About Culture Yard

Brought together by a passion for the Chinese language and culture, our team consists of native local educators and international China enthusiasts. We started teaching Chinese language and culture in a small traditional courtyard in Beijing, and now we teach online to students from all over the world.

Our Story

Culture Yard was founded in 2009 by Ilya. Ilya came to China to study Chinese but was disappointed by the options available to him for Chinese classes. Rather than sit by idly and wait, Ilya had an idea: start his own Chinese school! Ilya knew how he wanted to be taught, so he found himself a hutong courtyard in Beijing and built a team with the same vision and passion for Chinese. Culture Yard quickly made a name for itself with its communication-based classes and a focus on speaking Chinese for practical, daily communication. Culture Yard has grown immensely since its inception. From when the doors opened, we have seen the advent of WeChat, grown our staff to nearly 20 members, won several awards for our work in Chinese education, and are now ushering in the age of online education. All the while, we remain committed to offering the highest quality of Chinese classes and teaching students to speak Chinese like a local.

Our Teaching Philosophy

As Chinese language educators, we believe in the Three C’s: Communication, Culture, and Community

Our classes are based around the principle of using Chinese to communicate. The materials and approach we use are carefully selected and designed to help our students start speaking Chinese in their daily lives right away, both comfortably and confidently.

We also recognize that culture is intertwined with language. Our classes include lessons on how culture shapes life in China to help students understand and overcome culture shock and better understand the world around them.

Finally, we at Culture Yard are a community. Through our classes, students forge friendships with people from all over the world. Teachers, staff, and classmates come together via WeChat in our large school group as well as smaller class groups to practice Chinese, keep each other accountable for homework, share life advice, and offer encouragement.

Meet the Team

Eden

Manager / Co-Laoban

4 Years in China; Language fanatic & Harbin Veteran.

Favorite Saying: “差不多”

Ilya

Founder / Laoban

12 Years in China; E-bike & Jianbing enthusiast.

Favorite Saying: “慢慢来”

Cynthia

Program Coordinator/ “The Organisers”

5 years in China, Stray pup mama & amateur baker.

Favorite Saying: “一路平安”

Lisa

Office Admin / “The Fixer”

Lao Beijinger; Tea addict & fearless wanderer.

Favorite Saying: “心有多大,世界就有多大”

Shay

Program Coordinator / “The Organisers”

3 years in China; Salsa dancer & Xiaolong bao devotee

Favorite Saying: “我的天啊!”

Christina Graham

Marketing and Content Creation

20+ Years in China; Born expat & dumpling maker.

Favorite Saying: “脚踩西瓜皮,滑那里是那里”

Li Leqin (“Ayi”) 李乐青

“The Indispensable”

Lao Beijinger; Kung-pao Chicken devotee & beloved by all.

Favorite Saying: “注意安全“

Meet Our Amazing Teachers

Zhaoyan

Senior Teacher

Hainan Normal University graduate; Former Chinese teacher in Indonesia and coveted teacher.

Liu Lulu

Senior Teacher

Gengdan Institute of Beijing University of Technology graduate; Proud Beijinger and hilarious teacher

Hongyan

Senior Teacher

Tianjin Normal University; Chinese language textbook editor and a doting mother.

Xiajing

Head Teacher/ Director of Studies

Shandong Foreign Affairs Translation Institute graduate; Japanese linguist and extraordinary cook.

Hu Songlin

Senior Teacher

Beijing Union University graduate; Chinese knots and paper cutting expert.