What is eChineseLearning?
The site functions as an online boutique language school. Courses and lessons are specifically catered to the individual's needs. eChineseLearning doesn't follow the one size fits all approach. Upon signing up for classes teachers evaluate the student's level of proficiency, as well as talk with the student about his or her learning goals.
The result is a unique and heavily personalized Chinese learning program.
What makes eChineseLearning different?
The best of both worlds (traditional and video classes)
eChineseLearning's online classes are similar to a one on one class you might have with a teacher in a physical classroom. Teachers teach with a blackboard behind them, allowing them to easily write Chinese characters, pinyin, or whatever else the lesson may require.
I've had online lessons with other teachers where Google docs was used instead of a blackboard. I have to say that for me, the blackboard approach better because it's easier to watch the teacher and read what they've written (it's a bit harder to do when using Google docs with Skype).
eChineseLearning teachers use a blackboard in real time
eChineseLearning teachers will also provide a PDF handout of what will be covered in a class. This saves you from having to take notes during the lesson, which can often be distracting in a foreign language class. Though you are free to take notes if you want.
Writing Chinese characters
The chief benefit is that the teacher can see the brushstrokes of the student to ensure that they are writing the character correctly.
Teaching style and method
As mentioned before, each lesson and program is uniquely tailored to a student's needs. That being said there are some common things you expect in lesson with eChineseLearning.
Effective lessons, without any pressure
The overall vibe of the lessons is relaxed and very friendly. The teachers introduce new information, and stretch the limits of your ability, but they do so in a way that takes the pressure off. It's almost as if you're being taught by a friend.
A lesson from eChineseLearning's Youtube channel with their teacher Becky
Perhaps you have nightmares from your highs school language teacher or college professor.
Not to worry, there is nothing strict or severe about eChineseLearning's teachers. They are engaging, encouraging, and patient. They understand how hard learning Chinese can be for foreigners.
Learning Chinese through your native language
eChineseLearning's teachers have a thorough knowledge of the English language. This means they not only speak it very well, but they are also able to point out any similarities between English and their native Chinese.
This could be pointing out an aspect of Chinese grammar that is similar or easier than English, or perhaps it could be highlighting the English pronunciation of a certain word to help a student understand the sound of a Chinese word.
This ability to weave through the student's target language and native language is a huge asset when learning a foreign language. It's also what sets apart the great Chinese teachers from the good ones.
The prices range from $9 to $25 per lessons, depending on how many lessons a student takes. Generally, the more and longer the lessons you book, the cheaper the price per lesson.
These prices are comparable (and in some cases better), with other sites offering online classes such as Verbling or Italki. However, neither of these sites has the focused approach that eChineseLearning has.
My first class with Julie
In preparation for this review I took a free trial lesson with one of eChineseLearning's teachers. I scheduled the lesson through an administrator and was paired with an available teacher named Julie.
A glimpse into a Chinese Lesson with Julie
Because I had next to no experience in Mandarin, we started with the absolute basics: covering the four tones, some simple phrases, and the basics of Chinese characters.
Nothing to fear or worry about
Even though I've learned several foreign languages before, it can be unnerving starting a new language from scratch. It can also be unsettling if you're taking a class with a new teacher for the first time (especially if you've never taken an online class before).
Julie did an amazing job. She was upbeat, friendly, and very patient. I never felt rushed or pressured. She helped me feel at ease during the lesson.
A knowledgable teacher
Julie did an excellent job of breaking down any concepts I had difficulty with. When I had trouble pronouncing a particular Chinese word she gave me an English word with a similar sound.
When I had trouble with the rising and falling tone, she shared a mental visualization with me that made it more memorable. She was always able and ready to explain things in a way I could better understand.
Also her use of the English language was excellent. She spoke with near native fluency and had only a slight accent. I have taken classes with other language teachers who knew little to no English, so I really appreciated this.
A teacher with a high level of English will be better able to explain difficult grammar or pronunciation to a native English speaker than a teacher who's English level is lower.
What I love about eChineseLearning
A structured approach
One thing I really like about eChineseLearning is that they are able to provide a structured yet flexible approach based on your individual needs.
There is no one size fits all method of teaching. Once your goals and desires are established, your teacher will guide you step by organized step toward your success.
The teachers are what really make eChineseLearning such a great option for learning Mandarin. Their passion, knowledge, and talent for teaching are all evident and make for a great learning experience.
A free trial lesson
eChineseLearning offers a free trial lesson. This is the ideal way to see if their courses and teachers are right for you. It's also a great way to get introduced to the online learning experience, if you've never taken an online class before.
eChineseLearning makes every effort to make your online learning experience as simple and enjoyable as possible.
Upon signing up for a free trial lesson, someone from the school will contact you to set up a lesson time and discuss your language level and learning goals.
Before your first lesson, they will also do a test call with you on Skype to ensure that everything works properly so that you can hear and see your teacher and vice versa.
Also, the school is always open and welcoming to any questions or feedback their students might have.
What other people say about eChineseLearning
"Before my trial lesson with eChineseLearning, I had only heard of them online through a few active users on Quora. They were there, it seemed, to promote the company and their reviews were always positive. It was only after my first lesson with eChineseLearning that I realized they were right – the school is a fantastic place to study the language."
Shannon Kennedy // Eurolinguiste.com
"...as soon as I connected with my teacher Julie, I was pleasantly surprised at how professional she was: right from the beginning she made me feel at ease, gauged my level in Mandarin, and began conversing with me in the language while also providing helpful explanations in flawless English.
What made the experience particularly rewarding for me was that Julie wrote key words and phrases that we came across during our conversations on Skype in pinyin and Chinese characters, along with the English translation, something you simply can’t get with an in-person teacher or group classes."
When it comes to online courses eChineseLearning is truly a step above the rest. They offer effective courses, taught by excellent teachers, with great customer service, all at an affordable price.
What's not to love?