Chinese 1 (Mandarin)

From: $92.00 / month for 8 months

Grades:  9th–12th

Class:  Tue 11:30 am–12:30 pm ET

Dates:  Sep 9, 2024–May 16, 2025 (note the late start)

Prepaid:  $649

Instructor:  Penelope Buchter


Course Description

Note: This class will start later than others. The first class will be held the week of Sep 9, 2024.

Chinese 1 Syllabus coming soon

Welcome to Mandarin Chinese 1! This course is designed for students with no prior knowledge of the Chinese language. It provides a comprehensive introduction to Mandarin Chinese, focusing on essential language skills such as speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Through interactive lessons and engaging activities, students will learn the basics of pronunciation, tones, and fundamental vocabulary, setting a solid groundwork for future language study.

Throughout the course, students will be introduced to the Pinyin system, the Romanization of Chinese sounds, to help them accurately pronounce Mandarin words. Emphasis will be placed on mastering the four tones, which are crucial for correct pronunciation and meaning. Additionally, students will learn to recognize and write Chinese characters, starting with simple and commonly used ones, enabling them to form simple sentences and engage in everyday conversations.

Cultural insights will also be an integral part of the course, providing students with a deeper understanding of Chinese customs, traditions, and social norms. By the end of the course, students will have developed a foundational skill set in Mandarin Chinese, allowing them to perform basic interactions. This beginner course aims to build confidence and enthusiasm for further exploration of the Chinese language and culture.

Course Structure

The course will include one live lesson per week which is important for active language practice. Throughout the week, learning in the live lesson will be supplemented and supported by activities and assignments on Canvas and in the assigned workbook.

Who should enroll?

This class is designed for high school students (9th -12th grade) who are interested in Chinese language and culture. There is no background knowledge required as we will start with the basics.

Technology Requirements

  • High speed, broadband Internet
  • Web cam, sound card, and microphone (for live sessions)
  • Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures and other class materials

Evaluation and Feedback

Live lessons will be once a week, but I am available to students to answer questions or schedule office hours as needed (with the exception of weekends). I hope students will find me approachable and take the initiative to reach out whenever they need or want a bit of support or have questions; I’m always happy to provide students with the support they need to succeed. No questions are too big or too small, but I prefer students take the first steps to contact me for help unless I notice that they are struggling to keep up with the workload.

Students will also receive feedback on assignments submitted on Canvas as well as feedback in class whenever possible.


As I do not live in the US at the moment, there may be time zone discrepancies, so the best way to reach me is via email ( I will respond to emails within 48 hours outside of the weekend (usually sooner). However, for any students or parents desiring a face-to-face conversation, I am happy to schedule a time to meet to discuss students’ progress.

Required Texts

  • Integrated Chinese Volume 1 Textbook, 4th edition SKU: 9781622911356
    • Workbook SKU: 9781622911363
    • Character Workbook SKU: 9781622911370
  • Integrated Chinese Volume 2 Textbook, 4th edition SKU: 9781622911417
    • Workbook SKU: 9781622911431
    • Character Workbook SKU: 9781622911448

The publisher’s website includes all of the required text in paperback, hardcover, and digital form. Any format is acceptable


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Instructor Bio

Penelope Buchter

Penelope Buchter graduated from American University in 2016 with a BA in international studies, and having spent her study abroad learning Chinese immersion at Peking University, promptly headed back to China with the intention to stay a year or two… now, almost 8 years later, she is still in China, has an MEd in Educational Technology, and enjoys creating opportunities for students to engage with material in meaningful ways.

Penelope is herself a homeschool graduate who understands the challenges and benefits of being a homeschool student. She has also reaped the benefits of distance learning since high school when she took her first Chinese class online. She is passionate about language, speaking both Chinese and Spanish, and is currently working on an MA in English Literature from the University of Nottingham (distance learning at work again!). If you attempt to engage her in a conversation about languages or literature, settle in for a long conversation, and perhaps cancel your next appointment!

In her time abroad, Penelope has worked with British curriculums (IGCSE) and the International Baccalaureate.  It was also in China where Penelope met her now husband, Paul — another English teacher from the UK, and adopted her two dogs. Contact: pbuchter[at]

All classes taught by Penelope Buchter