What is the best way to find a good online Chinese tutor? Whether you’re learning Chinese in China or in your home country, by far the fastest way to improve your listening and speaking is through a 1-on-1 tutor. The problem is that it’s not always easy to find a quality Chinese tutor! Here’s a look at my personal experience with an online tutor for learning Mandarin Chinese.
For those studying Chinese outside of China, I think we can all agree that learning the Chinese language is a struggle. The opportunities to practice Chinese with native speakers is often limited. Chinese classes are usually too expensive (although there are good ways to learn Chinese online) and it’s hard to find time when you have a full-time job.
Of course, learning Chinese while in China isn’t always easy either. Although there are more opportunities to practice with native speakers, finding an experienced teacher that knows how to teach Chinese to foreigners can be tough.
So when I ran across eChineseLearning, a Chinese tutoring platform that promised to match me with a native Chinese speaker from the comfort of my computer, at my own convenience, at a reasonable price…you can understand why I would be interested.
Now that I’ve given it a try, I’ve been impressed with the experience and want to share this as an option for those of you who want to try a 1-on-1 online Chinese tutor at home. Learning Chinese still takes time, but online tutoring is probably the fastest way to go.
In this guide, I cover what you can expect in a typical Chinese tutoring class and why they are a great resource for Chinese learners.
Note: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you decide to use some of these services. As you’ll see below, I only recommend services that I’ve personally tried and in this case I’ve even negotiated a free online Chinese tutor lesson for you!
Why eChineseLearning for an Online Chinese Tutor?
I was first introduced to eChineseLearning through a friend who told me that they did tutoring every week at home. I did some research and found out that there are actually quite a few options to find an online Chinese tutor.
So that naturally begged the question: How do I find the BEST Chinese tutor online?
eChineseLearning may not be the best fit for everybody, but after my research I decided that it was the best one for me.
Why? There are a couple things I was drawn to:
- Native Teachers: eChineseLearning’s team of Chinese teachers are all native speakers and trained in teaching Chinese as a foreign language or “duiwai hanyu”.
- Standard Methodology: All of the eChineseLearning teachers use Individualized Instruction (II) methodology in their classes where teachers design the course curriculum and adjust the pace accordingly to student level.
- History of Students: Since their founding in 2006, eChineseLearning has taught over 10,000 students from 100 countries aged from 3 to 86 years old.
So far, so good.
As an added bonus, they also offer one free, 30-minute tutoring session to try it out (if you’re interested, you can take advantage of this same free tutor session by using this link). After registering, you will be contacted shortly afterward by a scheduler to arrange the free lesson.
My Online Chinese Tutor | Taking the Class
Honestly, I’ve never tried online tutoring before, so I was a bit skeptical on how the session taught over Skype would compare to traditional classroom environments (which I’m very familiar with).
Within minutes of the demo class starting, though, I was immediately on board with the concept.
Tutoring Basics: “Read and Retell” Technique
The lesson started with a standard warm-up about what I like to eat and then transitioned to where the teacher had me read a short section of a passage about the origins of goubuli baozi, a type of snack local to Tianjin.
After reading the few sentences sent through the chat window (see the screenshot below), the teacher explained characters I was not familiar with and asked multiple follow-up questions to ensure I understood the written content.
From there it was rinse and repeat until we had completed the passage.
The high point of the my online Chinese tutor lesson came after the reading exercise where I had to use my own Chinese to describe the entire story I had just read.
One of the greatest challenges in Chinese for non-native speakers is to produce the language in your “own words”. So retelling the story about goubuli baozi was a great way to work on my speaking and expand on my foundation by practicing what I had just learned.
More Chinese Exercises | Online Tutoring
Apart from the reading and speaking exercises in the lesson, instruction on grammar and pronunciation also featured prominently across the lesson. As I read different sections, the teacher pointed out and explained grammar structures and components within each section.
In regards to my pronunciation, the teacher was quick to identify any issues with pronunciation and how to say things correctly.
The evident benefit of using an online Chinese tutor was that the lesson was completely tailored to my level of Mandarin Chinese.
Additionally, my online Chinese tutor was strict in maintaining a Chinese-only speaking environment, which is crucial to improving Chinese.
When asked how often English is used in lessons, my teacher said it depends on student level and beginners can anticipate teachers using more English to explain concepts. With that said, even at the beginner level, teachers will put plenty of effort to only use Chinese to cover subjects that have already been taught to students.
Overall the greatest strength to the lesson was that all the activities flowed well together in direct relation to a singular topic. This allowed me to easily reflect on everything covered in the lesson to where I can now easily recall all the new words, structures, and other content from memory.
The only thing I felt that my instructor could have done better was correcting me more often when I made a grammatical error. My Chinese wife (who listened-in on the class) commented that I made a number of grammar mistakes that my teacher failed to address.
However, this did not diminish too much in the overall quality of the lesson.
Traditional Classroom vs. Online Chinese Tutoring
Although there are always benefits to being in a classroom environment where you can not only learn from your teacher but also your classmates, there are plenty of advantages to using an online Chinese tutor like eChineseLearning which are not available in a traditional classroom setting.
Advantage #1: Customized Pace of Learning
As a college student, I remember taking Chinese class where one half of the classroom felt the pace of the course was moving too slowly while the other half felt left behind by the speed.
eChineseLearning’s one-on-one Chinese tutor structure allows the pace of the learning to be centered around the abilities of each student so that fast learners can easily get ahead and those who need more time to learn will never feel that they are being left behind.
Advantage #2: Customized Language Benchmarking
In addition to the lessons, eChineseLearning students can also expect homework outside of class and an exam once every three months to ensure students continue to review what is covered in class as they advance through the curriculum.
Not only does this promote continued learning throughout the week to supplement the tutoring sessions, it also helps students benchmark their improvement.
Advantage #3: Customized Chinese Language Curriculum
Finally, as traditional learning environments have pre-established curricula where much class content is not anywhere useful or practical, what you learn in eChineseLearning is largely up to you.
On the eChineseLearning website, you can look into the many courses offered that include HSK test prep, travel Chinese, Chinese for business, and more interactive lessons like learning Chinese through songs and TV programs.
Is eChineseLearning Right For You?
With a highly experienced and trained staff that is capable of teaching Chinese 24-hours a day, you’re likely to benefit from 1-on-1 Chinese tutoring no matter what level of Chinese you are. There are a number of reasons that I’ve really begun to like eChineseLearning:
- There is a wide range of courses available that make it a great resource for students of all ages learning Chinese.
- All you need is a fast and reliable Internet connection and Skype installed on your computer to get started.
- For pricing, you can anticipate paying as little as $9 to as much as $25 per 50-minute lesson. The pricing is based on the length of the lesson and the subject of study. For those who are still unsure, there is also a 30-day money-back guarantee policy in the event you are not satisfied with the service.
Whether you are a student learning Chinese in school and need extra lessons to catch up or get ahead, or an employee hoping to learn Chinese for business, or even a parent looking for someone to teach your children Mandarin, sign-up for a free demo class with eChineseLearning to see if it right for you.
Conclusion | Using an Online Chinese Tutor
Whether you end up using eChineseLearning or one of the many other Mandarin tutoring services, the bottom line is that online tutoring is incredibly convenient and surprisingly affordable.
Learn Chinese on your schedule, at your pace, with a topic that is relevant to your individual situation (travel, business, family, etc.).
Personally, I use my online Chinese tutor to supplement all my other sources of Mandarin learning. I do 30 minute lessons once a week and it keeps me accountable to the learning that I’m doing.
Give it a try to see for yourself. And if you’ve used an online Chinese tutor before, what was your experience? Leave a comment below with your take.