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zhouhaochen

LTL Mandarin School with Chinese homestays

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zhouhaochen

A quick update: after a school inspection earlier this year LTL has been accredited by the International Association of Language Centres (IALC) and has become a full member of the association. I am not saying that we are necessarily a better school because we are a member, but for anyone who might worry if we really exist/are a serious school, this is the main international association for private language schools and it took us three years to become a member. They are very picky and had an inspector from the British Council in Beijing inspect the school, go through all management processes, teacher's qualifications, curriculum, legalities etc. While I don't think he was there long enough to really assess our teaching quality, he certainly made sure that we definitely do exist, our students enjoy the school (he spoke to almost all of them) and have a reputation to protect.

 

Also, LTL just got accredited by Hanban/Chinese Ministry of Education as an HSK testing centre in Beijing. We should get a nice certificate and the first test date at our school soon and I will post it once we have it (things work a bit slow in the Chinese bureaucracy).

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zhouhaochen

A little silly, but quite fun video from an LTL student and intern about learning basic Mandarin with the superman song.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRixk1s88CM

 

We will get it on youku soon too, so it can be seen in China without a VPN.

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zhouhaochen

For anyone considering to do a homestay in Beijing, here a CCTV 4 TV documentary following one of our students from the UK and his homestay family during his first two weeks in Beijing.

The original documentary is on the CCTV website here  but the video quality outside of China is pretty poor, so we have it also on our youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBAagAJtfJ4

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LSamuel

I just returned home this week from a six week course with LTL. This forum helped me to find this school and I'm glad I chose it. I booked the intensive immersion program, which meant that I stayed both in Beijing and Chengde and had six hours of classes per day. When I started the program I had some knowledge of Chinese, so I wasn't a complete beginnner, but I hadn't really practiced speaking before.

 

Before arriving, the LTL stuff was helpful and answered quickly all my questions, so I got a good feeling about the school. It was really convenient that they organized not only lessons, but also accommodation and transportation within China for me (transport card for Beijing and train ticket to Chengde).

 

Once I came Beijing, a driver was waiting for me and another student at the airport and he took us to the accommodation. He also gave me the "survival kit": travel card, map, and the address of the apartment.

 

Next day I started the lessons. The Beijing school location was good and environment was nice. I had completed the level assessment in my home country using Skype and I think the class, where I was placed, was just right for me. Not too easy, not too difficult. I had four hours of group classes and two two 1-on-1 classes each day. Altogether I had four different teachers, who focused on teaching different things. I think they were all really good and could give clear explanations to all questions. In Chengde I had only 1-on-1 lessons and the teachers came to my host family's apartment to give the lessons. There I had two different teachers. In the afternoons the lessons were less formal and some of the classes were outside, so I could practice recharging my phone, buying a bus ticket, etc. in Chinese.

 

Also, no classes were cancelled. The teachers came to work as usual during Dragon boat festival. In Chengde my other teacher was unable to give the classes on two days, but all the missed hours were made up later.

 

About accommodation. I had decided to stay in shared apartment in Beijing and in a homestay in Chengde. The shared apartment had nice location, close to the subway station and the journey to school took about half an hour. I had booked a small room. I think it was rather spacious; I had a wardrobe, desk, and a large bed. The room was on 25th floor and I really liked the view from my window. A small supermarket was located downstairs and in the evenings there were people selling street food and fruits just a couple of steps away from the main gate. In Chengde I lived with two sisters. Their apartment was located in a beautiful area close to a river. There was a bus stop nearby and it took an hour to get to the city centre. The family was very friendly and the food they cooked was delicious. I had been I bit stressed about the food beforehand, because I have a food allergy and I'm a vegetarian. Luckily this wasn't an issue.

 

In all, my stay in China was a great experience and if (hopefully when) I get the chance to return to China, I'll choose the same school again.

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edelweis

@LSamuel: could you please say which textbooks you used? Also, did you have homework ?

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ChTTay

LSamuel, How was your time split between the two places-Beijing and Chengde?

 

Do you feel that the whole thing was worth the money? good value?

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LSamuel

@edelweis: I used the Short-term Spoken Chinese -series (first Threshold Vol.2 and then progressed to Elementary) and Experiencing Chinese Oral Course 2. Despite of the name, the first book does not focus only on practicing spoken Chinese, but it also has good grammar sections.

 

The teachers did give homework. It usually included making own sentences using the new grammar patterns or doing some exercises from the book.

 

@ChTTay: I stayed 3 weeks in each city, but some other students had decided to slip their time in other ways. If I remember correctly, one student stayed one week in Beijing and six weeks in Chengde.

 

Although the trip was rather expensive, I think it was worth the money. I didn't experience any problems with the school and the whole thing was well organized.

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edelweis

Thanks. Did you also have classes or activities on the weekends?

Also, what visa type and duration did you get? Did you have to extend the visa while in China?

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LSamuel

There are no classes on weekends, but the school organizes weekly activities. I can't comment much on those, because I prefered to explore places on my own. In addition there's an active student group in WeChat, where people often arrange things (going clubbing, eating out, etc.).

I got a tourist visa. It was for 60 days, so I didn't need to apply for an extension.

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zhouhaochen

I think Samuel answered the questions above very well, I just wanted to add some general info regarding the questions asked.

 

Weekend Activities: In Beijing we have a lot of social activities. Last weekend we went to Beijing old town, the weekend before we spent on the wall and this weekend we are going to the Summer Palace. As an example I attached our social calender from this week and pictures from the activities we had so far this week. There are a lot of informal, less "officially organized" events as well organized through our WeChat group (we are all going together for drinks this Friday and I am having a BBQ at my place next week Wednesday for LTL students).

For Chengde this is however very different. In Chengde we want to make sure that students speak Chinese only and are not tempted to speak English, so we try to put students in touch with local Chinese groups (a local football team, choir, horse riding etc.) to ensure no English is spoken during the activities (which is difficult when several foreigners are together) instead of organizing school activities (for people who are interested we organize activities with local Chinese in Beijing too). Sometimes small groups of students do something together in Chengde (this upcoming weekend whitewater rafting, with three students, our organizer and four Chinese friends of hers), but we try to make sure that there are several Chinese people joining to ensure conversation happens in Mandarin.

 

As Samuel said, it is up to each person to decide themselves which activities to join or not.

 

Weekend Classes: Our classes are from Monday to Friday. The only time I can think of when classes moved to a weekend would be because of a public holiday. We always teach all classes (for example 20 hours for the small group course) as in the course description and do not cancel them because of a public holiday. We try to arrange classes as normal on the day of the holiday, but if the teacher is not available on that day and it does not work out time-wise to add them in the morning/afternoon Mon - Fri, they can be moved to the weekend before or after the public holiday.

Also, sometimes some students studying 1-on-1 classes prefer to take classes on the weekend.

 

Visas: LTL full-time students who come for short periods of time (like Samuel) receive L (tourist) visas and those coming for longer periods X (student) visas.

 

Books: For our small group classes in Beijing we use the Short-Term Spoken Chinese 口语速成汉语 series (we used to use the New Practical Chinese Reader, but changed a few years ago because we found the content is outdated and the books planned learning speed was too slow for our groups).

 

For 1on1 Chinese classes a lot of different books are used. We always do a Skype assessment before a student comes to China (except for complete beginners who did not choose any 1-on-1 classes), so we know the students level, learning preferences, issues to focus etc. and based on this we create a study plan and decide on an appropriate book. This might be the Short-Term Spoken Chinese 口语速成汉语 or another book. We use a very wide variety of books for 1-on-1 as student's backgrounds, aims, focuses etc. differ and different books have different strengths and weaknesses. We have and use about 200 different books at the school, but popular ones for 1on1 are for example New Target Chinese 新目标口语课本, Experience Chinese Oral Course 体验汉语口语教程 or Experience Chinese Living in China 体验汉语生活篇.

 

Beijing/Chengde Time Split: The most popular split between Beijing and Chengde is 50/50 as it is organized with the Chinese Immersion Program. It is however possible to study different durations in each city by organizing separate programs in Beijing and Chengde. For students who come for the first time to China, we do require them to start in Beijing before going to Chengde though, as Chengde is complete immersion in China and for a first time China visitor this can be a bit too much at the beginning. The minimum is one week in Beijing before going to Chengde, but if the student has the time, I usually recommend to spend at least a month in Beijing before moving on to complete immersion.

 

I hope that helped to clarify a bit as well. Any other questions, please feel free to ask here (there is also another thread about the Chengde total immerion programs on Chinese Forums).

Social Calendar 2nd of August 2015.doc

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post-34293-0-25888000-1438832150_thumb.jpg

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Bigdumogre

Must say every time I click on this thread LTL just looks better and better and wish I had the money ATM and I would be there. Keep up the great work

Edit: was looking over prices - does the home stay price include classes or separate?

Looking into a 2 week program with homestay. Prob just the group class

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zhouhaochen

@Bigdumore,

 

thanks for the praise :lol:

 

Sorry for the late reply, I just saw now that you edited your post into a question.

 

We try to make pricing as transparent as possible, therefore each course or accommodation option is priced separately and you can choose how to combine them (note though that we invest a lot of time and work into managing and organizing our homestays and it is only possible to book an LTL homestay if you are a full-time LTL student) and only pay for what you want, so prices for homestays do not include classes. You can find all programs and prices on http://www.livethelanguage.cn/learn-chinese-beijing/. There are discounts for longer stays, so like with most things if you can stay for a longer period, the price becomes cheaper.

For specific information regarding the course or prices you are looking for you can email me directly ([email protected]) or the school ([email protected]). If you want some advice on how to organize this, include information about yourself and your Chinese learning/China experiences so far as well of the goals you want to achieve (the more detailed the better). Obviously we see and work with a lot of people studying Chinese and might be able to offer a few ideas.

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Bigdumogre

Thanks

On mobile and was confusing at first but figured it out now. Will be getting in touch with you guys this year to plan something in the future

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zhouhaochen

@bigdumore

Yes, it takes a little more time to figure out the navigation of the site on a mobile with the yellow navigation bars on top. It is just really difficult to get all that information about courses, homestays, immersion etc. on such a tiny screen - we try very hard, but there is still room for improvement. Good that you found all the info by now, if you need any advice, just email me.

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zhouhaochen

We finally have a school video for our Beijing school

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ieyj0fXz27E

 

It is a nice little tour of LTL Beijing and the area around it (the Central Business District).

 

And while we are at it here a video about the LTL Live & Teach homestays and a first week in Beijing for an LTL student.

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ChTTay

youku links?

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zhouhaochen

An official LTL Youku account will happen, but with everybody outside China using youtube and most (I know not all, but most) foreigners in China using VPNs, while it is on the To Do list, it is not really on top of it (yet). So only Youtube links for the moment  :( 

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Shelley

Great videos :)  Nice to see so many smiling faces.

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