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Chinese immersion (in London)?

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I am going to be living in London for 8 months, or more, starting next week. I am English but lived in the USA for a long time. I plan to move to Beijing spring 2008.

I want to learn Mandarin and I've already started and I'm at the absolute beginner stage, so I thought Chinese immersion would be a good idea. While I continue studying in my free time.

What do you think of the idea of doing a Chinese immersion by living with a Chinese family in London? Does such a thing exist and is there a significant Mandarin speaking community in London? Seems like it might be possible but I'd have to ask the right people for a contact or referral. Maybe I just find Chinese students studying in London to have as roomates.


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There's a large community from HK but they sopeak no or very poor Mandarin. I know quite a few Singaporeans but they find it very hard to read/write and if you live with them they'll definitely speak English at home.

Where I live (a few minutes walk from SOAS and the University of London) there seems to be many new Mandarin-speaking students around. Much more than there were even a year ago. However, they're living in dorms so you can't live with them.

There isn't a big community of mainland Chinese families anywhere in the UK. Some pockets of workers, usually just the men working away from home, and some pockets of students, again living away from home.

Doesn't mean it's not possible, just that it won't be so easy. Just look for a houseshare with some mainland Chinese students and hope for the best.

I think there'd be more Taiwanese than mainland Chinese here; their Mandarin sounds great (assuming you already know enough to pick apart sh from s, ch from c and zh from z) although they may not know pinyin or simplified characters.

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When I was in Edinburgh recently the Chinese supermarket had a noticeboard with student flatshares advertised. That and maybe students unions and Chinese / International Students Societies at universities are probably your best bet, I would say.

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  • 11 months later...

Hi there,

I have applied to study Mandarin at SOAS in London on their Modern Chinese Diploma course 2008-09 starting in September.

I would like to find some shared accommodation in London, living with Mandarin speakers so that I don't come home to English speakers every day and would prefer students but also consider living with a family.

Does anyone have an idea where I could look or get help with this given that I don't have any real Chinese yet? I will be asking at the university but was wondering if anyone else had any ideas?

The course is going to be held partly on the Russell Square and partly on the Kings Cross campus so would be looking to live within a bike ride of the two.



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