What is BRIC Language Systems?

  • BRIC is an online language learning school featuring Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese classes. While the name refers to the dynamic emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China we do not restrict ourselves to BRIC country languages. Instead, we offer the languages that we consider the most valuable Languages for today…and tomorrow. In addition to Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese.

What languages do you offer?

  • We offer Chinese, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. We like to focus on being the best at languages that we feel are the most important languages for Americans in the 21st century. We believe these are the languages that can best help US citizens in their careers because they are the spoken languages of the US’ biggest trading partners and also the fastest growing economies in the world.

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

  • We offer online language learning programs that feature live video fed instruction with a real teacher from the country whose language you want to learn. Our Chinese language guides live in Shanghai, China. Our Spanish and Portuguese Guides reside in Mexico and Brazil. Our online classes include interactive online content, white boards for writing and drawing, and file sharing capabilities that allow teachers and students to share pictures, songs, video, and web content. This comprehensive approach and commitment to quality ensures BRIC students will learn their chosen language. If you’d like to try it out we do offer a free evaluation and course consultation.

How is this different from Rosetta Stone?

  • While we offer the same convenience to learn from anywhere, we are different in 3 important ways. First and foremost, we offer live video instruction from a real teacher. There is no substitute for live contact with a teacher. No computer simulation can match the success of a highly trained professional which is who will be teaching every class you take with us. Second, each of our language programs is built for the language you have chosen to learn. We didn’t take a system that was built for Spanish, and apply it to Chinese and Portuguese. We have three distinct systems developed for each individual language. Third, the BRIC language guides are on location in the country whose language you want to learn, 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 at the same time as 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 in order for them to come to their own conclusions.
    • We also recognized that while most language programs tout their “immersion” programs for Chinese, these do not work for East Asian languages. An immersion program, where students are not permitted to speak except in the language they are studying, does not take into account how vastly different learning Chinese is from 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 language learning over traditional language programs.
  1. Convenience and comfort: With BRIC you can learn from the comfort of your own living room, a hotel room, or anywhere else you choose to be.
  2. Unlike traditional language learning, BRIC is online which allows us to bring you the best teachers from around the world live through video.
    1. Traditional language learning is done in a classroom, often by teachers who have never even lived in a country whose national language is the language you want to learn. Students learn words, phrases, and grammar that is either out of date or just plain wrong.
    2. Our Chinese language guides live in Shanghai, China. Our Spanish and Portuguese guides reside in Mexico and Brazil respectively. With BRIC’s language guides you are assured that you are learning today’s modern Mandarin, Spanish, and Portuguese.
    3. 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.
  3. Traditional teaching doesn’t have the interactive features that BRIC programs do including auto-recorded class for your review, file sharing capabilities, and online white boards.

What will I learn with the BRIC approach?

  • You’ll learn how to communicate effectively day to day and speak professionally. Because we cater to the young professional you’ll get the words, phrases, and knowledge you need for your chosen career. We also provide cross-cultural training and management in order to make sure that students are never culturally “out of step.” We believe it is our responsibility to make sure that our students leave with the knowledge and confidence they need to succeed in their goals.

Does the BRIC approach work?

  • Absolutely. Unlike other programs that were developed for a specific language, and then applied to every other language, the BRIC method is tailor made to suit each languages unique aspects. We didn’t take a system that worked for learning Spanish, and apply the same system to Chinese for example. Our Chinese program is built for learning Chinese. The same goes for Spanish and Portuguese. Our live video feeds bring our language guides to you live from the country whose language you want to learn. The interactive features of the BRIC method ensure that you will be speaking fluently in the shortest amount of time possible.

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 program that tells you that you’ll be speaking within 5 days or gives a short timeline for effective communication is not being honest. The amount of time it takes 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 your language faster with BRIC than you will by learning from a computer, DVD, CD, or even a live teacher because of the advantages of the BRIC method. If you’re committed to learning a language, and follow the BRIC language guides advice and instruction, you’ll be effectively communicating within your first few classes.

How do I know which course to sign up for?

  • To know which course to sign up for, you only have to know which language you wish to learn. Once you have decided upon Portuguese, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese, you will then register for a free language evaluation. The course consultant will be able to assist you from there, placing you in the appropriate course level.

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

  • Many students, in all programs begin to feel at some point that “they aren’t a language person” and have “hit a wall.” That simply isn’t true. If you learned your native language you’re a language person. You just have to put in the effort to learn a second language and have the right teacher. If you feel you’ve hit a wall, we encourage you to continue trying to learn. We feel confident you’ll have that “break through” moment. However 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 against proceeding 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 as a refund.

How do I specify what level I want to purchase?

  • Unless you are a total beginner, or have studied with BRIC before, this will be determined during your free evaluation 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 learning what you’ve already learned but more importantly that you don’t miss anything important!

Why is Spanish more expensive than Chinese and Portuguese?

  • Due to tax and logistical implications that force us to increase our price. We try our best to pass along all savings to the customer, but our operating costs from Mexico City are such that we are forced to use a higher price. We are working on ways to reduce our cost but believe that we are very competitive for the quality we offer. In comparison with other 1 on 1 classes we offer better quality at a lower price when compared with our high-end language program competition.

Are there group lessons?

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

  • Customer Service Agent: Please Check Website for most up to date costs.
    • Chinese and Portuguese:
      • 48 hours: $1,299
      • 24 hours: $699
      • 12 hours: $399
      • Small Group, 24 hours: $449.
  • Spanish:
    • 48 hours: $1699
    • 24 hours: $899
    • 12 hours: $499
    • Small group: $449

What’s the difference between Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese?

  • While the two are the same language, they are different dialects. Brazilian Portuguese is the variety of the Portuguese language spoken in Brazil. It is the official language of Brazil and spoken by virtually all it’s 190 million inhabitants.
  • Most scholars compare the differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese to those found between British and American English. The differences in the spoken language are much more pronounced than the differences in the formal written language.
  • Typical differences include:
    • Spelling, verb tenses, and terminogy.
    • We believe that the biggest difference is in the importance of Brazilian Portuguese over European Portuguese. The reason for that is that Brazil’s economy is among the 10 largest in the world, growing quickly, and it’s proximity to the US makes it one of America’s most important trading partners.

What’s the difference between Spanish (Latin America) and Spanish (Spain)?

  • While the two are the same language, they are different dialects. The difference is very similar to that between British English and US. 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 two are in pronunciation, grammar, and even vocabulary. This is especially true in areas such as technology. A good example is the word for car, which is coche in Spain and mostly carro in Latin America.
  • Spanish (Spain) also has some additional verb inflections, and verb tenses may be used differently in Spain than in Latin America.
  • Even within Latin America, there are regional differences in vocabulary, so for our Spanish program, we chose to headquarter in Mexico City and use standard words that are understood throughout Latin America.

What’s the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese?

  • Mandarin is without a doubt the more important of the two. It is the official language in Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and one of the 5 official languages of the UN. It is used by most Chinese schools and universities along with most TV programs, movies, and radio stations all over the country.
  • Mandarin was traditionally a northern dialect while Cantonese is mainly spoken in Guangdong and the southern provinces. Cantonese is also used by most of the overseas Chinese communities in Australia, Europe, North America and other parts of the world.
  • While the pronunciation of the two is completely different, they share the same written language. Hong Kong people humorously call it “the chicken talking to the duck” — they cannot understand each other. Mandarin has four tones and Cantonese has at least 6, some say up to 9. The two are both tonal languages (different tones has different meanings for the same sound) and they also have different vowels and consonants too.

What’s the difference between Traditional and Simplified Characters?

  • The easy answer is that Simplified is a simpler version.
  • In 1952, the People’s Republic of China simplified the script throughout Mainland China. The only areas to not adopt these changes were Hong Kong, Taiwan and some expat communities still use the traditional script as well. Likewise, Singapore and Malaysia have progressively adopted simplified Chinese.
  • The wide majority of Chinese websites are in simplified characters, though some major sites such as the Bank of China and Weibo (Chinese twitter) provide the option to visualize both in simplified and traditional scripts.

Technical FAQs

We aim to have BRIC available to as many learners as possible, however, like with all software out there, problems do occur. Whether you need help installing or 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 of our 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 me what operating system you use I can tell you if it can be used with BRIC.
  • Customer service agent: please make sure you have a list of OS support.

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 reason is that currently WebEx cannot put both the video feed and the content on the smaller screens effectively. The content ends up being too small for the student to see. We are currently working on solutions to this and hope to be able to bring this to students soon.

Do I need a headset?

  • If you can use Skype without a headset, you don’t need a headset for BRIC’s online 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.