This is a detailed review of LingoAce, an online Chinese learning service. In this post, I’ve tried to compare the differences between the various LingoAce offerings, and also make comparison to other online learning platforms that we have tried, to allow you to make an informed decision of the best fit for your family.
In 2020 we tried the LingoAce Singapore Online programme (which aligns to Singapore’s Ministry of Education curriculum), and this year, we’ve tried the LingoAce Advanced Program (which aligns with Mainland China’s Ministry of Education curriculum). This post also compares the different syllabus options available at LingoAce. The options are actually incredibly different, and now having tried both versions out, I totally understand why so many blog readers were explaining their experience was different from ours!
What is LingoAce?
LingoAce is a Singaporean edtech startup, providing an online platform for learning Chinese, in a fun and engaging way, targeted and children aged 4 – 15 years old. It was founded by an entrepreneur and parent, Hugh Yao, who was endeavouring to make language-learning engaging for children.
First founded in 2017, the company has grown fast – and now has offices in China, United States, Indonesia and Thailand, along with Singapore. They have taught nearly 100,000 students, and have close to 2000 current teaching staff, mainly in China and Singapore. For a Singapore startup, this is a mightily impressive feat!
How did we discover LingoAce?
Certainly the COVID crisis caused many families to pivot to online learning, which was exactly how we discovered LingoAce too. The experience was much better than we could have ever hoped for.
About a year ago, during the height of the Singapore lockdown, we started our journey to trial several online Chinese language tuition services. For us, this was a necessity, as without it there was no one else that my children could converse with in Mandarin, and no way for us to continue with home-based learning (as it’s impossible to learn a spoken language from a textbook).
After our first Lingo Ace trial, my daughter had really wanted to sign-up for these classes after our successful trial, but at that stage, the sales consultant advised that classes must be a minimum of twice a week, and I realised it was all going to be too much for our timetable.
However, after this very positive experience of LingoAce services, I’ve kept an eye on LingoAce and looked out for their online holiday programmes and other options which might fit our schedules better. Last month, I was intrigued to see whilst walking in 111 Somerset to see a wall-sized advertisement advertising that LingoAce had a physical premises upstairs in the shopping centre.
It was from here that I wandered upstairs, and rang the doorbell of the newly renovated centre and learnt about LingoAce’s significantly revamped offerings in Singapore. I found out this new physical centre is targeted at P5 & P6 for offline learning, meanwhile the entire online product suite has also been refined and repackaged from our initial trial. Hence why we tried it out again! And again, my daughter thoroughly enjoyed it (again!).
I took the above photos at the LingoAce Chinese Learning Centre in Singapore located centrally on Level 4 of 111 Somerset. the Luka Reading Robots on display too, which made me instantly feel at home!
What courses are offered by LingoAce?
LingoAce essentially has four main course streams for its online classes:
- Singapore programme: aligned to the Singapore MOE Chinese curriculum (called the ‘Bilingual’ programme when offered in other countries)
- Advanced programme: Chinese HSK syllabus: following the mainland Chinese elementary curriculum
- International syllabus: for non-native speakers, and nascent learners, aligned to YCT curriculum, focused on oral proficiency
The course and its delivery are substantially different depending on the stream chosen.
We tried the Singapore stream in 2020, and this year, we’ve tried the Mainland China stream (which surprisingly was closer to what I would be looking for in a Chinese enrichment class, although I also note I’m a bit of an anomaly in this regard, as many parents do just want to focus on acing the school work and focussing on PSLE outcomes). Each course options has its positives, depending on the learning outcomes desired by the family.
The table below compares the main course options offered.
In addition, to support the Singapore offering, they have a special pinyin course, a PSLE “blended learning” options with in-person classes at their Orchard campus, and one-off week-long camps during school holidays (focused on academic excellence such as Composition Writing, PSLE practice exams, etc workshops). For participants who sign up to the Singapore-based classes, there is a special “Welcome Pack” sent out, containing the written homework, and a few other treats.
Below is a comparison of the different class types within the Singapore Programme Suite:
How did we find the MOE option versus the HSK option?
Singapore Online Programme (aka Bilingual stream)
My daughter just loved her trial class in early 2020, which was based on the Singapore LingoAce syllabus. We did a P2 level class. The trial class had two other participants, and the entire 55 minutes was filled with games to write characters and put them into sentences. The online interface was stunning and visually appealing, with trophies and points being awarded interactively to the children throughout the lesson. Their curriculum follows the Singapore MOE Chinese approach, and it’s a great source to revise the regular school classes. If a child is competitive, and enjoys interactions with other children, this is a fun and interactive learning approach incorporating a lot of animation and gamification.
The 55 minutes is essentially just a long online game reiterating the primary school syllabus, including hanyu pinyin, composition writing, oral and even practice exams, etc. Being banded by year level in MOE, it ensures that online learners are have a similar language proficiency, which is not necessarily the case in other online platforms. Had we chosen to go ahead with these classes, they would have been 2 x per week, at fixed times weekly. There’s also homework, including on physical paper.
This format of racing to get the ‘right’ answer, and filling in the blanks, etc is a fun way to practice ‘scoring well’ in typical school-based assessments in Singapore.
Advanced Programme (aka Mainland China stream)
We trialled this in early 2021. My daughter (who is in P3 in local school) was recommended to try out the Grade 2 Mainland Chinese class, after doing an initial placement review with the course consultant. The structure is less about games, and has more interaction with the teacher, and individual sentence construction and writing, including using pen and paper. We were also able to choose the teacher from a list of suggested options (all native Chinese-speaking teachers with dual certification in Mandarin and teaching).
My daughter also really enjoyed the class, and I felt it went much deeper than the Singapore MOE options. This was partly due to having less children in the class, but primarily because the format focuses on using the language rather than revising the school vocabulary and comprehension, etc. The downside for us was that the class teacher herself didn’t speak any English, so for me, it was impossible to understand the feedback at the end of the class (however the English speaking sales consultant did assist afterwards to follow up).
They also provide the recordings of the lessons, short video stories, and online homework game that the child can complete and let the teacher check.
I’m showing below the character lists for the Grade 1 and Grade 2 LingoAce Advanced Programme. You’ll understand from this how the Mainland Chinese level is above the equivalent year level in Singapore system.
What else is there to know about LingoAce?
Booking Process: Simple. Just contacted through website, and they followed up with SMS to schedule trial class timing. They have English speaking sales consultants in Singapore, and also a physical office. Bookings of the actual classes can be done through their portal, with selection of preferred teacher.
Software: Web interface (driven by Classin Software). Simple to login and use. Fast speed, not laggy.
Customer Service: All the interactions were very helpful, although you do get the feel this is a very big organisation, with lots of different staff member. The sales initial rep we were assigned was very keen to follow-up, and had quite a strong “sell” strategy to offer me packages and discounts which were only valid “for today only, sign up now”. Whilst I don’t like on-the-spot sales, I do feel they ultimately really listened, and tried to accommodate my request to only schedule a class once a week, not twice, and find a level which best suited my children. After signing up, the parent is assigned an ‘educational consultant’ which moves the focus away from sales, and more to class scheduling, follow up, etc.
Programme and pricing packages constantly updated: LingoAce is a fast growing company, the different classes and offerings from LingoAce are rapidly evolving. We did their classes in mid 2020, and early 2021, and this recounts our experiences from the time. Please do contact the company to get their updated offerings and be sure to ask for special promotions.
How does LingoAce compare with other online classes?
We’ve tried several online Chinese classes (see my earlier review here with a detailed head-to-head comparison of Lingo Ace, Lingo Bus, Koala Know, Vivaling and Speaking Duck). I do feel the larger platforms like LingoAce or Koala Know have excellent models for delivering engaging content and gamified learning experience through the screen, and can be more effective than classroom learning. Who would have imagined one year ago that our lives would go totally online?
From a Singapore perspective, LingoAce is the only online platform which focusses specifically on Singapore curriculum, and it’s the only one with MOE-accredited teachers. It goes from preschool through to PSLE level. This would be a good programme for those looking for something to support and reinforce their child’s learning in the classroom.
From a global perspective, LingoAce is also the only online platform I’m aware of which goes all the way up to Grade 6 mainland Chinese elementary level. The next closest option is LingoBus, which I understand has recently launched a Grade 5 pilot programme (in its Heritage Chinese stream). The LingoAce Advanced programme is laregly similar to the LingoBus Heritage Programme; and the LingoAce International programme is similar to the LingoBus non-heritage programme. But, all LingoAce classes are 1-on-1, not group style.
We’ve also done a number of online non-academic classes taught in Chinese, ranging from art and craft, through to drama, and music. If you’re interested in understanding other online offerings which we’ve tried and enjoyed, see my earlier posts with summarises different classes we’ve done.
Which LingoAce course would be best?
For a family with a student in a local Singapore school, who needs regular extra revision or support of the syllabus, then the Singapore stream is excellent. It really mirrors the structure and learning pace of the MOE school syllabus, and gives a lot of exposure to exactly what would be taught in the school classroom. The structure systematically follows the MOE requirements of Oral, Comprehension and Composition. It’s a lively small group class, at fixed times, and encourages interaction with the other students. The focus is to achieve great marks in school, especially PSLE.
For a family with a child who has an advanced level of Chinese, and needs a good curriculum to continue learning, the Advance Mainland Chinese stream is the best way to receive 1-on-1 class with the teacher, which goes deeper than the Singaporean MOE syllabus. As my hope is for my daughter to be truly bilingual and biliterate, I prefer this as a programme for learning the language for life, rather than learning to ace the school exams.
For a family with a child who has an interest in Chinese, and perhaps learns it at a basic level at an international school, or would like to start learning it, then this is exactly what the International stream is designed for. We didn’t trial it, as my children are more advanced than this, but I understand from others that it’s a fun-filled, theme-based class.
Here is a referral link to a LingoAce free class trial, and if you sign up, this link will give you one free class credit as well (and me too, which is much appreciated, as I spend way too much money on online Chinese classes for my 3 kids!). Be sure to think about which class type would suit you best, so as to not waste the one free trial.
What about you?
Which online classes have your family tried and enjoyed? I’d love to hear your view on Lingo Ace or other options which you have tried. All feedback and comments are welcome!
If you got to the end and found this helpful, maybe there are some other posts on my blog you might also enjoy. As a parent who doesn’t speak any Chinese, we’ve relied heavily on online tools, clever robots and recommendations of others in our Chinese learning journey. Some of my earlier posts are:
- Top apps, bloggers, and resources for teaching children Chinese
- Great bridging books to read when a child knows >1000 characters
- Comparison of reading pens and robots for children learning Chinese
- Best non-animated shows on Youtube for children in Chinese
Disclosure: I only share products and services we have personally used and love. We did these classes as free trials initially (as we also did also did with Lingo Bus, Koala Know and Vivaling) – you can do this too! It’s not a privilege reserved for bloggers. Most online Chinese tutoring services will offer a free trial class. Try to use someone else’s referral code too, to get the most benefit. I would advocate that you also make the most of the variety of free trials available, to choose what works best for your family.
Please know that I only recommend learning resources on this blog which our family believes are genuinely helpful….. there’s no affiliation, commissions, or money being made here at all! It’s simply the passion of sharing!