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.
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