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zhouhaochen

Where in China to open a new Chinese language school?

Where in China to open a new Chinese language school?  

12 members have voted

  1. 1. Where is the best place to learn Mandarin?

    • Xian
      4
    • Chengdu
      4
    • Chongqing
      0
    • Harbin
      2
    • Xiamen
      0
    • Shenzhen
      1
    • Nanjing
      0
    • Kunming
      1
    • Hefei
      0
    • Zhengzhou
      0


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zhouhaochen

I am thinking where to open our next Chinese language school and am wondering where you guys would suggest as a great place to learn Mandarin? If you have a good suggestion other than the choices on here, please feel free to write in the comments.

 

 

Note: LTL has Chinese Schools in Beijing, Shanghai, Taibei, Beihai and Chengde already, so those are out.

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marcop1

Tianjin 

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889

If the criteria isn't just good local accent, but also a place that foreign students would find attractive, I'd go for Qingdao.

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zhouhaochen

@marcop1 thanks. Why would you say Tianjin though? To me it is a big city with quite high prices that doesnt offer as much as Beijing in terms of food/entertainment/culture, but like Beijing it still has quite a big foreign English speaking population (of course much smaller, but very much present) that offers a lot of temptation for not immersing yourself. So it doesnt have the advantages of Beijing but also is not a complete immersion destination.

However - I never lived in Tianjin, only visited. Would be interested to hear why you suggest Tianjin?

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DavyJonesLocker

Tianjin or Qingdao. Both nice well developed places and suitable for Westerners so culture shock is not too much I.e still plenty of Starbucks etc

 

Problem with Beijing is that you could live here for 5  years and get by just fine without a word of Chinese. 

A vast number of foreigners just hang around sanlitun and never integrate into Chinese life. I feel the same way about Shanghai too. To easy to insulate yourself. 

 

I think there is too much emphasis put on learning standard Chinese or putonghua. Its just a marketing advantage. Teachers can teach then but students  need to get used to local accents and style of speaking. In reality unless accents are quite strong it's not a major problem 

 

Where does one go to learn standard English? Buckingham palace? 😏

 

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ChTTay

I’d say Harbin. Despite what others have said, if you’re going to “immerse” yourself in the language then better to do it somewhere without a very different dialect or strong accent. I’ve never been to Harbin but it always crops up on here whenever people ask where to study. 

 

I’d say Tianjin is too close to Beijing and might be a hard sell. Qingdao sounds better to me. Slow pace of life, by the ocean. When I visited in 2009 I didn’t speak Chinese so can’t comment on that side of things. A friend of mine who has excellent Chinese (and used to comment on here) studied in Qingdao for a couple of years. 

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ZhuoMing

Chengdu is in need of a good language school.

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abcdefg

The Kunming market is saturated. Quite a few good schools here already. Plus the local accent 口音 is strong and there is lots of use of dialect 方言。

 

Zhuhai used to have a couple of schools. Then they faded out. Not sure about now. I always enjoyed it as a place to live. Clean and orderly city by the sea; great food, easy access to Hong Kong and Macau. It's also sort of a melting pot for people from all over China. 

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DavyJonesLocker
13 hours ago, ChTTay said:

I’d say Harbin. Despite what others have said, if you’re going to “immerse” yourself in the language then better to do it somewhere without a very different dialect or strong accent. I’ve never been to Harbin but it always crops up on here whenever people ask where to study

 

Harbin winters  might change ones mind.  Mind you ltl might get a lot of short term summer students 

 

I noticed in the languages schools I've been in most students didn't actually study that hard, skipped lots of lessons and were more interested in going out and about . Not  a criticism as coming to China and not seeing the place it's equally disappointing

 

Tianjin might indeed be a hard sell given its close proximity to Beijing but much nicer place in my opinion. Although decided that from a far is hard you really need to go and then decide.

 

I was trying to avoid big cities but alas despite many promises from schools all over China no one was genuinely offering X1 visa. 

 

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DavyJonesLocker

Right now I'm in qinghuangdao. As I'm currently sitting in the beach in lovely rather it my favourite choice at the moment 😏

 

The Chinese seems 100% standard as far as I can tell, well whatever standard means

 

 

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Bibu

@zhouhaochen

Xian, my hometown, where the Chinese culture grows and mature.

 

More important, as Chinese language is not a language, is a huge collection of spoken  languages and one official writing language.

 

To learn chinese , first choice is my home Beijing for sure, as the spoken languages has an official kind, Putonghua or mandarin as you call it, is based on Beijing dialect and absorbing the northern dialects.

 

For the second place learning mandarin, Xian is for sure.  It belongs to the northern dialects, and people all can speak mandarin, more important, you  have a place to smell out the deep root of anything that Chinese ...

 

Learning a language is more of knowing other group of people than you can speak ABCD, otherwise a cell phone can do everything for you.

 

Yet my opinion is still far from what  OP asked, which is: where is  the money, where is the student, where  with good facilities etc, that is far beyond my knowledge... just a piece of information: the biggest african community within China is in Guangzhou, and so far not even a word on GZ yet....

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zhouhaochen

@ChTTay The main problem with Harbin is that to run a high quality teaching program you need to employ (and have work for) teachers all year round. In a city like Harbin, I am afraid we would struggle to get enough students to keep teachers busy in the winter also. And a professional teacher needs to work and be paid all year round. Otherwise we end up with part time on the side teachers who teach Chinese sometimes, but not as a career and we couldnt do that to our brand as we might end up with teaching quality similar to other schools.

I agree on the standard Mandarin though and it is an interesting place to go to. If we could just find a stable supply of students who love living in -40 degrees 😀

 

@DavyJonesLocker I completely agree regarding the risk of speaking only English in Beijing and Shanghai. The problem I have found though is that "smaller" expat communities dont necessarily translate into a more immersive environment. Once you are past a certain size with bars, restaurants and a bit of English speaking infrastructure for an international community (which both Tianjin and Qingdao have) many people remain in that just as they do in Beijing or Shanghai. Often the smaller expat communities are even closer, very easy to make friends in as everyone is similar and that way even more attractive than in Beijing where there are so many expats that you wouldnt just become friends with someone because you are also foreign.

Only when there is not enough infrastructure to go through life the expat way people are "forced" to immerse themselves, if they want to or not (and after a long day of studying, headaches from memorizing characters and many frustrations with wrong tones, many just want to "just speak English to get things done").

 

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ChTTay

Dalian? 

 

Or as above mentioned Qingdao...

 

If you forget the “standard mandarin” just pick somewhere most desirable. I remember it was hard to get Qingdao on a placement I did ages and ages ago because it was so desirable. 

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889

Given the OP obviously wants to make a commercial go of the school, I'd say marketability to foreign students should be a prime concern. Qinhuangdao may in fact be a fine place to learn Chinese, but you're going to attract more students to a well-known place with a positive image, like Qingdao.

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艾墨本

I put my vote in for Shenzhen simply because you get a lot of the pros that Beijing/Shanghai provide without all the pollution. LTL already has options for the "full" immersion crowd, so Shenzhen seems like a good choice to me.

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Flickserve
4 hours ago, 889 said:

Given the OP obviously wants to make a commercial go of the school, I'd say marketability to foreign students should be a prime concern. Qinhuangdao may in fact be a fine place to learn Chinese, but you're going to attract more students to a well-known place with a positive image, like Qingdao.

 

This.

 

I was surprised at the choice of Beihai. I had to search the city up on the internet. It's also not a place I would associate as a Cantonese stronghold if offering Cantonese. However, there may be other marketing pluses that I don't know of so I will stop there.

 

To my mind, it would be easier to sell Xi'an and Qingdao to an overseas market.

 

6 hours ago, zhouhaochen said:

The problem I have found though is that "smaller" expat communities dont necessarily translate into a more immersive environment. Once you are past a certain size with bars, restaurants and a bit of English speaking infrastructure for an international community (which both Tianjin and Qingdao have) many people remain in that just as they do in Beijing or Shanghai.

 

But you still opened up a Shanghai Branch. Therefore, marketing and business viability overcame the disadvantages of Shanghai.

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DavyJonesLocker

Good comments and I think it's important to note what attracts someone from overseas can be very different to some one who lives in China. 

 

Of course if you trying to attract  foreigners who already live and work in a city within China then it's a different approach. Qingdao does seem to have plenty of foreigners and overseas enterprises so maybe commercial contracts with these companies might be an option. 

 

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Jan Finster

I would love to see a Chinese language school in Hainan. Preferably by the sea. To me the climate would be a major selling point for classes all year round but especially during winter months.

Otherwise Xiamen.

 

I am not aware of any major language schools in either of those places.

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zhouhaochen

Thanks for all the comments.

@DavyJonesLocker I havent been to Qinghuangdao for almost 10 years. How is it like these days? When you say sitting on the beach do you mean Beidaihe or actually the beach in Qinghuangdao? I remember huge coal mountains next to the city beach, but that might have changed?

 

@Bibu Yes, Xian is a strong contender (and number two in the poll above)

 

@ChTTay Dalian is a nice place. My main concern there was that I had the feeling that people there believe they speak Mandarin, whereas they really speak their own incomprehensible dialect. Of course thats the case in many places in China, just in other cities people seemed to realize that they didnt speak Mandarin and would switch to Mandarin when someone clearly couldnt speak the local lingo. That didnt happen to me in Dalian - they just kept speaking Dalianhua assuming that anyone would understand it (and I definitely didnt). Is that still the same?

 

@889 While it needs to be a city that attracts people, we are very open for schools in places that are just very good places to learn Mandarin in, even though nobody has ever heard of them (we have a school in Beihai and Chengde - and even though we write it all over website at least half the people who get in touch still seem to think that Chengde is Chengdu). I believe if you have a great program, people will come, even if they havent heard of the city yet.

 

@艾墨本 Shenzhen is an interesting choice, as its Mandarin speaking and quite a fascinating city. The main problem would be cost. The housing prices are just as high as Beijing, but I am not sure if it really has as much to offer as Beijing (in my opinion at least).

 

@Flickserve For me a school can only be commercially viable if it is a good school and any good school needs to be commercially viable (good teachers dont work for schools that cant guarantee good, stable and safe jobs) so the two come together. We opened our first school in Beijing (because its a great city - and thats where I was based) and then Chengde because its just such an amazing immersion destination though nobody has ever heard of it (and its a great immersion destination for exactly that reason - famous places have bigger expats and English speaking communities). Shanghai was more due to student demand (people want to go to Shanghai) and also because we had some long term staff members moving there. Even though Beihai doesnt sound very obvious, to me it was. The big cities are just getting too expensive, so finding a place that is actually interesting (Beihai has the best preserved colonial old town I have ever seen in China) and beautiful (silver beach really is quite nice) and can offer affordable prices was an immediate yes (we plan to offer 30 to 50% discounts for Beihai over our normal prices for next year). We had spent a long time looking for a city like that though, so it was a bit of a lucky break.

You are right with your comment regarding Xian and Qingdao though and also from the survey above, Xian might be the next step.

 

@Jan Finster We were looking at Hainan, the problem are costs. If you want to be close to a nice beach, with good transport links and infrastructure in Hainan you will spend a fortune. There actually was a private Chinese language school there - and there is probably a reason for that. So we were looking for place with a beach that has lower costs and with our Chinese school in Beihai we are quite well covered there for the moment.

Xiamen also concerns me a bit regarding costs and Fujianhua there, but I havent been in a while. Might be a good weekend trip to have a look.

 

Thanks for all the input everyone! Any further ideas are most welcome and I will let you know where we end up going.

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DavyJonesLocker

The more I think about this, the more I think Xi'an or Tianjin are good choices. Xi'an for the rich and engrained culture. When I go there I get a  "OK this is real China" feel to it. Not something I ever get from Shanghai. I was highly unimpressed with it. It's just like any international city around the world with just a lot of Chinese people. That of course may appeal to many . Just look at how many foreigners live their life solely in sanlitun, a place I personally have little interest in. 

 

Tianjin as  mentioned above is close to Beijing could be argued as a disadvantage but it has a different selling point, it's cheaper and nicer to live. Slower pace yet still very cosmopolitan, by the sea. You don't feel a millions miles away from home which might be a real struggle for younger students or those who never travelled before. Put it this way. In hindsight I would have gone to Tianjin over Beijing no question but because I couldn't secure an X1 visa it was ruled out. 

 

However I probably don't represent the average Chinese learner living in China .

 

Food for thought. LTL certainly have enough experience by now! A real success story .Congrats 

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