Ideal Tutor

Speaking of Chinese, I’m still learning that thing. Last semester I made very little progress. I need to turn into a vocabulary acquisition machine. But how? Also, I’ve reached a dangerous level of fluency. It’s a level where I’m completely functional and conversational, and I don’t make many mistakes when I speak, but my Chinese is still by no means perfect. At this point it’s easy to be complacent and get slack in my studies, but I’m trying hard to rebel against that urge. I’ve decided to hire a Chinese student to tutor me (15rmb(US$2)/hour). My criteria were threefold:

  1. The tutor must be male. I’m tired of learning to speak like a girl. My Chinese is good enough now that personality comes through in my speech, and it doesn’t need to be some girly-boy personality.
  2. The tutor must be critical. I still make mistakes when I talk, but they’re mostly pretty minor. I’m not completely conscious of all of them, but I want them eliminated. It’s so easy to get praise, but so hard to get criticism where I need it.
  3. The tutor must be business-like, and must be a stranger. I want a business deal. Chinese students are all for huxiang xuexi (“you teach me English, I teach you Chinese”), but I really don’t want to spend my free time teaching more English. Plus, if I’m dissatisfied with a tutor and decide to discontinue, he’s only deprived of a small amount of income, not some rare, precious source of real English exposure.

John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. I know this is an old post and so don’t know if the info still applies or whether you will even see it.

    We were looking for a Chinese tutor for our two well behaved kids in a small city in Guangxi. We are paying 40 kuai per hour and was told 30 was the minimum, it just wasn’t worth the tutor’s time for less than that.

    We didn’t want the lowest price tutor, and this one, a primary school teacher on summer holidays came down from 50 kuai. We wonder if we are getting our monies worth.

    However, if you think of the same teacher in a small class, the total per hour would be higher [even after tax;>)]

    Do you have tutor now? What are you paying? (If you don’t mind me asking)

    Thanks, Wally

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