TutorMing Average cost of the method: $12 ~ $17 per class, depending on the subscription package
Available in: Mandarin Chinese
Type of method: Live 1-on-1 instruction with a native Chinese tutor, with words, sentences, and images presented in PPT format.
TutorMing may seem like a newcomer to the Chinese-learning space, but the company has actually been operating since 2008 as a subsidiary of language-learning and edtech company iTutorGroup.
The company boasts 8 million classes with students in over 40 countries through it’s 5 brands – TutorABC, TutorABCjr, VIPABC, VIPABCjr, and TutorMing.
TutorMing’s Chinese classes are 45 minutes in length, with room for a Q&A session at the end with your Chinese tutor. TutorMing offers customizable classes according to the website, where they can tailor a class plan to your needs, interests and industry.
Aside from live instruction, TutorMing has a range of free downloadable flashcards, free Chinese-learning apps, and a comprehensive Chinese language and culture blog that covers a variety of topics. These resources are updated daily via their social media accounts.
TutorMing also provides free weekly webinars on hot topics in Chinese language and culture, where anyone with a TutorMing account can log in and attend. The webinars are taught in a similar style as the regular classes.
How Does It Work?
TutorMing’s live Chinese classes take place on their own platform, a web-conferencing platform similar to Skype. Though it’s pretty intuitive, a TutorMing representative will help you set up your account while walking you through how to use the platform when you register. You’ll also get a brief questionnaire about your Chinese-learning needs and your interests, which will better help them select classes for you.
Once you have an account and purchased credits, you can log in to your account to book your class. TutorMing’s Chinese classes are 45 minutes in length, and available all hours of the day. You book your class for when you are free, and enter the classroom at the time of your class.
Your Chinese tutor will join you in the virtual classroom. Interestingly enough, the camera is one-way, so your tutor can’t see you even though you can see them. This “helps protect [the student’s] privacy,” according to the TutorMing website. The tutor teaches you according to a PPT that they upload to the whiteboard which is built into the platform, so you can follow along with the slides.
Each class will teach you new vocabulary words and some new grammar sentence structures. Your tutor will guide you on how to apply those new vocabulary words to the new sentence you learned, so you can practice.
The classes are 1-on-1 or 1-on-3, depending on what option you select (1-on-1 costs more credits.) 1-on-3 classes often end up being 1-on-1 or 1-on-2, if no other student ends up joining the class.
After you finish your class, you have access to a few resources for review. I found the vocabulary bank very useful, since it also has the audio clips for each new word I learned. A set of homework questions is given to you to help you review. You also have access to a video recording of your class, so you can review your tutor’s pronunciation of a given word at any time, or refer back to if you struggle during the homework questions.
1. Live instruction
It’s like having a native tutor in-person, helping to correct your mistakes and perfect your pronunciation on the spot. The tutors are also very helpful and friendly. This is an advantage over CD programs and self-learning textbooks and videos.
2. Downloadable Materials / Review Features
All the slides are downloadable as PDFs and you can even save the tutor’s notes. The vocabulary bank as well as being able to review a video recording of the class is useful.
3. Stellar Customer Service
The TutorMing customer service team (they call it “customer protection”) is great at addressing any difficulties or concerns the user might have. They actively encourage users to constantly take classes, and their response time for any complain is quite fast. They will even refund any classes you were not fully satisfied with.
1. Only offer Mandarin Chinese classes
TutorMing’s methods may be effective for learning Chinese, but they currently only offer classes for the standard Mandarin Chinese. Students looking to study Cantonese or other tongues in the Chinese-language family will have to learn elsewhere.
2. Internet connectivity
Since TutorMing’s teaching method relies on 1-on-1instruction via a live video feed, a strong internet connection is a must for both student and teacher. A limited signal or poor wi-fi on either end will hinder the class. TutorMing tries to be vigilant and anticipate possible bad connectivity, such as alerting users via social media when a typhoon struck Taiwan.
TutorMing’s pricing options are pretty steep, since they only have a 6 month package and a 1 year package. When you look at the value you’re getting for price per class though, it is much cheaper. Plus, they do offer 30 day money back guarantee policy.