Before the 21st century, it was almost impossible to learn Chinese without living in China or miraculously stumbling upon a fluent speaker who offered to teach you everything they knew.
But luckily, it’s the 21st century—which means finding a Chinese tutor online is easier than ever before!
Whether you’re a beginner or already fluent, booking periodic lessons with an online tutor is beneficial for any Chinese learner. It helps you practice your skills (and advance them) by having conversations and getting explanations from a native speaker.
Not to mention, having real-life conversations in Chinese is excellent for your speaking and listening comprehension skills.
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you four qualities that make an amazing tutor, how to make the most out of your lessons and six awesome websites for finding the perfect Chinese tutor online.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
What to Look for in an Online Chinese Tutor
Choosing which teacher to book is an exciting and scary process!
You’re about to invest money, after all, and while you can’t wait to start improving your Chinese skills, you also want to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck.
Luckily, I’ve gathered a few tips and tricks after spending four years browsing the internet for high-quality Chinese tutors online.
So before booking that first lesson, make sure your new potential Chinese tutor meets these four qualifications.
A Native Chinese Speaker
Most likely, you already prefer your tutor to be a native speaker. But sometimes it can be tempting to book a lesson with non-native speakers because of price, large availability, timezone similarities and other factors.
No matter how fluent they are, you simply can’t dismiss the fact that they (most likely) haven’t grown up in a Chinese-speaking country and they likely have a slight accent.
Native Chinese tutors, on the other hand, have been immersed in Chinese culture their entire lives and can help you with your accent and teach you things like colloquial vocabulary, slang and idioms.
Availability that Suits Your Schedule
It’s not hard to find a Chinese tutor online whose availability matches yours. Many websites have hundreds of tutors, each with their own availability options.
This means no matter what time of day you’re free the most, there’s bound to be a tutor out there who’s offering lessons during that timeframe.
If you feel like you have to compromise or rush to make your lessons, you’re likely to get burned out and eventually stop booking.
Provides Answers to Your Questions
Good tutors won’t just teach what they want to teach you—they’ll teach you what you want to be taught.
You know you’ve found a great Chinese tutor when you feel confident asking questions before, during or after the lesson. Some of my favorite Chinese tutors not only answered my questions, but also gave me example sentences for new grammar structures or vocabulary words I learned throughout the week.
Encourages You to Speak Chinese
You might be surprised, but even some native Chinese tutors will use mostly English in their lessons. Depending on your level, you may or may not want that.
If you’re a beginner, you still need to rely on English a bit. But if you’re intermediate or beyond, your lessons should be more so in Chinese than English. Whether this be through conversation practice or explaining new words, you’d be surprised how much Chinese you can actually understand through context.
Finally, a good tutor won’t let you get away with staying quiet the whole lesson. They should encourage you to speak Chinese with confidence!
Tips for Studying with a Chinese Tutor Online
You now know what each Chinese tutor online needs to make it onto your list of candidates. Now, let’s talk about some tips to put into practice after you’ve found “the one!”
- Take notes during the lesson. They don’t have to be fancy notes, but you should always keep a notebook or piece of paper by your side during the lesson. Even if your teacher sends you the vocabulary or grammar points through a message or download, writing things down helps you learn them better and faster.
- Repeat after your tutor. Mimicking your tutor helps improve your pronunciation and allows them to correct you if you’re saying something wrong. Most tutors will ask you to repeat after them or ask you to make your own sentences, but even if they don’t, there’s nothing wrong with doing it anyway. You hired them to help you, after all!
- Ask your tutor to correct your sentences. A grammar exercise I love to do after learning new sentence structures is creating my own sample sentences and then sending them to my tutor before our next lesson. At the beginning of the lesson, she already has her corrections and can explain them to me!
- Write down your questions throughout the week. If you can’t message your tutor throughout the week, keep track of all the questions you’ve asked or struggle to find answers to. Then, during your next lesson, ask your tutor (and write down their response).
- Keep practicing in between sessions. You’ll learn faster if you supplement your tutoring sessions with consistent, self-guided practice. For example, you can watch videos on FluentU, an online language-learning platform that teaches Chinese through authentic video content. Listening to native Chinese speakers throughout the week will keep you sharp for your tutoring sessions!
You'll find a wide range of contemporary videos that cover all different interests and levels, as you can see here:
FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up.
All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.
From the description page, you can access interactive transcripts under the Dialogue tab, or review words and phrases under Vocab.
The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your learning. It customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. In other words, you get a 100% personalized experience.
Try FluentU in your browser or, better yet, download the FluentU iOS or Android app today!
Top 6 Websites for Finding the Perfect Online Chinese Tutor
Now that you’re fully equipped for booking a high-quality teacher and know how to make the most out of your sessions, let’s discover the top six best places to actually find your soon-to-be Chinese tutor!
One of the most popular language tutoring platforms out there, italki is one of the best places to find the perfect Chinese tutor online. They have over 500 Chinese tutors to choose from, each with different educational backgrounds and qualifications.
When searching for tutors on italki, you can filter the results by price range, availability, native speaker and more. Each tutor has an introductory video on their profile where they introduce themselves, explain how their lessons work and encourage you to book a lesson.
You can choose from two different types of tutors on italki—community tutors and professional teachers. Community tutors are fluent/native speakers who have met all of italki’s strict standards but don’t have a background in education. Professional teachers, on the other hand, hold either certification or a higher education degree in the education field.
Unlike italki, Mandarin Tutor is a platform for finding Mandarin Chinese teachers only. The lessons are one-on-one and conducted via Skype. Before booking your first session, you can book a free 25-minute trial lesson with one of their tutors.
Another feature that sets Mandarin Tutor apart is the fact that all their tutors are native speakers and have been professionally trained in teaching Chinese. Whether you’re booking a lesson for conversation practice, business preparation or even for your children, Mandarin Tutor allows you to create and customize your own course and lessons.
Each tutor has their own specific rate, so how much you spend depends on who you book. But many of the tutors have affordable rates, with some even dipping to single digits for a 50-minute lesson.
Although TutorMing is targeted more toward kids, adults can benefit from booking sessions as well. Each lesson is 25 minutes long and focuses on teaching Chinese through immersion, meaning there will be little to no English used in the class.
Each tutor is a native Chinese speaker and certified, and you can take lessons on a computer, tablet or mobile phone. TutorMing also prides itself on its ability to match you with teachers based on your preferences, such as age, level, interests and more.
Not only does TutorMing offer private one-on-one lessons with tutors, they also have a blog that explains many Chinese grammar concepts and vocabulary words.
My Chinese Tutor
With over 18,000 students learning each week, My Chinese Tutor is a team of teachers from Beijing with extremely affordable pricing.
Lessons start at $10 USD per hour, but the first lesson you book is free. The tutors are handpicked by the team, and each has a significant amount of background and experience teaching Chinese.
My Chinese Tutor has a unique pricing plan that lets you pay based on how many lessons you want to have per month. The tiers are Casual, Standard, Intensive and Super Intensive, with the lowest plan (Casual) allowing up to 10 lessons per month and the highest (Super Intensive) allowing up to 100 per month.
Regardless of which pricing plan you choose, each plan features one-on-one learning, and the lessons follow a structured learning program.
Similar to italki, Verbling is a platform for learning languages through one-on-one lessons but isn’t specific to Mandarin Chinese. They feature over 50 languages and are home to over 7,500 teachers around the world.
Find your ideal tutor based on price range, availability, which languages the tutor speaks, their place of origin and much more. Each tutor has their own hourly rate, but before booking a lesson, you can book a free trial with any tutor.
You can also see other students’ reviews and ratings of each tutor as well as look at which skills they’re known for, such as “motivation,” “great with beginners,” “grammar expert” and many more.
Chinesehour features a variety of courses—such as HSK Training, Spoken Chinese, Business Chinese, AP Preparation and much more—which are taught through one-on-one lessons.
You can easily check your progress in a specific course with their unique progress-checking system and even record your video lessons, which works perfectly for those who wish to review lessons later.
Like many of the other options, Chinesehour also offers a free trial lesson and hosts many different tutors. You can search for tutors based on their teaching style, signature course, qualifications and more.
And there you have it! Six awesome websites for finding the perfect Chinese tutor online, plus life-saving tips for how to make the most out of your lessons (and money!). So what are you waiting for? Get out there and book your first lesson!
Brooke Bagley is a freelance writer and a passionate language learner. She’s learned Mandarin Chinese for seven years, Spanish for three and Indonesian for one. Aside from languages, Brooke runs her freelance writing business, Writing & Thriving and specializes in B2B copywriting, content marketing and holistic health and wellness.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.