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There are many ways to learn Chinese. You can self-study on various platforms and apps. You can take group lessons with other students. You can also get private lessons from a Chinese teacher. Are you considering learning the Chinese language but you’re not sure which of these methods to use? Here are four reasons to choose online private lessons.
Private lessons can be tailored to your needs
Every person has their own motivation and purpose to learn Chinese. Do you want to travel to China and would like to be able to have a simple functional conversation in Chinese? Or do you have Chinese business partners, and you would like to have professional communication on a specific subject? Group lessons are normally highly standardized. e-Learning courses might meet some of your needs with a selection from their extensive libraries but might lack highly specialized topics. Private lessons, on the other hand, can be tailored to your specific needs.
One of my students cooperates with Chinese companies and calls China by telephone every day. Therefore, we frequently practice communication through phone calls: not just the vocabularies and certain expressions, but also an efficient way to deliver messages through phone conversations. With the help of this practice and other learning materials, the student feels increasingly more confident when calling Chinese companies. This student used to have Chinese people reacted to him with “听不懂” (I don’t understand you). Now they say “你的中文真好!” (You Chinese is really good!).
Your mistakes will be corrected on the spot, which avoids having to ‘unlearn’ them later
I have noticed that some advanced Chinese speakers make certain primary-level mistakes that could be avoided in their early stage if given enough attention. In a regular classroom setting, like when I’m teaching in middle schools, the teacher might focus on the most common mistakes. Not every mistake by every individual student can be given full attention. Since every person has his or her own learning mechanism, vocabulary or grammar are received differently per individual. During private lessons, mistakes can be spotted and corrected immediately through exercises. It ensures you have a solid basis and effectively progress to a higher level, without having to spend time unlearning mistakes later.
Speed is adjustable and you can accelerate or slow down according to your needs
In a regular classroom, all the content is scheduled. If you are a fast learner, you might need to wait for the average student in your class. If you need a bit more time that the average student, you might have difficulty keeping up and might end up being frustrated and quit. With private lessons, your learning speed can be adjusted to your own speed of progress and available time. If you have lots of spare time and do a lot of self-studies, you could progress much faster during the lessons. If a certain point is not fully mastered, you could get more relevant guidance from your teacher. If you would like to speed up, it is also possible.
One of my students decided to speed up from one lesson per week to three lessons per week when he wanted to improve his reading ability. Another one of my students took a 2,5-day additional training to prepare for an official test. Together with her self-study, she scored a 93 out of 100 for an HSK test! Another one of my students had a one-week intensive training: eight hours per day and five days in a row. This got him much more comfortable with the Chinese language, and it improved his level from “making sentences” to “comfortably conversational”.
Online lessons are available with a click at a time that suits you
For traditional classroom lessons, both students and teacher need to travel to the classroom. The classes are normally also scheduled at fixed times. These might not be the most convenient for you and the required travelling might claim even more from your precious time. Online lesson often offers more flexibility and can happen whenever both student and teacher have time.
One of my students has a very busy schedule and sometimes needs to work from early in the morning to midnight. Very often, we have a lesson at 8:00 AM before he starts work, or at 9:00 PM when he finishes. The lessons might seem an extra burden on top of his busy work schedule, while actually he has so much fun in the lessons that it gives him new energy. Online lesson saves your travel time and could fit much easier into your schedule.
To summarize, private online lessons are flexible in many ways.
- The content can be tailored to include topics that are most relevant to you.
- They can be adjusted to your starting level of Chinese as well as your personal learning speed and goals.
- They can be more adjusted to your personal learning challenges and mistakes.
- They save travel time and can be more flexibly scheduled to meet your personal agenda.
Are there disadvantages to (online) private lessons? Sure. They are more costly that classroom lessons and most e-learning courses. I sometimes advice students to use combinations of self-study and private lessons as a way to make learning Chinese more budget-friendly. Still, many of my students have told me that their weekly lessons function as a ‘big stick’ and keep them more disciplined in their self-studies. On top of that, the extra investment does come with all the aforementioned advantages.
One more word of advice. On the internet you will find many native Chinese willing to teach you Chinese. Often, these are Chinese students that want to earn some extra pocket money. While they can be perfect for practicing your conversation skills and can make for some great cross-cultural friends, they rarely are professionally trained teachers. As such, they might help you get started but would miss the educational and didactical skills that can help you succeed as a student of the Chinese language.
If you are considering learning Chinese, why not take your first free lesson with ChinaTalk? Jessica Sun is a certified first degree teacher, graduated from the University of Leiden in The Netherlands and a native Chinese. Want to know more about her? Check out her profile on LinkedIn profile or the ChinaTalk website.
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