TutorMing is an online Mandarin school that offers classes 24 hours a day, with qualified teachers, using unique content. I took two classes with them and came away very impressed. I learned new things about Chinese culture, despite having lived in Beijing for a few years. However, it’s not the cheapest option, so those on a tighter budget may want to look elsewhere.
From the platform, to the teachers, to the content – everything was excellent
There appears to be lots of content across many levels and taught in a unique way.
There are other options that are more budget friendly.
- Lessons are available 24 hours per day and can be scheduled very quickly.
- The teachers are excellent.
- The curriculum is interesting and includes lots of cultural information.
I Don’t Like
- It’s somewhat expensive with 3-months being the shortest plan.
- The two lesson types are a little confusing (keep reading…!)
- The homework is really short and not all that useful.
While one lesson starts at $45. By purchasing a bundle you can get the cost of each lesson down to $32 a lesson. While this will cost $3200 for 100 lessons, you have 18 months to complete your lessons. It also comes in increments of $400 for 10 lessons to be used in 6 months, $930 for 25 lessons in 1 year, and $1700 for 50 lessons in 1 year.
I recently had the opportunity to try out two classes with TutorMing.
They’re an online Chinese language school, but a bit different than other language schools I’ve come across.
Founded in 2008 and a part of “iTutorGroup”, they’re sort of a hybrid of a high-tech company and Chinese school.
Lessons are available 24 hours per day, the curriculum is unique and interesting, and the teachers are excellent.
This review will take a detailed look at what it’s like to use TutorMing, highlighting my favorite parts, weaker areas, and one thing you need to be aware of before booking your lessons.
One of my favorite parts about using TutorMing is how convenient it is to schedule and cancel classes.
They’re available 24 hours a day and you only need to schedule one day in advance. With some other companies, lessons may be available ‘anytime’ but then you’ll find that the time slots you’re looking for have already been booked up that day or were never available in the first place.
After having booked a couple of classes myself, and checked out the schedule’s availability numerous times, I’ve never seen a time that wasn’t available.
For me, that’s a pretty huge plus. I know that if there are any barriers in the way, even tiny ones, then I’ll be less likely to take as many classes as I feel I should.
In the past, I’ve used italki for online lessons and I still enthusiastically recommend them. The problem for me is that if I don’t have a specific tutor in mind, that adds an extra step in the booking process, and I end up not scheduling any classes.
So while the ease of scheduling lessons on TutorMing may not seem like a big thing, I’m certain that the flexibility and availability of their lessons would lead to me taking more classes and improving more quickly.
You can also set up lessons to recur automatically on certain days and times, making it even easier still.
There are two types of classes on TutorMing – Regular and 1 on 1.
The Regular classes cost 1 class credit and the 1 on 1 classes cost 3 credits.
For the most part, it won’t make much sense to choose a 1 on 1 class as the Regular classes end up being 1-1 around 80-90% of the time anyway.
There is a chance that you’ll have one or two other students join you in the class, but it’s quite rare for a few reasons.
It would take multiple students being at the same level and at the same place in their lessons. Even then, they don’t match kids, teens, adults, or elders together and students would also need to both be studying the same type of characters, whether that’s simplified or traditional.
So although you may occasionally have classes with 1 or 2 other students, it would probably be a rare occurrence. Though, I’d imagine that this would happen more frequently at lower levels as compared to the higher ones.
However, if you want to study using your own materials and not TutorMing’s, then you’d need to book a 1 on 1 lesson.
From the two lessons I tried, which I’ll talk about soon, it was very clear that the teachers had a lot of experience teaching Chinese.
Each teacher, or consultant as TutorMing refers to them, has at least one of the following certifications:
- Teachers of Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (TCSOL)
- Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (TCFL)
- Hanban teacher certificate
- IPA certification for Chinese teachers
- Proficiency in Teaching Chinese as a Second / Foreign Language (Granted by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan.)
My 45-minute demo lesson was with Alisa. She did a phenomenal job. It’s not easy to start a class when you’re not sure of the level your student will be, but she did a great job of adjusting the lesson as she figured out my Chinese level.
She also kept the lesson fun and spoke good English but used Chinese throughout the lesson. Overall, it was a very welcoming feeling coming to TutorMing.
While they have an app, I only tried the lessons on my desktop.
The platform they use is really flexible. You can see the teacher, a ppt, pull up images, write on the screen, and so on.
The lesson material was also really unique. The content on the PPTs provided a nice structure to the lessons while also giving Alisa the opportunity to gauge my level of reading, writing, speaking, listening, vocab, and so on.
After the lesson, there’s a review with the video recording of your lesson, lesson slides, homework, and vocabulary that can be saved for practice later.
There’s also teacher feedback on the lesson and a recommendation of where to start.
My second class gave me a much better feel of what studying with TutorMing would be like. After all, it’s hard to judge a platform based on one demo class.
I was placed at a level that seemed to be around where I should be. In this lesson, I worked with a different teacher – Maddie.
I was really happy with Maddie’s class. Her teaching style was quite a bit different than Alisa’s but both instructors did a great job.
Maddie was much quicker to point out my mistakes, especially with pronunciation – something that I need more of and can be hard to get without working directly with a tutor.
I was again a little surprised and intrigued by the curriculum in the lessons. The content was engaging and unique. It was challenging but not overly so.
It wasn’t like going through a textbook with the help of a teacher. Instead, it centered more around learning via a story.
I really enjoy this method as it makes the lessons more interesting. They’re also really informative and teach a lot about Chinese culture.
Plus, it’s not as if the typical grammar and vocabulary topics were ignored. Not at all, in fact.
Later on, we practiced key vocabulary and grammar points that showed up in the text. These were also appropriate for the difficulty level of the lesson.
I also practiced making my own example sentences with some of the words from the text. Plus, Maddie was really helpful in explaining things when there was something I didn’t understand.
Once again, after the lesson, there are comments highlighting areas that need to be worked on. The lesson slides are there, along with a video recording of the lessons, and some homework.
I was a little disappointed with the homework. Because you’re working with instructors, the homework could be a good opportunity to independently put together what you’ve learned and get feedback on it in your next class.
Instead, it’s only 10 questions – 5 multiple choice and 5 matching. It mainly just gives you a chance to practice the vocabulary from the lesson and can be completed in a couple of minutes.
Although a large part of me would prefer longer, more challenging homework, I can see the benefits of keeping it short like this.
If the homework were longer and took 20-30 minutes to complete, it’d be that much easier for students to put off signing up for their next class. So, although I’m not thrilled by the mini-homework, it’s better than feeling overwhelmed with homework and studying less because of it.
There are quite a few different plans available for both kids and adults. For adults, the lessons are 45 minutes long and the price ranges from $15.50 to $23.30 per session.
If you book for a longer period of time and/or pay the full cost upfront, then the cost per session will be cheaper.
The smallest package they offer is the 3 months plan, which comes with 30 classes for $699. It ends up being the most expensive on a per-class basis, but they give you $150 off your next purchase. That makes it a pretty solid option if you want to try things out before going with a longer-term and more expensive plan.
There are also 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months plans which include 80, 120, and 200 sessions respectively.
Also, they’ll give full refunds within 30 days if you decide TutorMing isn’t for you.
In addition, there are lessons for kids, as well as school exam revision packages.
Although the plans are listed in terms of a certain number of months, these aren’t strict limits where your classes will expire if you don’t use them in time. The time duration can be extended for up to two years, for free.
They’re flexible as well. You can take as many or as few classes as you want in any given week. And because the lessons are available 24 hours per day, it’s easy to do so.
However, you should remember to sign-up for the Regular classes and not the 1-1 classes. The Regular classes end up being 1-1 the vast majority of the time anyway, and they only cost 1 credit, compared to the 3 credits for every 1-1 class.
If you were to only sign up for 1-1 classes, at 3 credits each, you’d go through your available sessions 3x quicker.
Italki is great. I’m a huge fan of their platform, but with the friction created by having to find and schedule lessons with a specific tutor, and deciding what content to study, it’s easy to not take as many classes as you know you should.
Well, at least that’s how it’s been for me.
I really like TutorMing and was impressed with their platform, teachers, and lesson content.
Being able to quickly schedule a lesson at any time of the day is a huge plus for me.
Both teachers I worked with were excellent and it’s clear that they only hire qualified teachers.
The lesson content was really interesting and engaging. I learned new things about Chinese culture in just two lessons despite living in Beijing for almost four years and having a Chinese wife.
So, although you could find cheaper lessons elsewhere, the combination of lessons being available 24 hours a day, with great teachers, and an interesting curriculum really makes TutorMingan excellent option.