Monday, March 31, 2008

Skype Chinese lessons - an advert

Although I've always maintained that this site is for me to jot down my odd thoughts as I stumble from place to place, taking in what's around me, I'm also happy to write up the odd review and advert when there are things which I think are particularly worthwhile.

I was contacted through the blog a couple of weeks back when I said that I was getting on well with the Chinesepod lessons, from a company called EChineselearning who offered me some Skype Chinese lessons. Because life is just a little too busy at the moment and I'm currently not happy to take time out of the middle of my day to continue what is in essence an added extra to life, I've ended up scheduling these lessons at midnight once a week - this is 7 am Beijing time which is the earliest they can manage.

Anyway, I had a quick test over the phone to find out what my level was, and soon after received the materials for the first lesson: a chapter from some way through a text book.

My first lesson was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't sure if it was going to be awkward having a lesson over the phone, but as they are set up with web-cams, being able to see the teacher is a big help. We spoke predominantly in Chinese, though on the odd occasion where the teacher did have to explain something in English, she was clearly very good - As far as I know most of the teachers have degrees in teaching Chinese to foreign students. They use both Skype text as well as a blackboard behind them to write down anything supplementary and the Skype text is particularly useful as you can simply keep this is a file on the computer for later.

I've just had a couple of lessons so far, and though I don't have much time during the week to practice (though I have an hour extra conversation once a week with a Chinese student) it still feels like this is going to be a very useful resource to help improve my skills before I head back to visit the KITPC in Beijing.

This is also much cheaper than most one-to-one Chinese lessons would be. The lowest prices they offer are under ten dollars a lesson, and compared to most one-to-one language lessons, this seems very reasonable.

Anyway, if you're looking for a resource of very professional Chinese teachers but can't spare the time or money to find a private tutor in your neck of the woods I'd definitely advise giving this new language learning method a go.

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