Looking for online Chinese classes to get to the next level? I took a few online classes with GoEast Mandarin. In this review, I’ll cover how it works, what it costs and what’s the added value.
GoEast Mandarin – teaching Chinese since 2012
GoEast Mandarin is a Chinese language school in Shanghai, founded in 2012. They provide both online and “real” classes on their campuses in Yanpu (close to Fudan and Tongji University) and their new location in the former French Concession in Shanghai. They claim to have taught over 20.000 students in 10 years, which equals 2000 students per year, both adults and children.
You might know them from their YouTube channel, where they upload new videos almost on a weekly basis. Their short “Beyond Class” dialogues I enjoy watching. These videos not only introduce new slang-like vocabulary, but also give a first impression of the school and their teachers:
GoEast Mandarin – reputation
What about their reputation? Their score on Trustpilot (almost no negative reviews) and Facebook is pretty high. Clever marketeers certainly have their ways of handling review tools like Trustpilot in their advancement, for example by inviting only those people who are most likely to write a positive review. But still, it’s hard to fool everybody all of the time and the impression I got from looking at reviews from (former) students was that they generally seem enthusiastic about the quality of their classes and the results they produced.
First steps with GoEast Mandarin
How to start? Before you do anything, you meet online with your language consultant and have a chat, either in English or Chinese. During this 30-minute conversation, GoEast Mandarin will assess your current language level, your language goals and preferred schedule (and anything else that seems relevant). In my conversation with Maria, I mentioned where I’m from, where I’m now and why I’m learning Chinese. That my goal is simply to speak more and become more fluent. Based on this information, Maria gave a quick overview of their speaking classes (口语课). She also asked if I prefer 1-on-1 classes or small groups and whether I am a business or a private client. Then we agreed on the number of lessons and their price. One 1-on-1 session lasts 50 minutes and costs about 30 EUR.
For me this was the first Chinese lesson in a very, very long time. Because I’ve been self-studying so long now, I’d forgotten how it felt to be in the flow of Chinese class, the interacting with the teacher, giving the “right” answers and asking questions. I also was a little worried about the stability of my internet connection, which sometimes causes problems during online meetings.
My first lesson with Clytie (or 袁老师) – using Zoom – started on time though and we enjoyed a stable connection between Berlin and Shanghai. She picked a good topic too: Chinese drinking culture. Although I’d watched the short video she sent me a few days earlier multiple times, I couldn’t reproduce all the key vocabulary immediately and we took some time to understand every new word, before we continued to discuss the peculiarities of Chinese drinking and my own experiences. Fifty minutes went by extremely fast.
Zoom combined with PowerPoint worked almost as if it had been designed for Chinese lessons. Normally (in non-virtual class) I’m not a big fan of using this presentation software, because it leads to the kind of non-dynamic teaching where you hop from one slide to the next one. For online classes it’s different, because the slides can be used for writing, drawing and so on. It also provides much-needed structure to conversation class.
Even though I only took a few classes, it’s certainly been a positive experience with GoEast. My teacher was very friendly, well-prepared and professional. She understood how to create a fun and motivating atmosphere and encouraged me to speak as much as possible. The pace suited my personal speed, not too fast, not too slow. GoEast was also very flexible when it came to rescheduling previously made appointments. I’ve no doubt I could have progressed much more if we’d continued our weekly sessions longer.
As for the price: it was a bit higher than I had expected, but I’m be no means an expert. Unless you have a large Chinese learning budget or your company is paying, you might wonder if it’s truly worth it. After all, it’s quite a large sum and taking Chinese classes might not be the only option. I found, however, that no matter how self-disciplined you’re studying, having weekly sessions with a qualified and experienced teacher who believes in you, can have an extremely positive impact. In the best case, it results in spending more (long-term) active study-time, doing more thinking and speaking in Chinese and growing your self-confidence to communicate in Chinese.
Important to note is that 1-on-1 sessions are more costly than (small) group classes. A course like HSK 3 is 40 lessons (each lesson 50 minutes) and currently costs 1100 USD / 1079 EUR. To check what’s possible, you can simply arrange an online meeting with them. (If you decide to book classes with them using my link, you get one private class for free).
Graded Chinese readers
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