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Online Chinese Class Review: GoEast Mandarin – Classes for Children

Our family thinks online classes are great!  Finding amazing language classes which interest my kids has become somewhat of an addiction for me as their mother, and has been a huge help in our journey of language acquisition.   

This post shares our wonderful experiences with GoEast Mandarin, which is where my  #2 child (the fussiest of all my kids, who never had quite enjoyed the other online classes we’ve discovered) has now completed half a term 7 classes.  This review shares how we have found these online classes, and why you might want to consider them. 

What is GoEast Mandarin?

GoEast Mandarin is a renowned Shanghai-based language school founded in 2012, that offers both online and in-class tuition.  They’re a full-fledged school, with professional full-time teachers, curriculum coordinators, language consultants, student liaisons, etc.    

The variety of courses they offer is impressive, from beginners to advanced.  The course syllabus is grouped into the HSK framework (perfect for kids), and you can also customize your own course.    Another great thing about this school is they provide a variety of teaching arrangements – like siblings in an online class together, or parent-child classes, or pinyin-free classes – which is very unique compared to many of the larger ‘off the shelf’ style Chinese curriculum.  

The school originally began teaching adults (and still does, with a very popular Business Chinese class), and then in 2014 they set up a course for children and teens.   The children’s classes are purposefully more fun than the adult classes, with a completely different set of teachers and curriculum focused on making Chinese fun and conversational through stories and engaging activities (games, puzzles, drawing etc).

What are the children’s classes like?

In terms of classes for children, they’re specifically designed to be engaging around learning by doing and play, and they’re largely story-driven.  The learning materials (stories, games, etc) are fully written and illustrated by their team.   The teachers are patient and work at the child’s pace.

The class itself is essentially a 50-minute Zoom session with a teacher sharing a PowerPoint slide pack.   If 50 minutes is too long screen time, they also 50 minutes set as 25 + 25 minutes, with a 10-minute break, which I feel is a very nice structure.

There is no fancy web platform, sound effects. and animations, nor trophies flying around the screen.  It’s a very simple set-up.  In fact, when I first saw it in our trial, I thought….. there’s no way this teacher can engage my child for an hour like that!  But Teacher Jenny 老师 did a phenomenal job. She can just talk to children on their level, and adapts activities real-time to suit the child’s learning style and temperament on the day.  Even when Mei Mei and Jie Jie decided to crash on lessons, Teacher Jenny welcomed them into the conversation too.   

The next surprise was after our first class when talking to the teacher (yes she spoke perfect English, which was also a win compared to other classes) when I realised that all the stories, materials and pictures shared on those PowerPoint slides had been illustrated and designed by their own in-house curriculum team.    They base the vocabulary broadly on the YCT exams/books (Youth Chinese Test), but obviously taught in a very different manner (eg they don’t teach the Chinese grammar rules as overtly, or instruct on grammar like they’d teach adults …. It’s done through stories).

GoEast Syllabus for Children

There’s a nice post here describing more broadly how the children’s curriculum is curated and qualities of the teachers.

Prior to our trial class with GoEast, I had shared with the course consultant that I preferred my daughter not to have any English Nor Pinyin used in the class, and they were flexible to cater for this. I also shared that my daughter loves nature, so our first 6 classes were all based around animal stories.  

A slide from the class – the school can remove the Pinyin too!

What makes GoEast Mandarin great?

Whilst I recommend a lot of apps , robots, and reading pens for Chinese learning on this blog, it goes without saying that learning from a REAL person is the best way to reach proficiency, and the more effective the language teacher, the more effective the journey.

For sure, the standout feature of GoEast are their TEACHERS.  They’re passionate and skilled (with proper university teaching credentials), and a notch above anything we’ve experienced in any other online courses we’ve done (and we’ve done quite a lot).    They have a small and highly qualified team of curriculum developers, language consultants and of course teachers.

For the adult’s course, the school is highly regarded as having some of the best teaching quality possible.  In fact, I know of several expats who have flown to Shanghai, simply to experience the in-person classes offered by GoEast.  Similarly, I can see that all their staff seem to be a key strength, in their own areas.

Every interaction we’ve had with the GoEast team has been stellar.  You can just feel that they are true language lovers, and want to share this love with their students.  The teachers themselves are all university degree holders in Foreign Language studies or Teaching Chinese (actually many are Masters and PhD), and on average have more than 7 years teaching experience.  After each class, Teacher Jenny emails me personally with feedback on the lesson, and includes screenshots of the pictures they’ve drawn together too.  One day actually it was my birthday, and the teacher even sent me an email saying “Your daughter told me today is your birthday.  Happy birthday to you and all the best wishes for you”.  Awwww.  My heart melted.

Aside from our class teacher, we’ve interacted with their Student Advisor (Jaap Grolleman), and their Senior Language Consultant (Maria Mao), and it’s touching to be able to see their faces and bio on the GoEast Mandarin main website, and realise it’s like one big passionate, intelligent and kind family.

Another good factor is it’s conveniently hosted over Zoom (although they’ll also accommodate Skype and WeChat too) …. So there’s no need to download an additional app or navigate a website in Chinese and remember your login details.  Moreover, you can be sure the class isn’t being inadvertently recorded and your child’s face/voice data being used for other business purposes or AI model training.

Is this service impacted by the recent bans on tutoring in China?

No.   Although based in China, GoEast is primarily teaching Chinese to children of expats, or Chinese children who have lived abroad and need to up their Chinese to join a Chinese school here. The government changes on for-profit tuition are for businesses who operate after school hours and on weekends, and were mainly brought in to lower pressure for school-going Chinese kids. 

How does is compare to other online classes?

The verdict from my second daughter was that this class is the best of ALL the classes she has ever done (and we’ve tried a lot over the years).  She had an instant connection with Teacher Jenny, and my daughter was very joyful about doing these classes, even twice each weekend!

I’ve sat in on a few of her GoEast classes, and they’re so fun and playful, and really following the lead of where the child wants to head.  My daughter recited the stories learnt in class to her sisters, and share the tips she’s learnt on drawing too.

As a family, you can see from my blog that we’ve obviously done a number of online classes taught in Chinese now from different suppliers, ranging from language, art and craft, to drama, coding, debating and music.  So this is a BIG call from my daughter to name GoEast Mandarin as her favourite.

I want to highlight here that I have three daughters, and each one has very different temperament, and each has a different favourite online Chinese class provider.   One of my kids is happy-go-lucky and just thrives on any classes where she can compete and earn trophies/points/rewards,  another is very systematic and enjoys methodical textbook style learning, and the other is very placid and appreciates human connections.  It’s this child who really suits GoEast, and I knew from our first trial class that it was going to be a good one for her. 

Who would these classes suit best?

GoEast is a really positive investment in Chinese.   To attend these classes is something special, and requires a commitment to wanting to learn the language …. It’s not something you would take on lightly.  Why do I say this?  Most other online Chinese classes we’ve done are 25 minutes, and you can book them online 24/7, do them as and when, and cancel at 24 hours notice.   In stark contrast, the GoEast Children’s classes have more limited timeslots, and last a whole hour (officially 50 minutes, but the teacher has always been generous to keep chatting), and they’re being crafted JUST FOR YOU. 

I feel that GoEast would be best for long-term learner, looking for a warm teacher who is committed to their ongoing learning.   It would also work well for a family with two children of similar language ability, who wanted to do a group class together, as very few other online providers offer this alternative (or a parent-child duo).    

As an engineer, I’m used to saying with projects that “it can be designed good, fast, or cheap.  Choose two but not three”.    In terms of online Chinese classes, I think there’s a similar rule, whereby it’s hard in general to find any service provider who excels at the magic three of having (1) a truly engaging teacher,  (2) customisable curriculum, (3) cheap.   You can usually only get any TWO of the three in any service.    In the case of GoEast’s online classes, it’s really about having unparalleled teaching abilities, and a strong yet customisable curriculum.   The classes themselves are not cheap compared to many other online options, although they are still affordable and I see the quality is worth the price.

For anyone in a non-Chinese speaking country who is serious about their children learning Chinese and needs a skilled native speaking teacher to be their primary language source, this is a wonderful school to be considering.  Even more wonderful if parents need a teacher who can feedback on progress in English!

Perhaps in a country like Singapore, where there are plenty of great (or cheap) in-person Chinese tutoring options, the appeal of online teaching like GoEast is not as attractive. However,  COVID has pivoted many of us to online lifestyles, and honestly, it’s been so simple and convenient to have online classes from home.  Our GoEast classes have been at 8am in the morning, and usually taken over breakfast, which means by 9am we’ve already indulged in an hour of 1-to-1 Mandarin, and are free to enjoy the whole weekend together outdoors playing.

The great thing is there are so many different online options, and it’s worth exploring what will truly suit your child the best.

How to sign up for a free trial?

GoEast Mandarin is currently offering a limited period free no-obligation 1-on-1 trial, which you can access here.   It’s a generous opportunity, so do give it a try.

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 and recommendations of others in our Chinese learning journey. Some of my earlier posts are:

DISCLAIMER:  As with all posts on this website, they are never sponsored nor are there affiliate links.  This is a passion project.  All reviews are genuine and reflect our family’s experiences and views.  We only recommend things we believe in, and think other families will find helpful.  We did indeed receive a free introductory trial from GoEast Mandarin (HUGE THANKYOU to GOEAST!!), and you can too, if you follow the free trial link directly above.

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