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Preply Review

Monday, May 20th

2024 Chinese Lesson Reviews

Preply Review 2 Star Rating


2 Star Rating
  • Affordable pricing with lessons ranging from $1 to $40
  • Over 2,500 Chinese tutors, including native speakers
  • Easy-to-use website
  • Tailored search results for specific language needs and schedules
  • Comprehensive tutor profiles with bios, credentials, and videos
  • Trial lessons available in 25- or 50-minute lengths
  • Specialized learning options for business Chinese, children, and HSK preparation

Preply is an online learning platform that was founded in 2012 with the mission to connect students and tutors from around the world for language learning, including Chinese. It works by allowing you to choose a tutor who meets your learning goals and schedule.

Over 2,000 Chinese language tutors

For Chinese language learners, Preply offers over 2,000 tutors who are native speakers or have high proficiency in the language. You can select a tutor based on their experience, teaching style, and reviews from other students. Once you find a tutor you like, you can book lessons at times that suit you, using Preply's online classroom for video sessions, chat, and to share learning materials.

Search results tailored to your needs

When you sign up for Preply, you specify the language you wish to learn, your proficiency level, and if you're seeking a specific culture or accent, such as Hong Kong or Taiwan, in addition to China. You can also opt for only native Chinese speakers. Next, you indicate your availability for lessons and your budget per lesson, which can range from $1 to $40.

Over 2,500 Chinese tutors

When we filtered for native Chinese tutors born in China, we found 2,194 results. Simply filtering for Chinese speakers resulted in 2,537 tutors. You can also filter for specialties such as business Chinese, Chinese for children, Cantonese, Chinese literature, and HSK preparation. We appreciated the option to sort by Preply's top picks, popularity, price, number of reviews, and best rating. These features were absent in Preply's closest competitor. Also, we found Preply's interface to be much cleaner compared to its biggest rival on our list. However, Preply doesn't appear to have a way to filter only for tutors who have certifications. Instead, they have something called a "super tutor" designation, which they give to teachers who are highly rated and "experienced" .

Best Chinese Lessons

Tutor profiles are comprehensive

Similar to its competitor, you can click on profiles to view bios, credentials, and introductory videos. A useful feature is that hovering over a profile brings up the video, so you don't need to click into the profile to watch it. This can help you get an understanding of the teacher's personality and accent, which could be beneficial if you're seeking lessons for your child or have difficulty understanding non-native speakers. Tutor profiles also show you how many lessons have been booked in the last 48 hours, how many students have contacted the tutor in the same time period, and how long it usually takes for the tutor to respond to messages.

Trial lessons are 25 or 50 minutes long

Hetty H., for example, is Preply's most popular Chinese tutor. She has a Certificate in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (CTCSOL) and students describe her as attentive, cheerful, and patient. If you wanted to book a trial lesson with her, you'd click the pink "Book Trial Lesson" button, then choose between a 25-minute "Get to Know the Tutor, Discuss Your Goals and Learning Plan" session or a 50-minute "Get Everything That's in a 25 Min Lesson Plus Start Learning" session. You'd then go to the calendar tool and pick your date and time. Remember that a lot of the tutors on this website live in China, so you may need to adjust your schedule to be available for late-night or early morning sessions. Any dates or times that the tutor isn't available just won't show up on the calendar. A 25-minute session with Hetty costs $14, and a 50-minute session costs $28.

Preply underpays their tutors

Preply has some astonishing low per hour rates for their tutors, starting at $3 for a 50 minute lesson. While that's a great deal for learners, we can't help but disapprove of Preply for not making sure their tutors are paid fairly. For reference, $3 is not even minimum wage in China - $3 USD is about 21 Chinese Yuan, and as of the time of this review, Shanghai's (already too low) minimum wage was 26.4 Yuan ($3.70 an hour). To make things worse, your chosen tutor won't get paid at all for a trial lesson with you. For the first lesson with a new student, the entire amount is claimed by Preply. After this, a commission is charged on each lesson taught by the tutor. This commission starts at 33% of the tutor's earnings per lesson and can decrease to as low as 18% the more lessons the tutor teaches. Preply's main competitor in our review, however, lets tutors keep the trial fee and never charges more than a 15% commission fee.

Best Chinese Lessons

Lessons are not booked individually

Preply has an unusual approach to booking lessons. Unlike other platforms where you can book individual lessons, with Preply you sign up for a subscription. After your trial lesson, you choose how many hours of lessons you want (between 1 and 5) with your chosen tutor each week and pay for the first 28 days upfront. This subscription automatically renews every 28 days until you cancel it. You can schedule or reschedule your lessons anytime, and view all your lesson details on the "My lessons" page. You're never locked in, and can cancel your subscription anytime you want. If you haven't used any of your credits and it's been less than 28 days since you paid, you may even get a refund. Importantly, your tutor gets paid after each lesson, once it's confirmed that the lesson took place.

Subscription model may cost you

We took a look at what Preply's customers had to say about their experiences with the platform, and it doesn't look good. While a decent amount of users had positive experiences, we found a number of complaints that the subscription model is being leveraged by Preply to steal customers' money on a technicality. In one case, a customer's tutor was unavailable for two weeks, which prevented the customer from using his credits before they expired for the month. When he approached customer service about the issue, they denied his request for a refund because he had already used a portion of his credits that month. That meant he had to sign up for lessons with tutors he had not previously learned with just to get some value out of the money he spent. In another concerning review, the customer alleged that Preply is allowing scammers to pose as tutors on their site. Apparently, these "tutors" accept a student's booking of their lessons, but then reschedule the date so that it never takes place, resulting in the customer again losing out on their credits.

Big disappointment

Generally, we're fans of one-on-one tutoring for Chinese language lessons. We think it's really beneficial to be able to ask a tutor your questions directly and that this format makes it easier to stay accountable and focused. Unfortunately, we don't think Preply is the best place to sign up for Chinese language tutoring. Between their greedy commission fees, a shady subscription model, and reports from customers that they allow scammers on their platform, we think you're much safer with Preply's one-on-one tutoring competitor in our review.

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

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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!

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