What is BRIC Language Systems?

  • BRIC Language Systems is an online language learning school that specializes in the following languages: Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. While the name BRIC refers to the dynamic emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China we do not limit ourselves to only BRIC country languages. Instead, we offer online language courses for those languages we consider the most valuable for today…and tomorrow.

What languages do you offer?

  • We currently offer the following online language courses: Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. It is our goal to be the best at teaching the languages that we feel are the most important for Americans in the 21st century. We believe that learning Chinese, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese can help US citizens in their careers because they are the spoken languages of some of the United States’ biggest trading partners, not to mention the fastest growing economies in the world.

What is the BRIC Approach? How does the system work?

  • Our online language learning programs offer instruction through a live video feed with a real teacher based in China, Mexico or Brazil—depending on what language you want to learn. Our Chinese language guides live in Shanghai, our Spanish guides in Mexico, and our Portuguese guides live in Brazil. Our online language classes include interactive online content, white boards for writing and drawing, and file sharing capabilities which allow teachers and students to share pictures, songs, video, and web content. This comprehensive approach and commitment to quality helps ensure that BRIC students learn their language of choice. If you’d like to give it a try, we offer a free trial and course consultation.

How is this different from Rosetta Stone?

  • While BRIC Language Systems offers the same convenience of learning a language from anywhere, we are different from our competitors in 3 important ways. First and foremost, BRIC offers live video instruction from a real teacher. There is no substitute for live interaction with a teacher who speaks the language you are trying to learn. No computer simulation can match the success you will experience, working with a highly trained professional teaching all of your classes. Second, each of our language programs is built specifically for the language you have chosen. At BRIC, we don’t take a system that was built for Spanish, and apply it to Chinese and Portuguese. We have three distinct language systems developed for each individual language. Third, BRIC language guides currently live in the countries where the languages you want to learn are spoken, not in a call center in the US. This ensures that you are getting the most modern and useful content available. We also cater to the young professional so you’ll be learning words, phrases, and terminology that will help you succeed in your chosen career.

What sets each program apart from the others? How for example did you make your Chinese program different from your Spanish program?

  • At BRIC we recognize that for western educated adults the written Chinese language is exceptionally difficult to learn.
    • Instead of an alphabet Chinese uses characters, approximately 80,000 of them in total but 10,000 commonly used characters, which makes it very difficult.
    • We focus our energy on teaching how to speak and understand first, how to read and write later on, and only at the student’s request.
    • We also don’t mind showing you the translations while you are looking at the Chinese. Without the English translation, a first time student would have no idea what he/she is looking at whereas for Spanish and Portuguese we don’t always have English translations and want students to really think about what they are looking at on each page and come to their own conclusions.
    • We recognize that while most language programs tout their “immersion” programs for Chinese, these do not work for East Asian languages. An immersion program that requires students to only speak in the language they are studying, does not take into account just how difficult of a language Mandarin Chinese is. Learning Mandarin is vastly different from learning a European language where there are enough similarities for a student to get through the process. The similarities include the alphabet, grammar, active/passive voice, past / present / future tense.
  • Examples of the similarities between English and French:
    • En: Domestic Fr: Domestique
    • En: Letter Fr: lettre
    • En: Million Fr: million
    • En: Mode Fr: Mode
    • En: solid Fr: solide
    • En: interesting Fr: intéressante
    • En: Public Fr: publique

How is the BRIC method different or better than traditional language learning?

There are 3 advantages to using the BRIC approach to online language learning over traditional language courses.

  • Reason #1: Convenience and comfort: With BRIC you learn from the comfort of your own living room, hotel room, or anywhere else you choose.
  • Reason #2:Unlike traditional language learning classes, BRIC is all online. This allows us to bring the best teachers from around the world to you through a live video feed!
    • Traditional language learning occurs in a classroom setting, often with teachers who have never even lived in the country whose language you are trying to learn! Students learn words, phrases, and grammar that are either out of date or just plain wrong.
    • Our Chinese language guides live in Shanghai, China. Our Spanish and Portuguese guides reside in Mexico and Brazil respectively. At BRIC, you can rest assured knowing that you are learning the most up to date and modern Mandarin, Spanish, and Portuguese.
    • This also means that if you travel to these countries and wish to continue your education with the same teacher you can do just that.
  • Reason #3: Traditional foreign language classes often don’t incorporate interactive features into the curriculum like BRIC does. Such interactive elements include an auto-recorded class for you to review, file sharing capabilities, and online white boards.

What will I learn with the BRIC approach?

  • You’ll learn how to communicate in day to day conversation. You will also learn how to speak in a professional environment. Because we cater to young professionals, you will learn the words and phrases you need for your chosen career. We also provide our students with cultural competency training so that you are never culturally “out of step.” We believe it is our responsibility to make sure our students leave with the knowledge and confidence they need to succeed.

Does the BRIC approach work?

  • Absolutely! Unlike other language learning systems that were developed for a specific language, and then applied to other languages, BRIC’s language courses are tailor-made for each language; taking into consideration the unique aspects of each language. We didn’t take a system that worked for learning Spanish, and apply the same system to Mandarin Chinese for example. Our Chinese program is built specifically for learning Chinese. The same goes for Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese. Our live video feeds bring our language guides to you, live from the country where these languages are spoken. The interactive features of the BRIC method help ensure that you will be speaking Mandarin, Spanish or Brazilian Portuguese in no time.

How much time will it take me to learn a new language with the BRIC solution?

  • Learning a language takes time, there’s no way around that. Any language program that advertises being able to learn a language in 5 days or gives some other unrealistic timeline is not being honest. The amount of time it takes to learn a language depends on the student’s dedication to learning the language as well as the quality of the program and teacher. What we can guarantee is that you’ll be speaking whichever language you choose, faster with BRIC than you would by learning from a computer, DVD, CD, or even a live teacher, thanks to the personalized approach and interactive components included in BRIC’s language learning program. One you have committed to learning a language, and assuming that you follow the advice and instructions provided to you by BRIC’s knowledgeable language guides, you’ll be effectively communicating within your first few classes.

How do I know which course to sign up for?

  • To know which course is right for you, you just have to choose the language you would like to learn. Once you have decided between Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese, you register for a free trial. The course consultant will further assist you, placing you in the appropriate course level.

What if I decide I don’t want the classes I purchased?

  • It’s normal for some students, no matter the language learning program, to “hit a wall,” feeling that they just aren’t a “language person.” That simply isn’t true. If you learned your native language then you’re a language person. In addition to needing the right teacher, you also have to put in the effort to learn a second language. If you feel like you’ve hit a wall, we encourage you to keep at it and to continue on with the courses. We are confident that you’ll have that “breakthrough” moment. That being said, we do understand that sometimes students don’t have the time to dedicate to learning a second language after committing to it because of changing circumstances.
    • If the student decides not to continue after using NO MORE THAN two hours, they receive a full refund if requested within the 30 days of purchase.
    • After the second hour we will provide a pro rata reimbursement. So if 12 hours of a 48-hour package were used then they would receive 75% of their money back as a refund.

How do I specify what level I want to purchase?

  • Unless you are a beginner or have studied with BRIC before, your level will be determined during your free trial and course consultation. Every language program is different and we want to make sure that we place you in the right BLOC and Level so you don’t waste time re-learning what you already know, or more importantly—miss anything important!

Are there group lessons?

  • Yes, usually between 3 and five people but we try to limit all group classes to a maximum of 5 people. We want to give our students as intimate of an experience as possible. We try to schedule our group lessons as soon as we have 3 students who are willing to study on the same day and at the same time.

What happens if I miss a class?

  • Private Lesson Cancellation Policy: BRIC has a 24-hour cancellation policy for all private lessons. If notification occurs after that period your session cannot be refunded or rescheduled for credit.
  • Group Class Policy: Missed sessions cannot be refunded or rescheduled for credit. We can provide you with the recording of your missed class and the PDF on the learning materials.

How much do classes cost?

  • Please Check Website for most up to date costs.
    • All Classes (Brazilian Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish):
      • 48 hours: $1,299
      • 24 hours: $699
      • 12 hours: $399
      • Small Group, 24 hours: $449.

What’s the difference between Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese?

  • Brazilian Portuguese is a dialect of the Portuguese language spoken in Brazil. It is the official language of Brazil and spoken by virtually all its 190 million inhabitants.
  • Most scholars compare the differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese to the differences found between British and American English. The differences in the spoken language are much more pronounced than the differences in the formal written language.
  • Examples of the differences between Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese include:
    • Spelling
    • Verb Tenses
    • Terminology
  • We have chosen to focus on learning Brazilian Portuguese over European Portuguese because Brazil’s economy is among the 10 largest in the world and growing quickly. Brazil’s close proximity to the United States makes it one of America’s most valuable trading partners.

What’s the difference between the Spanish spoken in Latin America and the Spanish spoken in Spain?

  • While people living in Latin America and Spain both speak Spanish, they speak different dialects. The difference is comparable to that of British English versus American English. We teach Latin American Spanish because we believe that, to most Americans, this is the more practical of the two.
  • The main differences between the Spanish spoken in Latin America and the dialect spoken in Spain are in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. This is especially true in when it comes to technology. For example, the word for car—“coche” in Spain, is “carro” in Latin America.
  • The Spanish spoken in Spain has additional verb inflections, and verb tenses that are used differently in Latin America.
  • Even within Latin America, there are numerous regional dialects so to simplify things; our Spanish program is headquartered in Mexico City. BRIC’s Spanish language learning program uses common Spanish words that are understood throughout Latin America.

What’s the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese?

  • Mandarin Chinese is the official language in Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and one of the 5 official languages recognized by the United Nations. Not only is Mandarin spoken in a majority of Chinese schools and universities, it’s also the language spoken on most TV programs, in movies, and on the radio all over the country.
  • Traditionally speaking, Mandarin Chinese is a northern dialect while Cantonese is mainly spoken in Guangdong and in the southern provinces. Cantonese is also used by most Chinese expatriates, including those living in Australia, Europe, North America and other parts of the world.
  • While Mandarin and Cantonese share the same written language, pronunciation is where they differ the most. In Hong Kong, locals humorously refer to it as “the chicken talking to the duck” — they cannot understand each other. Mandarin has four tones while Cantonese has at least 6, some say up to 9. The two are both “tonal languages” (different tones have different meanings for the same sound). Both Mandarin and Cantonese have different vowels and consonants.

What’s the difference between Traditional and Simplified Characters?

  • Simply put, Simplified Characters are…well…simpler!
  • In 1952, the People’s Republic of China simplified the script throughout Mainland China. Areas which did not adopt these changes include Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as some expat communities—all of which still use the traditional script. Likewise, Singapore and Malaysia have progressively adopted simplified Chinese.
  • The great majority of Chinese websites are written using simplified characters, though some major websites including the Bank of China and Weibo (Chinese twitter) provide the option to visualize both in simplified and traditional scripts.

Technical FAQs

While we try to make BRIC available to as many language learners as possible; like with all software out there, technical issues do occur. Whether you need help installing the software or if the program just refuses to work, we’re here to help.

Will I be able to run this on my PC? What if I have a Mac?

  • All BRIC product offerings support computers with Mac and Windows operating systems. We have a full list of OS support on the “Technology” page under “What is BRIC” on the website or if you tell us what operating system you use we can tell you if it is supported by BRIC.

How and where can I get mobile apps for my iPhone, iPad, or Android device?

  • While you can get WebEx on your iPad, iPhone, or Android We don’t recommend using mobile devices for BRIC’s online language programs. The screens are too small to include both the learning content and the teachers face and the content is too small for the students to see.

Do I need a headset?

  • If you can use Skype without a headset, you don’t need a headset for BRIC’s online language classes. However, we do recommend a headset for better connectivity.

Where do I renew my subscription?

  • Log into your account and purchase a new hourly package.

How do I pay for classes?

We accept all major credit cards through our website including MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover.