A Review of eChineseLearning: How I Learned Chinese and Why It Will Work for You Too
Cheryl.Li        Jul. 05, 2019

If you are here you are probably either currently struggling with your Chinese studies or thinking about starting to learn Chinese. I’ve finally had the best experience in my Chinese learning timeline that I would like to share. I think it’s so useful that it would be selfish not to share how I currently am learning Chinese and succeeding at it. It all started when I accidentally found my ideal teacher. I decided to put most of my university Chinese textbooks away on the highest shelf where they continue to collect dust today.


How I found the Perfect Teacher

After I graduated from university and decided to continue studying Chinese I spent nearly a year trying different programs, apps, meeting tutors in coffee shops, trying pre-recorded lesson packages, and tutorials. One day I was binge watching YouTube videos and dove into the Chinese ones. At one point, I saw an offer on a YouTube video for a free trial lesson online with a native Chinese teacher.

I had tried so many of these resources that I could write a book on how not to study a language. I spent so much time commuting to meet oftentimes bad tutors, so much money on prerecorded mass produced course packages and wasted so much mental energy trying to solve my own problems and answer my own questions that would occur while studying... so I figured that learning online might be a more convenient option. I'm so glad I clicked on that link and learned about eChineseLearning. After signing up and scheduling a time with the coordinator I soon met Dora during the free trial and the rest is history!


What You Can Expect to Get Out of Lessons

Online lessons with eChineseLearning were exactly what I needed to launch my Chinese progression to the next level. I took my first class with Dora and was blown away during our first interaction. By the end of the first week, I was speaking more than I had during the entire time in university Chinese classes. Speaking with and learning from a native Chinese teacher with all the focus on me is definitely the most effective method I have found to learn Chinese. I felt like I was learning so naturally. The pace was slightly challenging but I managed to keep up and that really pushed me to improve quickly as well as keep me from overthinking about making mistakes.

Throughout my time with eChineseLearning, I was able to try a few different teachers. Each had a wonderful attitude and professional teaching style. What’s key is that the teachers are all qualified to teach. They are experienced and certified to teach. This really took the guess-work out of learning. In my past experiences the teacher need my guidance on how to teach me, what materials to teach from, and at what level to put me. With eChineseLearning, the teachers lead the way. They are confident and knowledgeable which put me at ease. I knew I was in good hands from day 1.

During my first lesson, Dora was quick to correct my tones and was so patient and kind. She knew I had studied Chinese previously and quickly checked my comprehension to evaluate my knowledge. She then confirmed what my goals for learning Chinese were to decide what we should focus on. The aspect that I really appreciated was that she tailored the lessons to my interests and my learning style. I usually have a hard time with active listening but she got me really tuned in.

The price point is another aspect that convinced me to join eChineseLearning. I already knew I wanted to commit to a larger amount of classes so it was nice learning that the more lessons you commit to, the bigger the discount is. Depending on how serious you are about learning Chinese should determine how many lessons you buy upfront. Just take into consideration you will end up spending more while learning less. Pro-tip, get the biggest bang for your buck and brain by promising yourself to finally learn Chinese by getting the bigger package.

There really is so much to learn. Between Chinese culture and the extensive history of the language, it really is a learning journey. It’s a choose your own adventure type of education. Maybe you will start with learning root characters but later find yourself reading classical Chinese poems. It could happen.  


Options to Fit Your Goals

One of the notable perks of studying with eChineseLearning is that there are opportunities to learn very specific topics. My own personal plan includes transitioning from practicing mostly conversational Chinese and then at some time in the future, I would even like to take their HSK prep course. I am notoriously bad at taking tests, however. Test anxiety is real! Just to have the peace of mind of having a high HSK level to show for all of my hard work would be nice. They have great resources and study groups just for the HSK prep students. Afterward, I’d like to learn business Chinese. I’m looking forward to starting that journey.

They make it flexible so that I can go from one focus to another at a later time when I’m ready. The versatility is endless. There are even lessons for young children as well. I have already recommended their services to a few of my friends with children and one with a teenager that loves Chinese culture and primarily wants to learn characters.

The children’s lessons vary just as much as the adult options do. They can teach Chinese through fun means which won’t bore your child and will actually make kids look forward to class. It’s a much more sustainable way to get your child to study Chinese long term without getting burnt out. It’s a perfect option as a way for the curriculum to grow with your child. As the child matures they can be transitioned to AP, IB, SAT, YCT prep courses or simply continue to more advanced lessons for continued progression toward fluency.

I appreciate that they offer a course for adopted children and heritage learners. These are students that come from ethnically Chinese households but perhaps never learned how to read or write and only communicate with their parents in Chinese if at all. I have friends that have felt guilty about not knowing how to speak Chinese or that don’t know much about their ancestor’s culture. eChineseLearning was aware of this need in the market and fulfilled it. They offer a service for a whole demographic of people that feel divided between being Western and connecting to their roots.


Pros and Cons of learning online

  • You don’t have to get dressed or even brush your teeth to meet your teacher. Just make it a point to practice good hygiene at some point in the day… until then your teacher can’t smell you through the screen!
  • But you might get used to not having to leave your home and try to do everything online after this experience.
  • Study at your own pace without the annoying kid in the class asking for more homework. Unless you are the annoying kid. In that case, the teacher would be happy to give you more homework...nerd.
  • After studying with eChineseLearning you might be mistaken for a native Chinese on the phone.
  • Studying online gives you more flexibility, literally. Try cooking while doing a yoga pose while taking a Chinese lesson.
  • Less commuting, more learning. You no longer have to worry about driving in the snowstorm and missing a class! Unless you live for adventure. Then, by all means, go outside in the blizzard during your Chinese lesson.



When and Where Can you Study Chinese

The main perk of studying online is the flexibility of scheduling and location independence. I personally, liked to study on my balcony in between my morning walk and getting ready for work. I was able to save so much time since I didn’t have to commute and the ability to just find the nearest bench to sit on and take a class was just freeing. So, you could actually take a class anywhere that there is data service. On an overnight camping trip in the mountains but your mountain still has good reception? Great! You can take a lesson.

 I like using a tablet but a computer or cellphone is an option as well since they primarily use Skype to conduct the lessons. The frequency is up to you as well. I felt to keep things fresh in my memory as far as pronunciation goes, I like to have lessons every 2 or 3 days depending on my workload that week. The scheduling and frequency are completely up to you and there are other teachers available just to make sure you get a lesson no matter what.


How You Can Get Started

You can do what I did and start by signing up for a free trial lesson. That way you can decide for yourself if learning online is right for you. At least get a feel for what it’s like to get individualized attention. Or you could request a level evaluation if you intend on taking an HSK prep test course or something similar. It’s nice to know where you stand before getting a lesson planned for you. This way both you and the teacher will know how advanced or new you are and where to go from there.

They also have resources all over the web which you can preview. The YouTube videos are easily accessible for extra studying and a good way to discover topics and learning points you weren’t previously aware of. It’s always interesting to see what they will post next. Sometimes I find myself in awe, thinking “I would never have thought to ask about that” or “Wow. They just answered a question I thought was dumb.” Turns out most Chinese language learners share the same struggles and eChineselearning is aware of this.

If you have WeChat it’s worth it to join their study group there. If Instagram is your poison of choice they post mini videos and little quizzes there as well. I’m more of an Instagram addict myself so I get my daily dose of Chinese there.

If you really are unsure of why you want to learn Chinese in the first place start there. Answer that question for yourself and then decide what lessons you would like to pursue. Do you want to enter the Chinese market in the future or perhaps just be able to travel comfortable and connect with the culture? Narrow it down or simply just start! Learning Chinese is gratifying on its own and you will find is useful. If anything you can begin with conversational Chinese to get started.



Take away

After trying so many different apps and programs I'm happy and relieved to have found eChineselearning. They are progressive and flexible and have a staff made up of only qualified and experienced teachers. The convenience and effectiveness of their structured lesson plans are top of the line. I can speak more, read more, actively listen, and even improved my writing. I couldn’t say much about my aptitude before having a Chinese teacher to guide me through the most challenging areas of Chinese learning. They really got me over the most difficult hurdles. I think they are the answer to help push you and any struggling Chinese language learner past the learning curves that are inevitable.

If you have been trying to find a program that suits you like I was, this could very well be your solution. Give them a try and see what you think. There is a money back guarantee for all of your remaining lessons after your first month. So you really have nothing to lose except those bad habits that you probably learned with unqualified tutors or worse translator app pronunciation. Time to ditch the cute game apps too. I suggest you take your studies seriously and commit as I did. It’s worth it to invest in your education and your future. Maybe I’ll see you in the study group! 


- Written by Savanna Harlow -

Savanna hails from the beautiful state of Vermont where she teaches yoga in her studio and holds workshops around the world. She hopes to go to China to practice her Chinese and teach yoga next!

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