Learning Mandarin Chinese

Strategy for Choosing Mandarin Chinese Online Classes

By November 14, 2020 January 5th, 2021 No Comments

For students starting to learn Mandarin Chinese, it’s common to search for the best Mandarin course or Mandarin Chinese online classes. The results are staggering. There are so many options and courses from across a variety of vendors. Which one should you pick? Our suggestion is that you choose a course that allows the student to reach a vocabulary goal. Find out if the course covers vocabulary from the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) or Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL). These are the standard proficiency tests from China and Taiwan. Another goal for many Chinese learners in the USA is the Advanced Placement Chinese Language and Culture Exam. Keep in mind that passing the AP Chinese exam is equivalent to around 2 years of Chinese language classes in college. Now, while this may sound great to total beginners of Chinese, it’s not at all enough for students to be able to read fluently. From our experience, a student who passes the AP Chinese exam will have trouble reading native Chinese language material at the 2nd grade level. 

As you research various Mandarin Chinese online classes, try to use the criteria above to help you make the decision. When you do find the best Mandarin course for your student, make sure you also have a plan to help the student remember what they have learned. So let’s go over in more detail on how you can find and maybe combine together options online to optimize learning Mandarin:

  1. Find a learn Mandarin online course that has clear vocabulary goals and timelines. This way, you have an idea of the progress to expect and when. Look for courses with HSK, TOCFL or AP Chinese Exam vocabulary when possible.
  2. Make sure the course or tutor provides vocabulary in action. This means that the student is able to listen and eventually read on their own, various sentences that utilize the vocabulary they are learning. Do not take a course that tries to cram vocabulary through flashcards or memory methods without usage in sentences. This will not work once you get to more advanced words dealing with feelings and intangibles.
  3. Find ways for the students to continue to practice words they have learned and learn new words without having to repeat the same course over and over. This is probably the most difficult service to find online or anywhere. While there may be many learn Mandarin online courses for learning Mandarin, their goal is to teach students but not help students continue learning Mandarin once they complete the course.

The good news is that the Mandarin Reading Club provides all 3 of the above at a very reasonable price because our goal is to promote self learning instead of constant tutoring. Here’s how we do it:

  1. Most of the vocabulary we use are pegged with the HSK or TOCFL. This way, students have an idea what level they are at by simply looking at the vocabulary list. 
  2. We provide many stories on various topics utilizing the vocabulary so that students see and learn how to use the vocabulary in real life. They also hear all of the reading so they can follow and read on their own. This allows them to do self correction and improvements.
  3. We are constantly adding new stories and reading material so that students can continue learning and reading about interesting topics that correspond to their school classes and daily life. 

What’s the next step after students have completed the Mandarin Reading Club? It’s simple. We expect students to be able to read materials online such as news stories, online books, movie and TV show subtitles. Additionally, they should also be able to text message friends in Chinese.