What Does a Chinese Language Tutor Do?

Lee Johnson

A Chinese language tutor teaches people who wish to learn how to speak Chinese. Tutors are basically one-on-one tutors, and most specialize in teaching a specific language spoken in China, such as Mandarin and Cantonese. Specifically, tutors tailor their lessons to suit the needs of the student they are teaching, meaning that students learning for a future vacation will have different lessons than somebody learning for business purposes. In addition, a Chinese language tutor can spend more time on a student's specific trouble areas. This differentiates them from ordinary teachers, who generally will have a set course of lessons to work through with all students.

Written Cantonese.
Written Cantonese.

In the most basic form, a Chinese language tutor is a one-on-one teacher of Mandarin or Cantonese Chinese. Tutors can be found who work face to face or over the internet, but all of them specifically help one student. Their basic job is to teach students to speak Chinese to the level they wish to learn it, and they can also help with written Chinese. The tutor works with the student to help them understand the language, and devises exercises and lessons to help the student come to grips with different aspects of the language.

The character xiao, which is translated as "filial piety".
The character xiao, which is translated as "filial piety".

Different types of students require a Chinese language tutor. Some students will only wish to learn the language to the level required to get through ordinary day-to-day conversations in Chinese. Others may require specific knowledge relating to business or a specific area of language. The levels of the students who request a Chinese language tutor also differ. Some students use a tutor to supplement their existing studies, while others require full attention from a beginner level.

The first job of a Chinese language tutor is to determine the type of attention required by each individual student. Tutors have to ask the student what is his or her purpose for learning the language, and assess existing knowledge of the language. This enables the instructor to only spend time working on topics and parts of speech the student is having difficulty with. If the student doesn’t know anything, the tutor is able to start from the beginning.

After determining the student’s level, the Chinese language tutor must begin to formulate and teach specific lessons. The tutor can create a general syllabus for the student, which takes his or her level and requirements into account. Lessons are then given to the student, on a one-on-one basis, usually to suit the student’s schedule. Chinese language tutors can participate in conversations in the chosen language, and teach the student new grammatical concepts and aspects of conversation as required.

Chinese language tutors may focus on writing characters.
Chinese language tutors may focus on writing characters.

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