How Mandarin schools in China are coping with Covid-19
“A well-developed online learning platform is essential for Chinese language schools to maintain their profits during Covid-19”
The coronavirus pandemic has had a disastrous impact on the Chinese economy and Chinese people’s daily lives, writes Ivan Suchkov of That’s Mandarin. Here he discusses how Mandarin-language schools based in China are shifting online for classes.
A large number of enterprises and factories had to suspend production to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Fortunately, the situation has got a lot better now in China, and all the production lines (except for some industries like the educational sector) have fully resumed work.
However, thousands of private Chinese companies are now still on the verge of bankruptcy, as their businesses have been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How are Chinese language schools reducing their losses during the pandemic?
Whilst more and more businesses are shutting down across China, some companies are still looking for ways to survive. Striving to drag their businesses back from the brink of bankruptcy, many small and medium-sized companies resort to cutting back on hiring new employees and reducing expenditure. For instance, most Chinese language schools in China have stopped hiring new teachers as Chinese learning demand has been decreasing since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Switching to online Chinese tutoring: good or bad?
In response to the prevention and control of the coronavirus, language schools and training centres will remain closed until further notice, which means online tutoring is the only way left for students to continue their study. It also explains why a large number of Chinese learners have decided to quit – because they believe online tutoring is not as productive as attending offline classes.
“A large number of Chinese learners have decided to quit – because they believe online tutoring is not as productive as attending offline classes”
However, a couple of Chinese language schools like That’s Mandarin have managed to persuade their existing students to switch to online classes and at the same time attract potential students.
What is the best way to organise your online class during the Covid-19 outbreak?
A well-developed online learning platform is essential for Chinese language schools to maintain their profits during Covid-19. Considering the fact that students are deprived of the opportunities to see the blackboard and directly interact with their teachers during online classes, a meticulously designed online Chinese learning system should not only contain a list of words and phrases to be learnt for each class, but also dialogues and texts with grammatical structures provided for students to practice reading and speaking.
In addition, teachers should be given the opportunity to highlight the key information which they would like their students to pay extra attention to during the class. As for features designed to improve students’ overall learning efficiency, they should allow students to preview and review their lessons and provide plenty of exercises which will enable them to consolidate their knowledge of Chinese.
How important is user experience in online teaching?
Another crucial factor to make an online language learning system more competitive is to optimise user experience, which means students should be able to intuitively understand the platform and its functions without making any particular effort. However, student experience is not limited to online learning; it also covers some other important aspects such as course consultation and teaching quality.
Although some Chinese language schools offer a variety of course packages with rich learning content, their student experience didn’t reach a sufficiently high standard to establish a positive reputation.
What are the best ways for Chinese language schools to prevent their students from quitting their classes due to the pandemic?
As mentioned above, teaching quality also plays a tremendous role in keeping existing students from quitting. Generally speaking, good Chinese language schools only hire university graduates with prior teaching experience.
In addition, professional training and seminars are offered on a regular basis to further improve their teaching skills. However, it is also very important for a language teacher to have a strong ability to manage his or her interpersonal relationships.
“Quite a few Chinese language schools have started to offer online course packages at discounted prices”
As most people’s financial circumstances have been deeply affected by the spread of the coronavirus, quite a few Chinese language schools have started to offer online course packages at discounted prices. In fact, promotion has always been a relatively effective means to attract new clients for private companies in China, and Chinese language schools are no exception.
Chinese people believe that a “temporarily” disadvantageous deal is the prerequisite for developing long-term business relations.
About the author: Ivan Suchkov is a language specialist at That’s Mandarin. Founded in Beijing in 2005, That’s Mandarin today has campuses in three cities and has taught more than 30,000 students.