Unfortunately, for most foreigners, learning Chinese is just not something we can do on our own. There's the tones, the idioms, and the fact that Google translate (or even Bing) doesn't really work that well. We need help. Luckily, there are eight great options to choose from.
With 137 years of experience in language services and a global network of more than 500 language centers in over 60 countries, you can be sure that choosing Berlitz is a decision you can make with confidence. A recognized name, Berlitz offers various types of instruction: flexible and customized individual instruction, semi-private instruction for two to three students, and group instruction for four to eight students—which can help with practice and also making contacts if you're new to Shanghai. All Mandarin courses feature fully-qualified instructors. All are well-educated, fluent in Mandarin, and thoroughly trained in the Berlitz Method, which was developed in 1877 by Maximilian D. Berlitz. With this highly effective method, all conversations during classes of all levels take place in the language being learned, and instructors use a conversational approach based on listening and speaking instead of the traditional memorization method, to ensure that students can maximize their speaking time in all stages of learning.
Find it: www.berlitz.com.cn
With seven campuses in Shanghai, fitting in a class at this school is convenient. iMandarin offers all sorts of courses ranging from iCorporate (for business language and skills training) to iCamp (for an immersive language and cultural experience). iMandarin, in fact, designs and publishes its own textbooks, which are updated annually to keep up with changing student needs. Their practical, structured approach involves oral drills that focus on authentic pronunciation and have students build from words to sentences to paragraphs. Teachers at iMandarin endeavor to help students learn “locational” communication, so that they can apply what they have learned to their everyday routines. Pricing varies depending on the basic iGroup course. The school is also great about providing assistance organizing China visas, even before students arrive in Shanghai—so get your bags packed and get ready to board a plane. Not every other school will supply official letters of invitation, which can delay the visa procurement process.
Find it: www.imandarin.net
Recognized as a research center for Chinese teachers, and an IPA certified teacher training organization, Mandarin Garden is one of Shangha's most well established international Chinese teaching centers. Welcoming students from all over the globe, they have nine centers in China and three in Shanghai. Each center has a distinctive Chinese vibe helping to immerse students into the Chinese culture. Whether for business or personal use, choose from a wide range of courses to fit your schedule. Take an intensive Monday to Friday 20-hour course focusing on listening, speaking and reading. Or go for a long term course to really hone your Mandarin skills. Mandarin Garden offers more than 15 different subjects including written, spoken, conversational and business language with subjects taught at eight proficiency levels. They also offer summer courses in Mandarin and Chinese culture for children and teens within an immersion environment, experiencing food, history and culture.
Find it: www.mandaringarden.org
Shanghai has always been known as a city that caters to foreigners, and while the signs, products and Starbucks menus are in English, life in this city is still easier with a little Mandarin language under your belt. For expats trying to get a handle on all the characters floating around, there is Mandarin Harbour Language Training Center, which offers a complete beginners course that will have you communicating with ease after only 60 hours of instruction. For students that have completed its beginner levels, they also offer customized “Experience China” courses, which focus on specific aspects of Chinese living such as traveling, sports or business. If you have little ones in Shanghai, the institute offers children’s classes for ages ranging from 4 to 18, which teach using a more hands-on curriculum utilizing games and song. This institution’s instruction isn’t limited to grammar and vocabulary though: they also offer six-hour classes covering a wide variety of Chinese cultural subjects like feng shui, calligraphy and traditional painting.
Find it: www.mandarinharbour.com
This award-winning school is not only an accredited HSK testing center but also the place to go for a great Chinese language boot camp. In modern, spacious classrooms, professional teachers teach lessons for all ages and levels, with options for group or private tutoring. Part-time classes are also available for those with heavier work (or party) schedules. Their tutors are flexible and will work to the hours that suit you, with the option of online instruction. Some 50 percent of their students actually come to China specifically to take one of the school’s intensive 20-plus hours per week courses. They rave about the experience and the value for money. If you tire of toiling over the textbooks too much, this language center also puts on myriad cultural activities and excursions from Chinese cooking to kung fu sessions and even weekend sightseeing tours. Mandarin House ensures that students get the most out of their China experience. They also provide accommodation for those in need, in a good location close to the language school.
Find it: www.mandarinhouse.com
Mandarin Inn Language and Culture Center provides a wide range of options to suit almost every Mandarin language learner. Founded in 2008, they have Centers in Shanghai and Chengdu. With a kids Mandarin program, part-time or evening options along with HSK preparation and business courses, there’s no excuse for not finding time or the right class to attend. You can opt for a group Mandarin course where you’ll join three to five other students to support each other on your journey. The semi-private classes pair you with another learner of a similar level so you have more attention and time with the teacher while supporting each other. For those wanting to become truly immersed, or who prefer one-on-one attention, try the private course—flexible and personalized to you. Prices are reflective of how many other students are in the classroom (the more students, the less you pay). They even have some other languages available, like English and French, and they offer a free trial class and placement test for all applicants to make sure your education goes as smoothly as possible. Located in Xuhui District, the facilities have a casual vibe and are just a one-minute walk away from Changshu Lu Metro line 1 and line 7.
Find it: www.mandarininn.cn
Mandarin King (MK) is one of the most respected Mandarin language training schools in town with its proven training methods, devoted professional team, and the best services to their clients. MK has provided training services to Adidas, ANZ Bank, Air New Zealand, Auchan, Bayer, BMW, Carrefour, HSBC, SAIC Motor, PWC, P&G, Sodexho, Thales Saic, Kelly Services and many other valued corporate and individual clients. Since 2009, they have been a go-to school for corporate students and their families, and for independent students of all ages. With Beginner Basic courses up to completion of HSK Level Six alongside Business Mandarin and Chinese Culture and History. MK teachers are graduates of top Bachelors and Masters Degree programs, fluent in English, and most are also fluent in and teaching from third major base languages. Their programs meet the learning needs of their students with relevant content, flexible access to materials and information and learning progression. Progressive content allows students to expand vocabulary, develop controlled grammar and most importantly, to speak Mandarin comfortably when needed.
Find it: www.mandarinking.cn
Founded in 2004, Panda Language Institute boasts four schools with over 12,000 students. They offer competitively priced Mandarin classes as well as English and Chinese Culture courses to individuals, groups and corporate clients. Whether for business or personal enrichment, they offer a good range of class options to help achieve your study goals, also recognizing the importance of having the right study planned out for you. Course consultants will discuss your goals and assess your current level before making a tailor-made study plan. Students are given exclusive access to interactive e-learning materials and weekly Mandarin learning tips specially designed to supplement the chosen course. Along with additional classes in Chinese culture, students can also get a recorded copy of classes to help with review notes. Panda is proud to offer fully-certified teaching staff. All Mandarin teachers hold a Teachers of Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages certificate (TCSOL) Qualification, a level of Putonghua Grade Certificate and at least 2-3 years Mandarin teaching experience.
Find it: www.pandachinesetraining.com/en