Tutoring platforms: Chinese lessons on a budget?

Thinking of booking Chinese lessons, but not sure how much you’re willing to spend or how many lessons your money can buy? You’ll be surprised to find out how many Chinese lessons 250 $ can get you.

What’s your budget for learning Chinese?

Learning Chinese is a serious endeavor, yet most learners tend to think in terms of time, instead of money. Sooner or later however, you have to ask the financial question: what are you willing to spend to improve your Chinese level? Say you’d like to schedule weekly lessons to complement your self-studying, what can they cost?

Although I’m a big fan of low-budget options for autonomous learning, I do think actual communication with Chinese speakers is the real deal. I also noticed that polyglots like Benny Lewis book language lessons in an early stage of their learning. And there are good reasons for that: Chinese lessons provide instant feedback, new challenges and energy. Weekly Chinese lessons – even for one hour – can keep you on track.

For this blog post I take a reasonable 250 USD. How many Chinese lessons can we book for that amount?

What does a Chinese lesson cost?

That depends on a number of factors like:

  • Teacher’s professional experience & qualifications – you pay more for a teacher with 10+ years of experience compared to someone who just started teaching
  • Kind of class – some classes require more (teacher) preparation than others, so they tend to be more costly. You might pay less for one hour of conversational Chinese than 60 minutes of HSK prep or Business Chinese.
  • Size of class – you can choose between one-on-ones, small classes or medium-sized groups, the first being the most expensive.
  • Online / offline – online teachers can work from anywhere and aren’t bound to a school location for which rent needs to be paid.
  • How many lessons you book – it might be more affordable to book 20 lessons instead of 1 lesson at a time.

Chinese schools vs tutoring platforms

There’s a fierce competition going on between tutoring platforms and Chinese schools that offer online classes like GoEast Mandarin that I reviewed a while back. Since the pandemic, Chinese schools and their teachers have been operating online more than ever, seeking to find a new balance between offline and online teaching. However, it’s no secret that tutoring platforms like Italki tend to be significantly less expensive. Booking online lessons with a tutor is literally a matter of seconds. Other benefits include:

  • Convenience: Online lessons with tutors can be taken from anywhere and at any time, making it easy to fit language learning into a busy schedule.
  • Variety of teachers: Tutoring platforms often have a large pool of teachers to choose from, allowing students to find a teacher that best suits their learning style and goals. Their review system actually allows you to make an informed choice.
  • Flexibility: the lessons can be tailored to the student’s individual needs, with the ability to focus on specific areas of language learning or to work on conversation skills.
  • Cost-effective: Online language lessons with tutors can be less expensive than in-person lessons, as there is no need to pay for transportation or rent a physical classroom.
  • Recordings: Some online platforms offer the ability to record the lessons, which can be used for later review and practice.

Tutoring is not only for slow students or poor performers btw. A tutor is “a person charged with the instruction and guidance of another: such as a private teacher or a teacher“. And tutoring platforms allow you to book lessons with such language trainers. These lessons might be more like complementary learning sessions than a structured, step-by-step course you’d get at a Chinese school.

Apart from the price that’s also the biggest difference between (online) Chinese schools and tutoring platforms: with a tutor you book lessons, not complete courses that walk you from A to B to C etc.

250 USD budget for Chinese lessons

I took a look at the popular language tutoring platforms. The number of lessons is based on the lowest tutor fees I was able to find on each platform. The duration of one lesson varies between 50 (Preply, Amazingtalker) and 60 minutes (Italki, Verbling). In some cases you receive a price reduction for booking a package of 10 or 20 lessons. This is the result:

Italki – 25 lessons

Price range: 10 – 30 USD for 60 minutes.

Verbling – 10 lessons

Price range: 25 – 50 USD for 60 minutes. Price reduction if you book 5 or 10 lessons.

Preply – 41 lessons

Price range: 6 to 40 USD for 50 minute lessons.

Amazingtalker – 35 lessons

Price range: 7 – 40 USD for 50 minute lessons. Price reduction for booking packages.


Booking online Chinese lessons on one of these tutoring platforms is a great option when:

  • you want quick access to a Chinese teacher for extra lessons.
  • you want a qualified Chinese teacher but don’t have a huge budget for Chinese courses.
  • you want to book Chinese lessons relatively spontaneously or late-minute.
  • want to have Chinese lessons, but don’t want to commit yourself to a long, expensive course.
  • you want to brush up your Chinese conversation skills.
  • you feel isolated while self-studying or feel you’re not making progress and want some real action.

Or maybe you simply want to find out whether Chinese is the right language for you. The key takeaway is that it’s budget-friendly, accessible and worth giving a try.

Thanks for dropping by on Kaohongshu. Feel free to share your experience taking Chinese lessons on Italki, Preply, Verbly and other platforms in the comment section!

Graded Chinese readers

Graded Chinese Reader 500 Words: Selected Abridged Chinese Contemporary Mini-stories
Graded Chinese Reader 1000 Words: Selected Abridged Chinese Contemporary Short Stories
The Rise of the Monkey King: A Story in Simplified Chinese and Pinyin 600 Word Vocabulary Level
The Sixty Year Dream: Mandarin Companion Graded Readers Level 1 (Chinese Edition)
The Dwarfs 小矮人 Xiǎo ǎi rén (HSK3+Reading): Chinese HSK Graded Reader
The Prince and the Pauper: Mandarin Companion Graded Readers Level 1,
Chinese Breeze Graded Reader Series Level 1(300-Word Level): Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!
Graded Chinese Reader 3000 Words: Selected Abridged Chinese Contemporary Short Stories

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