Learning Chinese is FUN with Lingobus!


My daughters are really enjoying their online Lingobus Chinese classes.  I have been sitting with them lately, to help them with the lessons.  When I sit with them, I’ve been noticing how FUN and INTERACTIVE these lessons are!  Researchers say that it takes 400 repetitions of a new skill for it to be learned, unless it is learned through play!  Then, it only takes 20 repetitions!  Wow, what a difference!  I can tell that Lingobus is using this strategy to teach Chinese.  My kids are picking it up so quickly, and I think the fact that they are learning through fun activities is speeding up their progress.

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The lessons are very interactive.  In the video above you can see:

  • Drag and drop activities like sorting items by color.
  • Sorting activities to learn “boy” and “girl.”
  • Audio clips to make sure they pronounce the word perfectly
  • Filters on teachers faces that make her look like a cat

And those are just a few examples. Every lesson has slides that the student has to actually move or manipulate the material.  As a side note, parents may need to help younger students learn how to use the mouse or trackpad to accomplish this!

Since our kids love screen time and computer games, Lingobus is using that to their advantage.  It can feel like you’re playing a video game sometimes, rather than just sitting in a tutoring session.

My girls love the lessons and truly have fun during them.  I think they were a bit intimidated at first about learning Chinese, because it’s known to be a complicated language that is so different than English.  But the interactive nature of the lessons has really helped to give them confidence and engage them in learning the language!

Stay tuned for our next Lingobus video and blog!



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 https://www.lingobus.com/?referralCode=PAR49P

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


Our Lingobus videos and blogs:

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


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!




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


Is being a pastor’s wife like… a job?

I was recently asked this question by a friend who is not a church attender. She was wondering what my role is as the pastor’s wife. In her experience, watching the church from afar, pastor’s wives didn’t work and were part of the church staff.  She assumed that pastors and their wives were hired as a couple, a “two for one” employment.

At first, I laughed it off and said something like, “Is ‘electrician’s wife’ or ‘banker’s wife’ a job?”  But we know the answer is more complicated than that.

I have been married to a pastor for 12 years and met hundreds of pastor’s wives. The answer is complicated because there is no mold for being a pastor’s wife. There’s no job description. Each woman defines her own role. There is a big variation.

Some women are “called by God.” This is a phrase used to explain a deep sense of purpose or focus. We believe that God calls women and men. Some women are pastors, whether or not their husbands are in the ministry. Some women marry pastors and “take on” the calling of their husbands. These women often are on staff at the church, sometimes are even paid separately than their husbands. Sometimes they preach. Sometimes they have credentials. Sometimes they are “co-pastors.”

On the other end of the spectrum, there are pastor’s wives that are uninvolved in the ministry of their husbands. Perhaps they have their own calling to something else. Perhaps their focus is their family and kids. Perhaps they work an unrelated job. They may not have any responsibility at the church. They may volunteer as a typical church go-er.

Whatever the case, it should not be assumed that if a woman is married to a pastor, they are a “package deal.” I would advise women who are considering marrying a man called into ministry to have open and honest conversations about what their relationship and ministry roles would look like. If you are a part of a church congregation that is getting a new ministry family, please do not assume that the new pastor’s wife will fill the same role as the previous one.

To the pastor’s wives who read this, I want to encourage you! You do not have to fit a mold. You do not have to have a prescribed set of skills. You do not have to be a perfect Christian. You just have to be YOU. And you have to be honest about your role and your expectations with both your husband and your church community.

All the best!


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!


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!



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





My 9 year old made breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

She also made a wildflower bouquet for the table!  

Summer is here, and with that comes hours of free time for my kiddos!  One way I have tried to beat the boredom, is expecting my kids to cook WITH me for most meals.  I hate the entitled attitude of kids just waiting for dinner to just appear on the table.  So to fight that, I have included my kids in the cooking.  It teaches patience, hard work, and appreciation.  Well, that’s the goal at least!

So yesterday, I thought about challenging Kayla, my 9 year old, to cook all three meals.  I assured her that I’d help her, and that we’d cook things she liked.  And she was actually really excited about it!

So here’s what we did, followed by some lessons I learned from the experience. 

BREAKFAST: French Toast

We love breakfast food. French toast is one of our favorites.  She was excited about making and serving it to us.  She mixed the almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs with a whisk.  I taught her how to get the skillet hot, but not too hot.  I showed her how to melt some butter carefully.  And she did very well with dipping the bread, setting it on the hot skillet, flipping it, and serving it with syrup!  Well done!

LUNCH: Pizza roll-ups

For lunch, we made simple pizza roll ups. Notethat these are not the packaged “pizza rolls” that you pop in the oven and it’s done.  It’s a little more involved.  For this recipe, she did all the work:

  • Preheat oven
  • Open crescent roll package
  • Unroll crescents, lay pepperonis and cheese stick on it.
  • Roll up and lay on baking sheet
  • Melt butter, brush on crescents
  • Sprinkle with oregano, garlic powder, and parsley flakes.
  • Bake, and serve with pizza sauce for dipping

She had fun assembling these. They are a lunch favorite in our house, so she was proud of making something that everyone enjoys!

DINNER: Lasagna

Yes, I know, we picked a pretty involved dish for dinner.  But we wanted to do something that she really enjoyed eating.  She did all the measuring, mixing the cheese mixture, and layering the meal, noodles, and cheese.  She involved her sister and friend, and they all took turns putting a layer of the lasagna into the dish.  The only thing she really needed help with was putting it into the over, because it was really heavy.

Things I learned from this experience:
-I have to let go of fear.  Ovens and stoves are hot.  Knives are sharp.  There is always a possibility that she will hurt herself.  It’s a risk we HAVE to take, or no learning will happen!

-I have to let go of perfection.  I’m really not a perfectionist, but I do have my own ways of doing things.  When you let someone else cook in your kitchen, things will be different than normal, and that’s okay!

-I have to let go of cleanliness… for a short while. My kitchen was a disaster.  We couldn’t keep up with all the dishes, they were everywhere.  But I kept telling myself that it was worth it.

-I have to let go of my own preferences.  I probably would not have chosen these meals, especially all in one day.  They are all pretty unhealthy and heavy.  But again, the pros outweighed the cons, and I let her choose.

Happy cooking!


VIPKID and online teaching: hobby, side hustle, or full time job?

I have been an online teacher for a year and a half now, and it started for me on a whim, as a hobby.  I loved the new challenge, the variety of students and lessons, and the new format.  As I got more students, and a reliable schedule full of regular kids, I realized that this was becoming a solid side hustle for me.  I was still teaching full time, and just adding a few more classes in the mornings.  Then, I made the brave jump and decided to make this my sole income source.  I opened up my schedule and it filled.  I was never full time (my max was about 5 hours per day, not 7 or 8), but it was matching my full-time income at the daycare that I had worked at previously.

Along with the jump to focusing solely on VIPKID, came a mindset shift for me.  I became much more invested in the company, and the lifestyle of a VIPKID teacher. I began following YouTubers and Instagrammers, and started my own channel and profile.  I helped more teachers get hired.  I watched workshops and got every certification that I could possibly get.  I added Gogokid to diversify.  I was fully immersed in this online teacher life.

Now, I’m 1.5 years into this, and it is the first week of summer here in Minnesota.  My kids are home from school, our schedule is changing. I’ve decided to back off of my teaching schedule and slow my involvement in the online community.  I need to focus on my family more for the summer.  And that is the beauty of this job: it can be whatever you need it to be.  Thanks to my husband’s seasonal income, I can make my job more of a side hustle hobby rather than a solid source of family income.

So my plan for the summer is to get up early and teach, but less hours, before my kids wake up.  Then, when they get up, I’ll close my laptop, and choose to disengage from the online community for a few months.  I’ll be less active on social media, I’ll do less workshops, I’ll refer less teachers.  However, it will be there when I am ready to return in the fall.  There is no shortage of students in China needing a teacher!

I’m so grateful for this job that can be “what I need it to be” in this season. I’m so grateful for flexibility.  And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be with my kids, at home, focusing on them in their childhood years.  I know I’ll never get this time back.

Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear in the comments where you land on the continuum of online teachers.  Is it a hobby or a full time job or somewhere in between for YOU?



Hello! My name is Laura and I teach online for VIPKID and Gogokid, teaching English to Chinese students!


I make videos here to connect with other teachers and applicants.

GOGOKID referral code: X73CTGPA

VIPKID referral link

VIPKID referral code: 05IOD5

Email: laura.risdall@gmail.com Instagram: vipkidteachermom

VIPKID/Parenting Blog: http://www.laurarisdall.wordpress.com

Feedback Panda Referral: https://www.feedbackpanda.com/?_teacher_ref=1k0QBN

Lingobus Referral: https://www.lingobus.com/?referralCode=PAR49P

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