Which online Chinese classes are the best? I’ve created an Online Mandarin Class Comparison chart of five companies that are popular in my Chinese learning circles. All the companies have experienced and qualified teachers, so what’s sets each apart? Check out the chart below or click on the links to skip to my review.
Online Chinese Class Comparison Chart
Review of Online Chinese Classes
The four companies were selected based on how legitimate their website looks. All of these companies use their own proprietary software and do not require users to login through a third-party platform. They all offer fun and easy one-on-one online Chinese lessons.
LingoAce is based in Singapore and is the only company offering 25-minute and 55-minute online Mandarin Chinese classes for students ages 4-15. Please make sure your child is capable of following the teacher’s instructions and sitting through the entire class. The curriculum is taught in both Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. The teacher was friendly and very patient during the trial class. She seemed experienced with teaching younger children.
My son was finally able to take the trial class on their proprietary iPad App. Again, we experienced tech issues. During the class, a chat box appeared and neither the teacher nor I could close the box so it covered part of the screen. My son wasn’t able to interact with the class with the chatbox open and at times could not see some of the lessons.
My son is conversationally fluent in Mandarin and can read about 300 Traditional Chinese characters. After answering a few questions about his Chinese speaking and reading ability, he was placed in Advanced Chinese Level 3. The lesson content was more academic than he is used to. The curriculum focused on reading in Simplified Chinese. He did not recognize many of the Characters. The teacher mentioned that we could request a Traditional Chinese lesson. How exciting to finally find online Chinese classes offered in Traditional Chinese!
Lingo Ace uses a point system instead of a dollar system for purchasing classes. It’s complex and not clear if one point is equivalent to one US dollar. I’m not sure why companies do this. Their basic pricing model is $30 per class or package deals starting at 25 classes for $750.
Lingo Bus is based in China with its headquarters in Beijing. They offer fun online Mandarin Chinese classes to students ages 4-15 years old. Parents can choose between the fluency course that focuses on listening and speaking, or the literacy course that focuses on reading and writing. The curriculum is taught in Simplified Chinese.
The teacher was warm and made the class very fun and engaging. The interface was well-designed and the curriculum was appropriate for my child’s level. Lingo Bus’s lesson was well planned out and focused on learning the same set of characters with 4 different activities.
Lingo Bus Curriculum
Lingo Bus offers game-based lessons that are engaging and interactive for young learners. Although their classes are intended for ages 4-15, my daughter began taking Lingo Bus classes before her 4th birthday. She is conversationally fluent in Mandarin and can read about 300 characters.
I get a lot of questions about whether or not Lingo Bus is suitable for preschool-aged children. I would only suggest online classes for children that are capable of sitting through the class and following instructions from the teacher. If they cannot participate in class then it will not be worth your money.
The classes are tailored to each child’s Chinese level. My daughter has already surpassed her big brother by an entire level!
Lingo Bus Additional Resources
Lingo Bus users have full access to their extensive learning resources including books, printable worksheets, flashcards, and other goodies.
The Lingo Bus e-book library has hundreds of digital books on a wide range of topics. Each book has an autoplay feature with audio and the option to turn Pinyin on/off.
Practice before and after class to reinforce character learning. These flashcards have audio to learn the proper pronunciation.
Printable Chinese Character Worksheets
Practice writing each character to learn the stroke order.
Lingo Bus Pricing
Lingo Bus class packages start at 10 classes for $350. Every purchase includes full access to the extended learning resources library. They offer discounts regularly and the largest promotion takes place during the holidays during Black Friday through Chinese New Year.
Help a mama out and use this Lingo Bus Referral Link. At no additional cost to you, we both receive free classes if you purchase a package.
Panda Tree’s headquarters are in California. I was excited to find a US company focusing on teaching Chinese. Panda Tree accepts students as young as age 2. This could be a good option for toddlers if you think your child can sit through a 25-minute class. The curriculum is taught in Simplified Chinese.
Panda Tree is a web-based program using your internet browser. There’s no need to install software or an app. However, we had tech issues and it was glitchy. Some moments the screen is white instead of displaying an image.
Panda Tree Curriculum
This was my son’s first online Chinese class when he was 5-years-old. I had asked the teacher to call introduce herself as 姐姐 (big sister) instead of “Teacher”. At first, he was intrigued and curious about a stranger video chatting with him. Once he realized it was a class he lost interest. The lesson was way too easy for him. No Chinese characters we introduced and my son quickly got bored.
Panda Tree Pricing
Panda tree class prices start at $25 per class or packages of 3 classes for $70.
Speaking Duck is Singapore-based company offering online Mandarin Chinese classes for students ages 5-12. The curriculum is taught in Simplified Chinese.
There were lots of emails upon signing up. I completely missed the confirmation email so I didn’t know I needed to install the software first. Installer instructions are in Chinese only. After downloading the software I was not able to get a code sent to my mobile to log in. The support rep was asking me to enter my user name but the input field only accepts phone numbers. I eventually gave up and closed the install window but for whatever reason tried to open it again, this time I got a different login screen and was able to input my user name instead of a phone number.
Speaking Duck Curriculum
With the software finally activated we could enter the classroom. By default, the classroom uses my laptop’s rear camera. Neither the teacher nor I could figure out how to switch the cameras but we used a workaround fix. The teacher seemed very experienced and was patient. She had no discernible accent, which I know is important to some parents.
I found the tools on the interface to be very small and not intuitive. My son didn’t know he could click on the pen icon to draw or change ink colors. The trial lesson was too complicated for my 5-year-old. The text on the interface was very small. The graphics were very busy, and again not intuitive what each task required of him. For example, the class was about shapes – triangle, square, and diamond – which he already knows in Mandarin but we haven’t learned the characters yet. Since he didn’t recognize the characters, the teacher displayed pinyin, but he couldn’t read them as he is in Kindergarten and learning to read this year. I think their expectations are too high since most are just beginning to read at age 5.
One thing to note is that there isn’t an easy way to add profiles for multiple children. In fact, I can’t figure out how to make adjustments to my profile to switch my account to book classes for my daughter instead of my son. The booking process for individual classes is also strange. You can book by selecting a teacher, although there are no links to the teacher’s profile. The booking process is painfully slow.
Speaking Duck Pricing
Speaking Duck class packages start at 5 classes for $99.
Use this link to get 10% off Speaking Duck online Chinese classes.
Review coming soon!
This blog post about Online Mandarin Class Comparison reflects my own experience and opinions. I work for a company that is affiliated with Lingo Bus. I was not asked to write this post for any compensation nor do I received any discounts for any other these products. Please use my referral links if you decide to sign up for a free trial or subscribe to online Chinese classes. In some cases, I will receive a free class for my children if you purchase a package. Help a mama out with some freebies! Kids are expensive 🙂
Looking for more ideas to teach your child Chinese? Check out my Chinese learning resources page.