“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” - Albert Einstein
According to NOTCFL (National Office of Teaching Chinese as Foreign Language), there are 2,500 universities in the world offering Chinese as a foreign language. These universities can be found in hundreds of different countries.
Why not learn how to speak Chinese with an online language course?
MOOCs are distance courses offered by universities and available to everyone.
Learning Pinyin, Chinese characters, and how to speak Chinese is becoming increasingly accessible. Here’s our guide to learning how to speak Chinese with MOOCs, what they are, why you should enrol in one, where you can find them, and the benefits of learning with MOOCs.
What is a Chinese MOOC?
MOOCs appeared in recent years in order to share knowledge and make education more accessible to everyone. Nowadays, anyone with an internet connection can learn almost anything from anywhere in the world.
MOOC stands for “Massive Open Online Course”. However, it’s easier just to say MOOC.
So how does it work?
Universities and schools around the world offer one or several subjects. With marine biology, the origin of man, new technologies, management, business, foreign languages, etc., anything goes. The possibilities are endless when you learn any course through a MOOC.
The courses are open to enrolment for a few months before they start and then the students who’ve signed up can follow the courses on a weekly basis. The courses usually include texts and video materials.
Students will progress through the exercises and if they get the appropriate grades, they will get a certificate at the end. There are also forums available for the students and teachers to discuss the course and its content with one another.
The resources used are often free available educational resources and can be viewed by anyone on the course. This means you do not have to pay at all for certain MOOCs, and still be able to complete an entire MOOC course in the Chinese language.
Once the course is over, the resources will often remain archived. Some MOOCs allow users to continue accessing while others will close off access to the resources at the end of the course. In that case, you’ll have to wait until the next course.
Chinese MOOCs allow beginners to learn the basics of the language or more advanced users to deepen their understanding of it. The online courses are complemented by the presence of virtual teachers.
MOOCs vs University Mandarin Language Classes
Can MOOCs replace Mandarin language courses at the university level?
You may be at a crossroads now: should you take a Chinese MOOC or go for Mandarin language classes offered by your university? Well, both of these courses do have similarities and differences. Let’s weigh out the two and see which one stands out more, shall we?
Lessons taught in a MOOC for learning a foreign language and in any language course in Malaysia will often have similar topics and themes, and the same goes for when you want to learn Chinese. These include how to count and tell the time in Mandarin, useful phrases for daily conversations, and even down to the basics of Chinese strokes.
What is the difference between MOOC and university?
One major difference between MOOCs and university language courses is in their mode of teaching. When you take a university language class, your professor or foreign language teacher will be responsible for delivering the course content to you in the class. You will also have several opportunities to directly ask your teacher any question related to Chinese.
This is in contrast with a MOOC: you will have texts to read and videos to watch, but these are all pre-recorded. The course content to learn Mandarin Malaysia will be provided via the MOOC, but learners who have any questions will usually have to post them in a general forum. As such, your question may be missed if there are many students participating in the same MOOC.
The same goes for the way you will interact with your coursemates. You can meet your coursemates in person if you take a Chinese language course in Malaysia at the university level. You can build meaningful relationships with others who can be your social support while encouraging you to do well in your Mandarin language classes.
It is more difficult to get close to your coursemates when you go for online courses in any Chinese MOOC. MOOCs are not like Skype or Zoom where you can meet everyone virtually, in fact, your only chance for interpersonal communication is usually through forums or public threads in the course.
Will I perform better in Chinese with a MOOC or university language course?
Even if you learn Mandarin for beginners, all university language courses have fixed class schedules, so you will have to make sure you attend all your lessons. This may be tiring, but you will definitely complete the language course and easily commit your time to learn Chinese when you study with a teacher. But others find it more comfortable to learn a new language on their own.
That being said, a MOOC may be the right choice for you if you prefer studying alone. Self-taught learners will do just fine if they learn Chinese through a MOOC. You also won’t feel the pressure from your language teacher or others in your course since you can study at your own pace.
In the end, nothing can beat the convenience of MOOCs. Your Mandarin class online Malaysia is accessible anytime and anywhere, so with a Chinese MOOC, you can set your own study schedule to learn Chinese!
Do MOOC Certificates Matter?
How credible are MOOCs?
Learning Chinese with a MOOC can be really fun with its interactive quizzes and assignments. However, one may pause to wonder: do MOOC certificates matter? You may feel it will be a waste joining a MOOC since it is not a professional academic qualification like a bachelor's degree.
It may seem like fun and games at first, but did you notice that as you progressed through the lessons in the Chinese MOOC online courses, so did the level of difficulty? This should come as no surprise because MOOCs are not created by just anyone. In reality, MOOCs are created by academic professionals!
MOOCs came about sometime in the 2000s with the idea of providing a richer learning environment than what is found in traditional learning. Just like how it started at a university, MOOCs today are created and administered by professionals and practitioners across various academic fields. Coursera, for instance, works with China’s Peking University to offer a Chinese for Beginners course for those who want to learn Mandarin for beginners.
But a MOOC will not get you the same qualification as a university degree.
It definitely requires more than just online courses to gain a professional academic qualification. The duration of a MOOC can range from as short as one week to 16 weeks, and even then, the effort put into learning Chinese through a MOOC cannot compare to that of a university degree.
There are no formal consequences if learners taking a Chinese MOOC decide to stop the course at any time. Additionally, the learner will not earn a formally recognised degree upon completion of the course. This also means you are free to take your own breaks throughout the course duration.
However, joining a Chinese language course in Malaysia via MOOC is great for those who are not looking for a professional qualification, but rather because they are passionate about learning the language. If so, you don’t have to spend huge sums of money to learn Chinese.
Are all MOOCs free?
A lot of MOOCs are completely free whereas some only ask for a contribution if you want a copy of the certificate. That said, since the main goal of MOOCs is to share knowledge freely, many of them remain free. This is perfect if you are looking to save up on your education.
Some MOOC providers charge students for some of their courses. The courses on Udemy, for instance, can charge students as much as RM200 for one course. However, if you run into their sales, you can take an online class for as low as RM60.
Everyone can enrol in a Chinese MOOC regardless of previous learning experiences. Therefore, it is okay even if you choose not to pay for the MOOC certificate.
Why Choose a MOOC to Learn Mandarin Malaysia?
Are MOOCs really effective and why should you use them to learn?
MOOCs could replace Chinese lessons or at least complement them. Each student chooses how they want to learn a foreign language, after all.
Learning a Chinese language course in Malaysia comes with a lot of advantages for your language learning. You could get high-quality language courses for free and learn more about language and culture. This is particularly good if you live somewhere like Kuala Lumpur or Johor, for example, where the cost of living is already very high and you aren’t left with a lot of money at the end of the month to spend on classes.
Of course, a MOOC won’t replace a university degree, but it will be sufficient to get you through the basic language skills like vocabulary, grammar, and gaining proficiency in some conversational aspects of the spoken language before you sign up for a language school so that you can start at a higher level.
Learning Chinese online with MOOCs also allows you to benefit from quality teachers and their advice, unlike other online courses which provide the learning materials but not an actual teacher or any outside help.
For those who need planning and deadlines in order to progress, MOOCs will do the trick because you have to submit your work for grading each week and you don’t have the option of falling behind. That said, you can also download previous lessons if you’re late.
MOOCs are a great way to learn a variety of new skills or study fascinating topics without spending any money, so go for it! You’ve got nothing to lose!
Learn the Chinese language in Malaysia thanks to Superprof.
Where to Find a Chinese MOOC?
Have you decided that you want to enrol on a MOOC?
Which site should you opt for in order to start learning Mandarin Chinese?
There aren’t as many Chinese MOOCs as there are in other subjects but there are a number of good ones.
FutureLearn: Learn Chinese Courses
FutureLearn offers a series of Chinese courses to help you specialise your skills. Even if you do not have any experience in learning Mandarin, you can start with their introductory courses on Chinese conversation, grammar, pronunciation and tone.
You can be sure that you’ll get a quality learning experience because the courses are conducted by Shanghai International Studies University. When you visit the FutureLearn page, you can preview their online courses and find out the study duration for each course.
However, there is only a 7-day free trial. If you’re interested, you’ll have to make a purchase. Fortunately, their monthly subscription at USD39 (about RM165) will grant you continuous access, online assessments, and digital course certificates. You only need to pay while you’re learning since the subscription will automatically cancel once you’ve completed the course.
Looking for a certain Chinese word?
Here are some of the best Chinese dictionaries.
Coursera: Mandarin Chinese 1 - Chinese for Beginners
This course, as you may have guessed, is perfect for beginners who want to learn Mandarin. As this is a beginners’ course, no prerequisite is required so you can comfortably learn Mandarin for beginners.
By the end of the 5-week course, you should be familiar with 150 different words that you can use inside China. Lectures, short plays, interactive exercises and cultural tips are used to build fundamental oral skills for speaking Chinese in real-life situations.
You'll cover 20 linguistic topics and learn how to communicate in 5 real-life conversation situations. The course is brought to you by Shanghai Jiao Tong University and could be useful before you start studying for an exam like the Chinese A Level.
This is another great course for absolute beginners that lasts five weeks. During this time, you'll learn to use tones and Chinese pronunciation, understand Pinyin, recognise Chinese characters and phrases, and familiarise yourself with basic Chinese grammatical structures.
MandarinX offers online courses from Levels 1 to 3, so you can improve your level of Chinese proficiency as you progress through these courses. Other series in MandarinX, such as Mandarin Chinese Essentials and Mandarin Chinese Business, targets learners who want to learn the essential skills for communicating in Chinese as well as common Chinese business phrases.
While the course is free, you'll need to pay if you want your certificate at the end. That said, if you're going to keep studying Chinese to an intermediate level, like the HSK 1, it might be worth waiting before you open your wallet for proof that you did beginner language classes online.
Chinese MOOC: Is It Effective?
Learning online might be a scary thought for some students as you need to regularly study and follow the MOOC in order to advance. MOOCs aren’t just like any normal online class since you need to keep up with the classes and the course and teacher will ensure that.
While this may appeal to certain types of learners, it’s not for everyone and you need to adapt.
However, having a teaching team makes the courses more effective than just regular online tutorials. Don’t hesitate to ask others for help on the forums and participate in the course as much as you can.
The teaching approach favours working in groups. Students can support one another and help keep you motivated. This is why MOOCs are open to everyone. The teaching resources aren’t the only thing that’ll improve your learning.
Furthermore, you’ll belong to a rich and diverse community that helps its members progress. This will stop you from giving up as you make it into the second week of learning. Whether you’re planning a trip to China, considering moving there, or looking to study abroad, MOOCs could really help!
If you've decided that MOOCs aren't for you, why not consider private tutorials?
While these aren't free like MOOCs, they do offer a way to learn Mandarin Chinese that's well beyond anything else being offered. As the only student being taught in a class, you can focus on anything you want.
Those who are interested in learning their second language to travel can focus on Chinese culture and Chinese speaking classes to get them around mainland China. If you want to take your language study further, you could really dive into reading and writing in Chinese with an intensive focus on literature, for example.
The main benefit of learning the Mandarin language with private tutorials is that you're in charge. You can explain to your tutor the level of fluency you want to achieve and why you want to learn the language and they can put together a programme of language training that's completely tailored to you.
If there are no tutors living near you, don't forget that you can always opt for online private tutorials via video conferencing software such as Skype. These are often cheaper as the tutor doesn't have travel costs to cover.
Best Place to Learn Mandarin for Beginners
Are you still thinking about that private tutorial?
You don’t need to look high and low if you want the best place to learn the Chinese language in Malaysia. Effective learning is ensured when you learn with a Chinese tutor who is knowledgeable, experienced and passionate about teaching the language.
On Superprof, you can easily hit that “Chinese class near me” button to look for Chinese tutors from all over Malaysia. Look for a Chinese tutor in your area or opt for an online class if that is your preferred mode of learning.
How can you book a lesson with a Superprof tutor?
Once you have settled your decision on which Chinese tutor you would like to learn Chinese with, it’s time for you to book a lesson with your tutor. Sign up for a free account with Superprof so that you can set a time and date for your first lesson.
Did you know that Superprof tutors are teaching their first lessons for free? That’s right: you get a belanja discount from the moment you decide to pick up a new language. When you take Mandarin language classes with Superprof, you can also let your tutor know what you expect to learn from the Mandarin classes. That way, you can tailor the tutor to your needs.
The platform that connects tutors and students