To study Chinese effectively online, the technology needs to work. It is not very complex, but there are a few important things to pay attention to.
HOW ARE FLEXI CLASSES TAUGHT?
Flexi Classes combine the fun and interaction of a small group class with the flexibility of studying online.
LTL Flexi Classes have an average of two to three, with a maximum of six students per class.
Each class is taught by a professional Chinese language teacher, with plenty of time for students to speak, practice and ask questions during the class.
Each lesson is taught via Zoom, using the LTL Online Curriculum which includes a host of relevant topics for 2020-21.
Small Group Classes
Small: Average 2-3 & max. 6 students per class
Personal: A professional teacher to ask, practice and speak with
Fun: Practice with your classmates and solve problems together
Duration: 1 hr is great to learn without being overwhelmed
LTL Online Curriculum
Current: Relevant topics from apps & AI to coffee & food
Light: Happy and bright with fun stories and pictures
Fast: We make Chinese look & feel easy
Rigorous: Organised, disciplined & structured
Professional: Trained & certified teachers
Experienced: Tens of thousands of hrs of teaching experience
Supportive: Studying advice & support from your teacher
Friendly: A fun and friendly environment to learn together
Any Location: Wherever you want
Any Time: Whenever you want
Any Topic: Whichever you want
Intensity: How much you want
SMALL GROUP CLASSES ONLINE
When we started teaching online, LTL was already established as China’s biggest offline private Chinese language school with Chinese schools in Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Singapore, Chengdu, Xian, Beihai and Chengde.
We were first very skeptical about teaching groups online. Teaching Mandarin online 1-on-1, yes maybe, but groups?
- Is this going to work?
- Will students be able to progress as fast as with offline classes?
- Will the classes be fun?
- What about making friends and student interaction?
The results have been amazing and today our online group classes are at least as good, if not better than offline classes. Having taught Chinese online since 2012 we have however learned several valuable lessons.
- Online Classes need to be small. The current average of two to three students works very well. Any class size above six students slows down progress, so we always keep our group classes smaller than that.
- Professional Teachers are essential. Good teachers are always important, but even more so when teaching online. Teaching Chinese online to a group is something a teacher needs to learn and gain experience in. Today our LTL online teaching team is incredibly strong, experienced and our biggest asset. The best online Chinese language teachers work for LTL.
- Teaching materials need to be fun and relevant. Outdated books talking about university libraries and formal greetings that nobody uses anymore are demotivating for students. For online Chinese group classes it is essential to teach vocabulary that is useful today. From online shopping and mobile phones to bubble tea and Chinese food, it is essential to keep teaching materials updated and relevant to today’s conversations and lifestyle.
- Things need to be easy. A great online class software that makes it easy to book, cancel and re-arrange classes.
- Use the best teaching software available. We started with Skype, tried WeChat, WhatsApp, Microsoft and any other video conferencing and teaching software out there. In the end we found at this moment that Zoom is the most reliable and effective online teaching software. This might change in the future, and as soon as we find a better solution we will implement it straight away. Technology moves at an incredible speed today and we need to make sure that our students always get the best technology available. It might be 3D classes or holograms soon (or one day?), but at the moment it is Zoom.
HOW AN ONLINE GROUP CLASS WORKS
Five minutes before the class you will receive the Zoom link and you and your classmates can enter the classroom.
Your teacher will join you on time and screen share the teaching materials for today’s lesson.
The class will then go through the materials step by step, with plenty of practice, dialogues, time for questions and everyone getting the opportunity to speak frequently during class. At the end of each class further exercises are provided which you can complete in your own time after class.
The class will finish promptly after 60 minutes to ensure students who have another class afterwards can make it on time.
1-on-1 Online Classes
An individual class can either follow the LTL curriculum and teach a topic of the course, or be tailor made where you decide what you want to learn. This is completely up to you.
Like with group classes, you will receive the Zoom link for the class five minutes before it starts, and each class lasts 60 minutes.
The class will be taught by a professional LTL teacher and you will get a lot of opportunity to speak, practice and talk during class.
What Do I Need To Prepare?
Not much. All you need is a working internet connection to join the class. It is possible to join classes with your phone, tablet, PC or any other internet enabled device that can run Zoom.
In our experience having a bigger screen is helpful though as reading characters and pinyin is easier on a larger display.
Also, being in a quiet environment where nobody disturbs you and you can fully focus on the class is important.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long until I can speak Mandarin fluently?
It is possible to reach Chinese language fluency with online study as fast if not faster than with traditional offline classes.
How fast you reach fluency will depend on your studying intensity, however a full time Chinese online student can reach fluency in Mandarin within less than a year.
For part time study this will take longer.
In general with Mandarin, the fewer breaks you have between lessons the better, so there is frequent review of what you studied before.
Should I study Small Group or 1-on-1?
Small group classes are a great way to study Mandarin online.
Because the classes are so small with an average of 2-3 students and never more than six in a class, everyone gets to speak and practice a lot.
Having the camaraderie and working through problems together can also be very motivating. You will be practicing dialogues with your classmates, laugh at some of the stranger aspects of the Chinese language and at times be able to share your frustration when things are not going so well.
So while this is up to each student and you can study both 1-on-1 and group classes, our recommendation is to start with group classes.
They also come at a very good price. It is possible to combine small group classes with 1-on-1 classes of course as well.
One thing to keep in mind though is that once you reach a higher Chinese level group classes become increasingly less efficient.
This is because different students excel and struggle in different areas and these differences become more pronounced as everyone reaches a higher level.
Some are great at characters, others at speaking. Some know more business vocab and others day to day words, so whatever is taught the class always ends up either too easy or too hard for some students.
This is why we offer 1-on-1 classes for all levels from complete beginner to HSK 6, and group classes from complete beginner to HSK 3.
How should I prepare for a class?
Prepare for an online Chinese class the same way you would prepare for any other class.
Make sure you are on time, have your study materials ready, switch off any mobile phones or other distractions, close the door and be ready to fully immerse yourself into the class.
It is possible to study anywhere you are, however – if available – being able to sit at a desk with your monitor in front of you, using headphones and nobody else around you is the most efficient way to study online in our experience.
Also make sure you have your tech set up in advance and test your microphone and speakers. Especially Bluetooth devices can sometimes use your microphone without you knowing it, so switching all Bluetooth connections off before a class is often a good idea.
Should I print out teaching materials?
Printing out the teaching PDF can be helpful for taking notes during class, however it is in no way required.
Most of our students do not do so, but if this helps you during the class then definitely go for it.
You can download all our teaching materials free of charge from the class page.
Can I give feedback on the experience?
Yes, we love feedback from our students.
After each class you are invited to rate the class as well as the teaching materials and leave comments.
If you have any further suggestions, thoughts or feedback we would also love to hear from you via email in the Help section.
What are the cancellation rules?
You can cancel any class at any time.
You will receive your credits back for all classes cancelled at least 72 hours before the class starting time.
What are the booking rules?
You can book group classes at any time, even just a few minutes before it starts.
Due to teacher planning and sometimes full classes, it is good to book longer ahead as the choice of group classes is much bigger when you book at least several days in advance.
1-on-1 classes you can book up to 48 hours before the class starts.
The earlier you book, the more time the teacher will have to prepare for the class, so the earlier the better of course.
Can I also learn Chinese free with LTL?
You can indeed, through a number of methods actually.
1 – We offer live classes every week on Facebook, for free, no catches.
2 – Subscribe to our newsletter, we make the best free learning Chinese content on the internet, no doubt! Check our blogs out, alongside our YouTube and Instagram and you’ll soon see you’ve got a wealth of free material to take advantage of.