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Keats and LTL Language School Online


Larry Language Lover
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Larry Language Lover

Has anyone ever tried the Keats 1 on 1 online classes?  What is your opinion?   And what about LTL online 1 on 1 classes?  What was your experience?

Would anyone recommend one over the other option?   Or any other online options?

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I have not tried them, but honestly, what is the point?

 

I can see how language schools are great, if you are in an on-site class setting with other students: you make friends and company for extracurricular activities, you may get accomodation on site, there may be a great learning infrastructure (library, etc), etc...... but for 1:1 there are hundreds of independant qualified teachers on Italki and elsewhere. Why would they be less qualified?  You will almost certainly pay much less for them (no middle man, who collects money).

 

(I am saying this even though I would personally consider attending Keats or LTL once China re-opens for the reasons mentioned above)

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On 6/22/2022 at 7:39 PM, Jan Finster said:

(no middle man, who collects money)

 

Italki takes quite some fees

  1. shitty currency conversion when charging account
  2. extra fee for any payment method
  3. 15% (?) cut from lesson price
  4. shitty currency conversion when paying out to teacher

I hear from my teachers on there that their fees are still the lowest though compared to other platforms.

And you're right that it's probably the cheapest option and there are many good teachers (you may need to try a couple to find a good fit).

 

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On 6/22/2022 at 9:07 PM, jannesan said:

Italki takes quite some fees

 

That may all be true, but it nowhere near the 50% that companies keep. At one of the companies a 1:1 lesson costs 220 CNY (30$), most likely the teacher keeps 50%.

 

15% at Italki is fair IMO. This would be 3$ on a 18$ lesson or 2$ on a 12$ lesson. I am generally happy to give any person, who provides me with a new business opportunity or seminar gig, 15% of my fees. 

 

The problem for many teachers is competition. If you are really good, you can charge more and you are well booked. Other teachers may not be able to make much money.

 

Also, you can, of course, ask the teacher to Zoom with you privately outside of Italki. However, then you need to find a way to pay them. And if there is no good option, then the fees Italki keeps are probably legitimate.

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On 6/22/2022 at 9:36 PM, Jan Finster said:

15% at Italki is fair IMO.

 

I agree 15% is fair. What's not fair is all the hidden extra fees, which make it more like 20-25%.

 

On 6/22/2022 at 9:36 PM, Jan Finster said:

Also, you can, of course, ask the teacher to Zoom with you privately outside of Italki. However, then you need to find a way to pay them.

 

I'm doing this with one of my long-term teachers.  Payment is not a problem, there are some useful providers for this (I use an app called Azimo). What's more difficult (for the teacher) is to arrange times and keeping that in sync with Italki scheduling. We just do the same time every week.

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On 6/23/2022 at 3:36 AM, Jan Finster said:

At one of the companies a 1:1 lesson costs 220 CNY (30$), most likely the teacher keeps 50%.

 

It's worse than that, in fact.  If you look at the job adverts in Chinese, you'll see they get 50-60 yuan per hour to start off with.  For example, see this advert (archived) from That's Mandarin (思道睿 in Chinese):

 

Quote

Full time:

 

1.薪酬结构:底薪 五险一金 课时费 小班补助 季度奖金 节日福利 团队旅游

2.课时费:60-100元/时(按教学能力来划分课时费)

 

Part time:

 

1.课时费:50-100元/时(按教学能来划分课时费,且参与校内晋级考评,随晋级薪资不同幅度增长)

 

The teachers are under contract not to discuss their incredibly low salary with you.  When I went to That's Mandarin, they tried to pressure me into buying a stupidly expensive package.

 

1329910773.thumb.jpg.138bfa78398013e2f0abe6a7a2f8b2c8.jpg1739080818.thumb.jpg.a159d26ce0cab6e8a25cd755a3012f12.jpg

 

Basically, with these private schools, a chunk of your money goes to paying rent on an extremely expensive city-center office---if you're not using the office, why pay its rent?

 

My last school went bankrupt: I lost ~4000 yuan, and my teacher lost her job.  I tried helping her find another job, and despite having a masters and many years of experience, she was being offered 50 or 60 yuan per hour.

 

The schools like to maintain separate identities in English and Chinese.  For example, LTL has the Chinese names 北京邻语堂文化发展有限公司 and 乐特乐文化发展有限公司, and has this website in Chinese (notice how the Chinese identities don't mention "teaching")---this makes it harder for students to put in official complaints, and makes it harder for the Chinese authorities to be aware of their teaching activities.

 

I was a student at LTL in Beijing, and they had multiple sudden and mysterious closures (3 during the time I was there, for weeks or months at a time).  In one case, they told me the authorities were going to inspect an employee's visa conditions, and they suddenly cancelled my classes for 2 weeks (screenshot 1 2; my teacher did not do online classes).  I tried to explain that I'm in China legally, and I have no problem with talking with the authorities.  They still cancelled my classes, and told me that was their lawyer's advice.  They're clearly doing something they desperately don't want the Chinese authorities knowing about (and 北京市出入境管理局 in particular), to the point where they were willing to cancel my classes.

 

Now, if you're like me and you're paying top-dollar for a teacher, you have high expectations of quality.  At the same time, your teacher is getting paid a minuscule amount, so has extremely low expectations of quality.  You're going to have problems.

 

Nowadays, I'm getting into iTalki.  It's so much better than any private school I've had experience with.  I can avoid lock-in packages.  I'm trying out many teachers, and I don't have to go through a whole process to change teachers.  Honestly, I get the feeling no-one on iTalki can help me with the HSK6, but I get plenty of oral practice.

 

PS. You can search for job ads on websites such as http://zhaopin.jiaohanyu.com/.  They're also advertised on WeChat, if you search for 对外汉语老师 along with 招聘.  The last LTL ad I found was this, and the last Keats (昆明济慈汉语学校) ad I saw was this, but they don't provide salary details.

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I've never tried preply.com, but I've seen adds online. May be similar to italki, but this seems to be only for teaching and not language exchange, so possibly some of the more casual teachers are weeded out. May be worth a try.

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I use LTL's Flexi Classes and love them to be honest. You can juggle multiple languages which is cool so I had a play with Japanese and Korean too.

 

Best thing about it is you can download class content before the lesson has even began. I normally take an hour or two before to read the content and preprepare. Makes me feel much more at ease. You then receive an annotated PDF after the lesson and there are also audio files and other resources.

 

Very comprehensive in my opinion and the price is cheap, about 10 dollars a lesson.

 

Hugely impressed with it

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I've been looking at LTL but never want to commit the money up front when I'm not sure I'm going to like the instructor or instruction. I've had good luck with Preply in the past and would probably use that again if I ever have time for one-on-one tutoring again. 

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I've been using Italki quite a bit and in my opinion it provides a very broad variety of options, from casual conversation to structured lessons, at a reasonable price. 

I've had trial lessons with teachers that I didn't like, or whose teaching style didn't suit me, but never had really bad experiences. I also met very good teachers.

 

I had a few trial  LTL flexy classes lessons about an year ago and it was a very average experience. Teachers quality was very mixed and I had to reschedule more than once cause no one showed up. 

With that I don't mean to say that I wouldn't give them a second chance, however I felt I had to bring some balance since some of the posts on LTL online classes seem over-enthusiastic and frankly a bit suspicious. 

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I am pretty on the fence with LTL. A year to 6 months ago I did many Flexi classes, around 50. If I had my way, I would like to continue to include them in my study routine. But I had to make a choice between a teacher of my choice on Italki and LTL. I simply don't have time and money for both. Also, I want to go through the hsk book with my teacher, whereas they have their own material(though it overlaps).Here are some pros and cons in my opinion:

 

Pros

  • I really liked having other students in the class, takes the pressure off
  • I liked the flexible scheduling
  • The price is reasonable
  • The owner is a Chinese learner and engages with the students
  • Study with a variety of teachers and accents
  • very nice scheduling interface
  • good customer service

 

*There was one amazing, amazing teacher who used TPR. Her and students talking back and forth 50/50 in this very natural way. Best language teacher I have ever had in my life.

 

Cons

  • Some of the teachers I really didn't like, I mean their methodology mainly
  • Most of the teachers had you just reading the dialogs out loud, explain vocab - not very interesting or valuable for me
  • I felt so many lost opportunities where the teacher could have utilized pairwork discussions or role plays
  • If you like a particular teacher, you may not find them teaching the class you want
  • Some of the teachers speak too much English (I cannot tolerate any at all at Hsk 4+)
  • Too much pinyin
  • Some of the fellow students were too far below the level we were studying
On 6/29/2022 at 9:35 AM, matteo said:

it was a very average experience. Teachers quality was very mixed

This

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On 6/29/2022 at 11:40 PM, suMMit said:

 

*There was one amazing, amazing teacher who used TPR.

What is TPR in this context? I don't recognize that abbreviation. Thanks!

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My bad , TPR is the wrong term, I don't know where I got that from. I'm not sure what the term for her method is, let me give you an example:

 

She'd show a picture of a guy with a bird in a cage on a balcony. She'd ask what's going on. Student describes this guy is watering his plants, he's out on the balcony, the weather is nice,he has a bird. She says he's your neighbor. She asks what you think of the bird. She asks you if its noisy. Does that bother you? Why? Do you think a bird should be in a cage? why/why not? What are you going to do about this situation? She's say she's the neighbor, knock on my door and discuss the situation with me. 

 

Something like that. Very creative and fast, you're just constantly reacting to prompts and coming out with all this language.  The time would fly. Much better than "read this text out loud while I listen". 

 

Sometimes she would focus on a grammar point. For example, show you a picture of a woman cooking chicken and soup, and a shelf   of spices. She's get you to describe that. Is her chicken dish spicy? What about the soup?  连...? and get you to say something like 她 什么 都 放 辣 ,连 汤 都 是 辣的 。If you said it wrong she would simply say it again correctly and then on to another picture where you could use 连.

 

Basically it all revolved around using drawings to generate speaking.

 

She is really skilled.

 

 

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I like that approach a whole lot too. The teacher needs to feel confident and needs to trust you as her student. Yields huge dividends. It closely emulates "real life." 

 

Over they years I taught 3 or 4 youngsters English as a favor to their parents. That's the approach I tried to take with them. Our lessons often took place on the street or in a nearby store, instead of in my living room. It seemed to "open them up" and promote a feeling of language freedom. 

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On 6/30/2022 at 12:40 PM, suMMit said:

Some of the teachers speak too much English (I cannot tolerate any at all at Hsk 4+)

 

I used to be a purist, but now I can accept a certain amount of English (a sentence here and there is 九牛一毛).  Sometimes it's just faster to use English (e.g. 长颈鹿 = "giraffe"), and sometimes it's hard to explain grammar without linguistics jargon, and most of it is outside the HSK vocabulary.  Some absolutely critical points, such as how character components work, are easier to absorb in English; if they're explained in Chinese, the student comes back a few years later and asks: "why didn't you ever teach me this?"

 

On the other hand, sometimes it's harder to understand things explained in English.  I've been told a Chinese word means XYZ in English, but my teacher doesn't realize XYZ has 4 meanings in English.  They turned one problem into two problems.  And sometimes I feel like teachers just want to sneak in some English practice.  (On iTalki you can check out their English level and choose teachers with poor English.)

 

(Oh, and it seems TPRS is what you're describing.)

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On 6/28/2022 at 9:30 PM, PerpetualChange said:

when I'm not sure I'm going to like the instructor or instruction

 

Understand this. Flexi Classes is cool in the sense you can pick and choose teachers when there is a student already assigned to the class, but if you are the first to sign up it's a lottery on who you get and that isn't for everyone. Generally I don't mind any of them but I have favourites who I always prefer to have teaching me. That's natural for anyone I think.

 

I've noticed a marked improvement with LTL's resources though. I like the forum because you can see that the active community gives feedback (like the no pinyin as mentioned above) and they act on it. They teach up to HSK 5 now when I don't think they offered beyond HSK3 last year?

 

Everything has it's pro's and con's but I would side with LTL over an iTalki or Preply having tried all 3. The community sense LTL gives is nice and I like studying with the same students every so often, and the same said for teachers. 

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On 6/30/2022 at 5:40 AM, suMMit said:

*There was one amazing, amazing teacher who used TPR. Her and students talking back and forth 50/50 in this very natural way. Best language teacher I have ever had in my life.

 

Was this teacher Emma by any chance?!

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Emma, that's her. Brilliant teacher! Such a natural! 

 

I'm curious, what do you think of her teaching style? 

 

@becky82 For me, I don't want any English. Zero. No English at all. What happens when a Romanian or a Hungarian or a Korean student is learning English on italki with a native English speaker? Does that teacher suddenly bust out Hungarian to explain? I don't really want  grammar explanations. If it's a bit and in Chinese, that's OK. Mostly I just want to practice speaking, using the things I've learned lately. Something that gets me talking and a bit of correction. Grammar points I feel are easier just to read on my own for free. 

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