In 2012, some 40,000 Chinese immigrants came to Great Britain. They number between 300,000 and 500 000 currently living in England alone, from all walks of life.

These numbers bring us to the heart of this article: with almost half-a-million native Chinese with Mandarin or Cantonese as their first language living in Britain, there is no lack of competent teachers for this supposedly difficult language.

Whether it be for cultural or professional reasons, learning a second language is always beneficial: not only does it look good on your C.V., it also improves your cognitive capabilities.

Yet once you decide to find a Chinese teacher, several questions are sure to come up:

  • How many hours of lessons does it take to become fluent in Chinese?
  • How much does a Chinese language course cost?
  • How can I get the best value for my money?

Since we are almost all of us forced to act the part of homo-economicus, comparing the costs of services to their benefits, we feel impelled to do the same for language classes: what type of Chinese lessons cost the most and which are the easiest?

Generally, private tutor fees in Britain run between £ 25 to 30 per hour on average. There are gaps between the big cities and smaller towns and depending on the level of tuition (academic/university level is on average about £ 10 more expensive).

But what about Chinese classes on Superprof?

How Much Do Chinese Lessons Cost on Superprof?

There are currently 460 Chinese language tutors in the UK ready to give you private Mandarin lessons. They are a disparate lot with very different profiles:

  • Young
  • Old
  • With language diplomas (university-level or teacher’s certificate)
  • Chinese students studying in the UK
  • Native-speaking Chinese expatriots
  • Brits having lived in a Chinese-speaking country for several years.

Superprof: London fees for learning Chinese

What is the average price for the capital?

Superprof offers 41 tutors offering Chinese in London, and Mandarin lessons London, costing on average:

  • £21 per hour for home tutoring - but most add travelling expenses depending on how far they live from you
  • £19 per hour for online Chinese lessons via webcam.

Prices oscillate from the cheapest (around £ 12) to the most expensive (£ 50 an hour).

The most expensive Chinese teachers are usually the ones with the most experience, either having some form of teaching diploma, long years of experience either teaching or translating the Chinese language or who are fully bilingual.

The youngest are generally students - British students having studied in China or Chinese students studying in London.

Average Prices for Chinese lessons in the rest of England:

  • Birmingham: £ 23 per hour
  • Leeds: £ 10 per hour
  • Manchester: £ 15 per hour
  • Liverpool: £ 15 per hour
  • Bristol: £ 22 per hour

On average, they are almost £10 cheaper than in London, with only Birmingham and Bristol prices competing with the capital.

Prices for Mandarin teachers in Scotland

Prices in Scotland are generally lower than in the greater London area:

  • Edinburgh: £19 per hour
  • Glasgow: £ 18 per hour
  • Aberdeen: £ 40 per hour (1 tutor)
  • Dundee: £ 12 (1 tutor)

Most of those offering Chinese classes in Scotland are native speakers and base their fees on their teaching experience and command of English.

The Price of Chinese lessons in Wales

  • Cardiff: £ 20 per hour (1 tutor)
  • Swansea: £ 20 per hour (1 tutor)

But what does price say about quality? Every tutor has his or her own teaching method that might or might not work for you. And it is always possible to dish out a lot of money for a horrible teacher, just as you can get an excellent Chinese teacher cheap. It all depends on where they are teaching and why - someone trying to pay all their bills with freelance teaching will generally ask for more than someone simply trying to earn a little extra pocket-money.

Finally, Chinese lessons with a private tutor can be set up “à la carte”, letting you choose what aspects you want to cover more in-depth, such as:

  • Reading and writing Chinese
  • Writing Chinese characters
  • Mandarin pronunciation
  • Chinese courses focussing on conversation or writing skills
  • Beginner Mandarin lessons in English or advanced classes entirely in Mandarin
  • Tutoring for exams or school
  • Revisions for the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi), the TOEFL equivalent
  • Bilingual Chinese teachers for all levels
  • Classes from University professors or Confucius Institute teachers.

Do you want to learn Mandarin to work in China?

The Confucius Institute works with business schools as well as universities in offering special “Business Chinese” language courses.

Get a start on finding the perfect teacher for your Chinese learning needs...

Some language schools teach business Chinese
Learning business Chinese can be useful for advancing your career.
Photo by U.S. Department of State on Visual hunt

How Much Does a Chinese Language Course Cost in the UK?

Often, lessons from a language institute teaching courses on Chinese culture are less expensive than private tutors.

Some private language institutes and university-based language schools can afford to offer things such as monthly fees, stamp-card savings or special rates for afternoon vs. evening classes.

This often makes their hourly rate cheaper than a private Chinese teachers’.

You also know that your Mandarin or Cantonese teacher will have a certain amount of experience, maybe even be a native speaker with long years of teaching behind them.

  • The SOAS in London offers a variety of Chinese courses for prices ranging from £299 for a beginner Chinese course (20 hours, amounting to £14.95 per hour) to £ 678 for a 40-hour accelerated intermediate course (£16.95 per hour).
  • Practical Mandarin London offers beginner Chinese courses for £15 an hour and £18 an hour for HSK 5 - level Advanced lessons (each lesson is two hours).
  • The Hutong School in London prices its lessons at £55 per hour, with savings if you commit to more than 25 hours. A 6-month Skritter subscription is included.
  • The Confucius Institute in Glasgow offers 8-week courses for Mandarin Chinese lasting 2.5 hours each costing £130 pounds (textbooks included). This comes to £6.50 per hour.
  • At the Confucius Institute for Scotland at the University of Edinburgh you can take 10-week courses lasting 2 hours costs £130 - which also comes to £6.50 per hour.
  • Oxford University offers 20 two-hour Chinese lessons for £340 (£8.50 per hour) with follow-up courses for each level (10 classes for £185 - £9.25 per hour).
Chinese language schools are cheaper
Chinese language schools often have cheaper hourly rates that private Mandarin tutors.
Photo by Nick Kenrick. on / CC BY-NC-SA

As you can see, Mandarin courses in language centres often cost less than private tutors, who average about £ 25-30 per hour - though you can find some on Superprof who go as low as £8 (Leicestershire) or even £6 an hour (West Yorkshire).

Professors at a language institute are not less experienced - in fact, they are garanteed a certain amount of classes in a term and may be more used to teaching than some private tutors. They are often native speakers or else certified teachers with a university diploma or a teacher’s certificate.

So what’s the catch?

These are group classes: taking Chinese lessons in a group will have the advantage of putting you among like-minded students, but will generally mean you will not progress as fast as with a private Chinese teacher who acts as a sort of personal coach, adapting his lessons to your individual strengths and weaknesses.

With Superprof’s help, you will be able to choose for yourself what aspects you want to concentrate on - Chinese characters, Mandarin grammar, vocabulary, conversation - and might be more ready to ask questions than in a group situation.

Discover these tools to help you learn Chinese quickly...

How Can You Reduce the Price of Your Chinese Lessons?

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American writer and poet, once said: “Money often costs too much.”

How can you learn a foreign language if your budget is already completely tied up with necessities?
Is it possible to reduce the cost of a Chinese class?

A private Mandarin or Cantonese teacher tutoring you at home for 2 hours a week will cost you about £160 per month (with lessons in the middle range at £20 per lesson, 8 hours a month).

But there are ways to do it cheaper:

  • Contact a native speaking Chinese student or a student who is bilingual English-Chinese, or else someone without a diploma
  • Learn Chinese online - some sites and apps offer free online Mandarin courses
  • Lessons via Skype or other webcam applications cost less than live lessons
  • A lot of Chinese or Taiwanese students offer their services to Brits wanting to learn their language.
  • Since they haven’t graduated, probably aren’t studying language teaching methods and don’t teach through a language institute, they usually don’t ask as much for Chinese lessons.
  • However, they can still teach you to read Chinese and write Chinese characters, and are definitely your best choice for conversational Mandarin as it is really spoken - and are a goldmine for discovering Chinese culture.
Webcam Chinese classes save money.
Save on travel expense by taking online Chinese courses via Skype or other webcam options.
Photo by Internet Archive Book Images on Visual hunt / No known copyright restrictions

Thanks to web 2.0, all you need is a webcam and an Internet connection to find the cheapest available Superprof to teach you Chinese.

Maybe you think the best way to learn Chinese is online via webcam - no transportation costs, no fixed hours!

A must for cost-effective Chinese classes.

Expeience Chinese culture.
Try language immersion trips to consolidate your vocabulary.
Photo by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

A last option might be to take a language immersion trip to China - flying to China and taking Mandarin lessons there is sometimes cheaper than taking a Chinese course in Britain.

Cost of living and language classes will be cheaper than in the UK - and a trip to China will force you to really use your vocabulary and learn Chinese faster.

To prepare your trip to China, try out the EF and studyabroad and go off to study in China!

Discover also the best way to learn Chinese...

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Sonia is an Egyptologist turned writer and translator. She speaks 3 and a half languages, can translate hieroglyphs and enjoys yoga, singing, embroidery and travelling through all of time and space.