COVID-19 has caused schools to shut across the world, resulting in over 1.2 billion children globally being out of the classroom. Education has been altered drastically, and with the dramatic rise of e-learning, some of the changes brought by coronavirus might be here to stay. eChineseLearning, the world’s largest online Chinese school providing 1-to-1 lessons, is witnessing the changes and experiencing a sharp rise in the number of online learners.
Emily Zhao, a Chinese American living in New York City, has two children aged 8 and 13 who each week used to go to a local Chinese school far from their home. “It was a long drive to and from school and very time-consuming,” says Zhao, who was not satisfied with the teaching quality and experience of the school’s teachers.
As the coronavirus started spreading in New York City, the school closed and Zhao started looking for online Mandarin lessons for her children. She states that, “The decision to switch from a classroom setting to online Chinese lessons was a no-brainer.” As of now, her children have been taking Chinese lessons online with eChineseLearning for 2 weeks, with great results.
Zhao isn’t the only parent that found herself in this situation. In fact, many parents of Chinese descent have switched to online lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure consistency in their children’s education. Zhao says that, despite their initial hesitation, many of her Chinese American friends have joined her in having kids take lessons online.
Of course, school children aren’t the only ones whose education has been affected by COVID-19. The pandemic is also fast transforming the way adult learners are learning Mandarin. In fact, according to data collected from online Chinese schools including eChineseLearning, the monthly number of newly-enrolled students, including both children and adults, has increased by an average of 122% during the pandemic.
While this spike in online education is unprecedented, learning Chinese online is certainly nothing new. Many Chinese learners have opted for online classes over offline ones since as early as 2005, with the introduction and application of VoIP technology.
Caroline Ars, a passionate Chinese learner from Montreal, Canada, had been studying Mandarin Chinese years ago at a local Chinese school starting in high school. However, 10 years ago she switched to online Chinese classes and never looked back, so she has a head start on the transition period that many around her are just now going through.
“Everyone around me is suddenly turning to online education due to COVID-19, and it’s been an adjustment for a lot of people. As for me, I always saw it as the future of learning, and so I was prepared for what’s happening now – COVID-19 hasn’t impacted my Chinese learning at all since I was already learning online via video chat with a teacher from China,” Ars says.
Phil Tory, an expat living in Guangzhou, China, speaks highly of online Chinese classes. “Of course, online learning is perfect during the pandemic, but to be honest I prefer it even in normal times. You don’t need to leave the house, you can study at whatever hour of the day suits you, you can easily change the lesson time if something comes up, and you can try a few different teachers,” says Tory, who has been studying Mandarin at eChineseLearning since August, 2019.
With all of online Chinese learning’s obvious advantages, it’s likely that more and more people will continue to favor it over more traditional offline methods.
“Learning online means you can take lessons from anywhere, no matter whether you are at home, on the go, or travelling abroad,” says Jennifer Zhu, an experienced teacher from eChineseLearning.com. “We’ve seen a huge uptick in students joining us in recent months. Why? Because their face-to-face lessons at local schools have been cancelled during the pandemic, or because they themselves do not want to take the risk of exposure to the virus even if their schools are open. But with an online school, you get no interruption at all.”
“I would 100% recommend learning Chinese online. You can do it from anywhere in the world at any time of day. Technology has developed to the point that I never have any problem hearing my teachers, or any real technical difficulties at all. I learn just as well from professional teachers as I would in person, and I don’t even have to leave my home!” Tory says.