Published February 13th, 2008 by Gator

Program Review: eChineseLearning

Imagine having your very own Chinese tutor, a trained professional in a Beijing classroom who caters every lesson to your needs.  Sounds great, but…  You don’t live in Beijing?  No worries, you don’t even have to get up from your seat.  eChineseLearning is Web 2.0 at its finest, providing one-to-one courses in virtual classrooms through a wide range of IM clients (Skype recommended).  It’s perfect for that important business trip or as a supplement, even a replacement, of your current form of Chinese studies.

You begin by taking a skill test.  If you can’t speak Chinese at all don’t worry, the teachers are also skilled in English.  After the placement test you are contacted by a teacher and sent a lesson in PDF form.  You can then schedule a class (give them at least a day’s notice), and with a reasonable measure of flexibility you can choose the date and time.  Classes can last up to 50 minutes each and can be held up to 5 days per week.

The classes themselves involve a review of the vocabulary in the PDF lesson in the form of a question and answer discussion.  The teachers will correct your pronunciation and grammar, and will either type the characters and pinyin for you or write it on their blackboard to show you the stroke order. 

Price:  Regular classes are US$199/per month, and business classes are US$299/per month.  Payment can be made using Google Checkout or Paypal.  This is actually a steal, if you try to find tutors in your area they will charge about $35-$50 per hour!  Go ahead, look around!

The Good:  Should be obvious.  One-to-one lessons, flexible schedules, relatively cheap, professional teachers…you even get a free lesson.

The Bad:  No real complaints here.  The PDF lessons are scanned in from a textbook so minor portions may be blurry, but I think it’s something that just needs improvement.

Conclusion:  This is perhaps the future of language learning.  One-to-one interaction is the best way to learn Chinese because it forces you to use what you have learned, and that’s a little hard to come by if you don’t live in China.  I’ll put it this way…I live in Taiwan, go to school to learn Chinese, and still use this service.  It’s worth it.