Chinese Classes Near Me: How to Find the Best Chinese Classes and Tutors

In the era of self-published webnovels and TikToks that teach you 10 different ways to say “Hello,” learning a language has become more accessible than ever before. The number of resources for the Chinese language in particular has exploded over the past few years, many of them accessible for free. However, self-study isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Creating your own curriculum can prove challenging, you have no one to ask questions to, and it’s hard to receive feedback when you’re on your own.

But! You don’t have to do this all alone. There are also a variety of different classes and tutoring services at your disposal. We at DigMandarin have developed this brief guide to provide an overview of your options, rating them based on accessibility, flexibility, cost, quality of curriculum, and quality of learning environment.

Whether you’re just setting off on your Chinese journey, coming back to your studies after a break, or simply looking to make a change, this guide is for you. Selecting the right kind of Chinese class will not only help you make progress more quickly, but it will also help you stick to a structured routine. If you’re in a learning environment that makes you feel more engaged, then studying will also feel like less of a chore. Are you feeling ready to take the next step? Let’s get into it.

Confucius Institute: The Best Classes for Chinese Language and Culture Immersion LearningLocal Chinese Schools: The Most Immersive Learning ExperienceLocal Private Chinese Tutors: The Highest Amount of Individual AttentionOnline Chinese Tutors and Classes: The Most Flexible Approach

Confucius Institute: The Best Classes for Chinese Language and Culture Immersion Learning

Named after the famous ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, this organization was established by the Chinese government to promote the Chinese language and culture overseas. You can expect their teachers to be extremely qualified, true experts in Chinese second language education. Its branches are usually connected to a university, meaning its courses are generally accessible for those living in major cities or university towns. Tuition costs can vary from location to location, but you can expect their offerings to be less expensive than credited university courses. Some of their classes can even be free.

Furthermore, because all branches are a part of the same organization, the curriculum and teaching style are rather uniform. The Confucius Institute is well known for its courses geared towards preparation for the HSK (汉语水平考试), the official Chinese language proficiency exam, and the BCT (Business Chinese Test). If you have professional or academic aspirations, then these courses can help you make major strides towards your goals. However, their curriculum extends far beyond that and includes courses in cultural arts such as calligraphy, painting, and Tai Chi. They offer many different enrichment opportunities spanning from on-campus activities to group outings and even overseas trips.

The Confucius institute is an excellent option for students who benefit from a well-structured approach. The traditional classroom setting can be pretty hit or miss. Some people find that it helps them remain focused, while others find it bores them. The established course content is very comprehensive, at the cost of flexibility. Even though the Confucius Institute offers classes for all levels, the standardized curriculum focuses on general fluency and may not help you learn about niche topics that interest you. There’s also a lack of schedule flexibility. The classes that you want to attend may not be held at a time that’s convenient for you.

Overall, the Confucius Institute is best suited to students who are interested in following a standard curriculum, live near a university, and enjoy a traditional classroom setting.

Accessibility: ★Flexibility: ☆Courses: ★★★★★Teacher Professionalism: ★★★★★Pricing: ★★Learning Atmosphere: ★★★★★

You can explore the list of Confucius Institutes worldwide to find one that is near your location.

Local Chinese Schools: The Most Immersive Learning Experience

As an alternative to universities, local Chinese schools may offer a similar quality of curriculum at a lower price point and in a more immersive learning environment. These schools are generally established by diaspora communities to provide cultural and linguistic education. Naturally, you’re more likely to find these schools in your area if you’re located in a region with a higher population of Chinese people, such as a major city or certain suburbs.

Many of these schools provide daily classes for children and offer classes for adults on a less frequent basis. So again, the schedule may or may not work for you. The true benefit of local schools is the level of immersion that they provide. Each school is its own community, and you’re going to connect with a lot of native speakers and other students to practice with.

In comparison with the Confucius Institute, you can expect a very standard curriculum that will focus more on general education than test preparation. The quality of the teaching methods may vary from school to school, but local Chinese schools also tend to hire teachers with strong qualifications and experience in teaching Chinese as a second language. If you have multiple Chinese schools in your area, you may have to visit more than one to find the right fit for you. To gain insights into the quality and reputation of schools in your area, consider checking review platforms such as Trustpilot, which feature reviews and ratings from past and current students.

You can also expect the cost to vary. In some regions, local Chinese schools may be less expensive than coursed with the Confucius Institute, while in other regions the opposite may be true. It’s generally worthwhile to compare your own school’s prices to those of the Confucius Institute to find the most cost-effective option.

Overall, local Chinese schools are best suited to students who are looking to connect with a community, have a flexible schedule, and may have a relatively limited budget.

Accessibility: ★★☆Flexibility: ★★Courses: ★★★Teacher Professionalism: ★★★★Pricing: ★★★Learning Atmosphere: ★★★★

Local Private Chinese Tutors: The Highest Amount of Individual Attention

There are many reasons why you may decide to go with private tutoring instead of a group class setting. You may not have access to any local schools or Confucius Institute branches. Perhaps you find that the traditional classroom setting doesn’t click with you. Or maybe your goals fall outside of a standard curriculum. Naturally, this option costs quite a bit more than group classes, but the benefits may well outweigh the costs for you.

First, let’s discuss the kinds of private tutors that may be available to you. They generally fall into two categories: teachers with training in Chinese second language education and native speakers who are offering their insight. Obviously, the level of professionalism and lesson curriculum have a high variability, which is why it’s essential to find a tutor who can meet your specific learning needs. Beyond that, you’ll find that those who have more teaching credentials will charge quite a bit more than those who are just starting out, so you should consider what kind of learning experience you’re looking for: do you want a fully fleshed out Chinese course, or are you just looking for conversation practice to complement your independent studies?

Fortunately, private tutors can offer the most specialized curriculum. When you’re in a one-on-one context, your tutor can prepare lessons that will both provide you with the foundation you need but also focus on topics and skills that are most relevant to you. You’ll also find that a private tutor will give you more specific feedback, so your fluency will increase at a much faster rate.

Why go to the trouble of finding someone local? Well, a local tutor can provide in-person sessions either at your home or in public, which can be more engaging and help you form a stronger personal connection. But beware, it’s important to choose a location where you can remain focused during your lessons. If you have kids running around your house or get distracted by the hustle and bustle of a café, it may be time to move somewhere else.

Given the fact that the quantity and quality of local tutors available change drastically from place to place, it’s important to do your due diligence. Many teachers who have their own websites will post testimonials from previous students, and some online platforms will rank tutors based on their credentials and reviews. If you’re meeting someone from a less regulated platform like Craigslist, for example, be sure to always meet the person in public before going somewhere private. Safety first!

Overall, local private tutors are most suited to students who are looking for a flexible curriculum and schedule and who have a little more budget to dedicate to their Chinese studies. If this sounds like you, but there aren’t any suitable tutors available in your specific area, stay tuned for the next section. We’ve got you covered!

Accessibility: ★★★Flexibility: ★★★★Courses: ★★☆Teacher Professionalism: ★★Pricing: ★★★★Learning Atmosphere: ★★☆

Online Chinese Tutors and Classes: The Most Flexible Approach

While the kinds of classes available can change depending on if you live in New York City or rural England, rest assured that you can still get the same kind of structure and support from purely online options. Being connected to the internet means being connected to the largest worldwide network of Chinese teachers, courses, and other learning resources. Online classes offer the highest level of flexibility, so they’re an excellent option for busy students, full-time workers, or parents.

Online classes with private tutor

First, let’s talk about private online tutors. There are a variety of services online that can connect you with qualified tutors around the world. iTalki and Preply are two such options that allow you to search through a catalogue of registered teachers to find one who suits your needs, including budget, schedule, learning goals, and preferred teaching style. However, it can take a long time and a lot of effort to figure out if someone is the right fit based on their online profile. If you’re willing to put in the work, these can be the most flexible and cost-effective options.

Accessibility: ★★★★★Flexibility: ★★★★★Courses: ★★★Teacher Professionalism: ★★Pricing: ★★★Learning Atmosphere: ★

One-on-one Chinese classes

Otherwise, there are exclusively Chinese-focused options like Touch Chinese, which can match you with tutors that they have personally vetted for quality of curriculum and teaching style. These services may cost a little more, but the quality of their lessons is guaranteed. You can have confidence that you’ll be working with an experienced teacher who knows how to help you achieve your goals. Because there is a smaller number of tutors available, the schedule may be somewhat limited compared to the vast catalogue available on freelance websites.

Accessibility: ★★★★★Flexibility: ★★★★Courses: ★★★★Teacher Professionalism: ★★★★Pricing: ★★★Learning Atmosphere: ★★★

Video Chinese classes

Then, let’s talk about online classes. There are asynchronous online classes, such as the ones we provide here at DigMandarin, which can provide a strong foundation in the Chinese language. These kinds of courses are extremely accessible because you can log in to them anytime, anywhere. Another advantage is that most asynchronous courses have a pay once, access forever structure. When you find that you have a little extra cash, it’s a worthwhile investment to pay for a course that you can choose to start at any time. You can also start a course, take a break for a while, and resume whenever you’re ready to get back on the horse. Online courses provide a structured curriculum that can help you work towards specific goals, such as HSK preparation or mastering pronunciation. A winning combination is using an asynchronous online course as a foundation paired with private tutoring sessions to address specific goals and practice speaking.

Accessibility: ★★★★★Flexibility: ★★★★★Courses: ★★★Teacher Professionalism: ★★★★Pricing: ★Learning Atmosphere: ★

Real-time online Chinese group classes

Beyond that, there are also real-time online Chinese group classes. Generally speaking, these will cost less than private sessions but follow a more general curriculum. Some learners prefer group classes because having a scheduled class every week keeps them accountable. However, just like with local Chinese schools and the Confucius Institute, you’re at the mercy of their schedule. For example, small group classes with the well-known online teacher ShuoShuo Chinese are extremely popular because of their excellent curriculum and friendly learning environment, but if you live outside of her time zone, it’s possible that her classes take place in the middle of the night for you.

Accessibility: ★★★Flexibility: ★★★★Courses: ★★★Teacher Professionalism: ★★★Pricing: ★Learning Atmosphere: ★★

Overall, online tutors and classes are best suited to students who live far away from major cities, are looking for a more personalized approach, or are looking to supplement other learning methods. The amount of online classes and tutors is so vast, it’s truly a build-your-own Chinese education model.

Where to go from here

There’s a lot of information to process here! Don’t worry, it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed. To help you find your footing and establish your next steps, here’s a simple exercise:

Grab a piece of paper (or your notes app on your phone) and write out a few points.


And from there, rank them from most important to least important based on your personal needs and priorities. Looking at this list should give you an idea of which options on this list will work best for you. For example, if being in an immersive environment is high on your list, but your schedule is flexible, then seeking out a local school is probably a good idea. If having your own custom curriculum is more important to you than cost, you may choose to go the private tutoring route.

This guide is merely a starting point, and while we can provide our own insights and experience, you are a unique individual with unique needs and goals. We can’t prescribe a one-size-fits-all learning plan, and in fact, we’d like to hear from you too. What are your experiences with previous Chinese classes and tutors? Did you love some and hate others? Let us know in the comments below.

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