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one99

New Concept Mandarin - Shenzhen - Worth the Price??

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one99

Hi,

I am considering doing a 30 day Immersion course at New Concept Mandarin in Shenzhen with the intention of coming back after a couple of months if the course is good.

The course:

http://www.newconceptmandarin.com/immersion/description/overview.asp

The course seems quite expensive compared with other courses. The 30 day course costs $4,050 (in a group of 3-12) or $8,100 (one on one).

Basically, my question is do you think this course is worth the cost?

Anyone studied here? Or heard anything?

BTW: I quite like the idea of studying in Shenzhen.

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trevelyan

If you came to Beijing and spent a month with a private tutor who had experience teaching Chinese as a second language, you would probably pay about $1500 for 240 hours of instruction (8 hours a day, 7 days a week for one month). Add a maximum of $1000 USD for a nice hotel room.

There are reasonable administrative expenses in running a school. And you should pay for the convenience of not having to arrange your own instructors, course materials. But this seems very, very expensive. And just because you pay a lot does not mean you will learn much.

One thing to look for when trying to get a sense of the honest of school pricing is the cost of their accomodation. Any reasonable school should try to arrange discounts for its students for long-term stay. At the prices listed on the site above (cheapest room 150 per night, most rooms 300+) it looks like the school is simply offering non-discounted rooms at local hotels and probably taking a kickback.

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djwebb2004
Hi,

I am considering doing a 30 day Immersion course at New Concept Mandarin in Shenzhen with the intention of coming back after a couple of months if the course is good.

The course:

http://www.newconceptmandarin.com/im...n/overview.asp

The course seems quite expensive compared with other courses. The 30 day course costs $4,050 (in a group of 3-12) or $8,100 (one on one).

Basically, my question is do you think this course is worth the cost?

Anyone studied here? Or heard anything?

BTW: I quite like the idea of studying in Shenzhen.

No, of course it is not worth the price!! 64,000 yuan for one month's one-on-one tuition?? A vice-professor at university in Beijing is blogging somewhere about how his salary is 1918 yuan a month, plus various supplements, which require him to work all holidays and weekends, and he can boost it to 4500 yuan. It doesn't matter how good these people are, this would be expensive for a one-year course, let alone a month.

The awkward thing is, experience in teaching Chinese as a second language is not necessarily worth anything either, and qualifications in TCFL are not necessarily worth anything. These could easily be "experience of teaching Chinese badly" and "qualifications in teaching Chinese badly". If you want to be sure of course quality, you need to go for a course certified by a leading US university, not necessarily a course set up by greedy people to gouge as much money as they can.

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one99

Thanks for your replies, but they are both really only saying that the course is expensive.

I don't mind paying for the course providing it is worth the price.

Comparing this with other courses I have looked at, it seems the best to me. But it is impossible to tell if the course is excellent or not from their website.

I am planning to do a 30 day course with them. If it is good, I plan to continue another 60 days with them.

Looking at their client list, a lot of big companies have used them.

If anyone actually has any experience with them or knows anyone who has used them, I would love to hear any feedback.

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anonymoose
Thanks for your replies, but they are both really only saying that the course is expensive.

I don't mind paying for the course providing it is worth the price.

I'd interpret the course being expensive to mean it is not worth the price.

I'm not familiar with such courses, but to me a 30 day course for $4,050 (in a group of 3-12) or $8,100 (one on one) sounds not merely expensive, but a complete rip-off. Still, it's your money...

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gato

What's there to like about Shenzhen?

Have you considered other schools? Take a look at these threads.

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/9462-has-anyone-been-to-prcstudy&highlight=tli

Has anyone been to PRCStudy

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/8099-taipei-language-institute-beijing-dongcheng-query&highlight=tli

Taipei Language Institute - Beijing (Dongcheng) - Query

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/10740-manda-chinese-school-hangzhou&highlight=manda

Manda Chinese School, Hangzhou

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one99

I am wishing to do an intensive course in January.

When I was in Beijing a couple of years ago in December, it was cold and a little depressing. So I would prefer not to study in Beijing between December and February (winter??).

I really liked Shanghai, but I can't study there because of the dialect.

When I was younger, I was in Shenzhen for a day and I really liked it. Something about the atmosphere or something. I have been told it has changed a lot, which may be a bad thing.

My time for study is very limited. I have a relatively well paying job in Australia, so the longer I am away, the more money I don't earn. Therefore an intensive course of at least 30 hours a week is better for me.

If you look at their client list (http://www.newconceptmandarin.com/aboutus/client.asp) you will see a lot of major international companies. If these companies can justify the price for their employees, then it is likely the price is justified. Of course, I realise that this list is provided by the school, so I can not take it into consideration too much.

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adrianlondon

Just to throw another curved ball into this thread :

I don't recommend intensive courses. I know everyone is different, but my standard course (20 hours a week) already contains enough new words and grammar to keep me busy. if I was doing an intensive course I'd have no time to do anything else.

I'm in China to do two things. 1/ study Mandarin and 2/ have fun. If you want to spend your entire time studying then pick an intensive course. Following that argument through, it therefore doesn't matter where you study or what the weather's like as you'll have no time to go out. Just make sure you live close to the classrooms.

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roddy

If I was short on time and long on money, New Concept would probably be one of the places I'd consider. They are costly, but they have also been around for a few years, and have a number of locations, including in Hong Kong and Singapore, and they present themselves well. None of that is a perfect indicator of quality, but in the absence of first-hand information, it's not bad.

The pricing would stick in my throat though.

Has anyone tried any of their online offerings?

Roddy

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djwebb2004

I didn't know New Concept had branches in Singapore etc, so that bodes well for their teaching methodology. But: the money can only be a rip-off in China. Even the $4000 charged for 3 months by IUP in Beijing has to be a rip-off, as the equivalent ICLP course in Taipei - a much more developed city - is cheaper at only $3000. If you have so much money that being ripped off doesn't matter, then go for it!! I don't know whether it is still true, but I read one in the Lonely Planet guide about the bus from Kashgar to Pakistan. It only costs 20 yuan, but foreigners need to take a 500 yuan tour from CITS! There are rip-offs galore in China!! Would you pay 10,000 yuan for 5 minutes instruction if someone told you it was the best instruction in Chinese available????

As for: can't study in Shanghai owing to the dialect....er.....what do you mean? Shanghainese actually speak better Mandarin than most people in the official Mandarin-speaking area! Go to rural areas of Yunnan and Sichuan - SW Mandarin is much less understandable than Shanghainese fluent standard Mandarin. We are verging on a situation where foreigners will only go to one or two places to learn Mandarin, eg Beijing, Harbin, Qindao and Shenzhen - and everywhere else is regarded as not standard enough. True most places in China have non-standard features in their Mandarin, depending on education levels etc, but I hope you realise that people in Shenzhen are a mixed bag of people from all over the country, with very large numbers of Henan, Hubei and Hunan people, as well as people from Guangdong. Er.... do you think that Shenzhen Mandarin is going to be more standard than Shanghai Mandarin....?? The city is mainly Mandarin-speaking with a large Cantonese-speaking minority, but most people in the city come from "non-standard-Mandarin-speaking areas" - there is no advantage over Shanghai in terms of Mandarin quality, particularly if you want an intensive course.

Intensive course require many hours of homework a night. If you are going on intensive courses, anywhere in the country, you will probably have very, very, very little free time, and probably will not get out enough to even know there is a local dialect. Even if there is a local dialect, you will only hear it from time to time, as your teachers and educated Chinese you meet will speak Mandarin. I think you will understand all these points better once you arrive in China.

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johnd

I think how much you get out of your lessons depends a lot on the specific teacher that you have - their attitude, approach to teaching and energy levels. If you are considering joining a course like this then you should ask to sit in on a lesson, or arrange to attend the first day before you commit to pay for the whole course. Then you'll be in a better position to judge for yourself if it will be value for money.

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Shekou Dude

One99, I'm the HR person in southern China for one of those logo'd companies you see on the NCM client list and have been responsible for bringing something on the order of 60-70 foreigners plus their family members to Guangdong during the last 8 years or so. Those foreigners are primary from the US, UK, and Australia. A very small part of the role of an HR person in setting up an operation and bringing folks in is scoping out and comparing local vendors. So perhaps I can be of assistance in your quest.

The caveat, of course, is that of the local vendors I scoped out when first getting here, I selected NCM -- and made the "preferred provider" sale -- to my line management. So I'm not exactly unbiased. However, I'm happy to share with you some of my experience in managing that relationship since then.

The expats and family members we brought in were not limited to using NCM... they could choose any other local provider, local university instructor, or private tutor they chose and the company would still pay the bill. Consequently, they didn't have to consider cost in selecting. Our company did, however, require verification of course attendance and some extraordinarily minor proficiency evaluation at the end of the session. In all but a couple of cases, our staff and their family members who elected to study Mandarin selected NCM or came back to NCM after trying another service provider. For the handful (maybe 10-15) people who wanted to continue studying Mandarin after the company-paid benefit limit was reached, all elected to continue either directly with NCM or with their NCM teacher who may have been doing some freelancing on the side. And they paid for it out of their own pockets. (Not that they were happy about paying for it... better to have the company pay, of course, but after the maximum benefit was reached, the company wouldn't pay for instruction from anyone, regardless of cost.)

I rarely received complaints about NCM from our staff/family members. The complaints I received were usually around "chemistry with the specific teacher" issues, but none of those folks elected to ask NCM to provide a different instructor, either.

Consequently, given that our folks tended to gravitate toward NCM when they were free to choose other options, had few complaints, and seemed inclined to use NCM even when they were paying themselves, my company has maintained that relationship from 2000 to current.

Personally, my first two instructors were freelance teachers, one a retired university professor and the other a local middle school English instructor freelancing Chinese lessons to local expats. The university prof was very, very Chinese, but he beat tones and pronunciation into me. Am very grateful for that subsequently, but didn’t really get enough vocabulary in our time together to beyond minor pleasantries. My second freelance structor was very, very, very Chinese and it was about then that it dawned on me that I learn differently from the Chinese students these folks were used to working with.

So I went to NCM and have now taken a couple of different courses through them – one group course and one set of private tutoring sessions. I wanted to take the immersion course but couldn’t get enough time away from work and so am taking an extended series of private tutoring lessons. Must say that I preferred the group sessions as there’s greater opportunity to interact with other learners and learn from them. I find that when I’m with an instructor for 3 hours at a time speaking Chinese, I’m usually pooped by the end. So I group class that went a full day would undoubtedly be intense, but do-able depending on your own tolerance/motivation levels.

NCM for me is good in that their instructional method is suited to westerners’ learning patterns. My freelance local instructors tended toward wanting rote memorization of sentences which is often how locals begin learning their English. That method didn’t work for me because I wanted to take sentences apart and use the vocabulary I learned in different structures…which sometimes can be done and sometimes can’t.

I’ve met with the head of NCM on numerous occasions during the years when renegotiating our corporate contracts. He’s Chinese (from Wuhan) but did Ph.D. study in Australia in linguistics and is now an Australian passport holder, if I recall correctly. He developed the base curriculum for the NCM series of courses and has generally tried to structure them in ways that follow western style learning patterns and give a combination of vocab, tone practice, and common expressions that can get students up and running in a reasonable period. I know the instructors have also been trained to be very perky and try to keep things moving along at a good place, knowing that we’re an MTV generation that takes things in small bites and needs some entertainment in order to learn. (Personally, I hate that. There is nothing that irks me more on a Monday morning than to have my instructor show up and be perky.)

BTW, NCM was one of the few vendors here willing to sign our corporate ethics statement and I’ve never had any reason directly or through our company’s students to question their practices. So I wouldn’t leap to the conclusion that they’re getting kickbacks from local hotels, although anything is possible, I suppose. Their immersion courses thus far have been rather small…only 2 or 3 folks a pop, at least when I was checking for myself… and they only started them earlier this year, so I’m not sure they had enough data or clout to go to the local hotels with the kind of commitment that could result in a good discount. If the hotel thing is an issue, ask them for a price quote without the hotel stuff included and make your own arrangements if you’d prefer.

However, without a doubt they’re expensive…they’re doing a lot of development right now with proprietary texts, online interactive stuff, DVDs, etc., although they’ve had a CD-ROM product for some time. So developing that stuff is probably not cheap. They are also going international and are expanding to Germany. So we students are paying for that at the same time we’re theoretically benefitting from instructional methods that are being continuously refined.

BTW, if you’re interested in the Shenzhen area, Shenzhen University has Chinese courses for foreigners and there are a number of private instructional companies in Hong Kong that also teach Mandarin.

Long note, I realize, but I hope it’s helpful. I think it’s pretty much (a) how do you learn and how do you want to learn, (B) what type of ongoing motivation do you need once you get started, © what types of bells-and-whistles do you value, if any, and then weigh that against the practical realities of costs and locations. It’s different strokes for different folks; there are lots of vendors out there and even more individuals willing to trade some time to teach you Chinese in return for the chance to practice English with you. It just comes down to what you think best fits your learning goals and style, pocketbook, etc. There are advantages and disadvantages to every option…just depends on which set you are willing to live with.

Good luck. If you get to Shekou/Shenzhen, I hope your experience here is a good one.

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djwebb2004

I am not sure about just learning sentences off pat, but the best method of learning Chinese is by sentence drills - see Kan Qian's colloquial Chinese for the only example I know.

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one99

Thanks Shekou Dude for your detailed reply.

After looking around a bit on the web and in forums, I planned to go to NCM, and ur post has helped. I would rather pay 4 times the cost for a course that is double as good, as I value my time.

To be safe, I plan to enrol in a 10 day course, immediately followed by a 20 day course. It works out a bit more expensive, but if things dont work out, then I have only paid for 10 days. I hope that I will be doing a second session of 30 days or 60 days later if they live up to my expectations.

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one99

Shekou Dude, if you don't mind, I would be very interested to hear what discount your company is able to get from NCM. I realise you have a big contract with many people, but would still be interested to know. If you don't mind sharing, please reply or email me: fire @ internode.on.net (no spaces)

thanks.

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djwebb2004

one99, let us know if you are fluent at the end of the month!

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HashiriKata
one99, let us know if you are fluent at the end of the month!

djwebb2004 is talking in his dream! :mrgreen:

By the way, I tried out some stuff from New Concept Mandarin's site sometimes ago and I posted my impressions in the thread below, which may or may not be relevant:

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/8218-do-i-have-to-learn-by-heart-the-tones

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