Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.

italki Review

Monday, May 20th

2024 Chinese Lesson Reviews

italki Review 4.5 Star Rating


4.5 Star Rating
  • Offers trial lessons starting at $7
  • Connects you to over 1,000 real Chinese tutors for one-on-one video calls
  • Provides both Professional Teachers and Community Tutors
  • Allows for filtering tutors based on region, including mainland China and Taiwan
  • Offers an option to find tutors who speak your native language
  • Enables you to keep track of your preferred tutors with a favoriting system
  • Offers a Language Challenge for quick language skill boost
  • Provides Group Classes for 2-6 students online, focusing on special topics
  • Offers a lesson time filter to accommodate your schedule
  • Has a strong 4.6-star rating on Trustpilot

The language learning at italki is a bit different from the other services in our review, many of which are gamified apps that you navigate solo. italki, on the other hand, connects you to real Chinese tutors who can meet your learning needs at any level via one-on-one video calls.

2 types of tutors

Many italki tutors also provide study plans for you to follow on your own between sessions. On italki, you'll find two types of tutors: Professional Teachers and Community Tutors. Professional Teachers have teaching certificates and offer organized lessons. Community Tutors are not certified, but the quality of their lessons often matches that of Professional Teachers. Community Tutors speak the language natively or at advanced levels and offer casual tutoring and chat practice.

Over 1,000 Chinese tutors available

When you browse italki, you'll find plenty of filters to help you find the perfect tutor - which is great, because they had over 1,000 tutors listed at the time of our visit. You can specify the type of lesson you want, from general skills such as conversation practice, grammar, to more specialized areas like business Chinese and even prep for the HSK test.

You can filter for tutors from Taiwan

If English isn't your first language, no worries. italki lets you find tutors who speak your native language too. There's also the option to select tutors based on their region, including mainland China and Taiwan. If you're learning Chinese with the goal to work or study in Taiwan, opting for a tutor from Taiwan can expose you to the unique aspects of Taiwanese Mandarin from the get-go, including its pronunciation nuances and cultural contexts. This kind of immersive learning experience is something you just can't find in the typical gamified language learning apps.

Best Chinese Lessons

Keep track of your favorites with hearts

While we wish italki had filters for ratings or how many lessons a tutor has completed, this information can still be found on each tutor's profile page. To keep track of your preferred tutors, simply click the heart on their profile to add them to your favorites. Each tutor's profile is packed with useful information, like rating scores, lesson and teaching style descriptions, credentials, and student feedback. In fact, many tutors even go the extra mile by introducing themselves through short videos.

Trial lessons starting at $7

italki is definitely a cost-effective option if you're looking to improve your Chinese, especially if you want to get better at speaking. The platform lets you try out lessons with different tutors at low prices to see if their teaching style works for you before committing to full-price lessons. These trial lessons usually cost between $7 and $15, which is a bargain - that's only a little more than you would pay to take your tutor out to coffee. The full price cost of lessons depends on which tutor you choose and what you want to learn. For example, a short 30-minute lesson for kids will have a different price than a long session focused on preparing for the HSK exam. italki shows the trial lesson price first when you're browsing - unfortunately, you'll need to take an extra step and click into the tutor's page to find out their regular prices for more lessons or packages.

Community Tutors are just as good as Professional Teachers

On italki, you can find Professional Teachers like Amelie, who has been teaching for over 10 years and offers a range of lesson packages, including a "Tailored Chinese Class" for all levels from A1 to C1, priced at $10.00+ with a 3% discount for packages. Amelie is known for her structured approach, covering everything from basic phonetics to practical conversation skills, and she boasts a perfect attendance record with 466 lessons given to 53 students. Then there's Kai Aoel, a Community Tutor with six years of experience, teaching students from around the globe. Despite not having a teaching certificate, Kai maintains a 5.0 rating across 2,325 lessons with 268 students - proving that you don't need to be certified to be an effective Chinese tutor. She offers "fun and relaxed" lessons that are customized to your goals, including a "Chinese for Specific Purposes" package starting at $19.50 for a 30 minute lesson.

Periodical Language Challenge offered

Join italki's Language Challenge to boost your language skills quickly. By signing up, you pick how many hours you want to study and start taking lessons. Depending on how many hours you achieve - from 12 to 24 - you can get different rewards like digital badges, certificates, and coupons for discounts on lessons. You can aim higher with your goals anytime, but you can't lower them. Don't worry if you don't meet your exact target; you'll get rewards for the closest goal you did achieve. Remember, trial lessons count towards your goal, but group classes don't.

Best Chinese Lessons

Group Classes available

With italki Group Classes, you can learn with 2-6 students online, focusing on special topics like a Fried Dumpling cooking class or Learning Chinese Characters Through Pictures. These classes are a great way to practice speaking and listening with others from around the world. If you're looking for something more regular, Group Courses offer a series of classes on a single topic or general language skills, meeting weekly. This gives you consistent practice, a well-planned course, and the chance to make friends with your teacher and classmates. Just make sure the course fits your schedule, you're ready with Zoom, and you check out the class materials before starting.

Fit lessons into your schedule easily

If you're juggling multiple commitments, italki's lesson time filter can help you narrow down the list to tutors whose Chinese lessons fit into your schedule. Filter tutor availability by general days of the week, specific times of day, or by specific dates using a calendar date picker. For spur-of-the-moment study sessions, you also have the option to see tutors for Instant Lessons or lessons Within the next 72 Hours. If you've picked a tutor and you're ready to schedule a lesson, you can select a lesson duration ranging from 30 to 90 minutes.

Convenient calendar tool

Using italki's calendar tool, you can then choose your preferred date and time. The tool highlights available times in green, booked times with gray stripes, and unavailable times are grayed out. If none of the available slots work for you, you can always reach out to the teacher and request a time outside their current schedule. Just bear in mind that if your chosen teacher is based in China, you might need to adjust your schedule to accommodate time differences, possibly waking up early or staying up late for lessons.

You'll need an appropriate place to study

italki is a more personal way to learn languages, but it's not for everyone. If you feel shy or nervous in one-on-one instructional settings, italki's Chinese tutoring might be a bit much for you. Also, you need a good internet connection and an appropriate place to learn, so it's not great if you're thinking about studying at noisy cafes or where talking is discouraged, like the library or on public transport. But, if you like making new friends and are eager to learn, italki could be perfect. It's really good for keeping you accountable and helping you build relationships with native speakers.

Best Chinese Lessons

italki tutors are committed to their work

Learners have shared glowing feedback about their experiences with italki tutors. One student said about Amelie, "She is so encouraging and enthusiastic, and it shines through in her engaging and fun-filled classes". Kai's teaching approach received praise too: "I think it's important to genuinely enjoy what you learn in order to progress and to also have a safe space to experiment and try out new vocabulary or grammar structures. Teacher Kai gives me this opportunity through what she has aptly named our "restful learning' sessions." The bottom line: italki tutors are committed to both their students and to the platform - many of these student reviews date back several years, so you don't need to worry about finding a tutor you love and then being left in the lurch. italki also has a strong 4.6-star rating on Trustpilot, with users saying great things about how easy it is to use the platform and find a good teacher, and how helpful italki's support team is.

We recommend them

italki gets our stamp of approval as an excellent way to improve your Chinese skills, especially if you're aiming to sound like a native speaker. If you're ready for one-on-one lessons tailored to your needs and enjoy connecting with your tutor, italki might just be the language learning platform you've been searching for. With a diverse selection of tutors, a supportive community, and positive feedback from fellow learners, we're confident that italki will help you progress in your language learning journey.

Where Can You Get the Best Chinese Lessons Online?

The motivations for learning Chinese are as diverse and compelling as the language itself. Perhaps you're fascinated by the rich history and culture of China, eager to read its classical poetry or modern literature in its original form. Maybe you're looking to expand your business skills and communicate directly with the vast Chinese market. Or, you might dream of traveling through China, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes, all while engaging with locals in their native tongue.

Learning Chinese, however, presents a unique set of challenges unlike those found in learning languages like Spanish or French. For one, there's the intricate system of Chinese characters, each carrying its own meaning and pronunciation, which can seem daunting at first glance. Then, there's the tonal nature of Mandarin Chinese, where the meaning of a word can change dramatically with the pitch of your voice.

The Best Chinese Lessons Compare Chinese Lessons Compare Chinese Lesson Reviews What are the best Chinese Lessons Best Chinese Lesson Reviews

Chinese Lesson FAQ

With China being the most populated country in the world, it will come as no surprise that an estimated 1.31 billion people speak Chinese - approximately 16% of everyone on the planet! And, that only includes those whose first or native language is Chinese, not those who are learning it as a second (or third!) language.
There are seven primary dialect groups in Chinese: Mandarin, Yue (or Cantonese), Min, Kejia, Gan, Xiang and Wu. Mandarin is the most widely used and is the dialect you'll most likely use if you travel to Taiwan, Singapore, or China, particularly in the northern regions. Most Chinese lessons are based on Mandarin.
Chinese is one of four languages ranked as a Category IV by the State Department's Foreign Service Institute: a designation that means that, for native English speakers, Chinese is "exceptionally difficult" (along with Arabic, Japanese, and Korean). However, if you're patient and hard-working, you can learn to speak and write in Chinese!
Many experts recommend focusing first on learning how to speak Chinese. The written language is extremely complex, because it's based on pictographs and not a phonetic alphabet, and most learners have a bigger need to communicate orally than in writing. Chinese is a tonal language, where shifting the "shape" of one's voice can change a syllable into a different word. (In Mandarin, for example, the syllable "ma" can mean everything from "mother" to "horse" and even "to scold" depending on the tone!) That can be very tricky for non-Asian learners to master, making it a great place to start.
There's no way to study Chinese that's more convenient than online lessons. You don't have to worry about making it to class on time, being able to register for a course, or turning in homework! Studying Chinese online is also much more affordable, and it lets you take things at your own pace.
Depending on whether you're using a Mac or PC (or an iPhone or Android), there are different steps you can take to enable a Chinese keyboard. Your best bet is to do a search based on the operating system you've got and follow the steps to turn on the Chinese language functionality.
No! You can choose classes with one-time fees for a complete course or a monthly subscription for continuous access, but both types of Chinese lessons are very affordable. For example, one popular program has a 12-month membership for just $16.66 per month, and another offers two levels of Chinese lessons for $249.90. You'll have a hard time finding an in-person class for less than that!
Sometimes. If you've subscribed to a monthly plan, you'll probably be able to cancel future recurring payments. If you've paid for a package of Chinese lessons, some platforms will allow you to request a refund within the first 30-60 days of use. However, your best option is to use any free lessons or resources that the language program offers prior to purchase: many sites have partial or full lessons you can try before you buy, or a 7-day trial you can use before your payments kick in. That's a great way to find out if the Chinese lessons you're considering are a good match for how you learn and what you want to get out of your studies.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

But don't let these hurdles deter you. With commitment and the right resources, you're on your way to fluency. Mastering Chinese opens up a universe of cultural, professional, and social opportunities, allowing you to connect with over a billion speakers worldwide.

Online Chinese lessons offer a variety of approaches to suit different learning preferences. For auditory learners, there are programs focused on immersive listening practices, helping you attune your ear to the nuances of the language. If you're game for a challenge, gamified learning platforms make acquiring new vocabulary and grammar points engaging, rewarding your progress with points and badges.

For those who prefer a more structured learning path, comprehensive courses provide a blend of video lessons, interactive quizzes, and writing exercises, ensuring you develop a well-rounded skill set, from character recognition and writing to speaking and listening.

And if personal interaction is what drives your learning, tutoring services connect you with native Chinese speakers for real-time conversation and cultural exchange, enriching your study with authentic experiences.

Feeling overwhelmed by the options? Here's what to consider as you begin your journey to learn Chinese:

  • Current fluency level. Assess whether you're starting from scratch or if you have some knowledge of Chinese. Choose lessons that align with your starting point.
  • Learning medium. Determine whether you prefer app-based lessons, audio files, desktop platforms, or another format that fits your lifestyle and learning habits.
  • Skill focus. Decide if you want to concentrate on listening and speaking, reading and writing, or a combination. Remember, Chinese characters are essential for reading and writing, and tone practice is critical for understanding and being understood.
  • Pinyin vs. characters. Consider if the app emphasizes learning through pinyin (the Romanization of Chinese sounds) or focuses more on teaching Chinese characters. Some learners may prefer starting with pinyin to master pronunciation before moving on to characters, while others might want to dive directly into character recognition and writing.
  • Cost. Evaluate whether the lessons are priced as a one-time payment or require a subscription. Consider the value of free options and the benefits of paid upgrades.
  • Learner reviews. Look for feedback from other learners. Their experiences can provide insight into the effectiveness of the platform and the time it may take to see progress.

To guide you to the best Chinese lessons for your goals and preferred learning style, our team at Top Consumer Reviews has tested today's leading options and provided honest feedback on what each one offers. So, what are you waiting for? Embark on your Chinese learning adventure today!

The Best Reviews of Chinese Lessons