Bilin Academy: Art, Games, Calligraphy Classes in Chinese and English

Bilin Academy Chinese art and poetry online class for kids
Bilin Academy Chinese art and poetry online class for kids

Over the past half year, my kids have been loving the unique Chinese classes at Bilin Academy. We believe that language is best acquired through immersion, hands-on experiences, and kids’ interests. Therefore, when I first wrote about Extracurricular Classes Taught in Chinese a year ago, we were hoping to try Bilin Academy’s art, game, and music lessons.

When we began distance learning last spring, we finally had time to take online classes at Bilin Academy! Although Bilin Academy also offers classes in English and Spanish, we’ve attended only Chinese classes since we’re focusing on the minority language at home.

Since we live in a small, non-diverse town with minimal Chinese resources, my children can enjoy Bilin Academy’s wonderful online classes despite our local limitations. Thank you Bilin Academy for sponsoring the classes for our family which we plan to continue in the long run. As with all content on this website, this review reflects our honest opinions and experiences.

Chinese calligraphy class with Bilin Academy
Learning calligraphy on our reusable water calligraphy cloth

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About Bilin Academy

Bilin Academy is a global online classroom that offers extracurricular classes in Mandarin Chinese and English. They connect students with professional teachers and artists in the United States, Asia, and Europe. The founder, Huayi He, is a mother of 3 children who is passionate about making learning immersive and accessible worldwide.

Their mission is to incorporate language learning naturally into various culture and art classes. They prioritize small class sizes for personal interaction between students and teachers.

Bilin Academy Go Game Chinese Online Lessons
Bilin Academy Go class; wood Go game board

Benefits of Bilin Academy

We are really grateful for the following features:

  • Accessibility: Classes are taught through online platforms, such as the Zoom and ClassIn apps. Despite living in a small non-diverse town, online classes give us the chance to learn language and culture.
  • Free trial: Before committing to a course, you can try a complimentary lesson to see if a class is a good fit. Many other online art programs require you to commit to a package from the start, but thankfully, Bilin Academy offers a free trial.
  • 24 hour cancellation policy: Life happens, so it’s great that they allow you to reschedule if needed with at least a day’s notice.
  • Wide age range: Depending on topic and child’s interests, classes are available for preschoolers up to high schoolers.
  • Small class size: Some classes are 1-on-1 while others have only 5 students. Due to the small class size, there’s more chance for interaction with the teacher.
  • Bilingual website: You can switch the language at the top right-hand corner and read the content in English or Chinese. Since founding team is bilingual, you can also communicate with them in either language.
  • Various topics: See below for a list of the various games, art, language, and music classes below.
  • Affordable cost:
    • You can sign up for 30, 60, or 90 class bundles. The cost per class drops for larger packages.
    • Private (1:1) lessons are $15 per class; semi-private (1:2) lessons are $8 per class.
Bilin Academy online Chinese calligraphy class

Classes offered through Bilin Academy

Mandarin Chinese classes at Bilin Academy

  • Games: Go
  • Art:
    • Paint the Classical Chinese poem
    • Fashion design
    • Film and costume design
  • Chinese language:
    • Calligraphy
    • Chinese speech class
    • Chinese pictograph class
    • Singing Chinese poetry
    • Free story time
  • Music: Guzheng

English classes at Bilin Academy

  • Games: Chess
  • Art
    • Castles drawing class
    • Harry Potter art class
    • World Holidays drawing class
  • English language
    • English speech, reading, and writing
    • DIY Phonics books
  • Music:
    • Guzheng
    • Violin
  • Social emotional class

Spanish classes at Bilin Academy

  • Art

Which Bilin Academy classes have my children enjoyed?

Here are the 4 Chinese classes that my children have taken at Bilin Academy!

Paint the Chinese classical poem class with Bilin Academy

Paint the Classical Chinese poem 画诗 / 畫詩

About half a year ago when my son was 3 and my daughter was 6, they both really enjoyed the poetry painting class! Although the recommended age was 4 to 8 years for this particular class, my son loves to draw more than his sister. So he stayed attentive through the online lesson!

The lesson began with the teacher reciting a classical Chinese poem and discussing its meaning. For those unfamiliar with Chinese culture, poetry is a big part of history and culture. Poetry styles varied with each dynasty (eg 唐诗 / 唐詩 (Táng shī) during the Tang dynasty), just as art styles change over time.

Then the teacher patiently walked through the steps of the related drawing. There were only 3 other students; some kids painted while others chose pencils. In the first class, my son learned the color 靛 (diàn / indigo) in Chinese during this lesson!

This is a class that my son wanted to continue, but we aren’t able to with our current schedule. We’re hoping to resume next spring though!

Go game 围棋 / 圍棋

Invented in China over 2500 years ago, Go 围棋 / 圍棋 is thought to be the oldest board game played today!

So far, my daughter has had 2 lessons which began with the teacher showing a short cartoon and virtual demonstration of the Go board. My daughter has been paired with another student of similar age.

We bought this wooden 12″ 19 x 19 grid Go game board, which has great quality plus convenient drawers. With 361 points of intersection, this is the standard Go board size. While beginners often play on smaller 9×9 or 13×13 boards, during the trial lesson, my daughter was just moving the black and white stones on the computer.

Although we were more than 10 minutes late to our first lesson (I totally lost track of time), the teacher was super nice and stayed longer to show us what we missed! We were so grateful for her grace!

My 4-year-old son is not taking the class, but he has been so curious, peeking over sister’s shoulder during each lesson!

Chinese Calligraphy class with Bilin Academy
Learning calligraphy on our reusable water calligraphy cloth

Calligraphy 书法 / 書法

For the past few months, my daughter has been taking Bilin Academy’s weekly calligraphy 书法 / 書法 class! Each class is 30 minutes long, and my daughter loves the private lesson! The class begins with an overview of history and culture. The teacher shows different images and talks through the background and etymology of a Chinese character.

Then, my daughter practices patiently improving her strokes over and over again.

Chinese Calligraphy class with Bilin Academy

So far, we’ve been using our reusable water calligraphy cloth which I reviewed in this post. I wanted to make sure she enjoyed the class before committing to the real deal.

Now that I’ve seen her consistent excitement for the calligraphy class, I am thinking about getting her this calligraphy sumi brush, ink, and stone set.

Mandarin Playground Chinese pictograph class

Chinese pictograph class

A few weeks ago, my kids attended the pictograph class taught by Bilin Academy’s partner, Mandarin Playground. The teacher showed drawings and images related to basic Chinese characters, and students took turns reading sentences.

As the class was more about listening and reading and my children are past the basics, it was the one class that wasn’t the right fit for our family. We prefer more speaking practice and did not realize that art was not part of the class. That’s why we’re so thankful that for the free trial, and Bilin Academy was very kind and welcoming of our feedback.

Indiegogo campaign

Bilin Academy is working on expanding their class options and developing an app to improve the already fantastic experience for students, parents, and teachers!

You can contribute to their Indiegogo Campaign in exchange for special prices for class credits, valid at any time in the future. Please read more about their Indiegogo Campaign here!

How to sign up for Chinese and English classes with Bilin Academy

In summary, my family is so grateful for Bilin Academy’s range of online Chinese classes, and my kids look forward to each lesson. Despite our geographical limitations, Bilin Academy makes Chinese culture, art, and language accessible anywhere around the world.

Please click on the links below to learn more about Bilin Academy and register for classes:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Which Bilin Academy classes are you thinking about trying?

If your kids have tried classes at Bilin Academy, I’d love to hear how it went! I also wonder if my kids will ever overlap with yours! 🙂 Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

Tips for boosting Chinese skills

Happy playful learning, friends!

13 Comments

  1. Do you know if any of their classes are appropriate for my kids who have just started learning (while some are trying to retain) Mandarin?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Kimberly! Great question – I asked Huayi of Bilin Academy, and this was her response:

      “The teachers are very conscious of our students’ different levels of language skills and always try to speak in the best manner that suits their level. If they can contact us ahead of time, we’ll make sure to pass the note to the session leader so that they can adjust accordingly.

      Plus, the first class is a free trial for new students, so they can always drop in and see if it suits their needs!

      But if they are just starting to learn Mandarin, I think 100% immersion can be difficult for them. We are planning on English and Mandarin mixed instruction class though.”

      Please let me know if you have other questions!

  2. does 1 class credit mean 1 hour of lesson? there’s sooo much to learn in Chinese and I hope the kids will appreciate our history, culture, and language… One thing I can definitely not teach them is art so it’s great that Bilin has them. Having these available to more people will let us understand and respect each other.

  3. I think our kids would be interested in calligraphy and go. Thank you for sharing. I have not hear of this academy before.

  4. Oh. I saw on the website of Bilin what credits are for. I’ll continue looking around to learn more on this. Thank you for letting us know about them. (How do I respond to my earlier comment? Nothing happens on my side with the reply link, hmm)

  5. I would like both my small children to take the Go class. We are not native speakers- but lived in China for a period of time.

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