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Schools in Kunming


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Hi all,

I have been reading almost every thread posted at this forum. But I still have a few questions regarding language schools in Kunming.

I am planning on going to China in September for one year. Taking a break from my present study back in the Netherlands. I can't speak Chinese, not even one word. So I am an absolute beginner.

I would like to find a language school where I can also follow a few business courses a week ( just a couple of hours a week ) Because I'm very interested in business in China.

I'm still young, just turned twenty so I am looking for a school where I can also find people that are around my age. ( I mean: I'm a student so I love to party aswell ).

So here are my questions:

1. Kunming college of eastern language and culture. I have tried to contact them, but they don't really respond to my emails. Is this normal in China or is this school just not responding ? And please post any opinion about this school here aswell!!

2. How is Kunming college of eastern language and culture compared to Yunnan Normal for example? Or do you know any other good language schools in Kunming? I have seen Keatsschool.. but that's pretty expensive. ( at least for me )

3. Which school is the best one for me ? Regarding what I wrote above.

I really want to study in China for a year, I hope to speak a bit of chinese after a year. But I'm still not certain about which school to choose. Also because I haven't gotten a response from Kunming college of eastern language and culture yet. And the Yunnan Normal website is outdated.

Please help me to make the right decision. I would be VERY grateful!:)

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Kunming is a great place, I been there a few times but only for traveling. I also plan to go to Kunming this year (probably in November). I haven't decided which uni to attend, but I'll probably pick Yunnan University. It's located right at the center of Kunming. I only fear to meet too many foreigners and too little Chinese... So, see you in Kunming in November!!!

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I don't think the keats school would be good for you because it's a private school. No college credits and the people are from all walks of life. You might wanna try Yunnan University. There you will meet plenty of people your age. I was 47 years old when I came to China to learn. It's been my dream no other reason. You will find plenty of bars and clubs in the Yunnan vicinty. The only downfall of coming to Kunming as oppose to let's say Beijing is that most people speak Kunming hua and you will seldom here "Pu tong hua" Mandarin chinese. You being young can learn a lot faster than I ever could. Good Luck!

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If you are coming to Kunming to study "Mandarin" you will hear very little. You will hear "kunming hua" and most Kunming people that speak "mandarin" speak it unclearly. It's like a mixture of Kunming/Mandarin mess. When I was studying at the keats school. I made it a point not to hang out at the places where "lao wai" (foreigners) go because you will wind up speaking english and not force to use what you are learning which is chinese.

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Thank you for all your replies. Studying in Kunming still really attracts me. The only downside is the dialect I quess. But will I learn a lot more studying in Beijing for example? Because they have the 'right' dialect?

The thing about Kunming that attracts me so much is the weather, the smooth paste of life, nature, clean air etcetera.

But if I will learn a lot more studying in Beijing, perhaps I should consider studying there. Or first half year in Kunming, second half year in Beijing. So.. you guys really think I'll be wasting money in Kunming because I won't learn speaking Mandarin as fast as in Beijing?

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In the end you have to decide. Yes you will probably learn "mandarin" faster in Beijing because you will hear it all the time spoken by locals and by foreigners. I've never been to Beijing (not yet) but my teacher lives there and she says it's awful because of the weather and Sooooooooooo many people. I think your idea of 6 months there and 6 months here is a good one. Go to Beijing first, get a handle on your mandarin then when you come here you won't feel so lost. When you do study chinese I have one very important advice. First memorize the tones!!! Believe me, memorize the tones first because when you speak english there are no tones and getting into your head the tones is very important otherwise they won't understand you. You will enjoy China! Good Luck!!

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  • 1 year later...
If you are coming to Kunming to study "Mandarin" you will hear very little. You will hear "kunming hua" and most Kunming people that speak "mandarin" speak it unclearly. It's like a mixture of Kunming/Mandarin mess. When I was studying at the keats school. I made it a point not to hang out at the places where "lao wai" (foreigners) go because you will wind up speaking english and not force to use what you are learning which is chinese.

Question - If you didn't hang out with lao wai... but you also couldn't speak with Kunming people who speak a mix of Kunming and Mandarin... Who did you speak with to practice your Chinese other than the teachers at the school?

I'm leaving for China in Jan and trying to nail down where to study. I was dead set on BNU for the longest time - but now thinking to switch to Dalian or Kunming to avoid pollution.

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  • 5 months later...
The thing about Kunming that attracts me so much is the weather, the smooth paste of life, nature, clean air etcetera.

Note: should be "smooth pace of life". Don't fret - I'm just anal about such things ;)

All the criteria that boiled all of the possible choices down to Kunming for me i.e. the complete polar opposite of Beijing.

I think your idea of 6 month splits is an extremely good idea. However, have you considered studying in Harbin? Quite a few forum members speak highly of Harbin (including Roddy, I believe?), so may be an alternative to Beijing if the weather and pollution are off-putting.

I plan to study at Keats for 6 months from April 2010 because the set-up is extremely good and meets all of my requirements, judging by all the reviews in the thread mentioned by Luobot. However, I'm in a very similar position to Liumingke - although I am younger by 11 years re: no need for college credits.

I'd be really keen to not only hear on how you split up your 6 months study, but also how you find living in different parts of China for 6 months. I think it will be an interesting way to study over the course of the year, and gives you enough time to explore each place yet keeps things fresh and interesting.

Good call!

P.s. Just realised that I am replying to a two year old thread that Harvey exhumed last September!

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  • 3 weeks later...

hi all,

i'd like also to share my experience of learning chinese in Kunming.

i studied last semester at SFL school which is still a very small school, it seems they are trying to get their business growing.

but i can tell that the quality of teaching is the highest a met in Kunming. Teacher is professional and graduated from beijing language university (whic is not to find at any corner in kunming).

the class is kind of High-tech with a flat screen tv and computer so that if you want some notes you dont need to waste time to copy it, just ask for the powerpoint, that's all. and i think that's cool. :clap

i tried also their special class which consist of having class in the class and also having class outside to put what you learned in practice, this is really fantastic, it's 200% efficient and i loved it. :oops: (not the teacher but the class lol)

ok, their price is not the cheapest [but not the most expensive also] but you'll get what you want for your money and to my opinion it's still not expensive for us, compared to western countries prices.

ok, i think that's it. if you want to contact them you can write me, i'll forward you the contact (or if you search for you might find them on the web)

nice day, Glad

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Is this their website? http://www.study-foreign-language.com/index.php

Where are they located in Kunming? What part of town, near what major streets or landmarks? The website gives a strange, non-descriptive address, namely:

World Education Center Building

Success story Avenue

Floor 77, No. 7707

65001 Kunming, Yunnan, China

Why be so secretive with the contact info?

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hi abcdefg,

i didn't know their website, but according to the pictures i saw, indeed it is.

i heard about they wanted to have a website ....

when i visited it i saw on the homepage that it is still "under construction", that might be the reason.

i'll drop them an email to ask about and see if they change something ...



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Dear Chinese-forum members and guests,

Gladys, please let me first thank you for your sympathy through your message on this forum. We are very happy to see that you enjoyed your learning time with us.

Concerning our website, indeed it is still in development and things are not always going as well and as good as we would like.

Anyway, we consider every critic and suggestions and as a matter of fact our address on our website was still not updated to the correct one. Now that is done. And additionally, we inserted a Google Map so that you can easily find out where our location is. [it is next to the cross of Huanchengdonglu and Dongfengdonglu - 10 minutes from Hump by bus - 5 minutes from Camelia Hotel by bus]

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or suggestions, we are happy to provide you with more detailed information.

Thank you all for your help and kindness. :)

Warm regards,

SFL Team

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If you're a complete novice at Mandarin it doesn't really matter where you spend your 1st few weeks / months as your mandarin will be rubbish.

If you want uni credits go to a Uni, if you want to speak mandarin go for 1 on 1 tuition as you get immediate feedback on your pronunciation drills and your learn rate is faster.

Beijing people have a strong accent so be careful not to pick it up if you study there. Where ever you go in China people have strong accents but so long as you keep practising standard pronunciation you should get along where ever you are.

Many people love Beijing but people who lived elsewhere in China 1st are usually not so keen on the city (please shoot me down but that is what I find)

So in summary I would recommend 1 on 1 tuition in a town(s) that you like.

I would suggest that you get as much vocabulary under your belt as possible BEFORE you come (minimum 1-300 words) so you get your mind geared to learning new words. If you start now 2 new words per day that is 300 words by Sept. You don't need a teacher to use home made flash cards.

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So in summary I would recommend 1 on 1 tuition in a town(s) that you like.

Right on, Ed Log.

Thank you, StudyForeignLang Team.

Edited by abcdefg
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Hello Everybody,

Please let me write a word about Ed Log's explanations/advises.

I'm a professional teacher to teach Chinese to foreigners and i can hardly agree with most of your points, Ed Log.

It is very clear that the first weeks/months of learning Chinese language are crucial and determining the future of you study. Like when you play a game, if you do not pass the first level, how can you success to pass second level, third level and so on.

Except you are a genius, you will need a good teacher to assimilate the essential basis of Chinese language, required for keeping and continuing an efficient learning and in order to get good result.

The practising and rectification of your tons is very important. It has more importance than everything else in Chinese language. If you can not pronounce the right ton, everything you learned will have almost no use [grammar, measure words, and so on]. Among my student, the rate of new learners which success to pronounce the tons correctly from beginning and by themselves is simply ZERO. Even Chinese people need a training and regular practice if they want to speak a clear and correct Mandarin Chinese.

That said, i think that if you really want to learn Chinese, you'll absolutely need a professional coach [tutor, teacher, etc ...] especially in the first months and weeks.

That's not the case for medium or advanced learners. because if they already have strong basis, they can learn by themselves without big problems.

Ed Log, your point about vocabulary is also sensitive, especially for complete novice. We regularly see students coming to our classes with a very specific problem which is : they learned tones of vocabulary but have no idea how and when to use it (i remember you that Chinese is a language where the context is very important).

Finally, concerning the different accents from different provinces, i would say that this is again thanks to a good coach, teacher, tutor that you'll avoid being influenced too much by continuously improving and making rectification of your accents (local or foreign)

All these information i give you here are based on studies and experiences. It's already not easy to learn a foreign language and i would be very sad to see new learners fail because of wrong advises. Please consult a professional before to take your decisions about how to learn a language.

I wish all Chinese learners a good learning with fun and hope they can progress as quickly as possible.

Thank you for reading ! 8)

If you have questions, i am happy to try to give you an answer.


ps1: i agree with uni credits, 1-on1 in the city you like,

ps2: tapes are a great help, but not enough by itself

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I believe we are agreeing on points.

As I was trying to state at the start of your learning geographic location is less important than having 121 classes with critical feedback on progress. If you are in Beijing, Shanghai or somewhere nice like Kunming the first few weeks make little difference. If you go out on the street and practice your few words just talk with people under 25 and should not have dialect issues.

All languages are context based and the lack of vocab is the main reason why you can not get to speaking without translating. I agree there may be issues about over concentration on Vocab but wasting valuable tuition time learning words is not something I would recommend

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Ed Log,

Yes, indeed i think we are agreeing on points. 8)

Like you mention, I would also not recommend to waste valuable tuition time learning words, but in my opinion when learning with a teacher or tutor (the one you pay), it should not only be about learning vocabulary even this is important and it belongs to an efficient learning program. If you meet these kind of teacher or tutor, i would also not recommend to choose him.

For example, we would not provide a "learning vocabulary program" or any other kind of class or 1on1 focused only on vocabulary, but a program containing several different skills to improve and including "learning vocabulary".

The problem i want to point, is that we see a part of our students coming with a great amount of words (beginner or advanced beginner), but they can not use their vocabulary in the right context. And finally, we can not say these student can speak good Chinese. Especially for beginners, vocabulary has to be learned in context.

I agree that the lack of vocabulary is a reason why you can not get to speaking. For example, some of our programs include a special feature which is the "outside class". Additionally to having class indoor, our students go to have an outing with teachers in order to practice what they learned indoor. The result of this program is very convincing in that way that they will very quickly be able to put what they learned in practice.

We strongly believe that learning a language by oneself may be possible, but there are a lot of short-cuts in learning a new language and one might discover that by himself, however it is not that simple and may require higher abilities than the average.

The teacher is someone who can help the student to get these short-cuts. The teacher can show, can point out what are the important points to spend time on and other less necessary points. That's how we understand the definition of teacher and teaching a language.



Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere

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