Learning Chinese online with a teacher and classmates has many advantages – you can do it from anywhere, rewatch class recordings and meet students from all over the world.
But simply showing up is sometimes not enough. You would also want to get the most out of your online classes. To do this, it is important to have good tech and stable internet, have your materials printed in advance and have a quiet place for learning.
Keep reading for our top tips to get the most out of your live online Chinese classes.
1) Great Internet Connection is A Must
The first thing you must do when you are taking classes online is to have good tech to go with them. Most importantly, you need a stable internet connection. Invest in a good internet provider if you can. Then find a place in your house where the internet signal is strong and make sure that the internet connection is good during the hours you usually have your classes.
If the Wi-Fi at your place does not always work well and upgrading is not a possibility, consider turning on a hotspot on your phone or finding a regular quiet location outside your home, such as the office, a library or another quiet and comfortable public space. Avoid busy cafes where you will be easily distracted and disturbed.
2) Get Good Headphones and a Big Screen for your Zoom Classes
While sometimes having class on a smartphone is the only option, you will get much more out of your online class if you join it on a big desktop screen.
Using Zoom on a smartphone limits you to only seeing one thing at a time on the screen: either the class whiteboard and PPT, the teacher, or (some of) your classmates.
Instead of focusing on the class, this setup will leave you busy swiping back and forth on your phone screen. On a big desktop screen, you will be able to see the class material as well as your teacher and classmates on a single screen and it will help you feel much more engaged in the class.
In addition, having big, comfortable headphones is a great addition to any online class. Not only you will hear the teacher better, you will also be less distracted by outside disturbances.
3) Print or Buy the Class materials and Get a Notebook
Most online Chinese classes will follow a textbook or other class materials of some kind.
Having these printed out or having a hard copy of the book will not only allow you to follow the class without switching between screens but also to take notes, circle important things and read out loud during class and group exercises.
Having a small physical notebook and colorful pens on hand for taking notes will help too. Taking notes by hand is good for forming long-term memory and for writing your own explanations that you can look back at later.
If you want to avoid using paper, get an extra tablet and have the class materials ready on the tablet screen during class.
4) Watch Class Recordings
It happens: you will not always be focused during class, and you will not remember everything taught in class afterwards. That is where watching class recordings after class comes in handy!
Most online Chinese schools will record your classes for you (we at Culture Yard record all group classes). If classes are not recorded for you, record the classes yourself.
In addition, watching the recording of the previous class not long before the next class is a great way to review and keep the old material fresh in your mind before you engage with new content.
- Not sure if online Chinese classes are for you? Learn more about the pros and cons of learning Chinese online here.
5) Have Water (and Coffee) On Hand
I highly recommend having a big glass of water handy for your live online Chinese class. Taking a sip of water during class will help you stay hydrated and focused and will avoid you having to leave the class in the middle to get water.
If you are a coffee person like me, also have a cup of coffee or other favorite beverage on hand.
6) Set Up Practice Sessions with Your Classmates
If you are taking online Chinese classes with other classmates, it is a great opportunity to find practice partners.
Message your favorite classmate(s) privately and set a time for a “practice date” for additional speaking practice.
If you do this regularly, you will notice your fluency will skyrocket as both you and your partner will be learning from each other (and therefore progressing faster than the rest of your class).
- Can't decide whether to study Chinese in a group or 1on1? Find out the benefits of private Chinese vs group Chinese classes here.
7) Keep Your Camera On
Having your camera on during your online Chinese class will make you more self-aware and keep you from getting distracted during class. It will also help make the class more engaging for other students and the teacher.
8) “Dress For Success”
In the same way you as you would not go to school in your pajamas, I recommend not doing it in online classes either.
Getting dressed for class will help you be mentally prepared to take the class seriously and be more focused. As an added bonus, you will enjoy seeing yourself on screen much more when rewatching class recordings.
Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself and see what a difference being dressed up for class makes.
9) Keep Your Mic on Unless You Have Background Noise
Keeping your mic on during class will increase your class interaction.
When the teacher asks a question, you will be quicker to give an answer and generally more available for interacting with your classmates and teacher.
However, if you have a small child or any other “source of noise” in the house, keep your mic off until you are called on. Having noisy distractions during class will disturb the teacher, your classmates and the class flow.
Studying Chinese online can be a rewarding experience if you are well-prepared. While having a good internet connection and the right tech setup are a must for a smooth online learning experience, there are many other small things that can contribute to more effective online learning.
Getting dressed up for class, preparing water and finding a quiet spot for learning will keep you more focused. Watching class recordings and doing extra practice with your online classmates will strengthen your grasp of the new material. Having a notebook on hand during class will also allow you to take notes that you can look at after class.
We hope this article has provided some useful advice for you to get the most out of your online Chinese classes and that you are now ready to ace your online Chinese studies!
- Ready to learn Chinese? Read more about our Chinese classes via Zoom or sign up for a Chinese course!
Post contributed by Ilya