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zhouhaochen

LTL Mandarin School with Chinese homestays

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zhouhaochen

@yellowpower: yes there are - we teach quite a lot of students who study Chinese back home at university and use their summers to come to Beijing and improve their skills in specific areas they want feel the need to focus on. For many of those improving their spoken Chinese is the the main focus, as they can often write a lot of characters, but struggle with the talking - however everyone's situation is different.

When you have specific requirements like what you mentioned above, a one-on-one course is what would be most suitable. Our Director of Studies will first do an assessment with you - if you are in Beijing in person at our school, if you are still abroad via Skype - as we need to understand what your current Chinese level is (both spoken and written), where you want to get to, which areas you are interested in, and also what kind of person you are, to be able to tell you how we suggest we can help you to achieve your aims.

You mention technical jargon above, spoken vs. written Chinese etc., which is too general for me to make any specific suggestions here. This needs to be taught very differently depending on what your current Chinese level, and preferences are, there is no "one size fits all" course for this, we would need to know more.

As a next step in the process we would then create an individual study plan for you, and choose an appropriate teacher, as not all teachers and their teaching styles fit all students and the way they study - it is important to match them, which is why the assessment is very important for us.

We have no "Chinese tutors" but only full time professional language teachers (all of whom graduated with a degree in teaching Chinese), who have the experience and ability necessary to adapt to teach a complex course like yours, which is why we can offer specialized one-on-one classes like this.

This might sound very complex and cumbersome, but is actually a very straight forward process and it is worth putting that work in. If you want more information or start organizing a course, please send us an email on [email protected]

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tysond

I just got back from a 3 day homestay/immersion in Chengde arranged by LTL. For context, I am intermediate level.

Here are my thoughts:

- Well organized, easy to go - transfer money, ticket was passed to my by my regular teacher, picked up at train station in Chengde and taken to homestay. I organized about 2-3 weeks in advance. Train trip is about 5 hours.

- The immersion starts on the train with my neighbours. The good thing about travelling NE is that a lot of people from age 20-50 have pretty standard accents.

- 4 hours a day of combined sightseeing/lessons (1:1 teacher acting as guide - so she explained things to me 99% in Chinese according to what we were looking at - temples, mountains, parks, imperial mansions, paintings etc). She told stories (Legend of the White Snake for example) relevant to the culture we were looking at. This is what I asked them to do -- they will do more formal lessons if you prefer.

- Host family spoke good quite standard Mandarin (host herself had a very good English vocabulary but only used it a few times if we got stuck on a more complex topic) and would take me on walks and chat, introduce me around the neighbourhood, etc. Topics varied from simple daily life stuff (more about figuring out the context of what peopel say) to discussions on global politics (more about vocabulary) Also they would review and correct my written hanzi as I was using non-sight-seeing time to study.

- Food/board was fine (but it's been a while since I slept on a hard mattress). Aircon during the hottest part of the day. Higher quality apartment than I expected actually.

- Chengde has great tourist sights, much less crowded than Beijing (but still busy), very very few foriegners, and a much more pleasant air quality and summer climate than Beijing.

- So many hours of talking, listening, trying to follow seem have given a decent boost in my listening ability as a result - *much* less struggling to keep up with what people are saying (especially standard accents), just focusing on which words I don't understand.

- Cost was 3000 RMB for Thursday evening - Sunday afternoon, including full board, train station transfers, train tickets, but excluding tourist site entry fees or extra taxi fares to those sites. I probably spent another 800 on these (China's famous sites are not cheap, and I needed to pay for the teacher too).

For my budget, level and needs it was a very good investment of time and money.

I plan to write a bit more on the homestay experience itself from a cultural point of view in one of the other forum areas.

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verita

I will return home next Friday after studying in Beijing with LTL for almost a year and as I had found the information on here very useful when I was organising my trip, I wanted to give some feedback here for others.

Teachers - I had two different teachers while I studied there (one kouyu/tingli and one for hanzi) and both were excellent. The teachers were a lot more professional, better prepared and knowledgable than any of the instructors I had had back home. Also they made classes fun and relevant to real life, as opposed to rote memorization which is how I was first taught Mandarin before going to China. All of them had worked at the school for years and you could tell that they were very loyal to LTL. They have good teachers and seem to treat them well - those two things are probably connected.

Accommodation - I lived in a homestay for the first five months and in a shared apartment afterwards. My homestay was excellent, great food, helping me with my homework and showing me Beijing from a local's perspective. I went to two family weddings with them, we hiked the Great Wall together, and my spoken Chinese would not have progressed the way it did without my host parents. The apartment was clean, big, and about 25 minutes by subway to the school. I had initially booked the homestay only for three months and then extended it for another two in Beijing. After that I moved into a shared apartment with other LTL students, which gave me a lot more freedom, but I missed the food a lot. I could also see how I was a lot less connected to "Beijing local life" and spoke less Mandarin on a daily basis once I moved out of the homestay - in return living with other students my age of course meant more house parties etc., but I think overall I enjoyed living with my host family more. I certainly improved my Chinese faster there. The LTL shared apartment is close to the Chinese Media University, I had my own bathroom in a very spacious room, it is about 30 minutes to the school with a very low price for what was offered (by Beijing standards) - though the location was less central than my homestay.

School - studying at LTL is a lot of fun. I met so many new people there and it will take me years to visit all my former classmates in their home countries. After a year there I pretty much have a place to stay in almost any major country on this planet. The community at LTL is very tight, with everyone eating lunch together during break, going out together in the evenings and it is very easy to meet students from other classes. The team is very friendly and helpful, quite often actualy joining for dinners and drinks. After a while they seemed more like friends than employees of the school.

Beijing - I find Beijing is treated a bit unfairly in a lot of the press I read. While I guess everyone has their own opinions, I fell in love with the city. Walking through the old town hutongs, spending weekends at the Great Wall, clubbing in Sanlitun, concerts, yangrouchuaner I could go on and on. And for someone on a student budget (me!) it is very affordable. Being able to afford to eat out whenever you feel like it is a great luxury. I will try to come back next year, at least for a holiday. 我爱你北京.

Summed up, I recommend LTL and Beijing fully. I found the city amazing and LTL was a very important part of what made it amazing for me. Anyone with questions about studying in Beijing/LTL feel free to pm me.

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zhouhaochen

LTL on 微信 / WeChat

As facebook remains blocked in China, we opened a WeChat officiall account. We post every day a Chinese internet slang phrase, swearword, or some Beijing street slang on there for anyone who wants to learn some stuff that is not to be in your text book. You can see a our last post here here

If you want to join, it is actualy a bit complicated to do so, but after having explained it to about two dozen students by now, the instructions below will get you there without problems:

1) in your WeChat, go to the "contacts tab"

2) choose "official accounts"

3) press the "+" button on the right top of your phone

4) choose "add by ID"

5) enter "LTLDailyChinese"

6) once it comes up, choose "follow"

If you do not have the WeChat App and plan to come to China, I recommend downloading it. It is a bit like WhatsApp, but it rules the social media scene supremely and is great to randomly chat with Chinese people in Mandarin. Our students love it.

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zhouhaochen

A new article on Digmandarin about the LTL Chinese immersion programs.

For the record, we don't let anyone sink or drown though if they do not speak Mandarin all day in an immersion program. There is help in English available if needed.

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GaoJinJie

I just returned after studying with LTL for a month. I did 4 hours of 1 on 1 lessons per day, 5 days per week, as well as the homestay program. 

 

I had two teachers during my time at LTL. One I saw two days per week, the other three days per week. Both teachers were really patient and highly talented. We used a textbook called Short Term Spoken Chinese. Despite its name, the book also requires one to read Chinese characters (only the first two books have pinyin). I liked the textbook because it focused a lot on grammar, which is one of my (many) weaknesses. One thing that I really appreciated was that my teachers would purposely steer our casual conversations to content that we covered in the textbook.

 

The homestay program was amazing! I lived in an apartment with my ayi and shushu, and we lived about 25 minutes walk or 10 minutes bus ride from the school. The home was relatively small but clean and well furnished. I was given my own room and a key to the house. Ayi and shushu were amazing hosts, they put up with my average Mandarin and (particularly ayi) always took the time to chat to me about my day and about Chinese culture. Also, ayi was an amazing cook (I need to find out what 'Mao Zedong pork' is!). In fact, I still speak to my ayi on wechat/weixin! :) Importantly, I had complete freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted (i.e., no curfew or rules).

 

LTL itself is a really well run organisation. Everybody in the office is really nice, and Alex always organises things for students to do (which is much appreciated). The school is close to comforts if you need them. There is a Starbucks across the road and a 7/11 nearby, although there are plenty of Chinese options if you want that too. The school is on subway line 1 in Dawanglu, practically in Guomao.

 

I cannot fault LTL at all! In fact, I fully intend on moving to China in the near future and I'll be getting lessons at LTL again, which is testament to the high regard in which I hold the organisation! 

 

I am happy to answer any questions that people have.

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abcdefg
(I need to find out what 'Mao Zedong pork' is!).

It's almost sure to be hong shao rou 红烧肉。It was Chairman Mao's favorite dish and he was known to extol its glory.

 

http://redcook.net/2008/01/18/hong-shao-rou-red-cooked-pork/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_cooking

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zhouhaochen

We confirmed with the homestay family, it was hong shao rou 红烧肉, you can get it in many restaurants in Beijing, though probably not always as good as home cooked.

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abcdefg

Yep.

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OneFlewOver

I just returned from a six weeks course with LTL in Beijing and am a very satisfied customer. The school is not very big, when I was there we were maybe about 20 students in total studying during the day time, though I was told it is more during other times of the year. The part of program I enjoyed the most were my host family and the personal service at the school. As the student community is not very big it is easy to make friends and I ended up becoming good friends with quite a few members of staff. My teachers were good, though I think living with a Chinese family is what improved my Chinese the most. It felt like living with distant relatives (who just happen to look, speak and behave very differently to my family). They took me to their cousins wedding, family dinners and on two weekend trips to the Great Wall, all of which were great cultural experiences but mainly I was forced to speak Mandarin only there which was tough at times, but it is the best way to learn.

I was very sad to leave and miss both Beijing and LTL. I hope I get the opportunity to go again in the not so distant future.

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imron
I hope I get the opportunity to go again in the not so distant future.

@OneFlewOver, you mean like when you go in to the office to work?

 

Can you please explain why the email address of your account is identical to the name of this guy making commercial posts on behalf of LTL elsewhere on the Internet.

 

@Andreas, you've been a member of our community for many years now, and should be very familiar with our standards and what we expect of commercial posters.  We would also hope that you'd inform any member of staff doing marketing for LTL not to engage in this sort of behaviour (here or elsewhere on the Internet).

 

To be honest, it's really disappointing to see LTL make this sort of post and it's not just a violation of our guidelines for commercial posters, it also shows blatant disrespect for the members of the community.

 

I'm sure you also realise that even one instance of this calls in to question the authenticity of every other testimonial posted about LTL.

 

Please give me a reason why we should not suspend LTL's account.

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zhouhaochen

I messaged imron (and roddy) and was asked to put up the following explanation here:

 

I know who made that post and wanted to explain. The poster is a Singaporean guy who did a marketing internship for us last summer, mainly for SEO. As a part of this he made posts, created listings etc. with web links (not just the one in the yahoo group) on other websites (not on this forum). All of these were posts / ads, never reviews (at that time he had never studied with us) and were clearly recognicable as those.

 

He returned this winter to do a course with us, for which he got a discount as a former intern, but also with the promise to write a review about the course afterwards. It was clearly stated that we want him to review, however he could write whatever he wanted (good or bad - our intention is to make sure people post their opinions about LTL on the internet so others can read them. We are quite confident about the quality of our courses and homestays). I posted the exact wording at the end of this message - anyone who studies at LTL, please have a look it is also put up on the blue board right next to the entrance on the LTL school on the 16th floor.

 

I also told him to say in the review that he used to be an intern for us - however this was only verbally and I failed to make that clear in writing when I emailed him. He clearly did not do that and had I seen his post earlier I would have told him to change it as it clearly violates the forum guidelines (his account had already been suspended and imrons reply was up when I did read it).

 

He was a student with us, did study this course and it is his honest opinion (I spoke to him yesterday to confirm). He liked the course and especially the homestay (and is quite upset about having failed to state his previous intern work for LTL and the discussion this lead to.

 

However, all of the above are no excuse for myself. I run this school and it is my mistake for not making sure that he did disclose his previous working relationship with LTL. I am very sorry about this.

 

All of the reviews on this forum are by former or current students of LTL and do reflect real experiences and opinions (including quite a few by respected long-term members of this community). Except the one above, none had a working relationships with LTL, unless clearly stated and I guess that one is quite clear now as well.

 

I am just left with saying sorry again and promising that for the future I will make sure that whoever writes anything about LTL who had any previous or current connection or financial benefit states so clearly. We work very hard to make sure that students enjoy studying at LTL and learn Mandarin quickly - and it is very sad that (due to our own mistake - I am not making excuses here) this discussion now calls this into question.

 

Andreas, LTL School Director

 

PS: exact wording (and formatting) of what we had agreed with OneFlewOver:

"For reviews, posts etc. all we want is your honest opinion. Write the good, the bad, whatever your experience has been - the free classes are yours whatever you write, negative or positive."

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imron

Andreas, thanks for your response.

 

After reading your reply and doing some further investigation, Roddy and I accept that this has been a genuine mistake, and that you are going to take appropriate measures to make sure it doesn't happen again.

I hope you don't mind if we leave the previous few posts up, first to let our members know we are always looking out for this sort of thing and that we don't play favourites - even long time members are not above scrutiny if we spot what looks like abuse, secondly it illustrates to other people promoting themselves the standards we expect, and finally because we believe in situations like this, removing speech is never as effective as more speech.  When presented with enough information we believe our readers are intelligent enough to make up their own minds about the truth of a matter, and in this case I don't think it's likely to reflect negatively on you or your school.

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Bigdumogre

When is the deadline to sign up for sept or oct classes for this year?

I am a beginner still on pimsluers first box set and on 4 th chapter of npcr. Plus some other study sources. Will the class I be in be at a beginner level? And would the home stay be useful knowing so little ?

Also with the fees are a little confusing. For a 2 week course with a home stay I have to include the registration fee and also the accommodation fee correct ?

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zhouhaochen

@imron: thanks for the reply and clarifying. I fully understand that you want to keep the previous posts up for the reasons you mentioned.

 

@Bigdumogre: several questions, let me answer them separately:

 

1) Deadline: as long as we have places you are always welcome to sign up, however if we are full (which mainly happens with the homestays, less often with courses) we will not be able to take the booking. I understand that this is not as easy to work with as a clearly set deadline, however we have small classes (max. 6 people) and a limited number of homestays (we do not just take any family that applies) so that means we cannot really expand the program beyond what we have. Signing up for a course in September/October right now is no problem, as would any kind of accommodation (homestays or shared apartments). If you are not sure yet if you can make it to China then, I would suggest deciding on what you want now in case you are able to go to have the course ready and then wait with booking it until you are certain. If we know when you are intending to come for what kind of program, we can keep you up to date with the booking situation. Keep in mind though that just processing the visa does take time, which is beyond our control, so you want to plan a bit ahead.

 

2) Class level: I personally never studied with Pimsleur so I am not sure what chapter 4 of the first box set is like, however if you studied before you certainly will not be in a complete beginner class. Our Director of Studies does a Skype assessment (in my experience online tests or HSK levels are not accurate enough in assessing a students level, especially with regards to tones and spoken Mandarin) with each student before he comes to China to decide which level they fit best into.

 

3) Homestay with beginner level of Chinese: In my personal opinion you will benefit from a homestay whatever your level. In my experience, at a lower level you might even benefit more, as beginners are the people who are often the most afraid to speak and the homestay helps a lot with this. Being in an environment where you are forced to use even the few words you know and will learn every day in class (thanks for the food, where is the next subway stop, what time is dinner etc.) helps you to reach the next level much faster. It can also be quite motivating to learn something new and be able to use it at home straight away.

On a practical level, our homestays usually work with us for a very long time and are used to having students live with them and will be able to show you the basics whatever your language level (how to switch on the air-con, bring you to the school on your first day of class, show you on a clock when dinner will be served etc.). If there are communication problems, obviously we will help you.

Social interaction with a lower Chinese level of course will be less though, as it is harder to build a personal relationship when you just know a few sentences. Bring pictures of your family, home town etc. which always makes easy conversation, use your dictionary constantly and simply do not worry if you do not understand, but never stop trying. Chinese are quite understanding of the fact that most foreigners know very little or no Chinese.

We do also offer homestays who speak some English. In my personal opinion that is not a very good choice as you will simply end up practicing your Chinese less, however if you feel more comfortable with this, the option is there.

 

4) Yes, those would need to be included. If you send us an email with the dates and options you are interested in, we can send you a quotation with the exact price.

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Bigdumogre

Thanks for the quick response will send out a email by end of the week. I would rather speak as little English as possible when over there

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zhouhaochen

You are welcome and I fully agree, the less English the better, even if it is a bit tough at the beginning. You can use the contact form on our website or email me directly ([email protected]). If you have any other questions regarding the course/homestay feel free to ask here as well.

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