I've been using ChinesePod for almost a couple of years now. I really love it, but I find the Audio Review feature a bit frustrating, and right now it's actually preventing me from being able to continue studying (I'll explain why in a bit).
Firstly, just to be clear on how I used to use it: First I listen to the lesson in the morning, then I review the lesson features on the website during lunch (dialog, expansion, grammar and exercises). Finally, on the drive home, I used to do the audio review by speaking out aloud.
Here are the problems I had with the audio review:
- In a typical audio review, about half the time is taken up by the vocabulary test, which is the easier part. However, that's not the most valuable part. The most valuable part is practicing combining the vocabulary into sentences. Suggestion: Devote more of the audio review to practicing the sentences..
- When it comes to the sentences, I feel like there often isn't enough of a pause to let me practice saying it. In some cases, even when I can say the sentence out loud immediately, the Chinese speaker starts to say the answer before I've managed to finish. Suggestion: There should be more time allocated between the English and Chinese, and it should be based on how long/difficult the sentence is.
- Often the answer is spoken too quickly for me to understand. Even though I've seen it earlier in the day, when reviewing the web site, I don't always remember every one. Suggestion: In the audio review, provide the answer slowly. For longer sentences, maybe break them into pieces.
- Another problem is that if I didn't know an answer, the audio review really doesn't help me learn. It moves onto the next sentence, and the one I didn't know may or may not come up again. Suggestion: Repeat each sentence 3 times consecutively in the audio review. Then insert it again, a few questions later. This way, you could provide the answer slowly the first few times and faster later.
Here's why this is preventing me from continuing to study with ChinesePod: Until recently, I used to commute by car on a fairly straight freeway. So I was able to pause the Audio Review to give me enough time to answer them, and rewind to repeat the ones I didn't hear correctly the first time. Now I'm commuting by bicycle, so I can't pause/rewind.
As I said I really like ChinesePod and want to continue studying. Have other users shared similar experiences?
Also, my suggestions (speaking slowly, and repeating questions) should not be difficult for the ChinesePod team to implement.