Language courses in China are a great opportunity to get acquainted with the history and authentic culture of the Celestial Empire. Language schools offer students to not only learn Chinese, but also touch upon the ancient traditions of the country. In their leisure time, students can participate in calligraphy workshops, tea ceremonies, and tours of the Great Wall of China. Also, university courses are available in China, after which you can enter a higher education program without language exams.

Advantages of language courses in China

  • Small groups. Classes in Chinese language schools are held in very small groups — on average, no more than 5 people. Therefore, teachers devote more time and attention to each individual student.
  • Study in two cities. Large network schools in China offer courses in two cities where they have branches.
  • University courses. Most of the options for learning Chinese are at university centers. Upon completion of such courses, the university can accept a student without an additional language exam.
  • Classic Chinese. Chinese has many dialects that are very different from each other. However, language school and university courses teach Mandarin (also known as Putonghua) — the official version of the language.
  • Rich culture. China is a country with a unique history, ancient traditions, and incredible nature. There are many cultural heritage monuments, more than 50 of which are included in the UNESCO list[1]. More so, the Great Wall of China is considered one of the "new wonders of the world"[2].

Disadvantages of language courses in China

  • High costs. The average weekly cost of courses in China is 457 USD. This is comparable to prices in the United States, where a week of courses costs averages at 430 USD. For comparison, courses in Hong Kong are 301 USD per week, and in Japan — 278 USD per week.
  • Language complexity. Chinese is one of the most difficult languages ​​to learn. It will take a long time to master it. Therefore, students have to choose long-term programs, which leads to additional costs for both study and living.
  • Dialects. Chinese has many dialects: Beijing, Taiwanese, Shanghainese, Nanjing, Fujian, and many others. Schools teach "classic" Chinese, but when studying in Shanghai or Guangzhou, a student may have difficulty communicating outside of language courses.
  • Natural disasters. The southern and eastern regions of China are often subject to devastating typhoons, tsunamis, and floods, while the northern regions suffer from sandstorms every spring.

Chinese language courses fees

SchoolProgramWeeksTuition fee/weekCitiesHomestayLiving in a residence
That's MandarinIntensive Group Course Level 1-42-16228-311 USDShanghai, Beijing, Suzhou1,105-1,243 USD/month1,658-1,727 USD/month
Intensive Group Course Level 5-8249-332 USD
Part-Time Group Course Level 1-461-83 USD
Part-Time Group Course Level 5-82-872-88 USD
One-to-one Private Course Level 1- 4Individual48 USD/lesson
One-to-one Private Course Level 5-850 USD/lesson
One-to-one Private Course for Kids55 USD/lesson
Summer / Winter Camp for Kids & Teens – Classes only2-4829-1,658 USD/course
Summer / Winter Camp for Kids & Teens — Day Camp1,658-3,316 USD/course
Summer / Winter Camp for Kids & Teens – Full Camp3,288-6,577 USD/course-Included in the course fee
Summer / Winter Camp for Kids & Teens — Homestay Camp3,288-6,577 USD/courseIncluded in course fee-
LTL Mandarin SchoolSmall Group 20*1+249-326 USDBeijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Beihai, Singapore406-414 USD/week-
Small Group & Individual 30*504-662 USD
Standard Individual 20*511-671 USD
Intensive Individual 30*767-1,006 USD

*number of lessons per week

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Types of language courses in China

Type of programIntensityGroupMin. language levelAvg/ weekly cost
Standard Chinese15-206-8Beginner386 USD
Intensive Chinese15-302-8Beginner318 USD
Exam Preparation Courses20-256-8Intermediate697 USD
Business Chinese20-302-8Intermediate437 USD
Part-Time Courses4 -86-8Beginner41 USD
Conversational Chinese Course10-152-6Beginner187 USD
Summer/Winter Camp4-106-8Beginner1,133 USD
Private CoursesIndividual1Beginner48 USD/lesson

Standard Chinese. General courses with an intensity of 15-20 hours per week. Standard Chinese programs come in different lengths — from 2 weeks to a year. Available for all language levels.

Intensive Chinese. Intensive programs with a load of 20-30 hours per week, particularly for those who want to master the language in a shorter time. Duration — from 2 to 36 weeks. You can begin learning with minimal knowledge of Chinese.

Part-Time Courses are suitable for those who are not ready to devote a lot of time to studying. Lessons are held in the mornings or evenings for 4-8 hours a week. Such courses last from 2 weeks to a year.

Exam Preparation Courses. Special programs for preparing for the HSK (China's Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi). Students learn vocabulary, phonetics, and tones of Chinese, along with traditional and simplified characters. Practical classes are held every week, in which students solve and analyze trial exam tasks with the teacher. The duration of these courses varies from 2 to 52 weeks, depending on the initial language level of the students. As a rule, you can prepare for the exam starting from the Intermediate level, but some schools enroll Beginner students.

Business Chinese — specialized courses for those who plan to build a career in the country. In the classroom, students analyze the vocabulary necessary for interacting with clients and colleagues, as well as master the principles of business communication, correspondence, and presentations. As a rule, these programs accept students with a level not lower than Intermediate. Duration — from 2 weeks.

Conversational Chinese Course. Courses aimed at absolute beginners, allowing them to master basic conversational skills in a short time. In the classroom, students learn how to say hello, introduce themselves, ask for directions, or order food at a restaurant. Duration — from 4 to 10 weeks.

Private Courses. Individual lessons with a teacher, where students can independently choose the convenient time, intensity, and duration of their course.

Summer programs

At Chinese language schools, summer and winter programs are available for children, teenagers, and adults. They take place in June-August and January-February. These courses allow you to fully immerse yourself in the language environment and combine the study of Chinese with sports, master classes, excursions, and other recreational activities.

During the first half of the day, students study Chinese — grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. In the afternoon, they tour museums and galleries, amusement parks, the Great Wall of China, and other sights of the Middle Kingdom. The activities are held in Chinese for additional practice.

Summer programs last 2-4 weeks. Students live in host families or school residences. The price of the course also includes three meals a day and airport transfers.

University courses

Chinese can be learned at university language centers. As a rule, programs last from a semester to a year. While universities in many other countries offer mostly academic courses to prepare for study, the choice of programs is wider at Chinese universities. They offer both intensive and preparatory courses for passing the HSK, as well as Business Chinese and summer family camps. Students with any language level are allowed to study.

Some universities accept certificates for their language courses as equivalent to the International Chinese Exam. Students can enroll in a bachelor’s program without the need to confirm their Chinese level.

University course fees
UniversityProgramDurationTuition feeAccommodation
Beijing Language and Culture UniversityChinese Language Courses 20*Year3,565 USD-
Chinese Preparatory Courses 30*Year5,388 USD
Intensive Chinese coursesSemester2,901 USD
Regular Chinese courses4-12 weeks138 USD/ weeks
Beijing Aviation and Space UniversityLong-Term Class 20*Semester-year

1,243 USD/semester
2,376 USD/year

-
Short-Term Class2-5 weeks

83-101 USD/week

51 USD/day

Tsinghua UniversityChinese Language ProgramSemester1,741 USD6-11 USD/day

Chongqing University

Chinese Language ProgramSemester-year967 USD/semester; 1,796 USD/year656-1,382 USD/year
Fudan UniversityChinese Language Program for International Students 20*Semester-year1,451 USD/semester; 2,901 USD/year-

* number of lessons per week

Features of admission to Chinese language schools

Recruitment at language schools takes place all year round. Classes for beginners start twice a month, and for students with a higher level — every Monday. There are usually two waves of enrollment for university courses: in May-June (for the autumn semester) and November-January (for the spring semester). Check the exact deadlines on the official website of the selected school or university.

The process of enrollment at Chinese language schools is not much different from that of other countries. For admission, you need to:

  • Select a suitable course
  • Complete an application on the official website of the school
  • If necessary, pass an entrance test to determine the language level
  • Sign an agreement
  • Pay tuition, registration, and other school fees
  • Receive an invitation letter from an educational institution
  • Apply for a visa

The enrollment process at some universities is similar — students fill out an application, pay for tuition, and receive an invitation letter. At other universities, you will need to additionally provide a copy of your passport, legalized documents on previous education, a health certificate, and other documents.

When applying, you need to take into account the refund policy when canceling or rescheduling a course. Some schools may require you to pay 69 USD if you decide to change the course date, while others withhold the registration fee or a portion of the course cost.

When choosing a school, you should pay attention to the region where it is located. The fact is that Chinese has many dialects that differ greatly from each other. To study Mandarin, the most universal variant of the language, it is worth choosing a school in Beijing or Shanghai. For Cantonese, it is best to study in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

Taking language courses in China

In China, you can learn Chinese at language schools and universities. As a rule, university courses are long and aimed exclusively at learning the language or preparing for entrance examinations. However, some universities offer a greater variety of programs, including calligraphy workshops or summer camps for the whole family. Also, the groups in them are quite large — on average, about 15-20 students.

Classes at language schools are more varied. In addition to standard and intensive courses, they offer special preparatory programs for passing the HSK, Business Chinese, and various electives — so that each student finds the right program for himself. Regardless of the course type, students learn the phonetic rules and tones of Chinese, simplified and traditional characters, as well as the grammatical and lexical structure of the language.

Upon arrival at the school, students are tested. Based on the results, they are divided into groups according to their language levels. Some schools offer students to take an online entrance exam before coming to China.

Classes at language schools are held in small groups — on average, no more than 5 people. The teacher has enough time for an individual approach to each student. Some programs also include private lessons, which help to better work out the moments that cause personal difficulties.

Throughout the course, students take several intermediate tests and a final exam. Upon completion, both language schools and universities issue language certificates.

The Chinese language has about 50 dialects that are further divided into subdialects[3]. Courses at Chinese language schools and universities teach Mandarin, which is considered the most general and universal variant — it is understood throughout China, as well as at UN conferences.

Language schools organize leisure activities for their students. Recreational and cultural activities are often included in the curriculum. Students explore the city, go to museums and exhibitions, and visit amusement parks and historical sites. The schools also have master classes in the traditional Chinese art of calligraphy, where students master the art of beautiful writing. All extracurricular activities are held in Chinese and allow for additional practice of the language. Also, you can play sports or join an interest club on the campus of many schools.

Accommodation options in China

Accommodation optionsMealsNumber of people per roomAvg. cost per week
Host familyBreakfast / dinner or full board1-2276 USD
School residenceNone1-2414 USD
ApartmentNone1-31,243 USD/month
HotelOptional1-286 USD/day

Additional expenses

ExpensesAvg. cost
Consular fee44 USD88 USD132 USD
Study materials28 USD
Registration fee83 USD
Cancellation fee69 USD
Airport transfer59 USD
Accommodation fee70 USD

Check the official school websites for additional costs.

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Visa for language courses in China

Students of short-term programs (the duration of which does not exceed 6 months) can apply for a category F visa.

If the study period exceeds 6 months, an X2 visa is required. The term for consideration of the application is from 1 to 5 working days.

The list of required documents for both visas is the same. Only the application form differs.

Documents for a Chinese student visa:

  • Completed V.2013 / JW201 or JW202 visa application form
  • Valid passport with at least two blank pages
  • Copy of the passport page with a photo
  • 1 3.3x4.8 cm color photograph on a white background (not older than 6 months)
  • Copies of active passport pages
  • Invitation letter from a language school or university
  • Tuition payment receipt
  • Consular fee payment receipt
  • Medical insurance for the entire period of stay (with insurance coverage from 15,000 USD)
  • Proof of financial solvency at the rate of 100 USD per day (bank statement, income statement, or sponsorship letter)
  • Air tickets or reservation confirmation
  • Housing confirmation

Please note that the consulate may refuse a visa if the application is submitted later than 3 months before the start of studies.

Working while taking a language course in China

From 2020, X2 visa holders can work part-time (20 hours per week) in China. However, you must obtain a work permit.

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Best language schools in China

That's Mandarin

That's Mandarin opened its doors to international students in 2005. The network has branches in Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou. The school also offers online courses.

At That's Mandarin, you can study Chinese in intensive courses or part-time programs for 4-6 hours a week, as well as prepare for the HSK. The school also has summer and winter language camps for students of all ages and language levels.

The average cost of a course at That's Mandarin is 177 USD per week. The cost of summer programs varies from 829 USD to 6,494 USD per course. It includes a Chinese course, accommodation in a residence or host family, meals, and an entertainment program.

LTL Mandarin School

Language schools of the LTL network are located in Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan, and Singapore. Qualified teachers, a flexible course system, and an individual approach to each student annually attract more than 3 thousand foreigners to Chinese courses at LTL.

The school offers group and individual programs of varying intensity. There are also summer programs, special courses for students over 50 years old, and a variety of master classes that can be taken in addition to the main course. The school also makes it possible to take one course in two or more cities where there are branches of the network.

The average weekly course cost at LTL is 580 USD.

Hutong School

Hutong earned popularity among students for the high qualification and experience of teachers, along with the flexibility of the curriculum. You can learn Chinese in intensive courses and summer programs. Studies can be combined with internships at local companies or volunteering activities.

The average cost of the course is 484 USD per week.

Best cities to learn Chinese

Shanghai

Population24.8 million people
Monthly expenses667 USD
DialectsMandarin, Shanghainese
  • China’s financial center. Skyscrapers, financial centers, high-rise banks, and people in business suits — this is what modern Shanghai looks like. In terms of economic and financial development, Shanghai is ahead of Beijing and Hong Kong and competes with the world's leading centers — London and New York.
  • Quiet parks and ancient Chinese architecture. Language course students in Shanghai have a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the history and culture of the Middle Kingdom. The brightest architectural ensemble of the city is the Garden of Joy, created in the 12th century. It has preserved many ancient monuments with telling names: the Pavilion of Merry Fishermen, the Pavilion of Affectionate Warmth, and the Bridge of Nine Bends.
  • Unique animals. Students regularly go on excursions to the Shanghai Zoo. There, you can meet the Malaysian bear, the fiery fox and the symbol of China — the big panda.

Beijing

Population20.6 million people
Monthly expenses673 USD
DialectsBeijing, Mandarin
  • Rich history. Settlements in the area of modern Beijing have existed since the first millennium BC. Throughout its history, the city has been repeatedly destroyed, burned, conquered — but each time rebuilt anew. Modern Beijing is the main cultural, political, and educational center of China.
  • Three architectural styles. The city harmoniously combines traditional Chinese architecture, typical Soviet buildings, and modern architectural forms located in Beijing City.
  • University city. About 60 higher education institutions are concentrated in Beijing. Among them, a special place is occupied by Peking University and Tsinghua University, which are included in QS’ top 20 universities in the world[4].
  • Classic Chinese. The Beijing dialect of Chinese is spoken in Beijing, which serves as the basis for Mandarin Chinese — the official standard language of the PRC[5]. Students usually have no difficulty in communicating outside of school — the "classic” Chinese that is taught in language courses is understood by everyone in Beijing.

Guangzhou

Population18.6 million people
Monthly expenses501 USD
DialectsCantonese, Mandarin, Shanghainese
  • One of the oldest cities in the world. The history of Guangzhou began in 862 BC — it was from here that the legendary Great Silk Road began.
  • Cantonese dialect. The old name of Guangzhou is Canton, which is where the Cantonese dialect originates. It is spoken here along with the traditional "Putonghua".
  • Attractions. The symbol of Guangzhou is a statue of five goats, which, according to legend, saved the city from starvation. It is also worth visiting one of the tallest TV towers in the world — the Guangzhou TV Tower. There is an observation deck on its top floor, which offers stunning views of the city.

Suzhou

Restaurant and Bridge over Shantang River in Suzhou at Night
Population12.7 million people
Monthly expenses526 USD
DialectsMandarin, Shanghainese
  • Parks and estates. Classical architectural and park ensembles are the template of Suzhou. There are several ancient parks here — Tiger Hill with a multi-storey pagoda, the Garden of the Modest Official, the Garden of Solitude, and the Garden of Stone Lions. All parks in Suzhou are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List[1].
  • Chinese Venice. Several rivers and water channels flow through Suzhou, including the Beijing-Hangzhou Imperial Canal. In the era of the Qing Dynasty, there were more than a thousand bridges in the city — some of them have been preserved in their original form to this day.
  • Universities. There are several public and private universities in Suzhou — for example, the Transport University, which offers double degree programs in conjunction with the University of Liverpool.
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