Study Mandarin

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Old Mar 11th 2014, 7:22 am
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Default Study Mandarin

After a few problems too many with my current employer I decided to take a year off, have some fun and do something useful - learn Mandarin.
I have never been to China and am open for pretty much anything. I hear Beijing speaks the best accent however maybe a smaller city would be more interesting to live in? Have to decide between university and a private school as well, what do you guys think works better? Any good/reliable schools/unis to recommend?
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Old Mar 11th 2014, 9:21 am
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Default Re: Study Mandarin

Ok, so you are facing several choices

A. Location
If you want to learn Mandarin, Northern China is a better choice because people speak with a better accent. So the choice should mainly be which Northern city and there it is really big vs. small.
The big, international choice is Beijing. Beijing is fun, huge, wealthy, developed, great nightlife, a lot of culture and has a relatively big expat community.
Smaller cities like Chengde offer lower living costs, quiet, less expats, more nature.
Which one you choose depends on your personal preferences though from a language learning point of view the less expats you hang out with the better.

B. University vs. Private School
There are hundreds of universities and private language schools in China. The university programs are all quite similar, some are more famous, some less, some bigger, some smaller, but in the end they all work in a very similar way.
The advantages of studying Mandarin at a Chinese university are that they are government controlled and as a result you can be sure that they will not cheat you. The other main advantage is the price. Classes at universities are usually very big which means that the per student cost is low.
For private schools the main disadvantage are that you have to be careful which one you choose, as anyone can set up a website and pretent to be a school. The advantages are that - the good ones at least - have small classes, usually better teachers, more service, are more flexible and in general are just better organized, as one would expect from a good private enterprise vs. a communist party controlled state enterprise - Mandarin courses at Chinese universities are not financed by the government, but are there to make money for the universities. The lower cost is due to the bigger classes and sometimes lower teacher wages/facility costs.
I studied Mandarin for two months at this school in China in and was very happy with them.
An important thing you have to think about is whether you are doing this for fun or for becoming fluent in Mandarin. I am not saying that the two exclude each other, but if really want to become fluent then spending at least some time studying in a small city without foreigners where the locals speak proper Mandarin would be essential.

Anyways, I am sure it will be an amazing year. If my boss keeps pushing me I might just end up doing the same.
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Old Apr 10th 2014, 6:53 am
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Default Re: Study Mandarin

Why not learn Cantonese too so you mix well with local Hong Kongers or Macau folks or local Guangdong citizens.
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