As school starts this fall, foreign exchange students in Wudaokou may find plenty of Chinese tutors ready to help with their putonghua at the drop of a hat, but what about local middle and high schoolers who could use a boost with their algebra? Or for that matter, their French?
Parents in Manhattan, London or San Francisco can dial an agency and have Ivy League or Oxbridge graduates at their beck and call, whether their kids need help completing the square or conjugating avoir in the passé composé. But for parents in Beijing, finding an English-fluent tutor in a specific subject is a less obvious proposition.
Never fear—although they may have fewer formal teaching credentials than their foreign-based counterparts, there are plenty of talented foreign tutors based in Beijing who are ready to help your child succeed. You may have to work a little harder to find them, but your pocketbook will thank you—tutors from elite firms in New York, for example, will easily run above $100 per hour, and local laowai are likely to put a more reasonable price on their services.
Some good places to start your search include:
Local tutoring agencies. Mandarin-Connections offers to set you up with tutors specializing in IB, A-Levels, IGCSE, and the SAT. Subjects covered under the IB program include math, economics, biology, physics, chemistry, geography, history, and more.
Local alumni associations. Some of the most elite U.S. universities have alumni chapters in Beijing, and they may be the best way to connect your child with some Ivy League–caliber brainpower. Many have email listservs that may advertise local job opportunities, and for every old China hand with family in tow, there are several hungry recent grads looking to supplement their incomes. Try the Harvard Club of Beijing, Brown University Club of China, the Berkeley Club of Beijing or for those tricky chemistry questions, the MIT Club of Beijing may be a good bet.
Foreign cultural organizations. For help with non-Chinese foreign language woes, these organizations may be your best bet. The Alliance Française de Beijing, the Instituto Cervantes de Pekín, or the Goethe-Institut Peking should be able to connect you with qualified local teachers of French, Spanish and German.
Beijing Homeschoolers. More parents in Beijing have been homeschooling their children in recent years, for financial or other reasons. The group’s members-only website is a forum for local parents who have likely needed outside help in the past, and may be able to offer you advice and referrals.
A classified ad on thebeijinger.com. Where better to find young job-seekers than on the city’s best English-language classifieds site?
We won’t lie: tutors for some subjects may not be readily available. If your child needs help translating Beowulf from the original Anglo-Saxon, you might be out of luck. But otherwise, with all the talented young people relocating to Beijing from all over the world, a bit of due diligence should turn up some the tutor you’ve been searching for. And in the process, you’ll be helping finance the Beijing dreams of the next crop of foreign transplants. Happy studying!