Introducing AllSet Learning

I’m excited to finally publicly announce a project I’ve been working on since last year. I’ve started a new company called AllSet Learning. It’s a learning consultancy focused specifically on solving the problems faced by expats in Shanghai trying to learn Mandarin.

I’m especially happy that in this new venture I have the support of Praxis Language CEO, Hank Horkoff. Hank is one of the most driven entrepreneurs I know, and he has had no small influence on my own decision to start a company. So the good thing is that I will continue to work on the academics and podcast recordings at ChinesePod (which I love), and also have my own operation. AllSet Learning will not produce its own content, and will emphasize face-to-face (offline) learning, so it will complement rather than compete with Praxis Language’s products. Over the next year, AllSet Learning will also be the first official ChinesePod Partner as ChinesePod opens up its resources to third parties more.

In this new business I’m really looking forward to talking to individuals about their own specific problems learning Chinese, and really getting into the nitty-gritty of it. ChinesePod is the best online resource for practical study material in Mandarin, but online discussion is just not the same level of personal interaction that working as a consultant on the streets of Shanghai makes possible (and yes, I am going to take it to the streets!).

The AllSet Learning office is located at Xindanwei, a really cool, creative community which has hosted events like Barcamp and Dorkbot, and regularly has interesting characters like Isaac Mao passing through.

I’ll mention developments at AllSet Learning here from time to time. I have a lot planned in terms of offline events and research. If you’re interested, please visit the website, and don’t hesitate to get in touch.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Good luck with your new venture John. I’d heard rumours through the grapevine and was wondering if you were going to take the plunge. I like the Sinosplice redesign btw. It looks a lot cleaner and more professional than the green one I remember from ages back.

  2. Ray Walsh Says: March 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Man, that’s awesome. Congrats on the new venture. I wish you great success.
    On a side not though… it would be interesting to get a post about the bureaucracy of starting a consultancy or small business .A couple of years ago I attempted to start a consultancy in Shandong Province. Sheesh. I gave up!

  3. Congratulations and best of luck with the new business.

  4. Good luck John, I think you will be very successful.

  5. Sandra Rosenzweig Says: March 29, 2010 at 1:23 am

    John–Well, that should nicely fill up your plate. Congratulations. I hope AllSet is a fabulous success for you. I also hope we Poddies don’t lose track of you. You analytical skills are particularly useful with a language like guo yu.

  6. I’m sure you’ll do great at it! Cool logo, too.

  7. Awesome move John! If I were in Shanghai, there’s no doubt I’d be tapping you up to try and get in the program/ be a client as soon as possible.

    If your work at CPod is anything go by I’m sure it will be a success and I hope it goes well for you!!!

  8. Congratulations! Hope to hear more about the learning methods which the new company promotes.

  9. Elephunk Says: March 29, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    So, you basically tailor a study method to suit the individuals needs which maximizes time efficiency? Will this company also provide tutors/language partners as part of the study ‘course’

    • Yes, and yes. The full package.

      Another big part of the service is recommending the best materials. This could mean ChinesePod, but it could also mean a wide range of other resources available in China. We work hard to stay knowledgeable about the best materials available.

  10. Congratulations, John, it looks really good.

    I think besides the technical challenges of teaching Chinese to foreigners, one of the key roles may turn out to be motivational, as big part of the failure rate learning mandarin is just because people gives up. Perhaps you will have to come up with some inspirational speeches like in the US marines to keep them focused 🙂

  11. weixiao Says: April 8, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Congratulations John! I hope the techniques you learn in your AllSet Shanghai endeavors will be applicable and promulgated to Chinese learners everywhere. Thanks for everything you do and the pleasure you have brought me in learning Chinese. Vera, my loashi, is with me at the moment (learning to ski in Colorado) and we were just discussing your many attributes. You ears must be burning!

  12. Hehe.. Great! I think one of the greatest challenges is “knowing what to study”. There is obviously the basic and then increasingly levels but for the learner, there is not really any way to know what is going to be important and what is just going to slow them down. We of course try to cram everything in, get as much input as possible and son, however after 6 to 12 months of this, it becomes quite clear that priorities, boundaries and scope needs to be established. And of course the realisation that it would have been nice to know that a lot earlier.

    Its easy enough to go out and try to do something, find you don’t have the language skills required for that and then learn that specific subject matter for the next encounter. What is difficult, in my mind, is to establish how far and in what directions to fan out from that point. For example, taking a taxi somewhere will quickly establish that you need to be able tell the driver where you want to go and if necessary give basic directions. Learning this is required BEFORE you get in but let’s say that you decided to learn it after.

    How much further should you develop those skills? Should you then also learn about every other travel style (trains, buses etc) that you are likely to use? And so on…

    I guess this is where your company steps in?

  13. “For example, taking a taxi somewhere…”

    Nice one!

  14. John,
    I think I last saw you in 2004 which makes it a LONG time since my days at ZUCC. Its good to see you are still blogging and working hard on the new business. I wish you all the best in your new endeavour. If you are ever in Taipei, look me up.


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