Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
werewitt

My rather sad experience with eChineseLearning

Recommended Posts

werewitt

I am sharing this as a warning - obviously there's a bunch of my failed expectations in this, but at least you will know what you're getting into.


 


I've recently succumbed to their advertising - "Our focus is on you", The Economist testimonials - and subscribed to their "service". A day later I'be been assigned a "tutor" who was booked solid the next two weeks (let me remind you, this is a subscription service, you are charged flat rate per month whether you take your fixed number of lessons per week or no).  I asked them to cancel with full refund the very next day without using any of the "services", they refused.


The fee is rather high (about double of italki), its over $300  (USD) a month for up to 3 lessons a week, so around $30 per lesson if you take all of them. Paypal dispute led me only to getting locked out of their system until it was "resolved" by Paypal. Btw Paypal did not return a single penny, because "The item violates the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy. It's ineligible for PayPal Buyer Protection," whatever that means.


 


Lessons learned:


  1. Don't fall for advertising (duh), even if it comes from The Economist
  2. Trial lessons are always better than what you get after you pay.
  3. Never get into a subscription deal, only consider pay-per-lesson variants like they have on italki.com
  4. eChineseLearning.com is particularly bad because you're not in control of anything - you only get to select a time slot, and if your "tutor" is not available that day (which is common, unless you book like a month in advance) you get a random substitution.

I went to italki.com and it turned out to be awesome, I regret of not starting from it to begin with.


 


PS Their pushy salesmen dude michael_echineselearning (via Skype) at some point into the dispute tried to blackmail me into removing all comments or they won't refund any money, sheesh.


"basically, what we said [to Paypal] is that we will refund the payment as soon as you have cancelled all comments online about echineselearning, including but not limited to the ones on twitter and reddit."


 


PPS Given I lost the money and my access was reactivated, I gave their "teachers" a go - meh, simply going through a textbook exercise by exercise. The level - Italki "informal tutoring" is approximately the same if you don't have an answer key  :lol: 


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

LinZhenPu

Don't they have a cooling off period of 14 days in their contract? As soon as you found out your teacher was booked out for the next 2 weeks and you asked to cancel and refund, once they refused you should've pointed to that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

I don't see any 14-day cooling-off period. For subscriptions, their policy is:

 

"As a first-time student, if you purchase a subscription package that allows you to take a predetermined certain number of lessons per week and are not satisfied with our service, you can cancel your subscription within 1 month. Note that the one-month period starts from the date of your payment (not the date of your first class). You will only be charged for a non-promotional one-month fee and we will refund the rest of the money, if applicable."

 

Are they saying you can cancel if you're not happy, but they'll keep the first month's payment anyway?

 

Note that they say the agreement is governed by Hong Kong law, yet their Privacy Policy seems to make no attempt at all to conform to the detailed requirements of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. You can contact the Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner about this.

 

http://www.echineselearning.com/terms-of-service.html

 

http://www.echineselearning.com/privacy.html

 

https://www.pcpd.org.hk//english/resources_centre/publications/files/GN_picspps_e.pdf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
werewitt

>Are they saying you can cancel if you're not happy, but they'll keep the first month's payment anyway?


 

Yes, and Paypal refused to return my money too, under that incomprehensible reference to their "acceptable use policy". I'll see about the commissioner, simply out of spite  :nono

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
werewitt

Moreover, I was smart enough not to pay everything in one instalment - I paid monthly via a Paypal subscription, which I now cancelled. I imagine they would not return a single penny  :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
lechuan

@werewitt I use a similar site (TutorMing), which has flexible time slot sign up. It's similar in that you choose a time slot and they assign whichever teacher is available during the chosen time slot. Did eChineseLearning specifically say that you would have your own personal tutor?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
werewitt

@lechuan - why would you choose such classes, it sounds like the worst of both worlds, a fixed timeslot and no dedicated tutor?

 

Re eChineseLearning - their legalese doesn't mention this topic much, so I asked their sales dude and he confirmed I'd only get a substitute tutor in rare cases when I rebook at the last moment (the day before)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
werewitt

@889 Thanks a ton! After I mentioned HK Privacy Commissioner to that guy on Skype, he issued a refund within minutes.

 

I'll probably still see if complaining to the Commissioner is a major hassle and go through with it if it's not  :mrgreen:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
vera_zxl

@lechuan May I ask do you think which one is better, your own personal tutor or a random one?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LinZhenPu

@lechuan, how it works is that you're presented with a timetable with 50 minute slots. The blue slots you will be able to book a random substitute teacher and the green slots you will be able to book the teacher they have assigned to you. There are usually only a few green slots and a lot of blue slots, but sometimes there's hardly any slots at all and the only ones there are are blue slots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
werewitt

@linZhenPu and that's why eChineseLearning are totally crap. After all, there must be more qualified  Mandarin tutors among 1.3 billion people population than westerners wanting to pay for learning Mandarin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LinZhenPu

Yeah, well, all they have is a bachelors degree in any major from any Chinese university, a teaching certificate which is probably just 2 weeks (don't know if all their teachers even have this), and proficient (not proficient enough in many cases) English. You want to try to find a teacher with a degree majoring in teaching Chinese to speakers of other languages. Those are more few and far between, definitely less than the amount of westerners wanting to learn Chinese.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
realmayo

I think what makes italki so good is how easy it is to try a whole variety of teachers until you find one you like, and then stick with him or her long-term.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
werewitt

@linzhenpu yeah you are right, only a hundred million or two of those.  :mrgreen:  And they are rarely good enough in English to hold a convo. Besides, English is not even my mother tongue!

 

@realmayo - I totally agree with you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
lechuan

@werewitt Ah, I may not have explained it very well. Times slots are available 24/7. I sign up for one lesson at a time, depending on where I can fit it into my schedule.

 

@vera_zxl I can't really say as this is my first experience with a teacher. With the service I'm currently using you get to rate your teacher after each lesson, and if you really like the teacher you mention that in your rating, then they'll try and match you up with the ones you like more often. So far, I like having a variety of different teachers. That being said, if the random teachers were not very good quality, then I wouldn't be too happy with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LinZhenPu

linzhenpu yeah you are right, only a hundred million or two of those. :mrgreen: And they are rarely good enough in English to hold a convo. Besides, English is not even my mother tongue!

@realmayo - I totally agree with you.

I think the golden teacher for beginner to pre-advanced learners especially those who aren't going to do a large amount of self-study is someone who is native-level or close in your native language and has a Bachelor's degree from a Chinese university with a major in Mondern Standard Chinese language pedagogy, with experience in teaching/tutoring. If the major is not in this but they studied a Bachelor's in China, have an advanced level of Chinese proficiency, are a good teacher and they have that level of proficiency in their pupils' native language, then this is still quite ideal.

There were a couple of teachers like this I encountered at eChineseLearning, but there weren't many. Most wasted time by not being able to give good answers to my questions by an apparent lack of understanding about what I was trying to get an explanation about, but one I remember who was a substitute was very good and quick at this, but unfortunately I only had one lesson with her and I forgot her name.

A Master's degree in Chinese language pedagogy would be even better, icing on the cake. Now we are really narrowing down how many people in China and the rest of the world which is why I think it's worth it as a native speaker of English to go and pursue degree level qualifications taught in Chinese language medium and majoring in Chinese language pedagogy.

If you speak a more niche (ie. not English) language natively, for example Xuefang speaks Finnish, then it's even more worth it. Chinese is continuing to grow more and more popular around the world and those who can speak the native language of learners from specific countries will be in greater demand. For example, I've read on LTL Live the Language Chinese School's website that Chinese teachers who speak Russian or German are usually fully booked out and have to be booked well in advance.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
werewitt

>I think the golden teacher for beginner to pre-advanced learners especially those who aren't going to do a large amount of self-study 

 

I wouldn't know, I do lots of self study in everything.

 

>For example, I've read on LTL Live the Language Chinese School's website that Chinese teachers who speak Russian or German are usually fully booked out and have to be booked well in advance.

 

Well that's something interesting to do in a few years then :) I'm a native Russian speaker. Which is totally not "niche" but still.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LinZhenPu

But still, it's more niche than English is. You seem pretty fluent in English too, have good self-directed study skills and you are a native Russian speaker so if you embark on the journey of going to China to study to become a Chinese teacher you should do quite well for yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
zhouhaochen

@LinZhenPu and @werewitt

 

regarding teacher with a university degree in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language: I do agree with LinZhenPu, both because they studied what they work in, but also because these are people who decided early on that this is a career they want to get into. There is a big difference between someone who does something as a long-term full time career and someone working part-time for a limited time because there currently is no other better paying job around.

 

One note though, unfortunately the Chinese education system only offers degrees in "Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language" with English (I complain about this to every university official I meet - with not too much effect so far). If someone with that degree speaks a language other than English than they learned it somewhere else, so these people are very few and far in between.

 

One thing I wanted to say regarding the teacher bookings though: I never used eChineselearning and have no idea what their teachers and quality are like and from the the experience from Werewitt at least their business does not sound very good. However, I do want to make the case that for someone to be a professional teacher who invests into their own education, does this as a long-term career it is necessary to provide that person with stable guaranteed salary, somewhat predictable working hours, insurances, holidays, maternity leave etc.

 

That means that there usually have to be restrictions on cancellations, some kind of long term commitments by students and fixed study schedules for someone like this to be able to do their job. Very few people are long term willing to just get paid when a student has time to study, loose their income when a student cancels their class (rent has to be paid independently of whether your student cancelled class or not), there needs to be stable payments all year round (keep in mind that many of these things are seasonable) to support someone and extra income to pay for social insurances, holidays, sick leave etc.

 

So a professional quality teacher that is available when you want him/her to be, is cool with you not paying for classes you previously booked and they adjusted their schedule for and not requiring some kind of long-term financial commitment that allows them to pay their rent all year round (including Christmas, during Chinese New Year holidays etc.) is quite an unlikely thing. The people who do this (and for very little money) are usually part time teachers who do this for a little while before moving on to something else as very few people want to live like this long-term, especially not if you want to have a stable life and start a family (which is what many teachers want).

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
werewitt

So a professional quality teacher that is available when you want him/her to be, is cool with you not paying for classes you previously booked and they adjusted their schedule for and not requiring some kind of long-term financial commitment ... is quite an unlikely thing

 

This is probably correct. The requirements you described are ridiculous and everybody understands that. 

 

To clarify:

1. I wasn't (and still am not) looking for a "professional teacher", rather someone good at spotting and correcting my mistakes in speech.

2. The worst about eChineseLearning was that they both require a long-term committment and can not provide availability unless you book 2-3 weeks in advance. This, coupled with "no refunds" was what pisses me off about them

3. The "Not paying" thing - why would anyone do that, I do not understand  :D 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×