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alantin

Hi @zhouhaochen,

 

When do you think you're going to have HSK5 lessons?

 

I took a look and it looked interesting, but I didn't create an account yet since I didn't quite understand what I would be billed and when. What are "winner 3 lessons" and are there trial lessons for trying it out before committing? This is especially interesting since there were only 1on1 lessons for HSK5 and they were quite a lot pricier..

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zhouhaochen

@alantin

Let me answer your questions:

1) We will go online with HSK 4 group classes on the 1st of March 2021. We will then assess how to proceed next. I think the next level will be HSK 4+, as we need two levels to get from HSK 4 to 5 because the jump is pretty big for additional vocabulary.

2) Winner 3 lessons are three hours of free group classes we give to winners of some of the contests we have on our social media and newsletters. You can sign up for the newsletter on the bottom of any LTL page and will get the information for each contest (we are having one for Chinese New Year right now), for example on https://flexiclasses.com/flexi-classes-work/

3) Absolutely yes you can sign up for a trial lesson before joining. You can click the banner of any of our pages to get there or directly sign up for a free trial class on

 

https://flexiclasses.com/free-trial/

 

4) Correct, HSK 5 are 1on1 classes. I am unsure if there is enough demand for HSK 5 group classes online, which is why it is not in the menu yet and it would take quite some time to develop as at that level things get quite complicated and also the differences in learners abilities become very big (some write really well, some speak really well, some can say anything that has something to do with their work but nothing about private life, others are great in Chinese that has to do with their family, but dont know business Mandarin etc.). So 1on1 is definitely the way to go.

 

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alantin

Hi @zhouhaochen! Thank you for your reply!

Maybe the One Hour Free Trial banner was just too large for me to see... 😂

I somehow managed to completely not see it!

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SunnySideUp

I tried out LTL's new HSK 4 flexi classes and wanted to provide some feedback.

 

A bit about me: I passed HSK 4 a while ago and am now probably halfway through HSK 5, but am also doing other, non-HSK stuff so it's bit hard to gauge. I thought it would be a good idea to get to know both the school and teachers as I have been eyeing LTL's classes and homestay options for a while now. Am just waiting for the pandemic to be over... fingers crossed!

 

Flickserve has already written up a very detailed review and I can second pretty much all of the points he's made. Here are a few more thoughts:

 

Selecting & booking classes
Setting up an account and selecting classes is super easy. Each class is also given a tag that shows what the focus of that particular class will be - vocab, practice, grammar, characters. Unfortunately, you can't search for that though... it might be a good idea to make it searchable for future levels - particularly when you want to cater to people who are technically the same HSK level, but might have different study needs (building vocab, learning grammar, improving speaking skills etc.) If the school were to decide to offer HSK5, it would be great to have classes focusing on conversational Chinese as well.

 

Each class comes with a pdf which you can (and should) download. The course doesn't seem to follow the HSK standard books - I think that's excellent. Rather than having a teacher simply plow through HSK material, LTL came up with their own curriculum.

 

Learning experience/timing
I selected three classes (practice, vocab, grammar) with two different teachers. I booked one quite short notice so I knew there would be at least one other student in the class (otherwise it would have been canceled by then) and two more classes ahead of time where I didn't know whether other students would join. I ended up being the only student in these two classes.

 

The first class had another student who took this as part of a regular course. The class before was also part of that course. They were running late and I was left in a zoom waiting room. When I was finally let in, they hadn't finished the previous class yet. Luckily the other student said we could start the next scheduled lesson... which we didn't end up finishing either. The teacher said we would finish "next time" but obviously I won't be there. I thought the point of flexi classes was that they are pretty much self-contained units. I guess with flexi classes it really is important to stick to the schedule.

 

To be fair, they do cover a lot in just one hour, with lots of 造句子and 改错 exercises as well as new vocabulary, fill in the blanks, grammar points and dialogue. I also really liked the "Fun Chinese" bit.

 

I was the only student in the other two classes. Everything was bang on time.

 

The content of the classes was good - even though I already knew HSK 4 vocab I still managed to learn a few new words here and there when we started talking. And it was great speaking practice!

 

After class
As mentioned I only had one class with another student. It was a bit unfortunate the teacher had to leave for another class right away which killed the zoom connection. Not her fault at all and it obviously doesn't detract from the class itself. It was just that we students had started talking and it would have been nice to talk for a few more minutes after class. This international community is also what could be another great marketing feature: getting to meet people all over the world in and after class who are as passionate about Chinese as you are.


A suggestion would be to leave that particular zoom room open or have another hangout where students can meet for a bit after class as you would in the real world. Again, doesn't take away from the lesson in any way... would just be a nice extra perk.

 

Pinyin
One downside for me was the use of pinyin throughout. It's fine if new vocab is introduced, but when reading text it's really distracting to me... HSK3 以上 should do away with pinyin IMO. But I understand everyone has their own preferences and to some students it might be tremendously helpful.

 

Would I recommend the classes?
Yes, definitely! The classes are well put together, it's fun and I really like the flexibility. It's great value - particularly, if you end up being the only student in class, but even with just another student it's a really good deal.

 

I would obviously like to see higher levels at some point that cater more to my level. I realize introducing higher levels is tricky, but there surely is a market for this. It would be great to have small group classes and discuss a short newspaper article/short story/video clip or the like that everyone in the group would prepare before class, so that there is more time for discussion.


I would suggest doing away with pinyin (at least for higher levels). The booking/class scheduling interface is excellent - would be great to make some of the categories searchable.

 

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zhouhaochen

@SunnySideUpthanks so much for taking the time to try out the Flexi classes and the detailed feedback. Its super useful. Some takeaways from me:

 

1) The class that started late and had the comment "we will do this next time": that really should not happen. This is from the "old" way how teachers are used to teach consecutive courses with fixed times, where students cannot cancel, change times or have any flexibility when booking classes. It does not in 99% of the classes anymore, however in this case it did. I will definitely bring it up again in next months teacher training

 

2) For being able to class mates and make connections: we are in the process of adding a "social" component where you will be able to send messages to your class mates, talk to them and share homework, studying tips etc. after the class. Its in the works, thanks again for confirming that this is useful.

 

3) For being able to filter classes by category (grammar, pronunciation, practice etc.): We have that, but its obviously too hard to find. We need to make this easier to find. Press "More" under Book a Class when searching for classes and de-select the categories you dont want to see classes for. Attached a screenshot for example only displaying grammar classes for HSK 3 for the 3rd of April

image.thumb.png.7ea343c39aaa7f862d4cae64f8b80dff.png

 

4) Yes Pinyin is always a difficult story. There are very strong arguments into both directions. Personally I wanted to only read characters once I got to around HSK 3, however I found it good practice to have the pinyin there because it forced me to get used to (and force myself) to look at characters even when there are letters. I started to accept characters as "my" way of reading and stopped always being distracted by letters that way. Once I had learned that in my study materials, I also could do it in real life and "blank out" the pinyin (often without tone marks in real life, which I really dont like). Everyone different there though, thats just my experience.

 

5) And yes, I agree Flexi Classes are incredible value at the moment. We sell group classes at group class prices, but effectively 80% of the group classes only have one student in them and we run them anyways. I dont expect that to change significantly definitely for this year and probably even after. Its an investment from our side.

 

Thanks so much for spending so much time writing this. Its super helpful. I spend all day and night thinking and working on Flexi Classes and to hear from real people, writing on Chinese Forums about real Flexi Classes makes me very happy.

 

 

 

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SunnySideUp

@zhouhaochen

I am glad my review was helpful. Apologies, just double checked - I completely missed the "more" button on mobile... so it's indeed possible to search what you want to focus on. Great! It's also nice to hear you'll add a virtual hangout of sorts. It's probably too early for you to say whether there will be higher levels that are more geared toward discussing articles, book chapters and the like... but I'm all ears if you do :)

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zhouhaochen

@SunnySideUp I am thinking if we should automatically open the "More" Filters, because I am afraid quite a few people miss it. Thats the problem with people studying online - at our schools I see students every day for lunch, after class etc. so if something doesnt work as it should, we will know pretty fast. With online people can do something for quite a long time and we will just now know. Thats why all feedback like this is super valuable for us. 

Regarding higher levels, we are currently expanding the levels and will introduce a HSK 3+ level in May, plus additional review topics, so there will be 50 more topics to study. We currently see our HSK 4 level is actually very popular so there is clearly demand for higher level students. This might be because most of our students are people who studied at an LTL school in China previously as outside of our past students not so many people know of Flexi Classes yet - and they tend to be at a higher level as they studied intensively in China previously. An HSK 4+ and then HSK 5 level are the logical steps and I plan to have both of them online this year.

 

We also just started to offer Taipei version topics where students can choose to either study simplified or traditional characters. Its currently available for the first 10 Intro topics, we want to finish the first HSK 1 level until May.

 

We will start teaching Shanghainese on Flexi Classes from the 1st of May too. So there is just loads of stuff going on at the moment. Maybe a "good" side effect of Covid: we have a highly qualified teaching team that unfortunately barely has any students to teach at the moment, so we have time to create a lot of materials.

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