I started formal Chinese study three months ago. Rather than finding a local private tutor or a group class in the Boston area, I used Baidu. After a bit of bumbling, I found an outstanding online only school called eChineseLearning. eChineseLearning ("ECL") has been around for more than ten years and has impressive scale. Currently, ECL employs 200 teachers working in either Wuhan or Xian. ECL teachers work with students one on one over Skype. Today eChineseLearning has approximately 2,000 students in 100 countries.
Once you sign up for a trial lesson you'll first take a brief language assessment. After learning Chinese mostly through osmosis rather than formal study over the last seven years; I was placed into an intermediate-advanced level class. My teacher and I decided to primarily study Chinese in a business context. My teacher's name is Lydia (韩琛). She is from Xian and lives there today with her husband who works in tech. She's been working at ECL for several years. From her perspective, ECL is a job with compelling benefits and reasonable remuneration. She gets to work entirely from home, doesn't have to spend time marketing/finding students and is compensated based on the number of classes she teaches (work more, earn more).
My favorite part about Lydia is her ability to teach at a level just slightly above my current level. In the beginning of class we'll often talk about our day and then she smoothly transitions to working through the textbook. It is very helpful to practice listening and speaking through Skype rather than in talking in person. Whenever I don't understand something, which is constant in our relationship, she can quickly explain it to me through text. Lydia is also patient with me when I'm struggling to think in Chinese after working a full day. She also encourages me to keep working at Chinese and reminds me frequently reminds that at my level progress is much slower and requires dedication.
After class, I add all the new words learned to my word list. From there, I use flash cards to review what I've learned. The best flashcard app that I've found is trainchinese and I try to use this app to study on days when I don't have class.
ECL's pricing is highly competitive. A one-year Chinese language class package costs $2,600 annually. This package allows me to take three one-hour Chinese lessons per week. Usually I space each lesson out with a day in-between to give me time to complete my homework. Learning Chinese, one on one with an excellent teacher for less than $20 per lesson is a very good deal. In person lessons in the Boston area will easily cost double that before transaction costs.
After three months, I am pleased to report that I've made some progress, though I have years of study still ahead!
(Study hard and make progress every day)