Lingobus: How to schedule and cancel Chinese classes.

Hello again!  My daughters have been taking Lingobus classes for a few months now, and I have become quite adept at scheduling classes for both of them.  I like to have their classes back to back, specifically 9:00 am and 9:30 am if possible.  This way, we don’t forget and they can plan on it being a “Lingobus day.”

So scheduling these classes takes a bit of careful planning.  To schedule two classes with separate teachers, follow the directions in this YouTube video!

Also included in this video are detailed directions with screen captured video to show how to cancel classes too.  Don’t feel bad if something comes up and you need to reschedule or cancel a class.  Teachers understand, and they will understand.  As far as their cancellation policy goes, check your current policy as it can change.  But currently, for us, we can cancel anytime up to 24 hours before without penalty.  If we schedule within 24 hours, the class is lost and may not be refunded.  This is because the teacher has already had a chance to view and prepare the class.

Once this summer, I accidentally double-booked my girls for classes at the same time as swimming lessons.  I realized it almost as soon as I had pressed “confirm.”  Oh no!  But it was very easy to cancel and reschedule.  There was no penalty because it was nearly a week in advance.

If you are new to Lingobus, take a look at this video so you understand the cancellation process before you ever need to use it.  I hope it is helpful to you!

-Laura from Minnesota

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Hello! My name is Laura and I am a mom of 2 Lingobus students, ages 5 and 9.  If you’re interested in trying a free demo class, follow this link to get started https://www.lingobus.com/?referralCod… Email: laura.risdall@gmail.com Instagram: vipkidteachermom Thanks for watching!

Lingobus: Keep it up in the summer!

 

It is summer in Minnesota!  The weather is sunny, beautiful (finally!) and we just want to be outside every minute possible!  Who has time for online classes?!

Actually, we do!  My girls have actually increased the number of Lingobus Chinese classes we’ve been doing and have really enjoyed doing classes this summer!  Here is why I think summer is a great time to start or continue Lingobus classes.

1. Consistency is key!

As with anything, you need to be consistent to really increase your learning.  Any classroom teacher knows that “summer slide” is real.  You cannot take 3 months off from learning Chinese, and expect to jump right back into it.  So I would recommend keeping a consistent schedule… or at least as consistent as possible!  You can take classes anywhere that you have strong wifi, so don’t be afraid to take classes on vacation, in a hotel, at Grandma’s house, or even while traveling!

2. Break up the routine!

I love a good routine, but I also love variety! This summer we’ve broken our routine of evening classes, always taken in the office, always on the laptop.  We’ve tried the laptop and the ipad.  We’ve tried inside and outside.  We’ve tried morning classes and evening classes. We’ve done a class sitting on the deck, in our beds, at the kitchen counter, in the playroom. It’s been really fun and kept us “on our toes!”  See our video above to see some of the fun places we’ve done lessons!

3. Involve the whole family!

Generally, we have more “family time” in the summer because everyone is home from school and jobs are more flexible.  We have really adopted the idea of learning Chinese as being a “family project.”  It’s more fun that way!  We watch the practice videos over breakfast.  We count in Chinese in the car.  Even the baby tries to repeat after us!  Grandma and Grandpa regularly ask to hear what the girls are learning.  It has been a great activity for the whole family!

I hope you’re enjoying Lingobus this summer!  As always, if you have questions about these online Chinese classes, I’d love to chat!  It has been a great thing for our family and I’d love to share our experiences!

-Laura

 

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Hello! My name is Laura and I am a mom of 2 Lingobus students, ages 5 and 9. If you’re interested in trying a free demo class, follow this link to get started!

Email: laura.risdall@gmail.com

Instagram: vipkidteachermom

 

VIPKID: Is it a scam? Is it too good to be true?

You’ve heard about this VIPKID teaching online, and it probably is popping up on your ads. If you’re like me, you are skeptical.

Many of my friends lately have been scammed with “work at home” jobs that in the end, cost them more money than they earned. They will call it a “failed business venture” or “more work than it was worth.” With these stories in mind, I assumed that VIPKID was aiming for that same audience- people who wanted an easy job that they could do whenever they wanted, and make a disproportionately high income.

So I tip-toed into the job, not announcing it publicly until I had dispelled all my fears and concerns. I have worked as an online teacher for 1.5 years now, and can honestly explain the positive and negative aspects of this field.

Is it a scam?

The short answer is no. It is not a “get rich” scheme. There are no promises of wealth or advancement. It is also not a pyramid scheme. There is no “down line” or “building a team.” There is no initial “investment” or start up fee.

In short, you are an independent contractor, like a tutor. You do not work for VIPKID, you are a contractor that they hire for a six-month contract. Your contract is renewed every six months.

These were my biggest concerns. I did not want to spend a dime on this job until I knew it would actually make me money. So all through the interview and training process, I chose not to invest any money into gear or teaching materials. I didn’t want to be someone who dropped a lot of money on the front end, only for it to not pan out.

Is it too good to be true?

This answer is more complicated.

1. You have to do the work… or you won’t get paid.

This is not a source of “passive income.” You have to do the work to get paid. You are paid by how many classes you teach. If you don’t teach, you won’t get paid. This job is not for the lazy or unmotivated people, looking for an easy income. It requires you to teach during very early hours, and exert a lot of energy.

2. You have to plan ahead for taxes… or you’ll regret it on Tax Day.

This is something that may easily be forgotten, especially if you’ve never worked for yourself as an independent contractor. There is no one taking taxes out of your paycheck. You need to do this on your own. It may make you feel like you are making less, because you see your income before taxes are taken out. It’s up to you to do your own research about taxes and plan accordingly.

3. You get control of your schedule… mostly.

This is one of the best parts of online teaching. You can choose your availability. You open the time slots you’d like to teach, and close the ones you don’t want to teach. If you’ve been working a regular teaching or office “nine to five” style job, it feels like an immense amount of freedom.

But of course, there are some caveats.

  • It is run on Beijing time, resulting in available times that are not normal working hours in the US. The “prime hours” range between 3-9am, depending on your time zone.
  • Once you open your schedule and a Chinese parent books a class with you during that time, there are consequences if you cancel the class. Too many cancellations, and your contract will not be renewed.
  • Not every time slot that you open will be booked, especially in the first few months of teaching. You have to build up your client base.
  • Your schedule is at the whim of Chinese culture. Meaning, during seasons of holidays in China, your schedule will not be full because families are traveling and celebrating.

4. You get paid well… for an online job.

It is true that you will make around $20-25/hour. That is not exaggerated. There is some variation based on your base pay, how much you teach, and if you get bonuses. But generally, teachers are happy with their pay.

However, if you are looking to match your salary that you’ve been making at a contract public school teaching job, or office job, you will probably be disappointed. It is possible to make $40k in a year with online teaching, however, it is very difficult. You can find people who do it on YouTube. It requires a complete commitment to the job, working very unusual hours. And there is no benefit package, insurance, pension, or retirement.

What’s the summary?

Basically, online is a fantastic gig, if you know what you’re getting into. Go into with lots of research, eyes wide open, and low expectations. Consider it a hobby at first, and you’ll be happy with the outcome. If you expect it to replace your income immediately, you’ll be disappointed.

I hope this is helpful to you! It has been the perfect fit for me and my family. I’d love to help you get started if you’re interested. I went into it with no advice or support, and I wish I had met someone who was willing to answer questions. All the best!

-Laura

Language Learning for Littles: Ages 3 and up!

It’s a commonly known fact that young students can pick up a new language more easily than an adult.  But how young is appropriate to start language lessons?

We have been doing an experiment with this for a few months.  My 5 year old has been learning Chinese through Lingobus, one on one language classes.  I also have a 9 year old taking lessons, so I have a comparison between the two ages.

After three months of weekly lessons, I can say with confidence that 5 years old is a great age to start.  She is excited and bold, and has less inhibitions than my older daughter.  But the younger age has its own set of issues too.  Here are some tips to help make the most of your language lessons with young kids!

Before the Lesson
1. Schedule wisely.

Don’t just pick any random time.  Think about your kid and pick times that are good for them.  We were doing evening lessons, but my daughter was getting too tired. She was yawning through the whole lesson!  So we moved them up to the morning time and it has been great!

2. Limit distractions.

Preschoolers are easily distracted.  It’s just a fact of development.  So do everything you can to limit distractions during class.  We keep the table clear, keep siblings away if possible, and don’t have music or TV on.

3. Prepare as much as possible.

If your student is not prepared, she’ll be lost and the lesson will be so much harder for her.  Doing even a few minutes of practice beforehand will make the lesson so much more effective.

 

During the Lesson

1. Sit with them.

Yes, it’s time-consuming and maybe they don’t completely need you.  But it will help.  Some families even have their student sit on the parent’s lap.  But at the very least, be in the room and be available to direct their focus back to the teacher if needed.

2. Prepare them for the technology.

Your student will need to circle and click on the screen during the lesson.  Prepare them for this, and get them comfortable.  The more they can engage in this way, the more the lesson will benefit them.  I use a trackpad (graphic tablet), and my daughter loves it.  It’s not too hard for her.  She loves drawing circles or tracing letters.  It keeps her engaged longer.

 

When it isn’t going well..

1. Be okay with them just listening.

Listening to a new language is the first step of fluency.  So if your young student’s attention span isn’t lasting 25 minutes, let it go.  It is still beneficial for the student to just sit and listen to the teacher, even if participation is weak.

2. Try a toy or prop (Only for some kids!).

Some kids would benefit from holding a prop or toy throughout the lesson.  This may help some, or distract others.  Do whatever is best for your student!

 

Those are my tips!  Do you have a young language learner?  Share your tips in the comments!

-Laura

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Hello! My name is Laura and I am a mom of 2 Lingobus students, ages 5 and 9. Watch to see how our first classes went and why we chose Lingobus Chinese classes! If you’re interested in trying a free demo class, follow this link to get started

Email: laura.risdall@gmail.com Instagram: vipkidteachermom Thanks for watching! -Laura from Minnesota

 

 

 

 

Lingobus Chinese Classes: Two month update!

 

Wow, we have been doing Lingobus for two months already!  It has gone by fast!  We are so happy with the progress that both girls have made.  Here is an update of what they’ve learned and how they’re enjoying it!

They have learned:

  • Greetings (hello/goodbye/introductions)
  • Numbers to 10 (counting/adding)
  • Paper/Rock/Scissors Game
  • Family words (mom, dad, sister, brother)
  • Food words (rice, noodles)
  • Sentence frames (I have_____, I eat_____)

Beyond that, they have learned a few other phrases and words from watching Lingobus’ YouTube videos and online books.  Isn’t amazing how much they can learn!  This has been only 8 lessons, with only 25 minutes per lesson! Wow!

I’ve been very impressed with the pacing of the lessons. They don’t go too quickly and frustrate the girls with too much information, but they also don’t go too slowly and bore them.  It’s a great balance.

Also, the way they teach sets the girls up for success.  For example, they learn a word (coin), then a sentence (I have a coin), then a way to change the sentence (I don’t have a coin).  It’s very progressive, so they feel successful before moving on to the next thing.  It all builds on each other slowly and carefully, so they really understand what they’re saying and how to pronounce it perfectly.  They correct them kindly and patiently.

I’ve realized that these lessons require some practice between lessons, in order for my girls to feel really successful.  We need to review during the week, or they forget.  It takes a lot of practice to learn a new language.  One way we are practicing is our flashcard notebook.  Instead of using loose cards that could get lost, we created flashcards in a notebook.  There are online flashcards, which we used to create our paper flashcards.  Both are great ways to practice.  The video above shows how we are practicing.

Overall, I’m really impressed with how much my girls are learning.  Beyond the actual language acquisition, I feel like they are developing other skills too.  They are becoming braver at trying new things.  At first, Kayla was so shy and hesitant.  Every word was whispered.  Now, she is much more confident.  When people asked her to speak, she would refuse.  But now, she likes to show off some of her phrases.  It has been such a fun experience!

As always, if you’re interested in trying this, Lingobus offers a free (no strings attached) demo class.  Head over to Lingobus to give it a try!  I hope your child enjoys it as much as mine has!

-Laura from Minnesota

How the parent can help your Lingobus student BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER your class!

We are about two months into our weekly Lingobus Chinese classes!  We are really enjoying the process, and I’m impressed at how quickly my kids are gaining confidence with this new language.
Parents play an important role in this process.  I have been taking notes about how parents can help their students before, during, and after the classes. Hopefully this can help some families get the most out of their Lingobus experience!  Here are my tips:
Before the class:
1. Schedule wisely.
You know your family’s schedule and when a class would best fit into your days.  We chose different times for both of my girls, depending on when they are best ready to learn.  Consider your other activities and also your child’s bedtime.  We scheduled one of our classes too late last week, and Kayla was yawning the whole time.  Put some thought into it and write it on whatever calendar you use to stay organized.  Do your best to never miss a class!
2. Get your technology and gear organized.
You really don’t need much to be successful at this process, just a computer or ipad.  We use my laptop.  We do have headphones, but the girls don’t use them every time.  It’s good to show the kids how to use the mouse and how to write on the screen because many kids aren’t used to using a mouse since so much technology is touch-screen now.
3. Watch the preparatory materials (video/flashcards/online library).
Your level of preparation really makes a difference in how successful the class goes.  Our best classes have been when we took the time to watch the video, read some books, and do the flashcards beforehand.  Our worst classes were the ones where the girls felt unprepared.  It doesn’t take much time at all!  Even 10 minutes helps a lot.
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Click on the purple “preview” tab and you’ll find the preparatory materials.
During
1. Assist with entering the classroom.
Sometimes students need help getting into the classroom.  This is also a good time to check the lighting and the angle of the camera.  Also, make sure your child can write on the screen.
2. Support during any technology issues.
We have yet to have a single technology problem during our classes.  But if something happens, your child can become worried or anxious.  So stay nearby in case they need help.
3. Don’t speak for your child.
This was hard for me because I found myself wanting to encourage my daughter, but was often just giving her the answers.  Do your best to stay involved, but don’t speak with them.  Let the teacher guide them.  You want them to be taught by a native speaker, so don’t get in the way.  You can always sit next to them and learn too!
After
1. Leave a comment for the teacher.
This is really important to build the teacher/parent relationship.  Tell your teacher what the child enjoyed and what was difficult.  Ask any questions that you don’t understand.  It’s a great way to work together for the success of the child.
2. Read the teacher’s comments.
The teacher will also write feedback for your student.  They will be available on the portal, and they also send it in an email.  Listen to what the teacher wrote, and if they suggested practice, take time to work on those words.
3. Do the follow up practice on the website.
There are so many ways to practice between classes.  You can review your words, read books from the online library, and do flashcards.  We try to get on the website at least a couple times during the week, to keep the words and phrases fresh in our memories.
If you’re considering starting Chinese, or any new language classes, with your kids, please leave me a comment!  I’d love to answer any questions!  It really has become a special part of our week, where we connect around learning this new skill.  Our whole family, even Dad, is interested!  Friends and family have begun asking the kids what they’re learning when we get together.  They are gaining confidence.  It is really fun to watch!  I recommend giving it a try- the first trial class is free!
Laura

Our First Lingobus Classes! {Online Chinese Lessons!}

 

My girls have just started taking Chinese lessons with Lingobus an online program where my kids meet a native Chinese speaker in an “online classroom,” like Skype.  It has been such a fun experience for us!

We were exposed to this program through my job as an online English teacher.  It’s basically the same job that I have, only now my kids are the students and we are learning Chinese.  We heard that there was a no-commitment free trial class that they could take.  We signed up, scheduled our trial class, and really enjoyed the experience.  The teacher totally put my daughter at ease, even though they had a complete language barrier.  Kayla, my daughter, speaks no Chinese, and the teacher spoke no English.  It’s amazing that despite the language barrier, communication flowed!  The teacher used actions, examples, facial expressions, and body language to convey the words and phrases.  It was amazing to watch.

So we signed up!  We decided that it was worth it for our family.  It amounts to about the same as a sports fee in our town, and we wanted our kids to be well-rounded and try sports, music, and language.  Here are some questions I’ve gotten recently about it.  I also answered these in the video above, if you prefer watching to reading.

Why did we choose to do language lessons?

We want our kids to learn a 2nd language. We all have heard of the benefits of being bilingual, but most of us don’t even tip toe into language learning until middle school.  By then, it’s overwhelming and stressful.  I wanted my kids to be comfortable with other languages.  I also watched some powerful Ted Talks about the subject.  I’ll link them below.  There is a lot of research that shows that kids who learn a second language benefit in many ways, positively affecting all of their studies and academics.

Why Chinese?

1. Friends who speak Chinese.

We live in a small town, where there is not much diversity of culture or language.  However, we happen to have several Chinese friends who are here either by adoption or immigration.  It provides a perfect chance to practice with a native speaker, building bonds of friendship.

2. Chinese club here in our city.

Despite our lack of diversity, we have a thriving Chinese club here in our small town.  They meet in the middle and high school, and take an annual trip to China!  I think it would be a fun benefit if my daughter is already exposed to the language, in case she’d ever want to join the club or annual trip.

3. I am learning Chinese, and it’s a family project.

My kids are stuck with a mom who is fascinated by languages.  I have always loved traveling, different cultures, and languages.  In recent years, I’ve become an English teacher to Chinese students, so I have a greater interest in this language.  With both of my girls and myself learning together, we can all benefit each other and learn from each other.  It’s becoming a normal part of our day to practice our new words and phrases with each other.

How did we choose Lingobus?

1. Great teachers, who are highly qualified.

It was important to me that the company have a good reputation.  It’s already a bit foreign, the whole concept of meeting in an online classroom with a teacher across the world, so I wanted to make sure it was reputable and trustworthy.  Lingobus has a high expectation of their teachers, and hundreds of good reviews from parents.  You can read some of their reviews on Facebook here. 

2. Easy to use website.

The website is easy to use and has great features to enhance learning.  Scheduling is simple.  You see a calendar with available times and schedule your class.  Then you can import the appointment directly into your google calendar.  It’s also easy to review a teacher, find materials, and cancel a class if necessary.

3. Included learning materials and resources.

This is not just a Chinese lesson.  There are pre-class materials, and review materials, assessments, and projects.  There are online flashcards, pre-class vocabulary videos, books to read in Chinese, homework assignments every few lessons, downloadable study guides and practice pages, and YouTube videos with extra content.  I’m impressed.  We love doing the pre-class videos especially because it gives my daughters the confidence they need before going into the lesson.  They really set the kids up for success.  It’s hard to fail!  And we’re realizing that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.  You can do JUST the classes and still learn a lot, but if you do some of the extras, it’ll be even more beneficial.

Our plan and schedule

We will take one class per week, usually on Mondays.  I schedule conveniently around my baby’s nap schedule so I can help my preschooler during the day.  Then my 9 year old does the class right before bed, after the little ones go to bed. We are finding a good rhythm for our family.  It’s important to think through those details, and make it a routine in your week, so that it does not add stress to the schedule.  I love that we don’t have to drive anywhere or have a teacher come to our house.  It is so convenient to meet online.

So wish us luck and we will keep you updated!  “Zai jian” and “sie sie” (Good bye and thank you) for reading!

If you’re ready to try a free demo lesson and start your Chinese learning journey, you can follow this link to get started!

-Laura from Minnesota, USA

Kids Club Spanish: Online Spanish classes for your kids!

I’ve always wanted my kids to learn a language and be comfortable speaking with people from different cultures.  I remember the shock of being in an immersion-style Spanish class in middle school.  My teacher didn’t speak a WORD of English, and I was super overwhelmed.  Since then, I have learned a lot of Spanish, and have dabbled in learning Chinese!

I wanted my daughter to have the chance to try a language.  So I researched online Spanish classes, and after a bit of looking around, decided on Kids Club Spanish!  Here’s a video with a bit of an introduction to the program, cost information, and some class footage!

 

We’ve taken about 10 classes so far, and love it.  My daughter has grown in confidence so much!  I feel like it is worth the investment.  They also recently added the feature that you can playback any previous classes, and re-learn what was taught!  Here’s how to do that:

 

If you’re interested, just check it out! Go to the website: http://www.kidsclubpanishschool.com  and use the referral code: 338-LARI-6727.   To use the code, write an email with the referral code to hola@kidsclubspanishschool.com when purchasing or leave the code in the description in your child’s profile.

Happy learning!

-Laura

#kidsclubspanishschool #onlineteaching #onlinelanguage #spanish #spanishclasses

 

Road Trips with Young Kids: You can DO IT!

Traveling with kids is the BEST. And, at the same time, traveling with kids is the WORST.  Every parent understands.  The meaning of vacation shifts as you become a parent. It doesn’t evoke feelings of calm, restful, carefree days.  The word I like to use is trip instead of vacation.  You are traveling to a new place with your kids, but it probably won’t be calm or relaxing. But you will make memories.  It WILL be worth it!

Here are my tried-and-true tips to help you actually enjoy your trip.  Maybe it will even feel a BIT like a vacation!

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This was our biggest road trip: Minnesota to Colorado with two little kids!

1. Pack one big bag, not small ones.

Walking into a hotel or camp with one big suitcase (preferably on wheels!) is so much easier than hauling six separate bags.  The fear is that it will get all mixed up with everyone’s things, dirty and clean, in one bag.  One way to avoid that is to bring a separate laundry bag (even just a big garbage bag), so that there will never be dirty laundry mixed in with clean clothes.

*One caveat: If your kids are old enough to carry their own bag, I would change this tip.  Let each kid who can carry their own bag have their own backpack of their things.  Then pack the rest of the family in one big suitcase.  I would start this at age four or five, depending on their endurance.  This teaches them responsibility, and saves you from carrying EVERYTHING!

2. Ziplocks and plastic bags

This is a MUST.  Bring ziplocks and plastic grocery bags for all the things that will be wet, leak, or be dirty.  Bring extras.  Throw the wet swimsuits in these bags to avoid getting all the other clean things wet.  Throw the leaking shampoo in one.  Throw the sand toys in one!  When a kid pukes, throw the nasty towel in there. You will need them, trust me!  This brings me to the next tip…

3. Plan for sickness.

Even if your kids are healthy, and good travelers, plan for the worst!  This, unfortunately, we learned the hard way.  Nothing is worse than a kid vomiting in the car, except for when a kids pukes in a car and you’re unprepared.  I always throw a small empty bucket, a rag or towel, and some extra clothes for each kid in the backseat.  A little prep work here can save you HOURS on the road.

4. Don’t stress if you forget! Buy it!

Yes, I know that finances are tight for everyone.  You don’t want to be running to Walmart on vacation if you don’t have to.  But there are very few things that are truly irreplaceable.  For me, the only truly irreplaceable things are my glasses and contacts and my baby’s one specific kind of formula that she likes from Costco.  Pretty much anything else that’s forgotten (toothbrushes, underwear, deodorant, charger, etc.) can be replaced if needed.  So don’t stress about it.  Focus on the irreplaceable things and relax.

 

Moms and Dads, what would you add to my list?

-Laura

#roadtrip #family memories #vacation #travel #travelwithkids