About Me

Hong Kong skyline at night

I am a native Chinese speaker, fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese. In addition to offering private lessons, I am an adjunct language professor at the Institute of World Politics and a Chinese instructor at the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). I was a high school teacher in Hong Kong for two years and have been a private tutor for more than 15 years. I currently reside in North Arlington, a 5-minute walk from the Courthouse Metro station.

I am an easy-going, cheerful and patient person with extensive tutoring/teaching experience with adults and children. I obtained my Bachelor's Degree and my Postgraduate Certificate in Education from the University of Hong Kong.

Both one-on-one tutoring and small group lessons are available. I can tailor make a study package for you too. My hourly rate for one-on-one tutoring is $90. A 10-hour block of lessons, when purchased in advance, includes a free, additional hour of instruction. Package prices include supplementary learning materials I custom make for my students.

Feel free to contact me with your questions or to request any additional information. I hope to hear from you soon.

Janice Lai Jewell

Chinese Classes

Chinese calligraphy and seal stamp

Adults

  • One-on-one: $90/hour
  • Group:
    • $10/hour each additional learner

Kids

*One session is 45 minutes in duration.

Ages 6 and up

  • One-on-one: $85/session*
  • Group:
    • $10/session each additional child

Ages 3 to 10

  • Activity-based "Parent-and-I" language program:
    • $110/session*
    • $10/session each additional child
  • Pre-paid discount: Purchase a 10-session block of instruction in advance and receive the 11th session for free!
  • Time: Weekdays 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Saturdays 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
  • Location: North Arlington home office

Testimonials

Testimonial word cloud

I have worked with Janice for just over one year, and she has been an invaluable resource in my learning Mandarin. I refrain from using the term tutor to define her. I worked with 4 different tutors prior to meeting her, and in retrospect, each of these tutors, in contrast to Janice, used a very perfunctory; one-size fits all approach to helping students learn Mandarin.

Janice has a very personable, flexible, and perceptive teaching style that, first and foremost, makes her clients feel comfortable and at ease when working with her. These may sound like unremarkable traits to some; however, I can personally testify to how working with someone who you do not feel at ease with can stifle one’s learning an already difficult language. For instance, one former tutor angrily scolded me for asking so many questions during a session. Nonetheless, Janice has an extremely affable disposition and she encourages student feedback and questions from her students.

She also has a great deal of experience working with Americans, so she understands the difficulties that Americans or native English speakers typically encounter when learning the language. As a result, she has devised creative strategies to facilitate learning certain concepts in a more lucid manner (e.g. converting large numbers to their Mandarin form). She is also exceptional at discerning her student’s strengths and weaknesses and structures her teaching around the student’s idiosyncrasies.

For example, while working with Janice, she was able to identify a very subtle peculiarity in my learning style. A quality that she accommodates by using different colored fonts when creating notes for me that aid my long-term retention of difficult concepts that we cover. This is something that I passively realized that aided my learning while attending a very competitive university years ago, yet Janice astutely identified this after working with me a comparatively short time and instituted it into our sessions.

A parent and wife herself, she also empathizes when life events may make learning the language more difficult and adjust the student’s learning sessions accordingly. I wholeheartedly recommend Janice to any person that is serious about learning Mandarin.

Michael
Alexandria, Virginia
Mandarin

My 11 year old daughter has been studying Mandarin with Janice for about 3 months. She loves every class and always comes out of class happy and excited. I've seen big improvements in her writing and confidence in speaking. I highly recommend Janice. She is great with children(and I imagine adults, too) and is a very capable and experienced teacher!

Karen Morey
Fairfax, Virginia
Mandarin

I have been a student of Janice’s for a little more than four years and have recently done two months of “near immersion” with her. My experience with her has been very positive both on a professional and on a personal level. I’m fully proficient in Russia and also have limited proficiency in Spanish, so I have had numerous language instructors in high school, college, grad school, the Defense Language Institute, and the USDA Graduate School, as well as native language tutors. I have also managed an organization that hires language proficient personnel and have paid for language training of employees. Lastly, I sat for eight years on a government board focused on improving the language capabilities of federal employees. My point is not that I am an expert, merely that I have had sufficient experience and exposure to make an informed opinion: Janice is simply the best. The. Best.

Importantly, she understands the thought processes that English speakers go through when learning Chinese and knows how to explain difficult concepts in ways that make sense. In my experience, this is THE main difference between good and great language instructors.

Janice is always prepared and has the gift of knowing when and where to push me. She also brings the human aspect into her teaching. She is a true teacher and approaches her job with enthusiasm. She is unfailingly patient and encouraging. Lessons with her are fun at the same time that they are useful. I invariably come out of the lessons invigorated and excited to study more. As any educator will tell you, if students enjoy what they are learning they absorb much more of the material.

I highly recommend Janice for anyone seeking to study Chinese, whether they are just beginning their journey or are simply seeking to become more proficient. Janice can help you significantly and can take you as far as you are willing to go.

Nick Carlson
Washington, District Of Columbia
Mandarin

After taking 6 years of Spanish and a year of German, I was never one to get passionate about learning a language and my proficiency and retention rate suffered as a result. But somehow Janice got me excited about learning Mandarin. My class and I would often ask questions outside her normal lesson plan. Many other teachers in my experience viewed these inquiries as distractions to the task at hand. Janice, however, would encourage our curiosities and even accommodate them into future lessons. This seemingly small thing had a huge impact on the class and I as it kept us engaged and motivated while simultaneously tailoring the class to our particular learning style. With graduation right around the corner, for the first time ever I'm rather sad I won't be able to continue with a language class. But more importantly, for the first time I am motivated on continuing to pursue Mandarin in my own free time. I highly recommend Janice. She is exceptional!

Richard
Alexandria, Virginia
Mandarin

Janice accomplished incredible things with my lively 9-year-old boy. She found ways of keeping him engaged and of conveying the information in ways that made it stick. She made my son’s first serious encounter with Mandarin a positive and productive one. I highly recommend her to other parents who want to get their kids’ Mandarin education off to a strong start.

Carolyn
Arlington, Virginia
Mandarin

Dear Janice,
Just a quick weekend note to let you know how pleased I was with your teaching. Your professionalism, patience, and organizational skills were all of the highest order. Your strong command of both languages means that even the difficult questions were answered in a cogent and succinct manner and I was especially impressed by how you have integrated the computer into your teaching practice.
I value your guidance and look forward to being your student to the point of fluency.
Sincerely,
Harry Mattison, MFA
Faculty
Department of Humanistic Studies
Maryland Institute College of Art

Harry Mattison
Bethesda, Maryland
Mandarin

Janice Lai is an incredible language teacher. My pre-K daughters and I have been working with Janice for 1 year and we have learned (and continue to learn) a tremendous amount. My daughters regularly break-out in Mandarin song, and talk to each other and to me using a mix of English and Mandarin words. Janice is professional, prepared, and organized. Additionally, she is firm about lesson time - there is room for fun, but lessons are to be taken seriously and she, rightfully, expects her students to participate and work hard. Janice's passion for teaching Mandarin and exposing us to the Chinese culture is evident in the care she puts into lesson plans, her reviews of materials learned, and the energy she brings to each lesson.

We are extremely fortunate to have Janice as our teacher and to know her as a person.

Ann-Marie Avanni
Washington, District Of Columbia
Mandarin

I am so happy to have the opportunity to share my wonderful experience with Janice. Before our lessons, I really struggled with the feeling of being between levels of proficiency. I studied Mandarin in college and spent four months in China studying Mandarin and teaching English. When I returned to the United States, I tried to find ways to keep up my level of proficiency. I felt that the level at which I began taking courses was not challenging enough for me, but that the next level was definitely over my head. Janice provided the one-on-one attention and personally tailored lesson plans that I had been looking for and desperately needed to advance. Janice made the immersion-style lesson fun rather than intimidating and always kept it at a pace which I could follow, but still be challenged. I know that this method really improved my listening comprehension. Furthermore, having the opportunity to conduct detailed discussions about a variety of topics allowed me to increase my vocabulary and become more confident of my speaking ability. Lessons with Janice were always a pleasure and always productive. Beyond being a fantastic teacher, Janice was extremely flexible with scheduling our lessons around my law school commitments. I only wish that I had found Janice sooner and that I could take her with me when I move to Pennsylvania! If you need a Mandarin tutor, look no further than Janice.

Alexa
Washington, District Of Columbia
Mandarin

I was struggling to keep up my grades in Chinese at GWU and consequently wasn't enjoying the study of the language at all. I love Chinese culture and planned to study abroad in Beijing my junior year. When I found Lai Laoshi I not only understood my lessons and kept up with my class but I learned more of what I would need to know while living in China for a year. She was dedicated to understanding how I learn and she is up to date with several textbooks and curriculums. I am excited and I know that I am prepared. Lots of love to the best Chinese tutor around, she is truly invaluable.

Lauren Lacy
Aspen, Colorado
Mandarin

I am privileged to write in support of a terrific teacher, Janice Lai. In the short 8 months I've had her as my Cantonese teacher, I became deeply impressed with her earnestness and devotion to help me learn Cantonese. As a beginner, Janice has taught me a wide range of Cantonese which include, but are not limited to: pronunciations and tones, grammar and structure, and colloquial conversations. She is extremely patient and has worked with me to overcome common problems and deficiencies I had learning a new language. I plan to continue my Cantonese lessons with Janice once I have a break from school.

Sind
Fairfax, Virginia
Cantonese

Before relocating to China, I needed to learn spoken Cantonese quickly. Janice was the perfect teacher for it; her ability to explain even abstract concepts without having to speak English made for the ultimate immersion-style course. She is patient, thorough, and sharp as a tack. Highly recommended!

Alex
Dunn Loring, Virginia
Cantonese

My girlfriend and I were looking for a tutor to teach us Cantonese while at the same time being flexible with our busy schedules, and Janice fit the bill perfectly. She is one of the best teachers I have ever had the pleasure of learning from. Janice always pushed us to learn as much as we could but never rushed through material. If we struggled with a concept or section, she would find a new way to approach it until we comprehended the material. I am actually now going to take Mandarin classes with her. If you are looking for a tutor - Janice is the best.

Thomas Hiney
Arlington, Virginia
Cantonese

When I began studying Chinese in January 2007, I thought I would learn enough of the language to visit China in the fall and navigate it reasonably comfortably. However, the five months I spent in-country was a continuous string of humbling experiences. I learned first-hand why Chinese is considered one of the most demanding languages to learn for Westerners. Chinese is an incredibly rich, subtle, context-laden, culturally-tied language requiring competence in multiple modes: writing, reading, and speaking. When I returned home to complete my application for business school, I knew I had to find and work one-on-one with a Chinese person if I was to succeed in achieving significant comfort with the language. Janice has exceeded my expectations in more ways than I can enumerate! First of all, she is an incredibly skilled and patient teacher. I asked her to be strict in correcting my pronunciation and she complied, but knew how to push me past my insecurities while ensuring I didn't develop any new ones. She integrated historical and popular culture, current events, literature, and poetry into my lessons. Plus, she introduced me to the secret of speaking like a native: idioms. I have several more years of studying before I will be happy with my fluency, but as I continue I will feel incredibly lucky for the four months I worked with Janice. She put me on a solid path to feeling comfortable speaking Chinese. My only regret is that I can't take her with me to business school! I can easily and happily recommend her and say that if you get the privilege to work with her, you won't be disappointed.

Miguel Jardine
Fairfax, Virginia
Mandarin

I needed a temporary Chinese tutor in March 2008 while in D.C. for an operation. Although I only had 10 hours of lessons with Janice, I came away deeply impressed. As a rank beginner, I was struggling on all fronts. Janice helped me enormously with the tones. She did not gloss over my mistakes but she helped me figure out where I was going wrong. I was particularly impressed with her ability to work with the material I brought with me. Although she had never seen it before, she picked up where my Beijing teachers had left off without missing a beat. She is keenly intuitive, very quick and a gifted teacher. If I were in D.C. and in need of Chinese lessons, she would be my first pick.

Sharon LaFraniere
Beijing, China
Mandarin

Having studied Chinese at an U.S. University, a Chinese University and with other private tutors, I can confidently say that Janice Lai is the best Chinese teacher I have ever had. She is a superb teacher who understands instructional methodology and applies it with great success. She consistently provides a variety of activities to reinforce the language, including reading, grammar, vocabulary, movies and listening exercises. She ensured that the material actually sunk in, instead of just working through a book or set of lessons. On a personal basis, she is the most patient and thoughtful teacher I have ever encountered. Even on the days when I felt as though I couldn't remember any Chinese, she gently reminded me and helped me refocus my efforts. Janice is a great teacher for any level of Chinese student, from beginners to advanced students. As for the results -- I was extremely impressed by the improvement in my Chinese over the course of one summer. I had previously tested with the U.S. State Department and after summer with Janice, I tested a full level higher, an accomplishment which usually takes a year of study! Now as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer posted in Beijing, I have the daily opportunity to use Chinese and feel entirely comfortable doing so, thanks to Janice!

Kira
Washington, District Of Columbia
Mandarin

I have studied eight foreign languages at several prestigious universities as well as with several private tutors, but my most enjoyable language learning experience has been with Janice. She was the most professional private tutor I have ever worked with - she came to every class prepared with worksheets, exercises, and activities so that there was never a single minute of downtime. She made every class interesting and fun by encouraging me to discuss my life and my interests in Chinese, and also by being interesting and fun herself. Most of all, though, I am pleased with the progress I made: at least one year's worth of college-level Chinese in just 10 weeks of private study. I am so glad that I chose to study with Janice rather than taking a course at a university!

JK
Bethesda, Maryland
Mandarin

The best birthday party our daughter had was a Chinese Cultural Party that was organized by Janice! This was such a success. The children loved cooking, eating what they had cooked and learning about China. Janice planned the menu, the supplies and the activities. In addition to the cooking, the children learned brushstroke calligraphy with supplies from China, and about China's national treasures such as the Chinese Opera and the panda. The children still talk about how this was the best birthday they had ever attended and frequently work on their calligraphy during playdates together! Thank you so much, Janice! We appreciate your organization, knowledge and willingness to share your heritage with our children.

Honour
Washington, District Of Columbia
Mandarin

I want you to know that you have been an excellent teacher and you have far exceeded the expectations that I had. You have set a very high standard. I really appreciate how much you've challenged me and helped me learn at an accelerated pace. I would highly recommend you as an instructor for anyone who wants to learn Chinese. I've very much enjoyed learning from you and I am quite sad that you will no longer be my teacher. It will now be very difficult for me to be happy with my next instructor. The next time I am on a project in DC, I will definitely schedule more lessons with you.

Chris D
Columbus, Ohio
Mandarin

Top-notch instruction for someone with no experience with the Chinese language. Janice Lai introduced me to the language with surprising ease. Her teaching modules and work assignments catered directly to my personal goals of reading, writing, listening and comprehending Mandarin Chinese from the beginning. Janice's instruction has produced tangible results in my abilities away from the classroom. Through continued instruction, I have confidence in my current and future proficiency with the language, and look forward to opportunities to exchange with other Chinese speakers.

Jack
Alexandria, Virginia
Mandarin

Janice has been tutoring my two sons (ages 6 and 10) for the last 18 months. I have been impressed with her ability to make the learning process fun by working with them at their level and incorporating their interests into the lessons each week. She has high expectations for them, but is always kind and patient. They have worked on basic vocabulary and conversation, as well as writing characters. She has suggested cirriculum materials and online learning sites that have been helpful. She is very knowledgable and competent as a teacher, and is always prepared for the lessons.

Michele Prince
Arlington, Virginia
Mandarin

Janice is a wonderful teacher. I took approximately 30 private lessons with her before I moved and could no longer continue. Two great qualities stand out: First, she makes and provides excellent supplementary materials. We worked from a standard textbook, but Janice also provided her own written materials that made our lessons much better than they would have been with the textbook alone. Second, she is extremely accommodating. When I was able to dedicate a lot of time to studying, she gave me challenging assignments and went over them in great detail during our lessons. When I was busier, she slowed down the pace and challenged me up to the point that I could still learn the material well. (And, yes, she could tell by my performance during our lessons how much work I had done since our previous lesson!) If I were still living in the DC area, I would still be studying with Janice.

Scott
Kansas City, Missouri
Mandarin

Learning a foreign language is hard, and Chinese doubly so for Westerners. Janice is endlessly patient and can really help you learn the language. Not only does she know how to teach, she is amiable, has a good sense of humor and can make the process fun.

Bill Holcombe
Annandale, Virginia
Mandarin

I am a Foreign Service Officer and I have been assigned to Shanghai, China. Because the US Government required me to achive a certain proficiency in Mandarin before being deployed to China I looked for a tutor to help me practice and perfect my Mandarin skills before testing at the Foreign Service Institute. During my 8 month training at the Foreign Service Intitute I encountered numerous language instructors and Janice ranks among the top. She is very patient, dedicated and knowledgeable. In addition, that she is a native Chinese speaker, her English is excellent which also facilitates the process of learning an extremely difficult language when she must explain grammar. She also knows many American and Chinese colloquialisms which she also applies to her classes. So with great pleasure I recommend and thank Janice for her great work.

Ernesto Escoto
Arlington, Virginia
Mandarin

I have taken Cantonese lessons from Janice Lai over the past two years. She has very effective and organized teaching style and couples that with excellent study materials and lesson plans. After starting without any knowledge of the language, I now am able to speak and understand Cantonese at a far greater level than I could have ever imagined. I highly recommend her to any prospective student.

Karl Kieffer
Arlington, Virginia
Cantonese

Janice is a quality teacher who takes her students very seriously. Her extensive knowledge of Cantonese and her patient teaching style is very good for both beginners and advanced students. But most of all, her cheery disposition and relaxed attitude -- so crucial for a language teacher -- is something that Janice excels in. I have never had a bad lesson with her.

Roy
Arlington, Virginia
Cantonese

Working with Janice has been the antidote to years of failed attempts to study Chinese in classroom settings that inevitably left me disengaged and discouraged. Her willingness to structure our sessions based on my goals and proficiency level have kept me making gradual, but rewarding, improvements. With a busy schedule, I know I would fall behind a strict syllabus. Instead, over the past year, Janice has managed to keep our meetings challenging and encouraging regardless of my week-to-week progress.

Brad
Washington, District Of Columbia
Mandarin

I have been taking lessons a little over a year, and I have made so much progress. Janice is very patient, works with the pace of her students, and reviews any section of the teaching material that is the most difficult to retain. I am now able to understand more of what my future in-laws are saying at the dinner table, and even contribute to their conversations!

Katie
Fairfax, Virginia
Cantonese

Janice is a wonderful tutor. When we began our Mandarin lessons she tailored a curriculum to accommodate my goals, knowledge base (none!), and learning style. Within two months I felt like I had the basic knowledge to begin a year in China as an English teacher. Janice even prepared "survival Chinese" worksheets as my departure date drew near to make sure we covered important skills that were not in the textbook, such as bargaining at a market and finding lost luggage. Janice is a patient, encouraging teacher and a warm, intelligent person. I highly recommend her.

Derek Rosenbaum
Anji, China
Mandarin

Chinese Translation

Poorly translated sign in Guilin, China

I am an educator with extensive experience translating documents from English to Chinese and vice versa.

While enrolled at the University of Hong Kong, I worked as a freelance translator and editor for a well-known publisher in Hong Kong -- the Commercial Press (H.K.), Ltd. -- as well as Optik Technologies, Ltd. Moreover, I was a part-time writer for the Creative Educational Company. In the US, I've provided translation and transcribing services to BASE Productions, a multimedia company which filmed a documentary on Hong Kong for National Geographic. I am currently proofreading and authoring English-to-Chinese translations for Softitler Net, a leading provider of subtitles for the home video market. From these jobs, I've obtained hands-on experience translating, editing and composing materials.

I work well under pressure and am willing to keep modifying your translated documents until your expectations have been met.

Reasonable, negotiable prices. Please submit the contact form to ask any questions or to request any additional information.

Contact Me

Please complete the form below to contact me. I will reply as soon as possible to your inquiry. Thank you for your interest.

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Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I look forward to communicating with you.

Janice Lai Jewell