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Jon Long

Chinese Zero to Hero - HSK based video courses

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Jon Long

This is Jon Long from Chinese Zero to Hero, it's nice to meet you all! :)


At Chinese Zero to Hero, we provide integrated HSK-based video courses that follow the HSK Standard Course textbooks by Jiang Liping.

What makes Chinese Zero to Hero different

  • Standardized and structured. We follow the HSK curriculum from day one, so can take the HSK test when you complete a course for that HSK level. Unlike most HSK courses out there, our courses are not test prep courses but are fully integrated courses that can rival language schools, hence the name "Zero to Hero". The learning outcomes are measurable (HSK test score), and our courses integrate well with other HSK-based learning products.

  • Reading and writing characters from day 1. In our HSK 1 course, the first lesson requires that the student learns to write 你好 and 对不起. At the end of the lesson, we ask the student to create a greeting card with "你好" or "对不起". New learners can get used to characters quickly in a practical and enjoyable way, and it will save the learner much pain later on.

  • We use textbooks. Just like language schools, our courses make use of textbooks to provide content and structure. This frees us from having to worry about content planning – when to teach what – so we can focus on presentation and delivery. The textbook also comes with a workbook that provides a lot of written practice for the students. By delegating these functions to the textbook, we can make polished courses at highly affordable price. We chose the "HSK Standard Course" textbooks by Jiang Liping because they are HSK based, up-to-date, and organized to incrementally teach grammar and communicative functions, which aligns with our teaching philosophy.

  • Communicative and function-focused. Just like the HSK Standard Course textbooks, our lessons are focused on teaching students new grammar points to enable them to complete communicative functions. At the end of each lesson we provide pair activities and encourage students to use iTalki or HelloTalk to practice the language points they learned in the lesson with native speakers. In HSK 3 we demonstrate 40 pair activities with video, targeting specific grammar/functions and explicitly ask the students to find a language partner to complete the activities.

  • Engaging instructional design We use instruction design principles proposed by Robert M. Gagné, starting each lesson with a warm-up, stimulate recall and background knowledge, engage in a short objective discussion, present vocabulary and grammar, then finish off with guided practice. We use multimedia learning principles proposed by Richard E. Mayer to make the videos easy to follow. For example, according to Mayer's research, showing our faces in the videos do not significantly improve learning outcome, so our videos are mostly animated slideshows without showing the instructor. This allows the students to focus on the content taught, and allows us to use bigger text so they read well on small screens. The videos are interwoven with live-action sequences demonstrating how the language point is used in real life. This makes the videos more and fun to watch.

  • Affordable For each HSK level, our courses are divided into 2 halves: course A and course B, each costing $9. The cost of the textbook varies depending on where the student purchases them. We priced them low so that English speakers from less affluent countries can also afford them. We minimize the student's risk by allowing them to purchase each half-course individually, and offering a 30-day refund period.

Why we started Chinese Zero to Hero

Ken, Craig and I are based in Vancouver, Canada. We have a lot of friends who are learning Chinese, so I volunteered to teach them for free. I started tutoring back in 2014, and later on I organized students into classes, then dividing them into levels by HSK and follow the Standard Course textbooks.


However, most the my students are learning for pleasure only, they all have busy schedules and live across large distances, coming to my classes every week became a challenge. Online video courses seem to make more sense so they can take them at their own pace. But there was no structured online course that I can find that fits their level, so I decided to create my own. Ken (Chinese speaker) and Craig (HSK2 learner) also share the same passion, so together we started making the Chinese Zero to Hero courses in the winter of 2016.


We first finished the HSK 3 course in January 2017. We started with HSK 3 because most of our students were at that level. It also gives us a goal to aim for so we don't get stuck at HSK 1 with "你好" "谢谢" videos.


In order to fulfill the "Zero to Hero" promise, we finished producing the HSK 1 course on June 16, 2017, and HSK 2 on July 7, 2017. And we are aiming to finish all 6 HSK levels by the end of 2017.

Our qualifications

I'm responsible for most of the instructional design and delivery, but to be honest I'm not from a teaching background. I actually run a web designer agency which is my day job. But the passion to learn languages (I can speak 6 to varying degrees) and to teach others drove me to pursue this goal. I took the "Teach English Now" course on Coursera, which in my opinion is the best online course ever, and I drew a lot of inspiration from them. I'm also in the process of preparing to get the 国际汉语教师证书 (CTCSOL), that's when I came across the HSK Standard Course textbooks which are listed among their recommended textbooks.

Behind the scenes facts

Our courses are hosted on Teachable which handles all transactions, refunds, student management, and affiliate marketing. Our videos are created with Apple Keynote and edited with iMovie.


We're new to the forum here, and we hope to contribute by answering some of the grammar questions, and also seek help and guidance with regard to course content creation.

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Mo R.

Hello I'm Mohammed from Indonesia, English is my second language and Chinese is my third :)


I've been learning Chinese for the past couple of years, but I still struggle with some difficult points. I discovered them on YouTube and I'm very happy with the Chinese Zero To Hero courses, it helped me a lot with passing HSK 3. I'm now taking their HSK 4 course and it's even more detailed with so many video explanations. They also have pdf translation of the story texts from the textbook, with detail explanation of hard vocab,  it's a very big help for me. 


They have nice support, they answer my questions and help me with any problems. I recommended it to a few of my classmates, and they regularly watch their youtube videos... So I recommend to everyone who is learning Chinese and following the HSK curriculum. 


Their prices are very affordable too. I'm still a student, so money is tight for me. I've wasted so much money before on private tutors and other online courses, but this one is the most affordable and the best deal for me.


My plan is to move to China soon and hopefully pass HSK 5 in 2020! Wish me luck!!

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