I had taken Chinese classes in college as elective but I was focused on my major so I didn't put in as much effort as I should have. Also, the other students were practicing with each other without the help of the Chinese teacher, who was from China.
I learned that when learning Chinese it's always best to only speak with natives due to the tones being difficult. You don't want to copy the mistakes of your classmates. I kind of gave up on learning Chinese half-heartedly and decided to revisit it when I could either:
a) move to China
b) learn one-on-one with a personal tutor; or
c) get married to a Chinese guy ;)
Well, 'a' and 'c' didn't happen, so I decided to look at option 'b'. In Pittsburgh, where I was living, I had a hard time finding a native-speaking Chinese tutor. When I finally did track one down I was surprised at how expensive it was, considering the travel time and lesson planning, I can see why that would be. It worked out to about $30 or $40 a lesson. Since I had just finished college, this was expensive for me.
Then I learned about online learning. This seemed almost too good to be true- cheaper than a personal tutor, more convenient and I would know I'm getting a REAL qualified native-speaking teacher. With a tutor, you never really know exactly how good their accent is or if they're even from China!
I decided to take a few Free Trial lessons and I liked eChineseLearning's method. I would be learning face-to-face and it wouldn't be prerecorded or software-based. It was just like being in a cool little classroom.
Once I decided that I liked ECL's teachers and setup, I thought about which program was best for me. I went with one that offered accelerated lessons that would "make up" for the dumb errors I made when I first began Chinese back in college.
I took the Summer Chinese Language program and really loved it! It was something like a "crash course" but never felt rushed. Plus, the teacher was there to answer all the questions I had about China and what life there would be like. I started to learn more and more about the country and I started to read about China in my free time. Soon, the language was just half of it!
Fast-forward a year later and I'm living Beijing, enjoying a scholarship to study Chinese and planning on sticking around here after I've completed my course.
I owe so much to eChineseLearning and their personalized motivation when I was just starting out. I think that I'm here enjoying China now due to their encouragement and helpfulness.