It’s China Calling!

Whenever our land line rings in the house after 10:30 or 11:00 pm, I always shout, “It’s China calling” before answering the telephone.

Why would China be calling me? Because the girls are taking their Mandarin lessons from a school in Beijing!

The marvels of modern technology are spurring very interesting businesses. There is a school in Beijing called eChineseLearning. They offer one-on-one classes at a very affordable rate, the catch is, you use video over Skype to meet with your teacher.

So twice a week, the Zs park their pale butts in front of my MacBook Pro and answer a Skype call from Beijing for their Chinese lesson. The teacher has a whiteboard behind her for drawing characters, she interacts with Zoe and Zelda using props and games, and she also writes words in the Skype chat interface using both pinyin and characters.

I was skeptical at first, but it’s really almost exactly like one-on-one tutoring. A side benefit that we didn’t anticipate: because we are using Skype in our own home, there are no other time sinks associated with the lessons — no transportation to another location, no showering and getting dressed nicely, no straightening up for an in-house tutor…it’s great!

Lastly, I must wax enthusiastic about my FAVORITE online Chinese dictionary. They present clear, large characters (both simplified and traditional) that can be played over audio if you aren’t sure how to pronounce the word. There also are animated stroke-by-stroke videos for how to draw every character. Wow.

2 Responses to “It’s China Calling!”

  1. melissa s.

    so do you coordinate your dinner night out with chinese lesson night since they have to stay up late anyway?

  2. Michele

    I guess I could have been clearer! The girls actually take their lesson via skype in the morning. But if there are any administrative issues, or if I email a question, the school always seems to call me on my land line first thing in the a.m. in Beijing, which means it’s late here! Weird, I know!

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