My Review of Chinese Online Learning Platforms: Koala Know (MUST READ)

Over the past year, I have researched and discovered many different Chinese learning platforms. In the post Covid 19 world, these online forms of education have really sprouted everywhere, putting A list Chinese teachers at your doorstep! The benefit of these platforms goes beyond convenience – it is their ability to tailor to specific needs, something you wouldn’t normally find in a classroom. Like many of us, I decided to buy lesson packages from two established online platforms to support my child’s Chinese home-based learning. One is Lingobus which I have extensively written about previously (click here ). The other is Koala Know. Lahlahbanana actually wrote a very comprehensive overview on the structure and philosophy of Koalaknow, so you can read about these in detail (click here ).

For my family, Lingobus is by far the better of the two because of the reasons I outlined (click here ). However, if you are curious as to why KoalaKnow didn’t work out for us, this blogpost will explain the issues that I encountered. Keep in mind though that I am an international school teacher who can speak, read and write Chinese, so my standards, expectations and goals could be different from yours! Again, my point around tailoring.

First off… Kai’s Chinese-learning profile

When Kai first started with KoalaKnow, he was 4.5 years old. He spoke Mandarin well, but not well enough to be considered native-like proficiency. He reads and recognises many characters beyond his grade level so I was looking for a platform that could “tailor” to his speaking and conversational skills.


If you take a look at my son’s curriculum, there is really nothing wrong with the starting point of our lessons, which was learning about the basic characters 水,山,雨,风,火,土,十,人,田。。。

However, what I found challenging was that for a child that couldn’t read or understand the character 水 (for instance), introducing a phrase such as 水中捞月 a 4-character idiomatic expression, was beyond what he could comprehend. In my opinion, if a child was ready to learn a 四字成语,starting with the character 水 would be too easy …. perhaps?

Here is problem area from another lesson, where 大 and 小 were introduced. This was fine as 大 and 小 is one of the first characters a child would learn when studying Chinese. Each character has only 3 strokes, and the meaning of 大 and 小 are easy to grasp. However, in the “一起说 ” section of the lesson, the phrase, 大惊小怪,was introduced, and then the teacher went on to explain the meaning by reading this passage out. Kai, thankfully, can grasp the gist of the story, but I am wondering wondered about children who arent able to read 大 and 小. Would they be able to comprehend the meaning behind 大惊小怪 with a relatively challenging passage like this?

(For each lesson, I encountered the same issue with the curriculum so I actually have many more examples!)

Later in the 一起探索 section, I also found some of the choices of the 词语 to be problematic. With a simple character 大 and 小, the platform chose to introduce 小气 (stingy) and 小看 (underestimate) which are quite “abstract” for a 4-5 year old.

If I had to redesign this lesson, I would keep it simple! Show some animations of 大 and 小 objects, and have the children use the adjectives in context!

This apple is big! > 这个苹果很大!

This apple is small > 这个苹果很小。

This apple is bigger than that apple>



The teachers were, no doubt, knowledgeable and well-trained. They all have beautiful accents, and were very familiar with each part of the lesson. They all display a KoalaKnow poster in the back, wear earpieces and a uniform, and look very professional. But I would say they were TOO well trained, and most of what they said comes across as very scripted. Kai and I quite enjoyed Lingobus’ teachers where each had their own way to reward students, had different backgrounds and were more relaxed. They entertained Kai when he tried to talk about random events and tell jokes that only a 4 year old would think were funny!

So what type of learner would benefit from using KoalaKnow?

I think a child in a Chinese-speaking environment, around 6-8 years of age with intermediate-advanced level of oral proficiency, but could not read Chinese would benefit from the same lessons that Kai took on. Not only would the child be able to understand idioms, phrases and the stories, but also, would be able to pick up the characters quickly from the fun animations and games. The video-recording is also great for post lesson review, and parents would also be able to support their child in the learning process. The content would relate more to everyday life for a child in such a Chinese-speaking family.

If you have any further questions about Koalaknow, please feel free to leave a message!

Published by Ms Claudia L. Kimura

Apple Distinguished Educator, Class of 2015 Primary school teacher, technology coordinator Not just a regular mom, but a teacher-mom Mom of 2 boys, stepmom of 3 boys

3 thoughts on “My Review of Chinese Online Learning Platforms: Koala Know (MUST READ)

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