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Private schools in Shanghai

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I'm in the northeast of China studying chinese in a private school. It costs 450rmb for 20 classes (90min each) and each class has about 3-5 students. The teachers have degrees to teach chinese and the school can do visas (if u register for enough classes).

Is there anything like this in Shanghai? Does anyone know of any private schools in Shanghai? That can do visas?

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one99

You won't find anything that cheap in Shanghai!

Miracle Mandarin (http://www.miraclemandarin.com) can get you a visa. But when I went there and looked around, I discovered they concentrate quite a bit on reading/writing characters (eg. use no pinyin books early) which of course means they concentrate less on speaking & tones. I went to Mandarin House (mandarinhouse.cn) instead as they concentrate a lot on speaking (but no visa).

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twinkler09

Hi one99,

I'm thinking of doing some study at one of the private schools and wanted to see what your thoughts were. Just wanted to ask if you had any feedback on Mandarin House? - Since they could not provide you with a visa, what did you do?

Or if anyone else has any comments about Miracle Mandarin?

Anything would be much appreciated.

Thanks for your help.

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one99

Mandarin House is overall a good school, but expensive. You can easily find a school that is a little bit worse but maybe 30-50% cheaper.

Someone else told me they thought Miracle Mandarin was good, so if you want to also spend time reading/writing, you should check them out.

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anonymous12345

Hi all - yes, Miracle Mandarin is a great school - I'm a student there now, and it's very professionally administered. Unfortunately, I'd like to share with everyone a not-so-great experience at another school...

For anyone who wants to have Mandarin Rocks provide your housing – BEWARE!

Unfortunately, my experience with Mandarin Rocks this summer (summer of 2011) did not turn out very well. Essentially, they promise you all of this stuff on their website and then when you actually get to Shanghai you learn that these are lies. Please allow me to explain my story:

First of all, perhaps I should have been warned before purchasing a month's worth of classes and housing with Mandarin Rocks. When I asked my contact at the school via email if he ever had to resolve roommate housing conflicts, he forwarded on to me an email that a European father had sent him desperately asking my contact to remove his young son from a terrible homestay situation. I guess the situation was resolved but I found my contact's quite blunt example somewhat of a strange thing to send me. I should have stopped after reading that, but still, Mandarin Rocks didn't have any bad reviews online... (I guess until now!)

Initially, my contact at the school said that my “house”, or shared apartment, wouldn't be ready by the time I would be arriving and that Mandarin Rocks would place me in a hotel temporarily. The hotel was fine, and I couldn't wait to meet my new roommates and get settled in my new place. After a week my contact said I could move in. However, this “house” was not what I expected, and it was completely inappropriate. I chose the single room in a shared apartment option. To name a few things:


  • when you check out the accommodations section on their website, the first thing you notice are pictures of what appear to be very nice places – do not be deceived by this!

  • It says the shared apartment would be fully furnished, including a shared living room, shared kitchen, washing machine, and even a towel for the bathroom

  • In my case, I RECEIVED NONE OF THE ABOVE

The place was a total mess and was far from being ready. My contact took me up these narrow stairs in one of the poorer housing complexes of the city and showed me my room – it was completely bare with the exception of a basic chair and table. My “bed” was to be an inflatable mattress – really? I was expecting something like what the pictures showed on their website – an actual bed with furniture such as a wardrobe at least! He had for me a pillow and said he would bring sheets in a couple hours – umm, ok. There was no Internet at the moment, but he said that it should hopefully be installed in a week. As there was no kitchen he said perhaps next week we would receive a microwave – uh huh.

Just the above is ridiculous – I don't expect hotel service, but I at least expect for them to give me what they say they will on the website and have it prepared! I paid a lot of money for those 4 weeks, and they give me this!? Well, it is China, as they say!

But the horrors continued. The bathroom I would be sharing was a mess and disgustingly humid. The other flat mates were apparently not keeping it clean because the shower lacked a curtain, therefore causing all the water to go everywhere, making a mess. The ayi, or house cleaner, came once a week, but was seemingly unable to keep up with the place or else she didn't do a very good job. I talked to the other foreign students in the other rooms, and they too were unhappy. Two of the rooms had completely glass doors, so in order for these students to get some privacy they tore up black plastic trash bags and taped it to the doors – yeah, talk about a ghetto situation! However, since they were only in Shanghai for a couple weeks, they said they would put up with it as they felt it would be too much of a hassle to stand up to Mandarin Rocks and demand what we deserved.

And then there was the underpants issue – as we didn't have a washing machine (which was something the website promised), our contact at the school said each weekend a laundry service would take our clothes and clean them, all of our clothes, that is, EXCEPT FOR OUR UNDERWEAR! What? Why? Because, he said, we could buy new underwear cheaper than what it would cost to wash them. That right there in our opinions was utter bull-crap, and had to be one of the most silly things I heard that day. What, they expected us to throw our underwear/boxers out in the trash each weekend and wear brand new ones? Uh, no thanks! To top everything off, strange men had come in the other day without being invited and stole a few items, which meant the place was insecure. To summarize, one of the foreign students from Europe had a great name for that apartment: “a crack house”.

I immediately booked myself into a nearby hostel as the place was truly that bad. That evening my contact met me at the hostel and we discussed my complaints. He agreed to put me in a hotel for another week. See, I on the other hand was in a different situation – I had just graduated from my US university and was literally moving to China to search for work and continue studying Chinese. I wanted to have Mandarin Rocks provide me with a month's worth of housing so I could search for a longer-term apartment in Shanghai. He told me he would book me in a hotel for a week, and I promised him that I would speed up my apartment search and find a place before that week ended. He said that some of my housing money I paid them could go toward my first month's rent at the new apartment, but nothing more. Fortunately, I was able to get a great apartment myself, and I'm currently living in this place now. My current apartment is MUCH NICER than the place Mandarin Rocks expected me to live in, and the price differences are staggering. I paid about $1200 for 4 weeks of housing (7650 RMB), and at my current place, I only pay in 2500 RMB per month (about $390 USD). My current apartment is like a luxurious palace compared to the dump they wanted me to live in. BEWARE! To summarize this point, he carried through with his word, but I did lose a good $300 US dollars or more.

My contact at the school, who I am choosing not to name, was honestly trying to do his best, but what he thought was appropriate was definitely not appropriate for the kind of money we were paying for that housing and what we as Western people generally expect. For one thing, we expect to get what the website says we're to get. Lying to your potential customers as a big no-no! Shame on you, Mandarin Rocks!

Fortunately, the classes themselves weren't too bad. I definitely did learn a lot of Chinese, so in this area I'll give them some credit. I had 2 teachers, and both of them did a good job. Unfortunately, the whole thing was organized in a very unprofessional way because other foreign students were living in the adjacent rooms. There was one room that had 4 students sharing it, all of them on inflatable mattresses without any furniture in those bare rooms. These students were younger, and didn't have the power us older students had to get out of bad situations. They told me personally as well that they didn't like the living conditions, but that they couldn't do much to change them. Maybe this review will help.

However, it was strange because halfway through my time there (a total of 4 weeks), I got a call from my contact one morning telling me I had to go to a different location this time for class, literally as I was walking out the door. I would have appreciated it if he had told me about this change of location at least a few days earlier. It was crazy, though, because guess where my last 2 weeks of classes were to be held? Why, at the “house” I was supposed to have been living in! It was quite eerie to return to that place, remembering the horrors of that first day, but I toughed it out and saw the last 2 weeks through. Mandarin Rocks had literally moved from their old location to that “crack house” over the weekend. Talk about a school that is unpredictable...


  1. Later, I went school-shopping around in Shanghai and visited various schools by riding around on my bike and checking them out in person. I've since learned that these websites can't be trusted. But what was I to do? I was in the US at the time I booked those 4 weeks, and I just had to make a leap of faith and trust that I was going to get what the website offered. In the end, after trying out 5 other different schools (one of them didn't even exist at the physical address stated on their website), I settled for Miracle Mandarin, which has a very professional school setting. They actually have permanent classrooms with good furniture – oh my God! (sarcasm alert!) But yeah, choose a different school other than Mandarin Rocks if you want them to provide you housing. Better yet, come to China first and book a hotel for a week or two and then visit the schools in person to see what you'd really be getting. DON'T TRUST THOSE WEBSITES! Remember, this is China, a land where these companies can get away with much more than back home in, say, the USA!

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