Let's learn Chinese

Updated: 2012-12-09 14:51

By Mike Peters (China Daily)

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Let's learn Chinese

Many incoming Americans are both students at CLI and teachers in local schools.

Lots of Americans have an itch to learn Mandarin and instruction has grown by a factor of 12 in the past decade, he says.

"So at that point it was my goal to tear down all the barriers."

"Sparks flew when I combined three factors," he says. "There was a huge market for Mandarin learning, the quality of service was insufficient, and most foreign students were being overcharged."


"Most foreign students - Americans, anyway - come to China to study through their home university," he says. "That means they are paying the US tuition rate."

Fried himself had chased scholarships and took out a student loan for courses that cost about $10,000, only to discover he could have paid about one-tenth that amount by enrolling directly.

If only he had known how.

Let's learn Chinese

So the two brothers put together a business plan for Chinese Language Institute, where they would teach the way Robbie had learned from Brad, in bite-sized pieces, intensive but not overwhelming.

They approached a group of businessmen who worked with their father, borrowed $10,000, and CLI was born in Robbie's dorm room at Tsinghua University.

Soon the brothers had rented a three-bedroom apartment and held classes in the living room. They say a chalkboard was their biggest investment in teaching tools.

The Frieds had one student at first in 2009, four at the year-end winter term, and five the next spring. But they stayed focused.

"I wasn't turned off by the low turnout," Robbie Fried says. "I was confident that we had something special."