Frequently Asked Questions

Overview

What is the Mandarin Reading Club?

The Mandarin Reading Club publishes read aloud videos that help students learn to read Mandarin Chinese. Students can access the Mandarin Reading Club videos through our website via a desktop / laptop computer, mobile smartphone or tablet. Every video also includes an interactive learning section and a flashcard program that helps students learn the vocabulary and pronunciation. For additional help, students can sign up for our private online tutoring lessons.

Is the Mandarin Reading Club similar to a traditional book club?

No, we are not a book club where a group of people discuss the same book that they’ve all read on a weekly or monthly basis. We named our service the Mandarin “Reading Club” to indicate members interested in learning to read Mandarin Chinese. Our “Reading Club” also provides all of the reading materials that students need so they do not have to venture outside of our website to access reading content. 

For privacy reasons, we do not have any social interaction features where members can post information, contact with, connect or view other members. In fact, only adults can register for an account. Please see our “Who can register for an account on the Mandarin Reading Club?”.

Can I trust the Mandarin Reading Club with my data?

Please read our Privacy Policy for details on data collection and storage.

Given the nature of our service in offering a learning platform for Mandarin Chinese, we want to be as transparent as possible about our company background and the vendors we use to provide our services.

The Mandarin Reading Club is an educational service created by Gold Medal Education LLC. The company is registered in California, USA and licensed to operate in the city of Burlingame, California. Our founders and family reside in California, USA.

Our website and databases are hosted by Godaddy and our videos are hosted by Vimeo, a subsidiary of IAC; both prominent USA based, publicly listed companies. Credit card payments are processed by Stripe, a leading online payment processing company headquartered in California, USA.

We are not affiliated or influenced by any foreign government or entity. Additionally, the learning materials we provide are thoroughly reviewed to align with the interests of students learning Chinese as a second language living outside of Mandarin speaking countries and regions.

Why does the Mandarin Reading Club focus on reading?

Our program addresses the particular needs and challenges facing students residing in countries where Mandarin Chinese is not the primary language. We found these observations below to be some of the main challenges:

  1. Students rarely have the opportunity to see, hear or practice speaking Mandarin in their daily lives. Even students who are learning Mandarin in after-school, weekend or immersion programs don’t normally speak Mandarin with their friends outside of school.
  2. Students are constantly dealing with learning and forgetting. For those who are currently taking Mandarin Chinese classes, their biggest challenges are not during class but trying to remember what they’ve learned after they’ve completed their classes.
  3. While many students may start learning Chinese, especially heritage students (those who speak Mandarin at home with parents), few ever reach the level where they can read a book, newspaper or are able to navigate Chinese language websites and apps.


From these observations, we realized that if students can learn to read at the level where they can comprehend the many online Chinese language content available for free, they can keep from forgetting what they’ve learned and continue to learn as they continue to read.  To address the challenges above, we decided to focus the Mandarin Reading Club on teaching students to read because of the following:

  1. First, reading does not require a partner to practice with. A student can read at their own pace on topics that are interesting to them. This is especially important for students who don’t live in Mandarin speaking countries because finding friends willing to speak in Mandarin and tutors to practice with is not easy or cost effective. We want to make sure that students’ ability to learn is not hindered by factors from their environment that they can’t control.
  2. 

Second, reading, whether it’s a book, news story or subtitles in a movie or TV show helps students with overall comprehension. Reading increases their vocabulary, guides their usage of grammar and sentence patterns that will improve their ability at conversation as well. Once they build up their reading skills, they can pick up conversation easily when they encounter other Mandarin speakers.
  3. Third, Chinese language reading material and subtitled audio/visual media are widely available on websites and apps. Once students reach a reading level that allows them to comprehend some Chinese online media, they are able to continue learning and reduce the chance of forgetting what they’ve learned. Many (if not most) students who have taken some Chinese courses in school forget what they’ve learned simply because they never reached the reading level necessary to enjoy written Chinese widely available in the online media.
  4. Finally, text messaging has become the preferred form of communication, especially in Asia. Whether for keeping in touch with friends or doing business, the ability to read Chinese texts and communicate on messenger apps is an important skill for anyone planning to use the language. Therefore, it is critical that students focus on learning to read Chinese.


Registration and Payment

Who can register for an account on the Mandarin Reading Club?

While the aim of the Mandarin Reading Club is to help students learn how to read Mandarin Chinese, only parents, guardians and people ages 18 and over who agree with our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy can register for an account and purchase our services. If you are a student under the age of 18, please ask your parents or guardians to register on the mandarinreadingclub.com and get their permission to allow you to use this service.

If you are a teacher, educator or school interested in having your students use the Mandarin Reading Club, please contact us.

Is a paid subscription plan required to register an account on the Mandarin Reading Club?

Yes. A paid subscription plan is required to register an account on the Mandarin Reading Club.

What are the differences among the subscription plans?

All of our Reading Club subscription plans offer full access to the videos and interactive learning materials.  The difference is in the savings per month when you sign up for a longer subscription period and when the subscriptions automatically renew. 

If you are unsure which plan to select, go for the monthly subscription plan.

Do the subscription plans automatically renew?

Yes, all of our subscription plans automatically renew.

  • Monthly subscriptions automatically renew every month.
  • 6 month subscriptions automatically renew every 6 months.
  • 12 month subscriptions automatically renew every 12 months.

What payment methods do you accept?

We accept all major credit cards and process the payments through the Stripe payment gateway.

How do I cancel my subscription?

You can cancel a Reading Club subscription at any time. However, to avoid being charged for the next billing cycle, you must cancel your subscription prior to the “Next Payment Date”. 

To check your “Next Payment Date”:

  1. Sign in to your Mandarin Reading Club account
  2. Click on “My Account” in the header menu
  3. Click on “Subscriptions” in the My Account menu
  4. Click on “View” of the active subscription and you will see the “Next Payment Date” listed.

To cancel a Mandarin Reading Club subscription:

  1. Sign in to your Mandarin Reading Club account
  2. Click on “My Account” in the header menu
  3. Click on “Subscriptions” in the My Account menu
  4. In the “Actions” row, click on the “Cancel” button.

This will cancel your current subscription from renewing when the current subscription period ends. You will still have access to all of the Reading Club subscription videos until the end of the current subscription period. Your subscription status will continue to indicate “Pending Cancellation” until the end of the current subscription period. 

If you have any issues with cancellation or want us to delete your full account, please email us. See our contact info.

What is the 14 day money back guarantee?

New users can receive a full refund of their subscription plan fee within the first 14 days of their initial subscription purchase date if ALL of the conditions below are true:

  1. The subscription is the first paid subscription by the user.
  2. The subscription is not a renewal.
  3. The subscription is not a change from an existing subscription. A change includes an upgrade or downgrade.

If you satisfy all of the conditions above and are within 14 days of your initial purchase date, you may request a refund by emailing us with the following information:

  1. You must email us from the same email address used to register for the Mandarin Reading Club account. If you used a different email address for your payment information, please include that email address as well. This way we can match the payment with a verified email address.
  2. Please include your order number and your subscription order number. These two numbers are included in the initial purchase receipt emailed to you.
  3. Please cancel your subscription by accessing the My Account menu. Follow the instructions on “How do I cancel my subscription?” section of this FAQ.

Your refund will be confirmed through our email communication to you. To email us, see our contact info.

What is your refund policy for subscriptions?

Please see the “What is the 14 day money back guarantee” to confirm if you qualify for that refund guarantee.

We do not offer refunds for subscriptions plans, renewals or downgrades from the current subscription plan. 

We do offer prorated refunds for subscription upgrades. Please see “Can I change my subscription plan?” section for more details.

Can I change my subscription plan?

You can upgrade your subscription plan from a shorter subscription period to a longer one, such as moving from a monthly payment plan to an annual payment plan, by doing the following:

  1. Email us (see our contact info) and let us know which plan you want to upgrade to.
  2. We will respond to you with instructions to cancel your current plan and purchase the new subscription plan. Please note that once you purchase the new subscription plan, you will not have a 14 day money back guarantee. If you cancel the new subscription plan, there is no refund for that plan.
  3. We will prorate your previous plan and refund you the unused portion from that plan once we confirm that the new subscription plan is paid for.

If you want to downgrade or change from a longer subscription plan period to a shorter one such as moving from an annual plan to a monthly plan, you can cancel anytime before your subscription plan renews. Then, select a different subscription after the end of the current subscription plan period.  Cancelling a subscription just cancels the renewal at the end of the subscription period. You still have access to all of the Mandarin Reading club videos until the end of the subscription period. We apologize that we are not able to provide refunds for downgrading a subscription.

Using the Mandarin Reading Club

How do students use the Mandarin Reading Club?

(1) After selecting a subscription plan, registering and confirming credit card payment, click the Reading Club in the main menu to select a video to view. Click the radio button options to filter the videos that are most relevant to the student. Below are a description of the filter options:

  • Select either Simplified or Traditional character set

    • If the student is unsure which to select, please see our section on Should I learn Simplified or Traditional Characters?

  • Select the content type:

    • Lessons – These videos are intended for beginners with little to no experience with the language. The goal of the lessons is to teach students to use Pinyin or Bopomofo to begin reading so that they can use the other videos to continue learning Mandarin Chinese.

    • Stories – These fictional stories are the core set of learning videos that expose students to Mandarin Chinese through read-along video stories.

  • Select the age range:

    • In general, students can watch any of our videos regardless of age. We do not have content that is inappropriate or sensitive for viewers of any age. The videos for ages 5 to 12 years olds have simpler content to understand and/or more appealing characters for that age group. We encourage students to view videos for all ages so they get maximum exposure to the language. 

  • Select the content level

    • The Mandarin Reading Club has a total of 6 levels. If you are a new user, try a video in each of the levels until you get to one that is appropriate for your level.

(2) Watch the video to get an idea of what the story is about and listen to the pronunciation.




(3) Scroll down the page to see the transcript of the video. Try to read as much as you can first without any help. Then feel free to use the following below as needed:




  • Pronunciation – For pronunciation help, you can click on the Pinyin and/or Bopomofo phonetic system. This will place the Pinyin and/or Bopomofo symbols above the words.

  • English translation – To get the English translation of the sentences, click on the English tab. Please note that this is not a word by word translation. It is a sentence and paragraph English translation on the general meaning.

  • English word definition – To get the English definition of the Chinese word, click the word and a tooltip will show up with the English definition of the Chinese word. Note that many Chinese words include two characters so you will see two characters selected when you click on one of the characters.




(4) To learn the vocabulary, click on the learn button. By default, you should see the vocabulary list. You can choose to show or hide any of the columns to help you learn the words. The columns are described below:




  • 词汇 (word in Simplified) – This is the word in the Simplified character set
.
  • 詞彙 (word in Traditional) – This is the word in the Traditional character set.

  • 拼 (Pinyin) – This is the Pinyin pronunciation for the word
.
  • ㄅ (Bopomofo) – These are the Bopomofo symbol/s for the word.

  • Aa – This is the English translation of the word
.
  • HSK – This is the HSK level of the word. If the word is not in the HSK list, the column is left blank.

  • TOCFL – This is the TOCFL level of the word. If the word is not in the TOCFL list, the column is left blank.

  • Audio – Under the column with the ear symbol, click on the speaker icon to hear the audio of the word. We use Amazon Polly to generate the audio sounds for the words in the vocabulary section.




(5) Here are some suggestions on how to use the hide and show columns to learn the vocabulary:




  • Learn the pronunciation

    • Using Pinyin or Bopomofo is the best way to learn the pronunciation of each word. Just show and hide Pinyin or Bopomofo for each word until you can say all of the words.

    • You can check if you’ve pronounced the word correctly by clicking on the audio speaker icon. 

  • Learn the definition

    • To learn the English definition just show or hide the “Aa” icon. 

  • Learn the other character set

    • You can try to learn the other character set by just showing or hiding the 词汇 (Simplified) or 詞彙 (Traditional).




(6) For more help on learning the vocabulary click on Flashcards:




  • Select the character set: Simplified or Traditional
.
  • Select the pronunciation: Pinyin or Bopomofo
.
  • Look at the word and take a guess at the meaning and pronunciation. You would do this in your head of course. Then click anywhere on the page to flip the card.

  • You should now see the pronunciation and the English definition for that word. To check the pronunciation, you can click on the speaker button to listen to the audio.
  • If you are correct then click correct and the cards will advance to the next word.

  • If you are wrong then click on try again and the word will be randomized against the cards that have not been shown. If it is the last word in the list, then the missed word will keep showing if you click on try again.

  • If you want more practice you can click on try again and the cards will be presented again in random order


.

(7) Repeat steps 2 through 6 until the student is able to read the transcript of the video on their own. The student does not need to be able to follow the speed of the read aloud from the video to move on. They can read it slowly while understanding the words.




(8) If you are also learning the other character set, select the same video in the other character set and repeat these steps.


Should students learn Simplified or Traditional characters?

We suggest students learn to read both character sets and get exposure to both early on so that when they become more advanced in their studies, they are not surprised when they see characters from the other set.

One method is to select a primary character set and review the video for the other character set once the student has learned all of the vocabulary in the video from the primary character set. Many of the vocabulary will be similar so this helps the student quickly get up to speed in both character sets. 

Here are some suggestions below that may help the student select the primary character set to learn:

  1. For students who have family, friends and/or plans to visit China, Malaysia or Singapore, then selecting Simplified characters as the primary character set to learn probably makes sense.
  2. For students who have family, friends and/or plans to visit Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau, then selecting Traditional characters as the primary character set to learn probably makes sense.
  3. For students who are currently learning one of the character sets in their Chinese afterschool, weekend, bilingual or immersion school, it makes sense that they continue learning the same character set to reinforce their learning.
  4. If the student is new to Mandarin Chinese and/or does not fit any of the above scenarios, we suggest just selecting any character set as the primary one.

You will notice that we have two versions of every video story; one in Simplified and one in Traditional characters. While the interactive learning sections for each of the videos will have the other character set as well, sometimes, the content may be different between the videos. For example, the word for “potato” in China (土豆) is quite different than the word used for potato in Taiwan (馬鈴薯). We base our content for Simplified character videos on how words are used in China while the Traditional character videos are based on how words are used in Taiwan.

How do students use Pinyin or Bopomofo?

Pinyin and Bopomofo (also called Zhuyin) are two popular phonetic systems used to help students pronounce Mandarin Chinese.  When students learn how to use Pinyin or Bopomofo, they can pronounce new Mandarin Chinese vocabulary correctly without having to hear the audio of that word. The Mandarin Chinese Club has integrated both Pinyin and Bopomofo into our interactive learning materials so that regardless of which system students are accustomed to, they can continue to use it here to help them pronounce the words.

Students new to Mandarin Chinese should select a phonetic system to use. Our learning videos will introduce you to both phonetic systems and how to use them. 

What is the HSK and TOCFL? Why are they important?

The HSK (or “Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi”) and the TOCFL (or “Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language”) are standardized Chinese language proficiency tests used in China and Taiwan respectively. The purpose of these tests is to rate the ability of non-native Mandarin speakers who want to study and work in China or Taiwan. 

When we created our read aloud stories, we based much of the vocabulary against the vocabulary from these two tests. In the vocabulary list for each video, students can view the level of the word, if it exists, in both HSK and TOCFL.

In the future, if students want to study or work in China or Taiwan, they will be better prepared to take these tests. 

Currently, the Mandarin Reading Club does not prepare students to actually take or pass the HSK or TOCFL, although reading comprehension and listening ability are a significant part of both of these tests.

Tutoring

Should my child sign up for a tutoring package?

If the student is new to learning Mandarin Chinese, we suggest that the parent or guardian sign up for a tutoring package. Tutoring packages are only available with an active, paid subscription and are intended for Kindergarten to 12th grade students.  Tutoring will help students learn correct pronunciation early on and get them up to speed in using the Mandarin Reading Club video reading materials.

There are many Mandarin tutoring options. Why should we use yours?

Our tutors are trained to help students use the Mandarin Reading Club videos and interactive learning materials to read Mandarin Chinese. While we can not predict how long students will need tutoring, our goal is to teach students to eventually become self-sufficient in using the videos without the help of tutors. 

I already have a tutor. Can I use my own tutor to help me with Mandarin Reading Club?

If you want to use your own tutor to teach you using the Mandarin Reading Club videos and interactive learning materials, please have them email us (see contact info) and we will be happy to set them up with an educator account. 

Keep in mind that Mandarin Reading Club accounts are not to be shared outside of the student’s own immediate family. Please read our Terms of Service for more details. Sharing of the Mandarin Reading Club videos and website via video conference to anyone outside of the immediate family with an active subscription is also prohibited. 

What are the differences among the tutoring packages?

You can purchase a single online lesson if the student is new to the Mandarin Reading Club or has a specific learning request. If you plan on taking lessons on a weekly basis, select the 5 or 15 week package. The price per lesson decreases as you purchase more lessons per package.

The 5 and 15 week packages also require that students complete the lessons in consecutive weeks. While students can start the lessons from anytime after you purchased the package up until the 6 months expiration date, once students start the lessons, they need to complete them in consecutive weeks.

Do lessons expire?

Yes, lessons expire 6 months from the date of purchase and can not be refunded after they expire. For 5 and 15 week packages, the first lesson must start within 6 months after the package is purchased. As long as the first lesson starts before the expiration date, we will allow the student to complete the rest of the lessons. However, those lessons past the 6 month expiration date can not be refunded.

Do you offer refunds for unused lessons?

Yes, just email us (see contact info) and we will refund you any unused lessons as long as those lessons are not scheduled to start within 24 hours and have not expired.

Lessons that are scheduled to start within 24 hours or have expired can not be refunded.

How do students schedule lessons?

Once you purchase a tutoring package, please email us (see contact info) to schedule your lesson. 

Lesson times are subject to the availability of our tutors

Can we schedule more than one lesson per week?

Yes, if you purchased the 5 or 15 week package, you can contact us and request that you want to schedule two lessons per week. Two lessons per week is the maximum number of lessons we allow per tutor per student. Obviously, once we schedule two lessons per week, the packages will complete in a shorter number of weeks than 5 or 15. 

Can scheduled lessons be changed without penalty?

If you let us know 24 hours or more in advance that a student can not attend a lesson, we will be happy to cancel, change or postpone the lesson to another time. 

If you need to change or cancel a lesson within 24 hours of the scheduled lesson time, we are unable to offer a refund.

What if my tutor needs to change the lesson time?

If a tutor needs to change or postpone a lesson time, the parent or guardian will be contacted via email to schedule a different time. We will be happy to also offer a refund if you choose to cancel a lesson because of a change in the tutor’s schedule.

What video conferencing software do you use for tutoring?

We can use either Zoom or Google Hangouts.

Are the tutoring sessions private?

Yes, our tutoring sessions are all one-to-one private lessons.

Are the tutoring sessions recorded?

No, we do not record any of our tutoring sessions and ask that students and parents do not record these sessions as well.  This is meant to protect the privacy of both students and tutors. 

Can students choose or change tutors?

Yes. We will initially assign students the most appropriate tutor for them based on their level. If the student wishes to change tutors, please email us (see contact info) and we will do our best to accommodate.

Do you screen your tutors?

We screen every tutor we hire with a background check. All of our tutors have experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to students between Kindergarten and high school. We have also trained all of our tutors to teach students how to use the Mandarin Reading Club videos to learn to read Mandarin Chinese. 

As with any tutoring, different tutors will be a better fit for certain students. Therefore, we allow students to change tutors if they are not satisfied.

Can we contact the tutor after the lesson if we have questions?

We understand that questions may come up after a lesson. However, due to privacy and legal reasons, our tutors can not have direct contact with the student or parent/guardian outside of the lessons scheduled from the Mandarin Reading Club.

If you have questions, please email us (see contact info) and we will be happy to contact the tutor and respond to you promptly.

Can the tutor help out with questions unrelated to Mandarin Reading Club?

If the student is currently learning Mandarin Chinese at another school and has questions about the Chinese language, the student can ask for help from our tutors during the lessons. However, the goal of the tutoring lessons is to help students learn to use the Mandarin Reading Club videos to become better readers of Mandarin Chinese. 

Camps

Will you have camps this year?

Due to the current Covid 19 pandemic, we have decided to postpone camps until 2021. We will be looking into both virtual camps and trips to China, Taiwan and other International locations.