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The Harbin Mandarin School, Harbin

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@edelweis

would you mind describing your experience at 1on1mandarinworkshop ?

For instance, did you do the 4 hours a day 1 on 1 "class" ?
What were your class hours? (all in the morning or ...)
What was the cost of your program?
Did you have a choice of textbooks?
What was your level? How long did you study with them?
How was the class structured (grammar, conversation, special topics?)
Did you stay at the accommodations provided by that school? If so what can you tell us about that?
Did the teachers or staff speak any English at all?
Any specific good and bad points that could interest us ?


I studied there for about 6 weeks during the summer of 2008 and was well pleased. I will try to answer your questions.

1. For instance, did you do the 4 hours a day 1 on 1 "class" ?
-- Yes.
2. What were your class hours? (all in the morning or ...)
-- I started out taking class from 8 to 12 but later changed to afternoons (1 to 5.)
3. What was the cost of your program?
-- I don't remember exactly, but it was what they listed on their website.
4. Did you have a choice of textbooks?
-- Yes.
5. What was your level? How long did you study with them?
-- Elementary. About 6 weeks.
6. How was the class structured (grammar, conversation, special topics?)
-- We mainly followed the comprehensive textbook (Hanyu Jiaocheng.)
7. Did you stay at the accommodations provided by that school? If so what can you tell us about that?
-- Yes. My apartment was modern and well equipped. As advertised on their website. Five or ten minute walk from the classroom.
8. Did the teachers or staff speak any English at all?
-- My teacher spoke good English.
9. Any specific good and bad points that could interest us ?
-- My teacher was very good. The staff (my teacher's mother) was friendly and helpful.

http://www.1to1mandarinworkshop.com/
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edelweis

wow thanks that's very interesting :clap

I've new questions now...

Did you contact them directly from overseas to set-up your studies and accommodations? (phone? email?)

Did you have to extend your visa to stay for 6 weeks? (and what kind of visa did you get)

How are the classrooms? (I hear bincai is somewhat noisy, does 1on1mw have closed classrooms?)

How many students did they have besides you?

Did you interact with them? (for class or outside of class)

Were there other teachers besides your teacher?

So you followed the textbook face-to-face with your teacher for 4 hours on end?

was that exhausting?

Were you able to ask questions/advice about outside-the-classroom situations?

Did you do some written work as well?

Did you have homework to do? (if so how much time did that take daily?)

About the accommodations:

According to the website they look pretty good (private bathroom with western style toilet, internet etc).

Were there any bad points?

Do you actually share the kitchen area and kitchen with flatmates or is it a separate flat for each student?

What floor were you on?

About Harbin: what is it like in the summer? Hot? dusty?

E. (thinking about going back to China...)

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abcdefg
I've new questions now...

Did you contact them directly from overseas to set-up your studies and accommodations? (phone? email?)
Did you have to extend your visa to stay for 6 weeks? (and what kind of visa did you get)

How are the classrooms? (I hear bincai is somewhat noisy, does 1on1mw have closed classrooms?)

How many students did they have besides you?
Did you interact with them? (for class or outside of class)
Were there other teachers besides your teacher?

So you followed the textbook face-to-face with your teacher for 4 hours on end?
was that exhausting?
Were you able to ask questions/advice about outside-the-classroom situations?
Did you do some written work as well?
Did you have homework to do? (if so how much time did that take daily?)

About the accommodations:
According to the website they look pretty good (private bathroom with western style toilet, internet etc).
Were there any bad points?
Do you actually share the kitchen area and kitchen with flatmates or is it a separate flat for each student?
What floor were you on?

About Harbin: what is it like in the summer? Hot? dusty?


You need to try and get some more current information; since my experience is not current (it is based on the summer of 2008.) The school was just in its early start up phase when I attended and it may be significantly different now. Meanwhile, I will do what I can.

1. Did you contact them directly from overseas to set-up your studies and accommodations? (phone? email?)
No. I was already in China. I had gone to Dalian where I planned to attend a summer session at DUT, but that fell through and I just phoned them up and went on to Harbin from Dalian instead.

I already knew the founder and main teacher because I had studied with him in Kunming. He was a Harbin native and wanted to return home and open a language school there, so he did.

2. Did you have to extend your visa to stay for 6 weeks? (and what kind of visa did you get)
No. I was traveling on a US tourist visa good for one year with multiple 90 day entries.

3. How are the classrooms? (I hear bincai is somewhat noisy, does 1on1mw have closed classrooms?)

Two classrooms. Each has a table, two chairs and a blackboard. They are as pictured on the website. The school itself is an apartment on the 12th floor of a modern high rise building.

4. How many students did they have besides you?
Did you interact with them? (for class or outside of class)
Were there other teachers besides your teacher?


I was the only student. My teacher was the only teacher. His mother was the "staff."

5. So you followed the textbook face-to-face with your teacher for 4 hours on end?
was that exhausting?
-- yes
Were you able to ask questions/advice about outside-the-classroom situations? -- yes
Did you do some written work as well? -- yes -- I was trying to improve my written Hanzi.
Did you have homework to do? (if so how much time did that take daily?) -- yes, about 2 hours

6. About the accommodations:
According to the website they look pretty good (private bathroom with western style toilet, internet etc). -- My apartment was fine. It was one of the ones pictured on the website.
Were there any bad points? -- No. It was near restaurants and a shopping mall with movie theater and gym. Short walk to a large square and to the Songhua River.
Do you actually share the kitchen area and kitchen with flatmates or is it a separate flat for each student? -- No flat mates. It isn't a dorm. It's an apartment in a Chinese apartment building. Most of the other tenants were young white collar workers.
What floor were you on? I think it was the 25th floor.

7. About Harbin: what is it like in the summer?
It was hot and dry. They had not had the usual amount of rain that year.

In summer the sun rises very early, about 4 a.m. and doesn't set till almost 9 at night. I found this bothersome and did not adjust well to the change it made in my "bioclock." I felt "jet lagged" and "half out of it" for most of the time I was there due to poor sleeping..

On arrival I had a pretty good idea in mind of how I wanted to focus my study time. I had an initial conference with my teacher explaining my goals and he did his part in helping me accomplish those aims. He stayed flexible as those goals changed some over time.

The school dealt honestly with me and delivered what they said they would. I have no complaints. But, that being said, it was a pretty solitary and isolated experience until I made some local, non-school friends. Harbin people are open and accepting, but socializing still took some time and effort. I would have liked more help with that.

I say again, you need some more current information. Edited by abcdefg
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edelweis

Many thanks abcdefg for the detailed reply :clap

This is quite interesting.

I think I will try to go next year. I'll contact the school for updated info.

Thanks again.

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abcdefg
Re: 121 Tutor schools off the beaten track

How about Harbin? I can highly recommend this school.

It sounds like @pancake has been there. Maybe he has more recent experience and will comment.

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pancake

I have already sent a PM to edelweis, but for the record my experience of the school is not significantly different from abcdefgh's account (except that the school is now on the 11th floor, natch! :-) ).

I think this school is great if you want 1-on-1 with actual qualified teachers. I have seen some comments here along the line of "if you're paying over 20 kuai an hour for a tutor then you are being taken for a ride" but I actually feel the complete opposite. At a mere 70 kuai per hour, I felt like I was taking THEM for a ride. Keep in mind that my teacher was not just some random university student: he was a 北大-graduate, a fledgling playwright and really passionate about Mandarin.

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abcdefg

I probably just remembered the wrong floor for the school. 丢三落四。

I'm glad to hear your experience there was positive too.

I'm of the firm opinion that the thing which matters most by far is the quality of the teacher. That's the essential ingredient and the sine qua non. Everything else is gravy.

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kala

Hi,

I'm considering Mandarin Workshop this summer. Has anyone been there lately? I'm trying to confirm if the school actually exists (even though they reply to my emails) since very little information can be found on the internet.

It's expensive (8200 yuan for 4 weeks of 1-on-2 teaching, with accommodation) and they require a 1000 yuan pre-payment (as does Bincai, another school in Harbin). I wonder about the quality of the teaching too...although private tutoring is what I'm mainly interested in.

Any info is welcome ^^

PS. yes, I know there are cheaper alternatives but I'd like to go somewhere pretty soon and Mandarin Workshop offers a combined accommodation + tutoring package which makes it convenient.

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abcdefg

Enjoyed your clear and comprehensive report @HZY. I was there in 2008 and liked it too. Sounds like they are keeping up the good work.

I'm trying to confirm if the school actually exists (even though they reply to my emails) since very little information can be found on the internet.

@kayla -- They exist. I exchanged e-mails with the owner last week. We have remained friends.

...although private tutoring is what I'm mainly interested in.

And private tutoring is what you will get. With the bonus of having your lodging taken care of for you.

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kungpao_chicken

@HaoZhuYi: You brought up a very good point. I am about to head there in 2 weeks to spend the rest of the summer. I am a beginner in mandarin but still wanted to focus on the speaking mostly. I found out its not that hard to learn characters on your own, but speaking is completely different since precise pronunciation is required. I am going to suggest something like 2 hrs in the morning, 2 hrs after lunch type of program, that way i can go out and practice the first half and take a break, then come back and rehash if necessary.

The only reason I know about this place was while trying to find info on BLCU on these forums someone years ago mentioned it as an alternative. After speaking to a former student of both schools I abandoned my search for the perfect low cost learning center in Beijing and decided on this place. While I dont have any first hand experience here myself, I do know to find any sort of comparable teaching in Beijing would have costed 3-4x as much and then the accommodation on top of it. I am missing out on the networking aspect of constantly being in Beijing, but this is working out better anyways, since I can just take a train into the city whenever I need to meet with someone and MW is more than happy to make up the missed teaching time on the other days I'm there. Being away from all that distraction will be more beneficial to my learning, which is why I am coming back. I can take a vacation any other time.

A wise word a former western student from MW told me: 'When you are eventually in Beijing interviewing for a job they will have expected you had gone to a mandarin school there, and impressed & intrigued that you chose Harbin instead'

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gozo2u

Hey Kungpao! So are you in Harbin now? Did you end up at the 1to1 mandarin workshop?

I just started learning in June... Went 4 hours/day here in the states with a tutor. He was cheap... $8/hour, was from near Shanghai, and I could tell he was intelligent and his mandarin was good... but when it came to grammer, or anything that needed to be explained, he just said, "we never thought about that"... I did learn a lot... learned pinyin and worked through a book, although he wasn't too keen on doing exercises... I also have some great programs from the library, including the whole program for "Communicate in Chinese", which I love!

But... now I would like to be fully submerged and have a teacher who can explain things... and, my work just put out that they will be offering an educational leave... So good timing!

I would be interested in know what you are doing and be thankful for any suggestions...

At this time I am not interested in learning Hànzì...

Thanks

Michael

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kungpao_chicken

That is a good price for a tutor, i only found pathetic classes here in LA, that maybe if you attended for 10years you would get 1st grade training. Private tutors wanted $50/hr so I said screw that, go back to china!

I am heading for China this Sat, spending a week in Beijing to do some meetings then heading up to Harbin. So I havent been there yet, but I have gotten many glowing recommendations from other expats that went to their program. It was still a hard decision, as Harbin is not the best place to make connections in. To get the same 1on1 training as MW does I was finding prices 3-4x higher in Beijing, without accommodations. MW basically costs $300/week. Most likely you can find a private tutor in Beijing for the same amount, but like you I want to learn. Liu Jun is the guy I want to learn from, and he teaches up there so that's where I'm going.

I am heading there for the summer, thru august, have to go to europe to do some work in sept, then heading back to spend the whole winter. How much time do you have for training? PM me your email and I will be able to give you more detail when I start on what its like. We just missed the international beer festival there. I'm really bummed about that one as its fairly difficult to get a good wheat beer in china.

I think we should do some program swaps ;)

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llamaesque

I'm considering Harbin to do some intensive Mandarin study for 3-6 months in February 2012. I'm looking at doing 12 weeks at this 1to1 school following the excellent recommendations. I had originally looked at doing a 6 month semester at HIT, mainly due to the very low cost, but I have a feeling that the large classes may not be so beneficial.

For those who've attended this 1to1 school, do you think this type of learning will be beneficial for someone, like me, whose Mandarin is at a very basic level? I learnt at school and have forgotten most of it almost a decade later. I'm keen to get as much out of these 3 months as possible.

Also, is the private accommodation heated? I'll most likely be there in February, and will be coming from 30C+ days in Australia and with zero experience of sub-zero winters.

Finally, I note there are restaurants nearby but are there any decent bars near the accommodation?

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kungpao_chicken

hey llamaesque. I just went to this school over the summer. February will be very cold, outside. But this is a modern city so indoors and in your apartment there will be good heaters. I would invest in some gortex outerwear since you have no experience in the cold. It will feel very very cold to you :D

I recommend this school for people who want to take learning mandarin seriously. Some just want to come hang out in china and learn some phrases so they go to the big cities. In Harbin its not as booming but there are restaurants, bars & liquor stores nearby. The big bar scene is mostly near HIT (Harbin Institute of Tech) and areas not too far from the school. Lucky for you taxis are everywhere and very cheap. The teachers at the school will help you figure out how to get around, its pretty simple. In 12 weeks you will have learned enough to do most basic things in China. The classes are as intensive as you can handle and there are plenty of people to practice on :D At HIT it will be cheap, but learning in a group atmosphere means you will only get as far as the rest of the class. It may be easier to meet people there but your level of learning wont be as high. Just the obvious facts. Ask for Liu @ 1and1, excellent teacher.

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abcdefg

I went there too (2008) and agree with @ kungpao chicken and @ jzyy. Good teaching and good living arrangements in a modern neighborhood. From what I've heard, they have continued to maintain high standards. I was there in the summer and cannot comment on how it would be to live in Harbin in the winter. Harbin is an excellent place to practice "standard" mandarin on the street day to day.

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llamaesque

Thanks guys, I appreciate it. This has convinced me! I'll get in touch with them to work something out :)

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Kaixinguo Billy

Hello guys, excellent informations for me. I'm very close to book one-to-one for eight weeks in summer. I just think that the accomodation part is a little expensive. Has anybody other informations about appartement accomodation in Harbin? Thank you.

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danZEman

What about Will-Excel TESOL, they seem a lot cheaper than 1to1

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