Best Online Chinese Classes

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If you’re interested in learning to speak Chinese, or if you’ve already studied the language and want to continue improving, consider hiring an online Chinese tutor or taking an online course. Although there are many different dialects spoken in China, all are unified under a common written character system: The official spoken language is Hanyu or Mandarin Chinese. 

There are many benefits to enrolling your child in Chinese lessons and learning a second language as a child is proven to help boost concentration, memory, and critical thinking skills. You can approach the process of learning Chinese in several ways, including private in-person lessons, online tutors, self-led online courses, and language apps.  

There’s no doubt private lessons will have you progressing more quickly, and speaking more clearly, but if a private tutor is out of your budget or too much for your busy schedule, there are plenty of ways to learn Chinese for much less—even for free. Below are the seven best online Chinese tutoring services we found to help you improve your skill set, along with our top three picks for independent software-led Chinese classes.

The 7 Best Online Chinese Tutoring Services in 2022

Best Overall : Verbling


Verbling

Verbling

Key Specs
  • Pricing: Most tutors charge $15-$35/60 minutes
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Mandarin or Cantonese: Both
  • Ages: Primarily geared towards adults
Why We Chose It

The sheer scope of Verbling’s massive site has something for everyone. It’s a great place to begin a search fine-tuned for your specific time zone, desired dialect, price range, and a tutor who vibes with your learning style.

Pros
  • Huge database

  • Useful teacher bios with site generated stats and reviews

  • Flexible pricing 

  • Easy to book classes

  • Free trial class

Cons
  • No free in-house additional resources like videos or exercises

  • Tutors are not trained by Verbling, although bios display outside certifications

  • Tutors are not required to be native speakers

Verbling can connect you with a private online tutor to help you learn many different languages. The company offers both Mandarin and Cantonese. Its lessons take place via its integrated platform, where you can schedule your lessons and meet with the teacher, and the platform works on desktop computers and mobile devices.

Verbling also includes learning materials and language tools such as vocabulary review and collaborative text pads. You can either go through an existing course, or you can your tutor to customize the course for your needs.

There’s an extensive list of Mandarin and Cantonese tutors, and you can select one based on their availability, background, experience, and price. Besides reading about each tutor, you can also watch a short video where they introduce themselves and talk about their experience. Once you pick your tutor, you can book a free trial lesson.

Plans & Pricing

The average cost for tutoring sessions is about $25 per hour, but you can find tutors for as low as $5 per hour or as high as $75+ per hour. There are no package deals or specials incentivizing you to buy in bulk, so unless the tutor is offering their own discount code on their bio (which many do), the cost remains at the tutor’s rate regardless of how many lessons you buy.

Best Budget : Preply


Preply

Preply

Key Specs
  • Pricing: Tutors charge $1-$40/class
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Mandarin or Cantonese: Both
  • Ages: All
Why We Chose It

With over 1,000 Chinese tutors charging $10 or less per class, Preply is our most budget-friendly option.

Pros
  • Search function with keyword option that can be used for specific dialects or locations 

  • Specialities to choose from like “Business Chinese” or “Chinese for Children”

  • Extremely affordable rates

  • Discounted rates for bulk buying classes

  • Post a “Tutor Request” to turn the tables and let tutors come to you

  • Regular in-house training offered to Preply tutors

Cons
  • 24-hour clock on booking system (no a.m./p.m.) makes it easy to accidentally book a 2 a.m. class

  • Relatively small database

  • Bare-bones tutor bios with few useful details (no location provided)

At Preply, there's something for everyone who is on a budget. While the company offers tutoring in 24 different languages, there are over 2,000 tutors available if you're looking to work on your Chinese language skills.

You can search the long list of tutors and filter them based on their background, price per hour, availability, and specialties. You can also opt to only look at the profiles of native Chinese speakers, and read other ratings and reviews that they have received from previous students.

Since there are so many tutors located all over the world, it is easy to find a tutor that is available whenever you need one. The price per hour for tutoring ranges between roughly $1 and $40, and all tutors offer a free trial lesson.

Preply has its own online platform called Preply Classroom, which includes video calling, text messaging, and the ability to download study materials. If you’re looking for a tutoring service with a lot of options, Preply is a solid choice.

Plans & Pricing

The Preply scale allows tutors to charge only up to $40 per hour, which makes every search result relatively affordable. Many of their Chinese tutors charge less than $20 an hour. Preply also offers a discount for more classes bought at once: 5% off for six classes, 10% for 12 classes, and 15% for 20 classes.

Best for Language Variety : Italki


Italki

Italki

Key Specs
  • Pricing: Scale runs $4-$80; most Chinese tutors charge $10-$15/hour
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Mandarin or Cantonese: Both, plus several other Chinese dialects
  • Ages: Primary focus is on adults
Why We Chose It

Italki is the only site that allows tutors to offer dialects other than Mandarin or Cantonese. So if you’re looking for something more esoteric like Shanghainese or Hokkien, or you want to dabble in a variety of different Chinese dialects, you should definitely start here.

Pros
  • Keyword search function allows you to tailor your search

  • “Also speaks” selection caters to non-English speakers

  • Use the “Instant Lesson” feature to start a class right away and bypass the entire search

Cons
  • No free trial 

  • No in-house curriculum

  • No free additional resources like videos or exercises

Italki provides access to more than 10,000 tutors in almost any language. The company offers six Chinese dialects that you can choose from (Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien, Shanghainese, and Taiwanese). Italki currently lists about 1,400 available Chinese tutors in total. 

The instructors provide one-on-one lessons via video chat, which can be customized based on the learner’s goals and interests. Since Italki has so many tutors around the world, you can probably find one who is available at a convenient time.

Plans & Pricing

You can pay per tutoring session, so there is no need to sign up for a package or subscription, and since there are so many tutors, there is also a wide range of prices. Some tutors have hourly rates as low as roughly $4 per hour, while others can charge up to around $80, but most Chinese tutors clock in at around $10-$25 an hour. You can search the list of tutors based on their background, experience, availability, price, and more. Plus, most tutors offer a discounted half-hour trial lesson, and $10 credits are available when you refer a friend.

Best for Course Variety : ChineseHour


ChineseHour

ChineseHour

Key Specs
  • Pricing: Begins at $13/25 minutes or $25/50 minutes; discounts for purchasing in advance
  • Duration: 25 or 50 minutes
  • Mandarin or Cantonese: Mandarin
  • Ages: All

With a wide range of online tutoring services for all kinds of learners and purposes, ChineseHour has one-on-one tutoring and courses such as spoken Chinese, Business Chinese, Kids' Chinese, Chinese Culture, Teenage Chinese, Tourist Chinese, and more.

Why We Chose It

Rather than having your lessons created by your tutor, ChineseHour offers its own curriculum, which stays consistent regardless of who your tutor is. The selection runs the gamut: classes for kids of different ages, business, HSK prep, tourist, spoken, and culture.

Pros
  • Large selection of different types of classes

  • In-house curriculum ensures consistent class structure

  • Standardized homework and testing helps track progress and identify weak spots

  • Offers in-person immersion kids camps in China

Cons
  • Only Mandarin Chinese; no dialects offered

  • Packages much be purchased upfront and expire after a certain number of weeks if not renewed for a fee

  • Website is buggy and difficult to navigate

With a wide range of online tutoring services for all kinds of learners and purposes, ChineseHour has one-on-one tutoring and courses such as spoken Chinese, Business Chinese, Kids' Chinese, Chinese Culture, Teenage Chinese, Tourist Chinese, and more.

The ChineseHour system involves selecting a tutor and continuing with that same personal tutor throughout your learning experience since the service believes this leads to faster learning.

There are many tutors listed on its website, and you can select yours based on their qualifications, signature courses, and teaching styles. There are several different packages and memberships you can purchase which include roughly 40 and 60 sessions. In addition, ChineseHour offers a free testing system and a periodic learning report.

Prices & Planning

For adults, there are three packages with slightly different price points: The “Standard Course,” has an upfront payment of $1,080 for 60 classes ($18 per 50-minute class) and looks to be the best deal on the site. For students, the SAT, HSK, and AP prep class is slightly more: $1200 for 60 classes ($20 per 50 min class). Finally, the “Premium Course” is $995 for 40 classes, and includes five outings where you go out with your teacher to explore real-life situations in China ($25 per 50-minute class).

The kid's classes are also sold in 60-lesson blocks but they are 25 minutes long, so it’s $779 for 60 classes ($13 per 25-minute class). Before you sign up, you can take a free trial lesson.

Best for Independent Kids Classes : Dinolingo


 Dinolingo

 Dinolingo

Key Specs
  • Pricing: $15/month
  • Duration: 15-30 minutes
  • Mandarin or Cantonese: Mandarin 
  • Ages: 3-14 years old
Why We Chose It

Dinolingo’s mix of Chinese songs, videos, stories, games, and classes make it a great place for kids to gain exposure to Chinese and take lessons on their own without a tutor.

Pros
  • Wide variety of learning formats keeps kids interested longer

  • Play-based lessons appeal to kids as young as 3 years old 

  • Affordable monthly rate keeps costs low

  • Learn at your own speed, with no set class times or scheduling 

Cons
  • No speech recognition to help with pronunciation

  • Immersion-method caters to children not yet old enough to read

  • Focus on spoken Chinese is a great way to start for younger kids

A treasure trove of games, stories, flashcards, and other educational materials, all geared towards children (particularly those who like dinosaurs), makes Dinolingo a great one-stop shop for your child’s Chinese language learning materials. 

The site lets your child explore what they want when they want by clicking across whatever music videos, worksheets, or flashcards appeal to them. 

There isn’t much in the way of standardized progress, homework, or testing, but the bright colors and fun format make this a good choice for introducing your child to Chinese.

Prices & Planning

The flat rate monthly fee is $15. There are no discounts, contracts, or commitments, and there's a seven-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.

Best for Kids : PandaTree


PandaTree

PandaTree

Key Specs
  • Pricing: Starts at $1/minute
  • Duration: 25 minutes for kids under 10, 50 minutes for older kids
  • Mandarin or Cantonese: Mandarin
  • Ages: 2-17 years old
Why We Chose It

Pandatree is the only Chinese tutoring site we reviewed that caters exclusively to children and even has its own set of age-specific, kid-focused curricula. 

Pros
  • Designed specifically to engage kids

  • U.S.-based company with sleek, user-friendly website

  • “Kid Hub” provides additional exercises to supplement classes

  • Many tutors are U.S.- or Canada-based, making time zones less problematic

  • Group lessons available

Cons
  • Somewhat pricey

  • Expects students to start young; beginner classes only cater up to age 12

  • Language-driven program with less cultural content

PandaTree is an online language school that offers one-on-one lessons for children ages 2 to 17 in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. It has four different types of Mandarin Chinese courses: Chinese for Preschoolers (for kids ages 2 to 6), Beginner Chinese (for kids ages 6 to 12), Intermediate Chinese (for kids ages 8 to 15), and Advanced Placement (for teens ages 15 to 17).

Since the lessons are one-on-one, the curriculum can be personalized to each student. The tutors all have native fluency and experience working with children. You can read through the tutors’ profiles in order to select the best fit for your child. In addition to tutoring, PandaTree also offers a Kid Hub where they can access learning games, videos, stories, and vocabulary practice.

After each session, parents will receive an email with an update from the tutor in order to keep track of their child’s progress. And, you can watch a video recording of your child’s lesson. For children under 10, the service recommends 25-minute lessons, while for older kids, they offer 50-minute sessions.

Plans & Pricing

Purchase one lesson at a time or buy a package of three, five, 10, 20, or even 40 sessions (as part of the monthly subscription with five lessons a week). The price for a 25-minute session runs from $15 to $25, and it's $31 to $50 for a 50-minute session, depending on the package you buy. 

The monthly subscription and weekly camp rates definitely give you the most bang for your buck, but you must be willing to commit to a frequent class schedule, instead of scheduling your classes as you go. Finally, if you’re not satisfied with the session, PandaTree will provide you with a refund if you request it within seven days.

Best for Specialized Lessons : Mandarin Tutor


Mandarin Tutor

Mandarin Tutor

Key Specs
  • Pricing: Average range is $8-18/hour
  • Duration: 50 minute
  • Mandarin or Cantonese: Mandarin and some Cantonese
  • Ages: Primarily adults, but possible to search for kid-friendly tutors
Why We Chose It

Mandarin Tutor is a great place to find specialized lessons as there is no pre-set curriculum, and the tab system for tutor bios makes it easy to pick out tutors specializing in particular lesson areas.

Pros
  • Most tutors offer affordable rates

  • Plenty of freedom to hone class content to your liking

  • Discounted half-hour trial lesson

  • Your choice of Skype or Zoom, no additional downloads

  • Free resource videos include essential basics such as tones and radicals

Cons
  • No way to search bios without registering first

  • Booking a trial has up to 48-hour turn-around window

  • No in-house HSK prep material, you must provide your own

Mandarin Tutor, as the name implies, is a service that primarily focuses on teaching only Mandarin Chinese, but some of their tutors do teach Cantonese. It offers one-on-one 50-minute lessons via Skype or Zoom for both adults and children.

When you look at the tutors’ profiles, some will indicate that they specialize in working with children and teenagers. All the instructors are native speakers of Chinese, and they can customize the lessons based on your needs. For example, they can focus on business vocabulary or on helping you prepare for travel or for an exam. You can look through the list of tutors and select one based on their availability.

Plans & Pricing

Prices are set by tutors and seem to be very affordable. You can save even more by purchasing packages, and their credit system makes it easy to change tutors if need be. If you want to try them out, Mandarin Tutor offers a 25-minute discounted trial.

Best Immersion-Based : TutorABC


TutorABC

TutorABC

Key Specs
  • Pricing: starts at $1/minute; buying bundles saves up to 45%
  • Duration: 25 minutes (kids), 45 minutes (adults)
  • Mandarin or Cantonese: Mandarin
  • Ages: 6 through adult
Why We Chose It

TutorABC’s classes use a “full-language immersion” teaching method, with their own tiered curricula that correspond to different HSK levels. Combining immersion with a progressive set of classes makes progress easy to track.

Pros
  • In-house curricula corresponds to HSK levels

  • Classes hosted in their own well-designed app

  • App for mobile device only, no computer necessary

  • Large 2000+ tutor database makes scheduling classes easy

  • Deep discounts for large purchases 

Cons
  • Mandarin only

  • Can't your own subjects or material

  • Not guaranteed to get your preferred instructor, although you can request them

TutorABC (Formerly TutorMing) provides one-on-one, 45-minute lessons hosted on Skype or in their own mobile app for learners of Chinese at any level of proficiency. The company calls its tutors certified-Chinese consultants who offer immersion-style classes. Its website lists 12 tutors who are all highly-trained, certified, and experienced.

The company uses an algorithm called Dynamic Course Generation System (DCGS) to customize lessons and tutors based on your abilities, interests, and background. 

Plans & Pricing

To sign up, you have to buy a subscription package of either three, six, 12, or 24 months. The price per lesson varies depending on what package you purchase, and whether you pay in installments or in a lump sum.

Depending on the subscription, your lessons can each cost roughly $25 to $45 per session. TutorABC also offers lessons for children. Kids’ lessons have similar costs per minute, but they are only 25-minutes long. Also, you can try a class for free before you commit.

Best App : Rosetta Stone


Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

Key Specs
  • Pricing: $8-12/month for one language, $180 for a lifetime subscription for all languages offered
  • Duration: 5 to 30 minutes
  • Mandarin or Cantonese: Mandarin
  • Ages: Adult
Why We Chose It

Rosetta Stone’s teaching methods have been proven efficient in several different languages. The robust platform allows you to learn Chinese at your own pace while choosing the activities and lessons that you enjoy most, making learning the new language fast and fun.

Pros
  • Learn at your own speed

  • Budget-friendly

  • Proven immersive-method works for native speakers of any language

  • Speech-recognition software helps with pronunciation

Cons
  • With no native language translation, lessons can be confusing

  • Mandarin only; no other dialects

  • Repetitive photos, slightly boring classes

Rosetta Stone was one of the original trendsetters in computer-based language learning, back when buying a language course involved a physical box of software and a several hundred dollar investment. Today, its downloadable, app-based program remains one of the industry’s heavy hitters. 

Photo-based classes make their program accessible to native speakers of any language, and there are lots of additional resources outside the standard curriculum units: storytimes, recipes, and classes on the written character system are all included in the price. Top it off with a solid speech-recognition function that will actually give you feedback on your tones and pronunciation, and you have our top choice for anyone looking to learn Chinese exclusively via an independent computer class. Give it a whirl with their three-day free trial. 

Plans & Pricing

Three months runs $12, or it's $8 per month for 12 months, or $180 for a lifetime subscription to all lessons in all languages on offer. 

Final Verdict

When it comes to learning Chinese online, a private tutor is definitely the best way to go. For its expanse of resources, clear lesson plans, and inclusion of both Mandarin and Cantonese, our all-around favorite is Verbling. Its stands out for its technologically advanced online platform, the variety of tutors and price range, and other learning tools that are available.

If you’re not ready to commit to regularly scheduled one-on-one lessons at that price point, an independent software-based course might be more your style, in which case our top choice is Rosetta Stone. With its intuitive, photo-based immersive curriculum and AI speech-recognition feature, Rosetta Stone makes learning Mandarin on your own both accessible and fun.

If you have the time and budget for it, a mix of both an in-person option and online language course might be best. Almost all these platforms have a free or discounted trial, so test a few out and see what works best for you. No matter your age or your motivation for learning, Chinese is a fascinating and beautiful language, so have fun with it!

FAQs

How fast can I learn Chinese online?

Chinese is considered one of the hardest second languages to get started in, due to the tones/pronunciation nuances and the character system. It’s worth going slowly at the beginning, making sure you’re pronouncing your tones right and taking the time to learn how to read and pronounce HanYu Pinyin (the current standard for Romanized spelling of Chinese words) properly.

However, once you become familiar with the four tones in Mandarin (nine for Cantonese) and how to pronounce PinYin, your rate of progress should pick up. Chinese has almost no conjugation or grammar, so after the initial foundation is laid over those first few weeks or months, your level should advance more quickly. 

Can kids learn Chinese online?

Yes! Many studies show childhood is the best time to pick up a new language and Chinese is no exception.

Should I learn Mandarin or Cantonese?

If you’re looking to learn general Chinese as a second language, you should most likely start with Mandarin (Putonghua ) classes, since it is the most widely spoken language in China. However, there are a few disclaimers: If you are moving to a specific city with a very different dialect and a lot of cultural pride, you’d do well to get a tutor from that city, as Mandarin might not get you too far. Or, if you are planning on moving to Hong Kong or doing business in Guangzhou (or you really just want to bargain for fruit like a pro in Chinatown, or watch old Kung Fu movies in their original soundtrack) you’re better off learning Cantonese, or Guangdonghua. 

The other main question you want to answer is whether you want to learn Simplified or Traditional written characters. During the Cultural Revolution, the written language was simplified with many 25-stroke characters reduced to a mere five or six strokes to make literacy more accessible to the masses. Everywhere in mainland China now uses the simplified character system or Jianti. Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau still use traditional characters or Fanti. So chances are, you’ll want to learn Jianti, unless you’re headed to one of those islands (or you’re a poet with your heart set on learning the complicated elegance of Chinese Fanti calligraphy).

How can I help my kid learn Chinese?

Start with a company that offers a child-specific curriculum, like Panda Tree or Dinolingo. For young kids, try supplementing lessons with Pinkfong content, which is all available in Chinese (yes, they are the creators of the Baby Shark song). Your toddler could be driving you crazy by singing Baby Shark in Chinese instead of English!

How much does it cost to learn Chinese online?

Rates vary depending on different variables. For beginners just starting out who don’t have contact with a native speaker, we highly recommend paying for a private tutor to get your pronunciation properly dialed in, which generally runs $15-$50 a lesson. Using a computer-based lesson system can still get you up and running, with unlimited monthly rates usually equalling just one or two tutor-led classes.

Methodology

In order to choose the best online Chinese tutoring services, we looked at a wide range of websites and analyzed aspects such as the type of services provided, the qualifications of the tutors, the online platforms used for providing tutoring, the price of services, reviews, and user ratings. Each of the services we selected has unique features that make it stand out.

Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Advantages of a bilingual brain. Early Childhood Development.

  2. University CM. Researchers explore how children learn language far faster than teenagers or adults. SciTechDaily.

  3. Meredith A. Is putonghua the same as mandarin? | what is putonghua? CLI.

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April McCormick
April McCormick

April is the health editor for performance marketing at Verywell, where she oversees family health, wellness, and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Time, Parents Magazine, The Huffington Post, TripSavvy, Parenting.com, First Time Mom and Dad, Mama Mia, All4Women, the New York Times Bestseller, A Letter To My Mom, and more.

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and
Ally Hirschlag
Allison "Ally" Hirschlag

Ally is an expert in health, science, sustainability, wellness, mental health, and parenting. She has written for publications including The Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC Future, and more.

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