There have been SO many new additions in the world of online Chinese learning in the last two years. A combination of advances in technologies, COVID pivoting people to online learning, and the Government ban on tuition services in mainland China have triggered somewhat of a tsunami of online Chinese classes to choose from. It’s a saturated market, which is perfect for the consumer.
My original review of online Chinese language classes written back in 2020 contained comparisons of Lingo Ace, Lingo Bus, Vivaling, Koala Know, GoEast and Mandarin Tree. They’re all great services, and several of these services my family still use regularly today. You can find my earlier review here.
Since then, we’ve discovered many more online classes, as I’m sure you have too. Different classes suit different family needs, children’s learning styles, schedules, and importantly budget. This post outlines some of the newer courses we’ve discovered and tried (or tried to try). I know from observing my kids that there is certainly no one-size-fits-all.
Below is a quick comparison table of the new entrants, with more details expanded below. Some of these are small vendors, and others are massive venture fund-backed technopreneurs. Take your pick!
Each of them has a free trial option, in case you’re tempted.
Trial Class Experience: It was interactive and fun, and left my daughter begging me to officially sign up! Vitamin M is novel concept blending bite-sized video content and interactive modules with a weekly 60-minute immersion group class. The course follows the Singapore MOE curriculum, with Singapore-based content, primarily focused on orals and conversation. It’s possible to get a free trial of both their online content and the group classes.
Class length and schedule 60-minute group class (6 max in class) at set times run weekly. In between, there are online activities with mysteries to solve and word games, etc, again mainly focusing on spoken content. It includes doing practice oral reading, which is uploaded for the class coach to provide feedback. The whole syllabus has been put together really nicely. In addition, the child can earn points by completing classes and exercises, and exchange these in an online store for plushies, erasers and cute stationery. A winner with the target tween audience!
Booking process: Signing up is very simple – choose a package from their website (all in English). Classes are at set time once a week. Cost is SG $150-$180 per month for all content and classes (each month consist of 8 videos, 4 small group classes, and adhoc digital content).
Software: Zoom (for live classes) and ClassPoint (interactive online tool uses to add fun engagement/quizzes into the Zoom lessons)
Customer Service: Excellent. All Singapore-based, and you’ll be in whatsapp contact with them; it’s also possible to talk directly to the coach (in English or Chinese) after the weekly classes.
Final thoughts: This is a very new concept, and content is currently designed for P4 students though they’re not strict about age criteria (It’s planned to expand to P3 and P5 in 2023). The teachers largely come from drama, radio and film backgrounds, and have a collective aim to bring the language to life. All the content is created with a ‘story universe’ in mind, so there are familiar actors etc throughout the activities, videos, challenges. It’s a lovely option for a child who wants to engage more with the spoken language in a variety of contexts and no doubt you’ll find a deeper joy in the Singapore MOE syllabus. We’ve used Vitamin M for nearly three months, and literally there were tears on the one single weekend when we needed to miss class (thankfully there was a recording we could watch to catch up).
Best for: a P3 to P5 student who wants to use the language more actively outside of school and outside of a classroom
Trial Class Experience: Previously we’ve tried Zhangmen for Math in Mandarin. Recently they’ve launched an online 1-to-1 Chinese course, conducted in either Mandarin or Cantonese, either in immersion-style or bilingually with English. Quite a lot of options to consider!
Class length and schedule : 50 minutes, with availability almost 24/7.
Booking process: Can be arranged online or via phone call. Their staff appear to all communicate with a reasonable level of English. Classes can be taken on an adhoc schedule, and don’t require fixed time slots. Cost is about US18 per 50-minute class.
Software: All through their website (no downloads required)
Customer Service: Staff all in mainland China and able to communicate with course consultant via email, phone, wechat and whatsapp. I get the feeling they’re trying to do better do attract non-Chinese speaking parents, but it’s still very much a mainland Chinese offering.
Final thoughts: Credits can be shared between their math classes and languages classes, giving parents some flexibility. Zhangmen is one of the big providers in China which was hit hard by the ban on tuition classes in mainland China, so they’re now actively expanding to new shores, including Singapore. A great aspect of Zhangmen is it covers kids from all ages including secondary school levels too, which is relatively rare for the online providers; as it follows the Mainland China curriculum, it’s rigorous and goes well beyond Singapore MOE levels.
Best for: a family looking for rigorous 1-to-1 tuition for their child at any level
Trial Class Experience: My daughter enjoyed the 1-on-1 session, working essentially through a Chinese textbook. You can choose either a native speaker course or learning as a second language (the same distinction that Lingo Bus and Lingo Ace have in their courses too). The graphics and animation were not as packed as Lingo Ace or Lingo Bus, and it’s less interactive (more like chat with some supporting PowerPoint slides, rather than interactive games and videos).
Class length and schedule: 50 minutes, with availability through the Chinese time zone.
Booking process: Trial can be set at any time. The usual class schedule is set at a regular time each week (but you can cancel with a few hours notice and no penalty). This means you won’t have the problem of forgetting to book class, and the child can develop a good routine.
Software: Classin app
Customer Service: Setting up the trial was a bit frustrating, not only because their website is all written in Chinese. Wukong seems binary in having classes for either native Chinese kids (where all communication is in Chinese, including with the parent) or for learning Chinese as a second language (where teacher speak some English). My kids were hard for them to place in the system because their Chinese is near-native, but I was unable to talk to the Chinese-speaking course consultants, so we were in an inane loop of being called up by people I couldn’t communicate with to schedule the class. We did eventually get it sorted, and I appreciate the patience that their customer service team did have.
Final thoughts: Classes are about US10 – USD15 per 50-minute class, so one of the most affordable options out there (if you buy a big package, and don’t mind hour long classes). The course feels more customizable than something like a LingoAce class, for example it’s possible at Kindergarten level to focus on 汉字 and remove HYPY. Also, I feel the class goes at the child’s case (for my daughter, she went off on many tangents) rather than needing to push through to get to the end of the set lesson in the allocated time. Another plus is that is comes with an option for physical homework too. It’s really a whole course in itself, so it’s worth considering for a homeschooling option.
Best for: budget conscious family looking for all-in-one course options to learn Mandarin
Trial Class Experience: 1-on-1 sessions are available on a variety of topics, from children through to adult levels. For the trial class, the teacher will observe and give an expected grading for the child and recommend which course they should be placed in. Follow-on classes for children include vocabulary classes, YCT classes, and a new story reading class (which is the key reason we signed up). They also provide adult classes too, which is tempting for me.
Class length and schedule: 25 minutes, and can be booked 24/7, as often as you want (how they manage this with only a handful of teachers, I’m not sure, but they do!).
Booking process: The trial booking is simple – sign up from the website, and a English speaking sales consultant emails/calls, to set up a trial and answer any questions about the course. After the trial, lessons can be booked directly through the website, and adhoc timing and at short notice, essentially 24/7.
Software: ‘Cloud Class’ (free online classroom software); it doesn’t require any download for a PC, but there is an app if used on a phone/tablet device.
Customer Service: Charming and very helpful! Customer service is helmed by Adam, who you will realise is also is the guy who has recorded all the videos on their website too.
Final thoughts: Classes are about US8 – USD12 per 25-minute class. From our observation (so far), it’s less immersive with a less structured curriculum than other online classes. The platform also doesn’t have all the eBook, homework, supporting materials that other more expensive classes are offering (which for our family isn’t much of a loss, as we tend to skip over such things). I’d think of it a bit like the way we currently use Vivaling, for short doses of Chinese conversations (or book reading) when we have time to fit it in.
Best for: a child already learning Mandarin at school and looking for additional speaking opportunities (or for their parent, wanting to understand the language more!)
Trial Class Experience: Group class (max 5 kids), with Singapore-based MOE syllabus, but teachers are live streaming the lessons from China. I’s say it’s very much like a Lingo Ace class (similar software and curriculum), but in a group setting. My P1 daughter did the trial, and they were looking at HYPY, which she thought was a little on the easy side (content is synchronized with school terms), but it would be good for a child who needed consolidation of the Singapore MOE curriculum. It’s essentially making the MOE textbook come alive with fun content, vivid pictures, and interactive games.
Separately, EliteKid run another course called Panda Chinese, which is a non-exam-oriented, and suitable for children who are strong in Chinese and looking for more native level exposure. We couldn’t trial this, as the timings were too limited.
Class length and schedule: 45-minute group class one a week. Available at very limited timings for each year level, mainly in the weekday evening for China/Singapore timezones. Note there is also an option for 1-to-1 class too, at a higher price, but with more flexible timing.
Booking process: After the trial, the classes are at a set time weekly. There is no online portal. There is a parent chat group for each class via Whatsapp, giving it a feel of a more traditional group class. Children in the class will also be consistent throughout the term.
Software: Uses Hschoolin on a browser, or otherwise download 字节云HD app on a tablet/phone.
Customer Service: Friendly Singapore-based customer service staff who speak English, and communicate via Whatsapp and phone
Final thoughts: A key distinguisher between this and the similar Lingo Ace / Lingo Bus classes would be the written homework feature (they have hardcopy worksheets delivered to your doorstep), and the Whatsapp communication directly with the teacher. There’s detailed feedback and marking of homework at every session. At a price of ~SGD17 per class, it’s much better value than an in-person tuition option. There is currently a 5% discount for readers if you key in LAHLAHBANANA during checkout too (no affiliation or commissions, just sharing a discount for you!).
Best for: Elite Kid for a child following Singapore MOE syllabus who needs extra group reinforcement, or Panda Chinese to ignite deeper passion in Chinese wants to go beyond Singapore MOE syllabus and textbook learning.
Trial Class Experience: We discovered Panda Tree initially because we were actually looking for online Spanish classes. PandaTree offer immersive online classes for both Spanish and Mandarin, in either 1-to-1 or group format. We haven’t trialed their Mandarin classes, as we already have a bunch of existing classes we like. However, the structure for both Spanish and Mandarin classes is similar – the child and coach have a chat, play a game, introduce some new words, share short videos and materials, and chat on topics of interest. It can be tailored to suit your child’s interest and language level, although there is also an underlying structured curriculum that can be followed or adapted.
Class length and schedule: 25 or 50 minutes.
Booking process: Relatively simple through their website, although a few options to read though and understand with regards to packages and timings. Cheapest option is to choose a monthly subscription, and then select the number of lessons per week that you want to commit to in a month (can be booked 12 weeks in advance), although this is less flexible.
Software: Classes through a live video platform on their website – no need to download anything.
Customer Service: All in English, and easy to contact, although it’s essentially designed to be a Self Service Platform.
Final thoughts: USD 16 – 20 per 25 minute class (1 on 1) or USD10 for group classes. Credit packages can also be shared between different languages and between siblings which is helpful, and in our case, since all my kids are at a similar level for Spanish, they can be in a group class together as a family (also possible to group 2- 4 friends in a class together).
Best for: a family with multiple siblings and complete beginners
If you’re tried any of the above classes and want to share your experiences (or referral codes) in the comments below, please do! This blog is here to help and support other families.
If you’ve arrived at the end and are still looking for more classes, perhaps there are other posts on my blog which might help you go down some more rabbit holes to find the ideal class:
- Teaching Kids Chinese in a monolingual home – where to start?
- Our favourite online Chinese learning platforms – update after 2 years
- Review of GenieBook Chinese
- Comparison of online math classes taught in Chinese
- Non-academic and CCA classes taught in Chinese
This post reflects my own experience and opinions – I’m not affiliated with any of these companies, and nor do I received any discounts or benefits from referring these to you. Simply sharing so you can also get more ideas on how to teach your children learning Chinese. Whilst each service offer a free trial, as a word of warning, I would NOT recommend doing a trial with every single one of these companies. Your child simply will not appreciate it. and nor will it be beneficial for their learning. I have three children and we’ve trialed these over a 6+ month period for different purposes.