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Recommendations for classes in London


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Can anyone recommend (or warn against!) any classes in London? I'd like to study with a teacher, and be compelled to speak, for a few hours a week.

I've taught myself a few hundred characters, and I can speak a little, but my speaking is slow and my listening is terrible. A good goal for the next few months might be HSK level one, but I am open to suggestions.

Thanks for any help!

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When I first learnt some Mandarin at SOAS nearly 20 years ago I was taught by the best chinese teacher I have ever had, a really nice guy called David Su.

David Su has now left SOAS and set up his own chinese language school in central London, the website is: http://www.meridiandao.co.uk/.

My sister is currently attending classes there and my chinese brother-in-law is currently going through their teacher training programme. ...Oh and I'm hoping to attend their HSK 5/6 preparation class too!

For complete beginners, David Su offers the first 16 hours of tuition free. You could always try this and see how you get on. The the only problem is, my sister says the tutors really expect you to do lots of homework between classes, especially learning to write the characters covered, and turn up prepared!

Over the years I have attended evening classes in London at SOAS, LSE (Confucius Institute for Business) and U. Westminster. They can be very good, or very poor, it all depends on the quality of the individual teacher you get and the dynamic of the group of students attending.

I have occasionally been taught by PhD students with no formal training in teaching Mandarin as a foreign language, which I think is very unprofessional given the amount of money these institutions charge for evening classes.

My biggest bugbear has been with the administration of the language school at SOAS, on a couple of occasions they have charged my credit card with the course fee for an advanced course and then cancelled the course due to lack of numbers and it has taken a couple of months to get my money back! Oh and SOAS always want a face-to-face assessment interview, which is good in one way, but rather expensive for people like me who do not live or work in London.

This has turned into rather a longer post than I intended, I hope it helps, sorry about the rant at the end!

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The the only problem is, my sister says the tutors really expect you to do lots of homework between classes, especially learning to write the characters covered, and turn up prepared!

Sounds like a good school then.

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especially learning to write the characters

Who needs to know writing these days? Except writing for the sake of writing. One of the reasons to think whether it makes sense going to school at all or self-study instead, when one can tailor program that works best. HSK Level 1 and 2 do not require any writing by the way. And do not hope at school you will get a lot of mileage speaking, there is only one instructor that makes you speak to your peer whose Chinese as good as yours so what's the point?

Chinese is not something that requires must-have dedicated teachers, like playing piano for example.It is all about memorizing stuff, self-discipline and a lot of practice. All of the above can be done at home, for free.

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Or are you going to go through every school / tutor and textbook topic on the site and explain why we're doing it wrong

I am not sure if I get it.. "explain why we're doing it wrong" - does it hurt? I will stop then. I thought we were free to express opinions, but anyway. Nothing personal I hope.. :)

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  • 1 month later...

I'm a little rusty on language schools in London because I haven't attended since dropping out the Elementary (SOAS refer to this as Lower-Intermediate) class at SOAS back at the start of 2008 due to relationship issues with my ex-ex girlfriend.

For beginners, I would totally recommend a decent language school because even in a group, it's so important to get the foundations laid correctly and pick up good habits (tones, tones and tones!), as well for getting a feel for the language and a basic understanding of the grammar. I liked SOAS because the teaching quality was generally high, classes were well structured and pinyin was only used for pronunciation - reading and writing was strictly in hanzi (characters) from the first lesson.

SOAS use the Chinese In Steps series. Boooks 1 & 2 are Beginner level and Book 3 is Elementary (first introduced to resultative complements).

I would recommend MeetUp.com to canvass opinion from other Chinese learners in London, to get a feel for language schools, structure, costs, etc from other learners.

Me? Group based learning for 2 hours a week doesn't cut it past a certain level. I'll maybe try distance-learning 1-2-1 via Skype. However, tricky in the week due to full-time work and time zone differences, which only leaves weekends.

Can you let us know what you decide, and if you do find a class, feedback on your experiences?

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  • 2 weeks later...

SOAS is the best IMO, but I'm biased as its my uni.

Teachers are all from Beijing I think so you will be learning Beijing accent.

I like YoYo the best


She teaches at soas ( my floater last year), but also teaches private I believe. Very warm and funny, makes learning feel like the hobby it should be and not so much like hard work. Beware though, U cant ever slip because of the nature of the programs. If you dont do your homework you will not be able to progress its just as simple as that

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