Mandarin Chinese has become one of the most popular languages to learn right now. With more than 1.3 billion native speakers, Chinese is beneficial for enhancing your career and business opportunities.
However, learning Chinese is not easy for many, as the Chinese language is very different from Indo-European counterparts, such as English, Spanish, or French.
Still, becoming fluent in Chinese by taking online Chinese courses is possible if you choose a high-quality one and invest your time in it.
The most important thing for people who want to learn Chinese is to find the right online course that suits their learning style from thousands of options available.
You don’t have to worry, because I have already selected the best ones for you, so you don’t have to waste your valuable time and money on a low-quality course.
Affiliate Disclosure: This blog post from Victory Tale contains affiliate links. If you purchase Chinese courses through them, we will receive a small commission from our partners.
Nevertheless, we always value integrity and prioritize our audience’s interests. You can then rest assured that we will present each course truthfully.
Things You Should Know
It is effortless to find online Chinese courses. Many learners are overwhelmed just by the number of options. Generally, there are two types of online Chinese courses available:
- Online private courses – You will learn Chinese live with an instructor on the platform or third-party video conference apps such as Skype or Zoom. The experience is similar to a typical private class, but you never meet your instructor in person.
- Self-study courses– You will learn Chinese online on your own from audio or video lessons. However, many providers might add extra features to help you learn Chinese, such as online flashcards or interactive exercises.
Each type has pros and cons that you should consider. I hope you understand before paying for any Chinese course.
Online Private Courses Pros and Cons
- Offer similar experience to in-person private courses
- Most learning platforms let you select your instructor.
- Customized Chinese classes: Your instructor can design a tailor-made curriculum that optimally suits your learning style and needs. For instance, you can get a crash course on Chinese conversational skills to prepare yourself before a business trip to China.
- Flexibility: You can select when to take the course based on your schedule.
- You can choose to pay hourly for course fees.
- It could be pricey. You should expect to pay an average of $15 per 1-hour class. New students need to learn at least 50 hours to understand basic Chinese, and many times that amount for intermediate and advanced levels. Thus, the total course fees could be thousands of dollars.
- Choosing the right instructor is vital for your success.
- A weak internet connection could ruin your learning experience.
- You might not be able to change your class schedule at the last minute, so you pay course fees to no avail.
Self-Study Course Pros and Cons
- Inexpensive. Some online Mandarin Chinese courses even start at less than the price of a cup of coffee per month. The pricing is even better if you get a lifetime deal or buy during a massive discount.
- Give you tons of language learning resources to self-study.
- Learn Chinese anywhere, anytime, without worrying about schedule.
- Ardent learners could master Chinese very fast, as the course is self-paced.
- Some courses do not teach every language skill equally. For example, some may skip the writing part totally.
- Explanations in the courses may not be good enough.
- No customization. Every student has to learn from the standard curriculum.
- Inconsistent quality. Some course materials are better at the beginning but worsen significantly when you reach the advanced level.
Other Tips for Selecting Online Chinese Courses
You could take both types of courses simultaneously to get the best of both worlds.
Taking a self-study Chinese course will save tons of money you have to spend on online private courses.
On the other hand, a 1-on-1 private tutor could improve your communication skills and provide answers to questions you have on the Chinese language after taking the self-study course.
Typically, you can get started for free on both types of courses. I suggest that you always get a free trial before buying any course, even though it is already at a 75% discount. This strategy will help you prevent spending money on classes that do not fit your learning style.
You should also try different Chinese courses before choosing one as well. This will give you more options to select.
When you try a free trial for a self-study course, if possible, don’t forget to audit the advanced part of the course. The purpose is to check whether the quality of the course is consistent.
Best Online Private Chinese Courses
Important Notice: Some providers in this post might be a full-fledged online language school specializing in teaching Chinese or a platform that connects you to native Chinese teachers.
There is a significant difference between the two.
|Language Schools||Learning Platforms|
|Courses to Choose||Numerous||Few|
|Payment||More Rigid (Monthly, Biannually)||Flexible (Hourly)|
For Courses to Choose, this means a language school offers a higher degree of customization.
For example, you can take industry-specific Chinese classes with language schools. This may not be possible for learning platforms.
eChineseLearning is unarguably the leading online Chinese language school. It was featured on many international media such as The Economist, Forbes, and Yahoo Finance.
As of 2021, the school has been teaching Chinese online for 15 years to students from more than 100 countries worldwide. Thus, you can rest assured that this school is credible and trustworthy.
1-to-1 Chinese Lessons
Every class taught by eChineseLearning will be 1-to-1. You will learn privately with top-notch native Chinese teachers.
All eChineseLearning instructors have received a degree and professional training in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and have years of teaching experience.
You can customize your class or choose one from this list:
- Regular – You will learn Chinese from basic to advanced by following the standard eChineseLearning curriculum, which has nine levels. You will develop every language skill throughout the track.
- Survival/Daily – This is a crash course in Mandarin Chinese. You will learn how to communicate effectively in everyday life in China, thus suitable for people who plan to visit China soon but don’t have time to take lengthy Chinese courses.
- Business Chinese – You will learn the proper usage of Chinese in the business environment. Similar to the regular course, this course is divided into nine levels starting from the very basics. This course is for business people who want to prepare themselves before doing business in China.
- Industry-Specific – ChineseLearning teachers can teach you industry-specific Chinese that involves a considerable number of technical vocabularies. You can see the industry list here.
- Test Prep – This is a specialized course for those who plan to take Chinese exams such as HSK, AP Chinese, SAT II Chinese, GCSE/IGCSE Chinese, and many others. Your teacher will evaluate your progress and choose suitable materials and training methods for students to achieve the highest test score.
- Culture and Business Etiquette – A course designed to teach you Chinese culture and business etiquette, which can be essential to build a long-term relationship with Chinese business partners.
- Other courses: eChineseLearning has other courses that teach Chinese creatively. For example, you could learn Chinese from movies and songs or even learn Chinese for dating.
Besides Chinese classes for adults, eChineseLearning has classes for kids as well. Those will be taught by instructors specialized in teaching Chinese to kids.
Course Structure and Pricing
Students will learn Mandarin Chinese face-to-face with teachers using the eChineseLearning website and app.
Each lesson is 50 minutes long. You can schedule your class 24/7. Hence, You can always pick a class time most comfortable for you.
eChineseLearning has a bit of a complicated pricing structure. How much you pay will depend on two factors:
- Course Length: The longer the course, the lower the price per lesson. For example, each class of a one-year course will cost you less than that of a six-month one.
- Regular or Specialized Courses: If you choose a specialized course such as a test prep course, you will pay 20%-40% more than an ordinary course.
A regular course would cost you $11 to $23 per hour.
Free Assessment and Free Trial
Those who have learned Chinese before but do not know which level you are in the curriculum can take the free 30-minute live assessment from an eChineseLearning instructor.
This is much better than machine assessment because a professional will evaluate you in every skill, reading, listening, writing, and speaking skills.
eChineseLearning also invites every learner to get a free trial to try its system and teaching style. Thus, don’t forget to take this opportunity, as well.
Pros and Cons
- Top-notch instructors from mainland China
- A large variety of Chinese courses to choose from + ability to customize
- Best for those who need an industry-specific or advanced Chinese course
- Suitable for beginners and other levels of learners alike
- Excellent free assessment by native Chinese teachers
- Can schedule the class 24/7
- Free recordings of your Chinese lessons and individual progress report
- More expensive than other alternatives
- Clunky and outdated website
- Slightly complicated money-back guarantee policy. However, it’s essential to read this beforehand. Many learners did not, so they had later problems asking for a refund.
2. Instant Mandarin
Instant Mandarin is a haven for those who value simplicity, flexibility, and professionalism. This online school connects language learners to certified Chinese language instructors worldwide.
All Instant Mandarin instructors have gone through a rigorous vetting process. Specifically, they are certified native Chinese teachers who have a solid academic research background in China, plus years of prior experience teaching Chinese at language schools.
Because of this, you can ensure that the quality of instructions is high-quality.
Curriculum and Course Format
Like eChineseLearning, you will learn Chinese 1-to-1 through Instant Mandarin’s video conference platform. Currently, there are seven Chinese courses that you can select from:
- Standard Chinese Course
- Travel (for travelers who plan to visit China soon)
- Survival (for those who are already in China but want to understand more Chinese)
- Young Learners (best for your kids)
- Business Chinese
- Easy HSK (for those who want to study or work in China)
The variety of the courses will be far more limited than eChineseLearning. However, these courses are more than enough to satisfy the needs of most learners.
However, Instant Mandarin’s policy is to offer a personalized learning experience. Thus, your Chinese teachers will consider your goals, preferences, and needs and create a customized curriculum.
For example, you can ask your instructor to focus on developing your speaking skills or even change the training material altogether.
Each session is only 25 minutes long so it can suit any busy schedule. However, suppose you want a longer class time. In this case, you can schedule unlimited back-to-back sessions (until you run out of lesson quota or your teacher becomes unavailable.)
With this flexibility, you can learn Chinese anywhere, anytime.
If you are interested in Instant Mandarin, you can apply for a free trial lesson by clicking the below button.
Instant Mandarin offers four packages as follows:
- Taster – $120 for 12 lessons or $24 per hour
- Appetizer – $570 for 60 lessons or $22.8 per hour
- Main Course – $810 for 90 lessons or $21.6 per hour
- Full Course – $1530 for 180 lessons or $20.4 per hour
The Full Course package unarguably provides the best value for money. Thus, if you are determined to become fluent in Chinese, this package is definitely the optimal choice. Completing it would bring you to the upper-intermediate level (suppose you are an absolute beginner right now.)
However, if you are a heritage learner, have learned some Chinese before, or just want to test the water, you can freely start with one of the lower plans.
Pros and Cons
- Students will learn from certified teachers with years of teaching experience
- Easy-to-use platform and website
- Transparent and flexible pricing structure
- Tailor-made curriculum offering personalized learning experience
- Short session that can fit in any busy schedule
- Free trial lesson
- More affordable than most other 1-to-1 Chinese schools
- Instant Mandarin does not allow students and teachers to have off-platform communication. This means your teacher cannot share his or her social media account and email address with you.
Italki is a great platform for language learning. Learning Chinese online with Italki is easy and inexpensive, suitable for every level of learners.
Italki teachers do not have excellent qualifications as eChineseLearning and Instant Mandarin.This is because the platform allows “community tutors” to teach students.
These community tutors are native or near-native speakers who use a certain language well but with no formal teaching experiences and certifications.
Still, Italki has certified