Overview

Instead of spending the next few years taking 1-3 Chinese classes per week and progressing very little, make the time investment NOW to move to China and enroll in one of China Study Abroad's Chinese language programs. You (and your language skills!) won't regret it!

Program Snapshot

  • Varied availability across Beijing, Dalian, Tianjin and Shanghai.
  • Duration options include semester, year-long, 12 weeks and short-term.
  • Special programs operate in the summer and winter seasons.
  • Character learning potential: 100-4000 characters (Holy moly!).
  • You control the costs! See our program planner to design your perfect program today.
  • Check out the tabs above to find more details.

What course levels are available as I learn to speak Chinese?

Courses are available for all levels of Mandarin speakers, from beginner students to advanced. However, each Chinese university utilizes a different system for assigning course placements to new students. You will typically participate in an entrance exam to better determine which class suits your current Chinese language capabilities. Universities in China often tier their classes within levels, i.e. Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels are further split into additional sub-levels. In this way, every student is placed into an even more accurate Chinese class level from the very beginning.

student learning chinese characters

Placements are by no means binding. In the first few weeks of your courses, if you're feeling like you want to kick your studies up a notch and advance to the next level, you're more than welcome to. On the flip side, you can also attend a lower level class if you're feeling overly challenged in your Chinese classroom.

We always encourage students to do honest assessments of their current Mandarin skills and play an active role in deciding which course level is best for them. Students should evaluate their goals and motivations for moving to China to study Chinese.

The best universities in China for international students (and consequently, our most popular programs!), include BLCU, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Tsinghua University, and Fudan University.

How many students can I expect in my Chinese classes?

Generally speaking, class sizes at our partner universities will not exceed 20 students. Students interested in the Beijing Mandarin Academy can expect even smaller class sizes, around 10 students. If you opt to sign up for one-on-one tutoring, your class will be a whopping 2 people.

Your classes will be comprised of international students from all over the world. Many CSA students cite the friendships borne of their classrooms to be one of the best-unexpected highlights of studying abroad in China.

What's an average day like for international students in China?

On the whole, students can anticipate waking up from a good night's sleep, quickly getting dressed / making themselves presentable and heading to class on campus. Depending on which accommodation you opt to stay in, your commute to your classroom can range from 10-30 minutes. If you have time, grab some steamed dumplings, soy sauce and tea soaked eggs, or a pork-filled bun along the way.

Depending on the level of Chinese you have tested into, you will either have 4 hours of Mandarin courses in the morning block (8am - 12pm) or afternoon block (1pm-5pm). Don't worry - you'll be given a few short breaks in between your classes! Your Chinese classes will run daily, Monday-Friday, unless a national holiday falls mid-week. In this case, you will sometimes be expected to attend make up classes on the weekends. (Oh, the agony!).

Once you've wrapped up class for the day, you'll need to continue hitting the books. Homework typically consists of character repetition and grammar exercises. In addition to reviewing the content from that day's lessons you'll also want to spend time preparing for the next day's class. Generally, two hours of extra studying and revision is recommended to keep up with the pace of the course and make tangible progress while in China.

For students looking to get even more out of their experience studying in China, we organize part time volunteer and internship programs. Put your Mandarin skills to good use in these unique program opportunities!

What will I learn in my Chinese classes?

studentreadinggrass_edit1 This is really up to you, the student. Studying Chinese is a time-intensive process. Each individual student’s progress is highly correlative to how much time is put in outside of the classroom to practice what is taught during class time.

As a general guide, over the course of a semester of study, we would expect the average student to learn and master roughly 800 new characters (roughly 100-200 characters per calendar month of study)

To put this into perspective, mastery of:

  • 200 characters will be enough to survive at a basic level on a day to day basis – introduce yourself, give directions to a taxi driver, order basic food and drink
  • 800 characters will allow you to hold basic conversations in Chinese, talk about the weather, your likes and dislikes, perform day to day tasks such as doing your shopping and almost effortlessly getting around town
  • 1500 characters will allow you to be able to read a newspaper without fully understanding all the characters, but allowing you to get a good grip on the context of the articles
  • 2500 - 3500 characters puts you at roughly the same level as a local Chinese high-school graduate. You will be able to fully read and understand newspapers and television programs, and be able to hold detailed conversation on a variety of topics
  • 4500 – 5500 characters puts you at roughly the same level as a local Chinese University graduate. At this level you could be expected to operate fluently within any situation, both professional and private, translate high-level documents and engage in conversations at all levels and for all intents and purposes operate as a well-educated “local”
  • 20,000 – 30,000 characters puts you within a very small group of linguistic academic experts who command a very rare knowledge of all obscure vocabulary and subtleties contained within the Mandarin Chinese language. Not many people, foreign or local, ever reach this level – but there’s no harm in trying!

How do course credits work?

Studying in the library All of the Chinese universities* that China Study Abroad works with are accredited directly by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

At the end of each university program, the university issues an academic transcript. This document lists the courses each student has taken, the number of hours they attended class, and their final grades. Grades are largely based on the final exam, with some weight given to a midterm, homework, and attendance. Most students interested in transferring credit to their home universities will need to get the program approved in advance. Our best advice is to start this conversation with your academic and study abroad advisors early on in the application process.

Because the programs are 20 hours of class per week, they are considered full time study (really, more than full time study by western university standards!). A four-week program is approximately equal to a one semester Chinese course at a western university; a semester is several courses and should be awarded 12 to 15 credits in the US (a full semester's worth of classes). 

Learn more about our Mandarin Language programs in Beijing, Dalian, Tianjin and Shanghai!

*Universities have the right to cancel visas if students do not adhere to university rules and attend the required number of classes.

 

CSA Tip! Browse different cities and universities in our Program Planner now to compare prices and courses available!
  • 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 

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