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Chris333

"That's Mandarin" in Beijing

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Chris333

I've been in Beijing since last September, trying out different forms of learning Chinese. So far I've tried books, a private tutor (who turned out to be less than reliable,) and more recently an online tool called Lingt. I also visited That's Mandarin near Wudaokou a few weeks ago to check out their school. I liked the free class but I'm wondering if the long-term curriculum is good or not.

Has anyone studied with them? What are your impressions? Positives/ negatives? I may sign up in the near future so I'd appreciate any input.

ps; I tried searching "That's Mandarin" on this forum but came up empty. Apologies if this is a repost of a subject that has already been discussed.

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giraffe

I haven't studied at the school but my online tutor teaches there. I don't know whether it says anything about the school as a whole, but I think she's a great teacher. My Chinese has improved tremendously since I started doing weekly classes last summer.

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Hüsker Dü

I've been studying at the Dongzhimen campus part-time for about a month and a half. I like it so far.

I wrote about the school a bit in this thread.

Hope this helps.

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Chris333

Thanks... Read your posts in the other thread; My experience was almost identical in the introductory class, with the stick figure doctor, bag, bus stop and so on...

I actually just emailed the Wudaokou head teacher about class schedule and costs. They're offering a special for 100 classes in the 8:00-10:00AM time slot, but I'm not available before 9:00AM. I asked if they could extend the offer so it includes class between 9:00 and 11:00AM. I'm also hoping they'll allow a payment schedule, because at the moment they want full payment (10,000RMB for 100 classes) up front and I just can't swing that much right now.

Anyway- I'll update this thread or the other one with my impressions/ experience if I do enroll with them.

Thanks again for the input.

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phyrex

I went there for a few weeks in 2008 (I think). I had single classes (I don't know if they offer another kind)

I liked the girls who taught me (no, not in THAT way! :P ), but their English was severely lacking. My Mandarin was for all intents and purposes non-existant back then, and they could neither really teach me something new (because of their lacking English), and they desperately tried to get me to speak, which is sort of a futile exercise when you know like 20 words in Chinese.

Nowadays, I might profit from going there again, because they might be great conversation partners which can help you along the way, but I wouldn't consider them as proper "teachers".

So I guess it depends on the level that you're at. If you're like me back then, I can't recommend them. If you're more advanced and you really just need some help in getting fluent and learning useful vocab while chatting with pretty girls, then this might be just the school for you.

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Chris333

Thanks for the input.

I think I'm at a slightly higher level than you were when you tried them. I'm still not conversational, but I'm familiar with at least a few hundred words and have a decent grasp of the tones.

Based on the free class they gave me and an assumption that the teachers have improved their English since your experience with them in '08, I think they'll be a good match. Now we just have to negotiate a more reasonable payment schedule and I'll sign up. :wink:

edit; BTW- I don't know what it was like in '08, but the program now includes a daily email listing everything studied that day, as well as an mp3 of the teacher reciting it.

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roddy

I suspect you'll find the no-English thing is a pedagogical choice, not just a matter of them not having learned yet. Can be a bit frustrating very early on, but pays dividends quickly if you stick with it.

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phyrex

It might have been a pedagogical choice to employ teachers that don't speak English, but it definitely wasn't a choice of the teachers not to speak English :)

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roddy

Here's some earlier discussion - there may be more, but as both 'that's' and 'mandarin' are quite common terms on here it can be hard to find. You'll have more luck with the Google search box.

I've never studied there, but have visited the (very nice) Dongzhimen campus a few times and spoken to some of the staff at length, and would happily suggest people give it a shot. I can see some might not like the methodology, but horses for courses (and you're much better off with a teacher who you feel doesn't speak enough English than one who speaks too much). For the sake of disclosure they also advertise here.

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Chris333
Here's some earlier discussion - there may be more, but as both 'that's' and 'mandarin' are quite common terms on here it can be hard to find. You'll have more luck with the Google search box.

I just realized I read that thread after Googling 'That's Mandarin' back in January...-Had no idea at that time I'd be joining this forum. :D The common terms would explain my failure to locate that thread when I searched this forum on Tuesday.

Thanks for your help.

BTW, as an update; I emailed the head teacher at Wudaokou again last night regarding payment schedule. This was in response to their offer of 'half now, half later' instead of full payment in advance. I asked if a monthly payment would be acceptable; I await her response. I have to think they would rather accept this form of payment instead of nothing at all. Maybe they're doing well enough that they don't need my money. :-) :-? Even half of the full tuition (5k RMB) isn't pocket change for me so I hope there's a little more room for negotiation.

Another update; Alas, my counter offer for monthly payments was declined. Their loss, I guess. I can't really understand why they would turn away profit. They must have a good reason. Anyway- I don't think I'll be signing up with them right now.

Edited by Chris333
added last paragraph with update

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Zukhov

:-)

Edited by Zukhov
Erased because the person who asked for advice already knows how I feel.

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Chris333

Zukhov,

Thanks for your input. Wow- nearly 2 years with only 1 post! I wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut for that long in any forum. :D

I don't have anything against TM. They were very professional and courteous at Wudaokou, however I was skeptical about signing up when they wouldn't accept monthly payments. I always try to negotiate for the best solution and, as mentioned earlier, couldn't swing a big payment up front. I won't jump to conclusions about why they wouldn't concede, but it just didn't sit well with me so I bid them adieu.

As you and others have said, there are LOTS of schools in Beijing. I happened to start looking too late and missed the spring semester application deadline for the major colleges. One of them, I think it was the Beijing Foreign Language school, had a 30hr/wk program for only a little more than TM's 10hr/wk program. That said, I don't know what payment schedules are offered by the colleges. They may not allow monthly payment either.

Anyway- I found a local tutor through a friend so I'm going to talk to her tomorrow about pricing/ schedule/ etc.. I'll also continue with some of the supplemental online tools suggested in this forum which, in itself, is a great resource.

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Zukhov

:-)

Edited by Zukhov
Erased because the person who asked for advice already knows how I feel.

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Hüsker Dü
:D Edited by Hüsker Dü
deleted post because it didn't add to the discussion

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inbeijing

Hey - full disclosure - I am good friends with both the school's owner and a large number of the teachers. I studied there full time for nearly a year, and am studying at That's Mandarin again. With regards to pricing and payment method clearly this is a subjective issue and not something I would want to comment on.

However I think saying the method is nothing more than making you talk and printing out a sheet of words is akin to saying a Maths teacher's method is writing equations on the board and then setting you homework. It completely misses the point of the dedication, enthusiasm and attention the teachers put in to their students' class. Its the explanations, the patience, the constant re-introduction of previously learnt vocabulary and grammar that makes their approach so effective. Learning a language is about learning what you can use, what is relevant to you, not memorising endless vocab lists (we got enough of that in high school and how much of it do you remember?). I would agree at the start the fact they will not talk to you in much English can be frustrating - but in my experience it is well worth persevering with - it sets the ground rules for what the school is trying to achieve - create an environment in which students feel what they are learning can be used both inside and outside the classroom.

I have never gone with any other programme, but I have had private tutors. My only comment is that That's Mandarin takes an extremely strict line on what it expects from its employees - they all work very hard to help their students. I am sure there are many dedicated tutors out there, but at That's Mandarin you are guaranteed an excellent teacher every time. The prices reflect not only their hard work and dedication, but also the excellent learning environment.

Clearly some of the comments here are negative so I hope my own experience balances things out. As to the character criticisms, I can assure you that in a large number of dealings I have had with the school's management I have never once been treated with anything but honesty and integrity. This is why I consistently come back here to study.

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giraffe

There's nothing wrong with the methodology itself. Working with stories is a very natural and dynamic technique. But it's probably not for everyone. Some people are just more comfortable with a more structured "textbook" style curriculum. And I can definitely see it being a problem for a beginner if the teacher doesn't have good English skills.

My experience with That's Mandarin is limited to one teacher that I only work with privately (through Skype) so I definitely can't comment on the school as a whole, but I'm very satisfied with my classes. Perhaps the key thing is that her English is actually very good, so in the beginning, when I could hardly string more than a couple of words together, it was ok to use English to complete my thoughts and let her translate them to Chinese. Gradually over time, she did less translation and more and more pushed me to say stuff that she knew I had inside me somewhere. I do lots of flashcard study on my own, so I was really just looking for help with conversational Chinese (especially fixing my tones and getting familiar with sentence structure)

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Zukhov

:-)

Edited by Zukhov
Erased because the person who asked for advice already knows how I feel.

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Hüsker Dü

@"Zukhov". First, welcome to the forums. I couldn’t help noticing you recently made your first post. And that your following two posts were continuations of the same theme: ranting about "what happened to you" at That's Mandarin.

One might ask: if I did not like them, why did I not quit?

Nope. More like, why did you start taking classes there in the first place? After the free trial lesson YOU made the choice to sign up for 100 hours of classes, right? You knew that the teachers use material from a textbook, but the students don't. Right?

"Money Back Guarantee". This only applies for the first week.

Ball is in your court on this one. Again, it's up to you to know about a school's payment and refund policy before you pay.

All the teachers are very young girls and most don't speak English well enough to teach Mandarin to a beginner (like me).

That's funny, I haven't seen any children teaching classes at the Dongzhimen campus. Apparently you don't speak English well enough to know how to respectfully refer to female teachers in their mid-20s.

There are much better schools. With 200 RMB for 2 classes of 50 minutes you can go to ANY school in Beijing or hire pretty much anyone to teach you.

Where? Care to list some schools? Come on, with almost two years of carefully reading the forums (and only recently ranting . . . oops, I mean "posting") you certainly can come up with a few alternatives. Right?

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