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5 Practical Tips to Find the Best Online Chinese Tutor

A professional and experienced online Chinese tutor can help you learn the language faster and easier. Teaching Chinese requires special skills that many native speakers do not possess. An even higher level of skills is needed if the platform is online since there is no face-to-face and regular interactions with the learners.

With an increasing number of people wanting to learn Chinese, there’s also a spike in the number of people claiming to be professional teachers. The challenge for learners now is to find a really good online Chinese tutor worth their time and money.

Before you go out and look for your online Chinese tutor, take a few moments to answer the following questions:

1. What is your goal?

When looking for an online Chinese tutor for your kid or yourself, we know that you have specific goals that you want to meet. Answering these questions can help your tutor understand your specific goals in learning Chinese:

  • What is your level of Chinese proficiency? Do you want to go up to the next level?
  • Do you want to learn Chinese for business, for test preparation, or to improve your conversational skills?
  • Are there specific topics or lessons that you want to focus on?
  • Are there specific books or materials that you want to go through?
  • What topics do you like and not like to be discussed?

It is important that your tutor fully understands what your goals are so that he or she can create a customized lesson plan based on what you want to achieve.

2. How much are you willing to spend?

It’s possible to find free Chinese lessons online, but if you want one-on-one customized classes, you really have to pay for it. The cost may vary depending on the topic and length of the class. On the average, you can expect to spend anywhere between $12 and $50 dollars for one hour.  

3. Do you have time to take lessons?

If you want to learn Chinese, you should be willing to commit your time. If you are always busy and you know you can hardly find time to attend class, you should think twice before looking for a tutor.

Most likely you’ll spend around30 to 60 minutes per lesson. You may have to pay even if you cancel or reschedule.

4. Do you have a stable internet connection?

Since all classes are online, you need to have a stable internet connection that can handle apps such as Skype or Zoom since many online classes use them to conduct lessons.

Now that you have answered those questions, here are our 5 tips to help you find the best online Chinese tutor:

#1. Get an online Chinese tutor from a legitimate and established e-learning platform or online Chinese school.

E-learning platform (like Italki)

Italki is one of the biggest e-learning platforms with over 10,000 teachers from around the world. Here, you can find tutors for just about any language including Chinese. You have to personally search and choose a tutor based on country of origin, price, availability, teacher type (whether professional teacher or community tutor), and category (general, business preparation, kids or conversation practice). Since you can view the profile of each teacher or tutor, you can easily choose one who meets your criteria.

  • Consultant – No consultant. You will have to search for a teacher on your own.
  • Price – italki teachers and tutors is charged per hour which ranges from as low as $7 per hour to as much as$30 per hour. You may also take advantage of trial lessons which cost lower than regular lessons. Other e-commerce platforms may also charge hourly or per lesson rate.
  • Set-up – One-on-one lessons are typically via the platform’s online app or through Skype or Zoom.
  • Options – Your options online are unlimited, which makes it possible to find a tutor that matches your needs and budget.
  • Teaching method – Independent or community tutors use informal teaching practices and textbooks. On the other hand, professional teachers are highly skilled and trained and they follow standard teaching practices.
  • Tests – With e-learning platforms, you don’t have to pass tests to be promoted to a higher proficiency level. 
  • Time – If you live in a different time zone where most Chinese teachers are, you may find it difficult to find a tutor who is available in your chosen schedule.

Online Mandarin Schools (like TouchChinese)

Online Mandarin schools such as TouchChinese generally focus on teaching Mandarin only. You can expect their teachers to be native speakers with years of teaching experience and training. Moreover, teachers from online Mandarin schools also generally pass the “Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language” requirement.

  • Consultant – A consultant will typically coordinate and help you look for an online Chinese tutor based on your criteria.
  • Price – The price is not cheap, but oftentimes these schools offer discounts if you book multiple classes.
  • Set-up – Skype is one of the most popular teaching platforms, but some schools may use their own app or any other similar service.
  • Options – Most Mandarin schools will choose a teacher for you. However, if your teacher is not available for some reason, they guarantee that they will provide a substitution.
  • Teaching methods – Mandarin schools will assess your proficiency level, and from there create a customized learning plan to help you master the language.
  • Tests – Some schools let you take a test to determine if you can proceed to the next Chinese proficiency level.
  • Time – Many online Mandarin schools employ native speakers from other parts of the world, so that time zone will not be a problem. This allows you to book a lesson at your most convenient time.

Here’s a summary of comparison between e-learning platform and online Chinese school.

    Platform Online School
Course Consultant   X
Are tutors interviewed face-to-face before being taken on by the company? X
Do tutors need to provide references before being taken on by the company? X
Are tutors offered continual training? X
Price $7 – $25 $15 – $50
Trial Lesson Free – 50% regular cost  Free
Native Chinese teacher
Minimum hours to buy  1  Usually starting 10
Weekly minimum classes  No Minimum  0 – 5

#2. Take advantage of trial classes before booking.

You are obviously looking for quality lessons and a competent tutor. While you can find many online Chinese tutors with outstanding credentials, they may not have the qualities, teaching method or style you are looking for. To know for sure, take advantage of trial classes.

Many online Chinese learning platforms and schools offer free trial classes to give prospective students a chance to get a feel of what it’s like to have a Chinese one-on-one lesson with them. Trial lessons can also help you assess if an online set-up is suitable for you or not. Since trial lessons are mostly free (or sometimes with minimal fee), you have nothing to lose if you take advantage of the opportunity.

#3. Check the booking policy before you commit.

Does the school allow for cancellation or rescheduling of classes? How many hours of prior notice do they need? Is there a fee? Also, do they have a refund policy? Those are just some of the important questions and information you need to know before booking a class.

Many of us have a busy schedule and you’ll never know when you may become unavailable to attend a scheduled class. It would be good to find an e-learning platform or online Chinese school that allows for cancellation or rescheduling on short notice and for free, and better yet if they have a good refund policy in case you cancel.

#4. Choose a platform or school that allows for flexibility of schedule.

We understand that you are looking for an online Chinese tutor because you want more flexibility of class schedule. However, in some cases, slots become limited especially if you are living in a different time zone than where the tutors are. Be sure to check the availability of tutors on your chosen time before you book with an institution.

#5. Find an institution that offers friendly customer support.

A reliable and friendly customer support team can make a big difference in your experience. Some Chinese schools or platforms are very limited when it comes to customer support. Customer support can help if you have questions or if you need assistance with a particular service.

Takeaway

There is no shortage of online Chinese tutors, but not all of them have the capability, skills and passion to teach. It is also hard to find an online language tutor who has the teaching style or method you are looking for. However, with the five 5 tips mentioned above, it should be easier for you now to find the best teacher who can help with your goals.

BENJAMIN GIBBS

Benjamin is a language and culture enthusiast. He has been learning Mandarin Chinese more than 6 years. He lived in Shanghai, HongKong and Singapore.

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