Where should I study Mandarin in China?

When you want to study Mandarin in China, there are different factors to consider before moving over there to start your studies. I didn’t know much about this before I ended up in southern China studying the language where I think I learned a bit about the ups and downs on this topic. Here are a few things to consider before deciding where you want to study Mandarin in China.

  1. If you really want to go all in on learning the standard Mandarin, the middle and northern parts of the country (Liaoning, Beijing, Hebei, Tianjin) are better because the pronunciation is closer to the standard Mandarin which is also the official language of the country. Of course, there will be slang words everywhere you go but Beijing and around will have the best pronunciation when you practice with locals even though some locals can mumble quite a lot in the Beijing area (like taxi drivers and such).
  2. Beijing is one of the top destinations for foreigners to go in China. If you feel homesick, this is the place to go for foreign food and foreign company but it is also one of the easiest places to forget about the language studies and go party hard with foreign friends speaking English instead.
  3. Mandarin is a very hard language for foreigners which is why I recommend you to go to a city nearby Beijing or Shanghai where you can live and practice your Mandarin with locals in a more Chinese environment (read: without too many foreign friends and bars around) but because you’re nearby, you can also easily go for a trip to one of the ‘international’ cities of China.
  4. Financially speaking, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are the more expensive cities (not compared to NYC, Sydney and London) but if you’re financing your trip on your own and you want to make it cheaper, look out for cheaper places to go. There are many great but less expensive places to go learn Mandarin. Furthermore, you can choose the cheaper option which is the language classes at the Chinese universities but you can also  search for private schools (usually more expensive). Though, I’ve actually found private schools with group classes and one-on-one at almost the same price as the university prices (South China) so that’s another option if you want it to be more intense.
  5. When it comes to financing a language course, the best idea is to check out all the different scholarships available for foreigners studying in China. You can find them HERE.

Five tips to consider before going to China. I hope this will help you decide where you want to go. China is a big country and the sun is shining all year in the south whereas it’s icy in north so think twice before you’re choosing where to go.

Let me know if you have any other good advice in the comments below.

xx lingling

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