Online education has been prevailing in China since the outbreak of the coronavirus as most of the schools and training centers were closed for several months in order to prevent the further spread of the epidemic. Despite the fact that online tutoring has obvious advantages (such as flexibility and time-saving) over offline classes, many students have doubts about the efficiency of online learning.
Studying Chinese online is an ideal choice for people who live outside of China and would like to improve their Chinese language skills with professional native speakers. Therefore, how to make online Chinese learning more productive is what they care about the most. Studying Chinese is a marathon rather than a sprint, which means practicing and acquiring new knowledge of Chinese on a regular basis is the prerequisite for making progress in your Chinese learning.
Bearing this in mind, a lot of people have decided to sign up for an online Chinese course so that they will be able to devote a certain number of class hours to their Chinese learning every week. What you can benefit from studying Chinese online with a professional Chinese language school is that you will be able to gradually improve your overall Chinese language skills with the help of a certified and experienced Chinese teacher.
Moreover, you will be able to learn things that are usually not available in traditional Chinese textbooks such as youth slang words if you and your teacher become friends. Well, if that is also what you are looking to do, or you have already started to take Chinese classes online, you may be interested in taking a look at the following advice on how to improve the efficiency of your online Chinese classes.
Have Clear Learning Goals
Most online tutoring sessions are tailor-made classes designed to meet your specific learning requirements. It’s sensible to set a goal as to what level you want to achieve upon completion of your course as it will stimulate your interest in gaining a deeper understanding of what is to be learnt in order to achieve your desired results.
Moreover, it will also be easier for your teacher to prepare the appropriate learning materials if he or she has a rough idea of what you would like to improve and which topics you are interested in. Another important factor which would have a direct impact on the efficiency of your online classes is that your learning goals should be determined based on your current Chinese level and your language learning ability, which means your teacher is expected to help you improve your Chinese skills step by step.
Put Your Phone Away
Some students, especially teenagers believe that their teachers wouldn’t find out what they are doing (for example sending text messages) as long as they sit close to the camera when having online classes, and that’s why many of them tend to check their phones from time to time during the class, which is a very bad habit that needs to be eradicated.
It’s generally agreed that mobile phones can easily distract people from their work or study due to the fact that they offer a large amount of up-to-date information and are widely used in communication. Therefore, it is necessary to put your phone away in order to fully concentrate on your lessons in class.
Pay Attention to Your Teacher’s Pronunciation
It is indisputable that pronunciation plays a significant role in the Chinese language. What is special about the Chinese phonetic system (pinyin) is that each character is pronounced with a specific tone (there are four different tones in the Chinese language), and even a tiny tone-related mistake can be the “culprit” of a complete misunderstanding in that there are many Chinese characters which are pronounced in a very similar way to each other, with their tones being the only difference.
As sometimes you may not be able to hear your teacher clearly due to bad internet connection when having online classes, it is very important for you to pay extra attention to how your teacher pronounces each word. In addition, practicing your pronunciation with your teacher or your Chinese friends is one of the most effective way to improve your Chinese listening skills, and it will help you better understand daily life conversations. Move over, it will also be better to pay attention to your own pronuncitation sooner after you start to learn Chinese to avoid fossilized pronunciation errors.
Interact With Your Teacher
In comparison with attending offline classes, you will be deprived of the opportunity to see all the detailed explanation regarding Chinese grammar and vocabulary on a blackboard if you choose to study Chinese online. Therefore, it’s extremely important for you to listen to your teacher carefully and allow enough time for yourself to interact with your teacher in terms of listening and speaking.
In addition, unlike offline small group classes, where an average of three to six students are managed by only one teacher, most online classes are 1-on-1 tutoring sessions where your teacher focuses on your individual performance, which offers you an excellent opportunity to practice Chinese with your teacher without worrying too much about making mistakes.
Meanwhile, if you are a beginner, an effective way to improve your spoken Chinese is to make simple dialogues with your teacher using the words and phrases that you have learnt in class.
Don’t Be Afraid of Asking Questions
As the efficiency of online classes largely depends on your teacher’s verbal explanation, it’s crucial that you have a clear idea of the meaning of different grammatical and sentence structures after your teacher clarifies how to use them with examples provided. In other words, in order for you to reach a higher level of Chinese, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask your teacher anything that you don’t clearly understand.
Moreover, your individual progress is always treated as a top priority by your teacher during online classes, therefore, there is no need to be shy to ask any language-related question that you feel puzzled about.
As has been mentioned above, your teacher’s verbal explanation is the key during an online class, which means you are advised to take some notes during the class in order to better memorize new words and important grammatical and sentence structures.
If your online classes are conducted using a Chinese textbook, it will be helpful to underline what you think is important and practice key words and structures with your teacher during the class. It will be also a good idea to write down practical phrases and sentences that can be used in everyday life in a separate notebook.
Preview and Review Your Lessons
Previewing upcoming lessons is an ideal way for you to improve your self-learning ability and cultivate independent thinking. Moreover, having a general idea of what you are going to learn for your next class can certainly help you better understand new words and phrases and keep pace with your teacher’s explanation.
In addition to previewing future lessons, reviewing your previous notes after each class also plays a tremendous role in making your online Chinese learning more effective. The habit of reviewing your notes every time after an online tutoring session allows you to consolidate the knowledge learnt in class and pay more attention to the grammatical structures and vocabulary that you find hard to comprehend.
Meanwhile, it is also necessary to review your previous notes every time before you start to do your homework.
Practice After Each Class
You will need to practice what you have learnt in class on a daily basis if you want to quickly get yourself familiar with all the new words and phrases. For example, you can try making interesting sentences with the use of some words that you have learnt before. Or you can watch some movies to practice your listening skills!
In addition, sometimes your teacher may also ask you to use your imagination and make funny stories using some of the key words and phrases that you’ve come across in a text, which is a good opportunity for you to improve your spoken Chinese.
Choose a Good Chinese Language School
Most Chinese language schools offer online courses via WeChat or Skype, however, not all of them can guarantee high-quality teaching. Generally speaking, good Chinese language schools only hire university graduates with prior experience in teaching Chinese as a foreign language.
More importantly, training sessions are organized on a monthly basis in order for teachers to further improve their teaching skills. There is no need to worry too much about which school to choose as almost all the Chinese language schools offer free trial classes which you can sign up for to see if you like their course materials and teaching styles.
Another important thing that you should be aware of is that some schools now offer online Chinese classes, through their in-house developed online learning systems, which contain a large number of learning resources and level tests that you can use after each stage of learning to assess your Chinese level.
Unlike traditional textbooks, standard course syllabus and a variety of auxiliary materials including flashcards and learning videos are incorporated into these innovative online learning platforms to offer students a different Chinese learning experience.
For other tips about how to learn a language, it is worth to read how to learn a foreign language by Glenn Daily who is a well-known consultant, a successful business man, and the most importantly, a Chinese language lover.