What Does a Mandarin Tutor Do?

C. Mitchell

A Mandarin tutor is a language coach who helps students practice and refine their skills. Learning Mandarin Chinese involves reading, writing, speaking, and comprehending. Depending on the requirements of the student, the tutor will focus on all or some of these. Tutors can have a range of different focus areas, but all spend the majority of their time helping improve comprehension.

Mandarin Chinese.
Mandarin Chinese.

There are many reasons why someone might wish to learn Mandarin Chinese, and a tutor can usually help with any or all of them. Students in Chinese language classes, either in high school or at the university level, often look for extra help from tutors outside of class. Travelers may want to learn enough Mandarin to successfully navigate meetings, understand train schedules, or read restaurant menus. Chinese nationals who have immigrated, or foreign-born children of Chinese parents, may also wish to study under a Mandarin tutor as a means of reconnecting with their culture and heritage and perfecting their language skills.

An independent tutor may work with students in a public place like a coffee shop.
An independent tutor may work with students in a public place like a coffee shop.

The first thing a Mandarin tutor will do is assess the student’s needs. People looking for a Chinese refresher or hoping to hone already-developed skills usually need different services than people who have no prior experience with the language. Most tutors will come up with a unique study plan for each student.

Meetings can happen in a variety of places. An academic tutor who is affiliated with a school may keep an office on campus. This sort of tutor often provides study help and homework review alongside additional lessons. Educational tutors often work with a student’s primary teacher to procure additional exercises, drills, and practice material. The goal of this Mandarin tutor is to help students keep up with a class and master challenging concepts.

An independent private tutor is more likely to meet a student at his or her home, or somewhere in public, like a library or coffee shop. One-on-one teaching is usually best in an environment where the student is comfortable. As with any language study, the more often students practice, the more effective the learning will be. Mandarin tutors typically encourage regular sessions, often at least once a week, but are usually willing to set up whatever sort of schedule best fits the student’s budget and lifestyle.

In some cases, a Mandarin tutor can also be an online tutor. Online teaching guidance is not usually recommended for first-time Chinese language students, but can be very beneficial for people who are looking to build on past exposure. At first, students usually benefit from a private tutor who is physically present and can help make corrections and changes instantaneously.

Online Mandarin tutors are usually best equipped to provide speaking help. Video conferencing and instant chat are often good ways for students to practice their Chinese speaking skills. Reading can sometimes also be done online, but it is often much harder for tutors to make corrections and help students grasp stroke differences from a distance.

Mandarin tutors might work with students on writing skills.
Mandarin tutors might work with students on writing skills.

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