study mandarin


    11_Literal_Translations_of_Chinese_Words.jpgWhile studying any foreign language, your teacher will no doubt tell you not to translate words or phrases literally back into English. Well, sometimes doing so uncovers accidental, or not-so-accidental, gems. Below are a list of eleven words in Mandarin whose characters translated word-for-word back into English reveal some insight into their naming process, or at the least, help make them easier to remember...

    RenminRibao collage

    Long-gone are the days of endless tonal reviews and jokes about interchanging the words for “horse” and “mom.” You laugh at the sight of pinyin (哈哈哈). Ordering your food and drink has progressed passed the “个Zhege” and “那个Nage” strategies of yester-year. You’re now an upper-intermediate or advanced student, and you are looking to continue inching your way up the ladder to full fluency in Mandarin Chinese.
    Three important things are needed for anyone to master this beautifully complex language. And no, we’re not just talking about excelling at 口 or business vocab. We’re talking full-fledged fluency. For those seriously interested in becoming a Chinese language expert, you’ll need the following:
  • 45 Ways to Boost Your Chinese

    Are you quickly realizing that your semester courses on Mandarin just aren’t cutting it? If you really want to start taking your Chinese seriously and tigao that shuiping, check out these (sometimes ridiculous) ideas for boosting your Chinese skills. 



    Hard luck, but your language skills are never going to be up to scratch if you continue to only study the language in your home country. The act of attending Chinese classes, whilst in China, is an unbeatable method for improving your language skills. The entire experience will be your classroom. From the moment you wake up til the moment you say “Wan an,” you’ll be living, breathing, and experiencing a world defined by Chinese characters instead of your mother tongue. It’s AWESOME and it works!

  •  {fastsocialshare}


    Studying in China is not for the faint hearted. Not only are you battling language barriers left and right, you’ll also be tackling an entirely different education system, one that’s heavily reliant on examinations, repetition, and face - and that’s after you’ve squared away your registration, housing, and placement tests!
    For those first-timers coming to China, the easiest route to go will be to arrive with a study abroad organisation (like CSA, ding ding ding!) or through your home university. If you’ve done the short-term study thing and are looking for something with a little more meat, you might very well be able to organise a year+ long program directly at a Chinese university. However, be aware of these (sometimes hard to swallow) truths about life in China for students:
  •  {fastsocialshare}
    Turns out there is something else that is absolutely necessary to pack when you are getting ready for your semester or summer abroad in China. Now, we’re not advocating for leaving everything else behind (that passport and electronic dictionary will be handy after all), but we can’t stress enough how important it is that you don’t forget to pack… your patience.
    Being patient, whether or not you identify as having this skill at the moment, is the key ingredient to your overall success while studying Chinese in China. Without it, you will get caught up in the small little frustrations (that eventually turn into heaps of frustrations) that are inevitable when you move to a foreign country, especially one as unique as China. 
    You’ll need to pack…
  •  {fastsocialshare} MfX1HOV
    Okay, brace yourselves, another incredibly random blog coming your way. So ‘off the wall’ I had to seek special permission from my boss (CSA David) to even be allowed to write it.
    So what’s this week’s topic of madness? Well, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the cultural differences between China and the West in my China FAQ blog. All these comparisons triggered a memory about a TV show I used to watch many moons ago by the name of ‘Firefly’. For those who don’t know or don’t remember what Firefly was, it was Fox Network TV series starring Nathan Fillion set in the future about a renegade set of war veterans (on the losing side) who had become lowly paid mercenaries flying around the galaxy on an aging, but unique spaceship called ‘Serenity’.

     So how does this have anything to do with China?

  •  {fastsocialshare}

    DSC 2190So you’ve nailed down the destination of your study abroad program. Woot! You are embarking on a great adventure, on a road lined heavily with dumplings, bicycles, a complicated writing system, a super-duper long wall and some of the most far-out architecture you can even imagine.
    Despite your confidence in where you want to take your studies, now’s the time to think more proactively about WHO you want to study in China with. (Who? Like my friends? My mom? My grandma?) No, no, no. What we mean is… what company you’d like to study in China through.

    As of now, there are three main ways you can study in China:

  • Business Meetings in ChinaFor anyone interested in doing business in China no doubt many of you have read websites giving you tips and tricks for business etiquette; but is most of it true?


    In October 2014 I will be making my 10th trip to China, 90% of which has been for work related purposes.


    Using the Austrade guide to doing business in China I have added and adapted to what I believe you can expect, with a few extra tips and tricks. I will forever consider myself inexperienced when it comes to doing business in China (because how can you begin to understand a country that has thousands of years of culture behind it) but I hope these basics will give you a good grounding for what to expect. 

  •  {fastsocialshare}
    confused-studentAs I am sure we are all aware of by this point, learning the Chinese language is no walk in the park. In some ways, Mandarin learners who move to China to study have their work cut out for them – after all, your entire environment presents learning opportunities. Easy peezy, right??
    However, in our excitement for moving abroad and anticipation of how living in China will do wonders for your language skills, we tend to overlook the number of real challenges that face students in a Chinese language classroom.

  •  {fastsocialshare}Hanyu.svg

    It's no secret that learning Chinese is difficult, but you can certainly have fun doing it! I've compiled this list of my top five favorite digitial tools to help with learning Chinese. It's worth noting that I am a beginner so this list is probably most appropartate for those in the beginner to intermediate range. 

  •  {fastsocialshare}

    1779279 10153241620015862 4612304275635176814 n

    Ladies and gentlemen, sit back and relax as I am going to tell you a little story. Sitting comfortable? Good! Where do I begin? Ah yes ahem… There are two things I particularly dislike in today’s society; the first is global inequality, which continues to blight our world, the other? Well, it’s camping…
    Let me be clear, I do really like to spend time outdoors, it’s just, well… you can have too much of a good thing right? Sure getting out of the city once in a while can yield some great recreational moments, but after a while, once the novelty has warn off, you kind of remember how it often lacks good bathroom, Wifi, sleeping and tea & coffee making facilities. I guess I have just never understood how camping can really exist as recreational activity these days when we have these things called ‘houses’ which have all of the afore mentioned (including wifi).
    You’ve probably by now gathered the idea that I’m not a big fan of camping, I don’t see any shame in that. So imagine my trepidation when I wastold invited to attend this semesters ‘CSA Great Wall Camping Trip’.  I figured I’d recreate an honest written account of said trip as I have done with all the other CSA trips this semester, so here goes:

    BJ duck

    Mandarin through immersion: bringing a language to life

    “You know the parts of the body in Chinese really well,” my Chinese qi gong doctor says, as she discusses where qi - or energy - is blocked in my body.

    Anyone who’s ever been to China will know that the Chinese are still somewhat incredulous when a foreigner, or laowai as they like to refer to us, can speak their language. The slightest effort, like giving an address in Chinese to a taxi driver, reaps an avalanche of compliments about the level of your Chinese.

    But this time, I know I have the body parts mastered! I learned them by repetition - not the sort of agonising rote learning I went through at school learning Latin, French, Spanish and German in the early eighties – no, this vocab was acquired through physical pain. I was not in language class when I learned how to name all the parts of my body, but in yoga class - with a Chinese yogi. That’s when they became forever engrained.

  • food

    After my first visit to China in a student capacity it soon occurred to me I had a bit of a new problem I had not really experienced in my previous visits as a tourist, how was I to order food by myself?
    While I cannot deny that this was somewhat of a problem on my past visits to China as a tourist, I never really strayed too far from English speaking company or touristic zones meaning I could often find English translations or a ‘tourists best friend’ – a restaurant with pictures.
  •  {fastsocialshare} Customers use computers a 001
    While messing around with my homestay 'brother' the other day during an English class, I began showing him the various hilarious phrases you could get Google to 'autocomplete' based on most popular suggestions once you type in the first part of a statement or question. He suggested doing the same thing, except using China's own version of Google, known as Baidu. After some initially hilarious results, I pitched the idea of making this mind-blowingly random topic into a full-scale blog to my boss David who gave me the go-ahead as long as I could relate it to something vaguely Chinas Study Abroad related.
  •  {fastsocialshare}



    I'm a third generation Malaysian Chinese who's been living in New Zealand for the past decade. The three main languages that I know are English, Malay and Mandarin - ranked specifically in that order to reflect my level of proficiency in each. I’ve been to quite a few places but the prospect of coming to China scared me even more than when I went to an ex-Soviet country for 2 months (I stuck out like a sore thumb as I could barely read the Cyrillic alphabet). Last year, I had a gap in between my jobs so I decided to bite the bullet and go to Beijing for 3 months to work on my kindergarten-level Mandarin.
    I’m so infinitely glad that I did because I loved the experience so much more than I thought I would have.
    Why? Well…
  • the most confused traffic signsStudying in China is not for the faint of heart. Not only are you battling language barriers left and right, you’ll also be tackling an entirely different education system, one that’s heavily reliant on examinations, repetition, and face - and that’s after you’ve squared away your registration, housing, and placement tests!

    For those first-timers coming to China, the easiest route to go will be to arrive with a study abroad organization (like CSA, ding ding ding!) or through your home university. If you’ve done the short-term study thing and are looking for something with a little more meat, you might very well be able to organize a year+ long program directly at a Chinese university. However, be aware of these (sometimes hard to swallow) truths about life in China for students: 

  •  {fastsocialshare}
    276253 Papel-de-Parede-Meme-Jackie-Chan 1600x900
    During a recent Skype call with my family, I suddenly had an epiphany. I used to think it was just Chinese people who used to ask the same old questions about my time in China, but in reality, us Westerners are equally guilty of it too. As I sit here in the office listening to this weeks band of choice (Mumford and Sons) on a quiet Monday I figured I’d answer these questions once and for all. Partly because it would make a good blog, and partly because next time some old family friend starts up the familiar template of questions, I can just pass them a card with a link to this blog and talk about something more pressing like ‘how Crystal Palace’s season went’. 
  • Chinese familyIf you ever have the opportunity to be invited into a Chinese family’s home for a meal... go! One of the main reasons people come to China is to learn about the Chinese culture and make more Chinese friends. Being invited to someones home will give you the opportunity to do just that. Nowhere else will you get to experience the true taste of an authentic home cooked meal, and observe how Chinese people interact with their friends and family in the comfort of their own home. It may be a little intimidating at first, but you'll soon settle in and get a delicious stomach satisfying experience. Here are a few things to help you prepare for visiting a Chinese home.

  • chinese foodAs an American, I am accustomed to lots of delicious fake Chinese food. Always fried to perfection, somehow made shinier than a new car, and finally packaged in iconic Chinese takeaway boxes. American Chinese cuisine is very satisfying. It is often even prepared by Chinese-Americans, who were born in China, which leaves us thinking that it must be authentic...sort of.

  • Dalian SquareSo you’ve made the decision to study Chinese, but still haven’t decided where in China? Most people are drawn to the big citis of Beijing and Shanghai, but they may not be the best options if you want a really immersive and intensive language experience. Before you make your final choice on which city to study and live in, have a look at the reasons below why a smaller city like Tianjin or Dalian might be the study experience you’re looking for!


  • Beijing

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    3610 Capital Mansions,
    6 Xinyuan Nan Road, Chaoyang
    Beijing, 100027
    Phone: (+86) 10 8468 3799 
  • London

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    154 Bishopsgate
    London EC2M 4LN
    United Kingdom
    Phone: (+44) 0207 377 84 
  • Hong Kong

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    Rm 604-7 Dominion Centre
    43-59 Queen’s Road East
    Hong Kong
    Phone: (+852) 800 968 924 


f-grey t-grey

Our Newsletter