Perhaps I’m in no position to write a review about Lingo Bus. After all, they offer Mandarin classes to children between the ages of 5-12 years old and I’m a 30 year old guy without a kid.
I thought about asking a friend if he’d let me use his son as a guinea pig but then realized that that would be far too weird. The truth is that even though I’m not a parent and haven’t used Lingo Bus, I’m in a far better position to write an objective review of what they offer than almost anyone else.
Because I’m learning Mandarin myself, and in that time, I’ve personally tried out and wrote honest, in-depth reviews of over 30 different Chinese learning resources. I’ve looked into countless others. If a resource is terrible, I’ll say it is.
Unlike some review sites that claim every resource is the best thing they’ve ever used, an average score of all the reviews I’ve written is only 3.5 out of 5.
The truth is, if I had a child, Lingo Bus would be my top choice for online Mandarin classes.
This is due to a few factors:
- They have a well designed curriculum with clear learning targets
- Lingo Bus’ parent company is VIPKID – one of the most respected educational companies in the world
- The teachers are experienced and provide an immersive environment
- The flexibility and extras that comes with using Lingo Bus
Lingo Bus’ curriculum is well structured and made for children
Most companies try to be everything to everyone and end up creating a product that is okay for most but not great for anyone.
Online language schools are no exception to this.
While you can find lots of online Chinese language schools and platforms, few, if any, of them specialize in one type of student. They tend to provide every kind of course imaginable to every type of student who could be interested.
Unlike these other schools, Lingo Bus only offers courses for children aged 5-12.
The decision to focus only on kids within this age range makes it possible to design an appropriate and engaging curriculum for their students.
Not only that, this focus allows them to design their online platform in a way that’s perfect for kids, with lots of visuals and materials they can interact with.
As a teacher myself, I find it really frustrating when schools don’t have a well-designed curriculum. Fortunately, when looking at Lingo Bus’ curriculum, it’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into it. The lessons build on each other and produce measurable results.
It’s very clear what your child will expect to learn at various points throughout their Mandarin learning journey.
Of the other online schools and platforms I’ve looked at, I’ve found very few that actually have a real curriculum. Even fewer will have measurable learning targets. I know, it should be a given for every course, but unfortunately it isn’t.
Lingo Bus’ Parent Company is VIPKID
VIPKID is one the biggest and most well respected companies in international education. They’ve received tons of awards for innovation and education.
Previously, VIPKID was focused only on providing online English education.
Even if you’ve never heard of VIPKID, there’s a decent chance you know someone that teaches for them. They’ve employed over 30,000 teachers and have taught over 200,000 students.
This, however, isn’t why I’m so impressed with VIPKID’s learning platform.
I’m an elementary school teacher in Beijing. Quite a few of my students have taken online English classes from VIPKID.
There are two things I consistently see in my students who enroll in classes with VIPKID.
First, kids love it. They brag about their classes to their friends.
I remember one student who was always a bit of a troublemaker, who I had a hard time with. It really felt like his English wasn’t progressing much at all and he wasn’t interested in our English class.
The excitement with which he talked about his online classes really demonstrated the way that VIPKID excels at capturing the interest of kids and making learning fun.
The second thing I always see with students is that their language skills improve significantly over a short period of time.
Another student I taught was and amazing artist but always incredibly shy. Her English level was below most other students but even when she knew the answers, she didn’t like to speak much. Getting her to say anything in English was always a challenge.
Then, over the course of a couple months, it’s like a switch flipped. She began initiating conversations with me, she participated more in class, and started making jokes.
I didn’t realize what had caused this change until one day when students were working on a writing assignment based on what they do in the evening. She was so excited as she talked about VIPKID and wanted help with spelling so that she could share how much she enjoyed her classes.
The teachers and unique learning platform make students all over the world love to learn with VIPKID.
Your child will love their teacher
Teachers on Lingo Bus are all extremely skilled. It’s a highly competitive position with only around 4% of applicants being hired.
All of the teachers have a Bachelor’s degree in teaching Chinese as a second language, linguistics, and/or a certificate in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Most teachers have over three years experience.
The lessons are 100% immersive. Your child will begin speaking Mandarin from the first day.
One thing that Lingo Bus stresses and is very important for young learners is that their lessons incorporate Total Physical Response.
Just because the classes are online, that doesn’t mean that the student will simply sit there. They’ll be encouraged and prompted to move around which will help students to remember the things they’re learning.
Lessons last 25 minutes which may seem short but given the age of students, it’s appropriate. Also, just because the class is over, that doesn’t mean that students will stop learning Chinese. There are additional resources, such as, videos, flashcards, and a workbook for students to practice the language outside of their class time.
Lingo Bus’ platform will engage students while offering flexibility
There are several things that I really like about Lingo Bus’ platform.
First, scheduling lessons is very flexible. You can schedule classes two weeks in advance up until 24 hours before the start of class. If you need to cancel a class, you can do so without any charge as long as you do it 24 hours before the start of the class.
After scheduling a class, you’ll be able to watch a class preview video which will introduce some key words and sentences for the upcoming class. These videos are animated and look like they’ll be a lot of fun for students.
As an adult, you’d probably feel comfortable using a textbook to work your way through study materials. But for children, a textbook would pretty much guarantee them to get bored and lose interest in learning Mandarin.
So instead, Lingo Bus uses more fitting materials. In fact, children will follow two animated characters on an adventure to China’s major cities. Along the way, the teacher will guide them by playing games, completing activities, and help them in any way.
After the class, you’ll be able to access review materials.
You can replay the class to study it again. Additionally, there are flashcards, additional review materials such as a powerpoint with audio, PDF, and workbooks.
I don’t know of any other online teaching platform that provides as much support before and after the classes. The lessons are just one peice of everything that is offered.
Lingo Bus costs $20 per 25-minute lessons which isn’t particularly cheap.
However, when you consider everything that’s included; the pre-class video, review materials, unique platform, well-structured lessons, and flexibility, the value that Lingo Bus provides becomes apparent.
In fact, I don’t think you’ll find a better option for your child’s online Mandarin classes.
If you’re not sure, I’d suggest trying out the free demo class and finding out more information from their website.
If you do decide that Lingo Bus is the right choice, be sure to use the referral code “V44Y5A” as that will get your two free lessons when you purchase a bundle of 8 or more classes.