensed into highly focused chunks.

You emerge with essential pronunciation knowledge to start speaking intelligibly.

Step 2: Learning Characters (Hanzi)

In Phases 1-2, the Hanzi Movie Method takes center stage for mastering written Chinese.

You're introduced to basic character components like radicals and phonetics. Then you begin encoding new Hanzi into memorable visual scenes and stories.

For example, here's a sample "movie" for learning the character 林, meaning "forest":

Arnold Schwarzenegger is rowing a boat through the kitchen from my childhood home. He's holding an axe and chopping down all the trees to clear space for more countertops.

This silly imagery links the pronunciation ("Lin" sounds like "Arnold"), tone (kitchen represents 3rd tone), and meaning (trees make a forest).

Repeated practice with the Hanzi Movie Method builds your mental catalogue of visual stories to recall reading and writing characters.

Step 3: Vocabulary Building

To expand your vocabulary, Mandarin Blueprint employs mnemonics, etymology, and radicals.

You anchor new words to familiar characters and logical associations. For example:

  • 猫 (māo) = cat
  • 眼镜 (yǎnjìng) = eye + glasses = glasses
  • 果汁 (guǒzhī) = fruit + juice = fruit juice

Seeing how words relate to known pieces prevents you from learning in isolated fragments. Instead you construct an interconnected web of vocabulary knowledge.

Pairing new terms with engaging images and stories makes them stick better in long-term memory as well.

Step 4: Grammar Patterns

In Phases 3-4, you're introduced to essential grammar and sentence structures. The key is learning through "comprehensible input".

This means you acquire patterns naturally by understanding meaning, not explicit grammar rules first. Hearing and reading sentences repeatedly in context allows you to internalize the underlying structures.

Guided practice converting statements into questions, changing tenses, and joining clauses facilitates pattern recognition.

Seeing grammar used flexibly cements your intuitive grasp. Mandarin Blueprint condenses years of exposure into an efficient learning sequence.

Step 5: Dialogues, Stories, Media

Towards the later phases, Mandarin Blueprint shifts to conversing, reading, and listening.

Engaging dialogues, original short stories, podcasts, and videos immerse you in comprehensible Mandarin suitable to your level.

At this stage, your vocabulary and grammar knowledge enable you to understand the content without translation. You pick up new language details implicitly.

This is a vital bridge towards real-world fluency. With Mandarin Blueprint's help, you'll reach higher proficiency and confidence.

Is Mandarin Blueprint Worth It?

Mandarin Blueprint offers a unique, well-structured path to achieving conversational fluency, reading proficiency, and intermediate Mandarin abilities.

For motivated self-learners seeking an organized curriculum, it's one of the top comprehensive programs available. The strategic teaching methods accelerate progress markedly.

However, the pricing may be prohibitive for some. Expect to invest $600+ for lifetime access. Monthly payments are available but increase the total cost.

Fortunately, you can experience the teaching approach risk-free with the 14-day trial. This gives a representative sample before committing.

Overall, Mandarin Blueprint is best suited for dedicated students interested in building a thorough Mandarin foundation. The innovative methods justify the premium price for serious learners.

Casual dabblers or those focused on conversing may find the academic approach too rigorous. But for structured, effective learning, Mandarin Blueprint delivers.


Learning Mandarin takes commitment. But programs like Mandarin Blueprint make the journey more efficient and enjoyable.

Through optimized teaching order, memory strategies, and compelling curriculum, Mandarin Blueprint stands out.

If you seek an organized self-study program flexible enough for busy lives, it has much to offer. The video format engages multiple learning styles with clarity and humor.

Given the depth and uniqueness of the material, the pricing is reasonable for the value received. Plus, you can test it risk-free.

While speaking practice requires supplementation, the structured learning path works. Thousands of students have reached new Mandarin milestones thanks to the Blueprint.

Overall, Mandarin Blueprint makes mastering this complex language achievable. If you desire to read, write, speak, and understand Mandarin with skill, put Mandarin Blueprint on your shortlist.

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