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Learn Chinese in Beijing: Teaching

The Mandarin language school`s key concern is to get you to speak Chinese!

Chinese language fluency is the goal of most of the language students who attend these courses, if not immediately, then in the future. With good teaching, consistent effort and on the right programme, the school believe it should take a dedicated beginner no longer than a year to reach their fluency goal. Whether you can only attend the school for a few weeks or months or (if very lucky) a whole year, the staff at the Beijing school will do all they can to support you become fluent in Mandarin Chinese as fast as possible.

You will cover the four core language skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing, with plenty of grammar and vocabulary work included in order to develop all the essential Mandarin language skills. Special importance is given to the communicative aspect of the language and its use in everyday life. For this reason, the language school focuses 70% of group tuition time (Standard Course) on enabling students to speak and understand oral Mandarin in class, and whenever possible out of class as well.

The curriculum is structured across all theoretical language levels, (sub-divided into further class levels). There are classes in grammar, oral and written exercises, practice with video and audio material and conversation on subjects of general, social and cultural interest.
The Standard Group Course concentrates on communication skills, the Combined Course and Academic Term provides a broader study of the language, including greater focus on written language skills. Students can book additional private classes and prepare for the HSK exams (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi). The HSK tests are used to prove the fluency levels of non-native speakers and is utilised by all Chinese universities to assess foreign students language ability, and also by a number of Chinese companies, when looking for foreign workers.

Chinese Language Level Description

Elementary
You will learn Chinese phonetics, tones, basic words, grammar and sentence structure. Understand simple messages, instructions and directions. You will be able to talk about everyday activities and use basic grammar constructions.

HSK Test levels:
Elementary I: At the end of this level you will be able to sit the HSK test Level 1, and can understand and use very simple Chinese phrases, meet basic needs for communication and possess the ability to expand upon your Chinese studies.
Equivalent to: A1 (on European level ability scale)

Elementary II: Having completed this level you can sit the HSK Level 2, and prove you have excellent grasp of basic Chinese and can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.

Equivalent to: A2 (on European level ability scale)

Pre-Intermediate
Carefully selected topics allow you to quickly improve your spoken Chinese focusing on vocabulary, grammatical skills and sentence structure.

HSK Test level:
Pre-Intermediate I: Having completed this level you will be able to sit the HSK Level 3, and show communication skills in Chinese at a basic level in daily, academic and professional live. You can also show ability in communicating in Chinese when travelling in China.
Equivalent to: B1 (on European level ability scale)

Intermediate
Explore the cultural differences between China and your home country in the classroom. A deeper understanding of the culture will rapidly improve your understanding of how Chinese is used in real life.

HSK Test level:
Intermediate I: Having completed this level you will be able to sit the HSK Level 4, and can converse in Chinese on a wide range of topics and be able to communicate effectively with native Chinese speakers.
Equivalent to: B2 (on European level ability scale)

High Intermediate
Well on the way to fluency in Chinese. The skills and knowledge gained through teacher driven interactive classes will enable you to process conversation without having to translate back to your mother tongue in your head first.

HSK Test level:
High Intermediate 1: Having completed this level you will be able to sit the HSK Level 5, showing you can read Chinese newspapers and magazines, enjoy Chinese films and plays and give a full-length speech in Chinese.
Equivalent to: C1 (on European level ability scale)

Advanced
Nuanced improvement to your ability to understand the written word; from newspaper articles through to contemporary Chinese prose. Idiomatically astute, you can converse on a wide range of topics without language or cultural barriers.

HSK Test level:
Advanced I: Having completed this level you will be able to sit the HSK Level 6, and can prove that you can easily comprehend written and spoken information in Chinese and effectively express yourself in Chinese, both orally and in written terms.
Equivalent to: C2 (on European level ability scale)
Students chose to attend a short or longer course according to their linguistic goals, personal wishes and time constraints.

Teaching Methods

Group classes: small group (maximum 6 students per class) where students learn speaking, listening, reading and writing Mandarin. Monday / Wednesday/ Friday: Classes are primarily focused on spoken skills
Tuesday / Thursday: Classes are primarily focused on Chinese characters (writing and reading)

The school works with two group course timetables:

9:00 to 13:00
10:00 -12:00 (lunch break) 13:00 -15:00

Assignment to a schedule is determined by teaching staff – depending on language level of the individual and student numbers at each level.

Class Materials

Textbooks: Included in the course

End of Course Certificate

At the end of a course (minimum 2 weeks) the school provides a language certificate. The language certificate specifies the dates of the programme, level achieved and a brief description for each language level. On request staff can add the number of hours and number of weeks.

Levels and groups

Choosing the right programme for you:
From experience the group classes work well for Beginner and Elementary level students.
However for Intermediate and Advanced students the school proposes private lessons as the best tuition format.
Teachers find that for intermediate+ level students, group classes in Mandarin are less effective than private lessons, due to the large differences in the range of reading and speaking abilities of more advanced Mandarin students.
A Japanese person who is seen as HSK 4, might actually read and write at HSK 5 or 6 level (because Japanese use very similar characters as Chinese), but speak at HSK 2 level, whereas an American who has lived/is living in China and is seen as HSK 4, might actually speak at HSK 5, but read and write at HSK 2 level.

Level assessment

To determine whether group or private classes are the best course option to meet your needs, the school arranges that all prospective students participate in a Skype assessment with the Director of Studies, prior to arrival in China.  Determining whether group, private or combined classes are the ideal solution to your language learning needs, ensures the best possible programme outcome for you, and the most constructive use of your time and budget.

For Upper intermediate and Advanced students, the school only offers Private lessons.
Private lessons can be offered for 20 or 30 classes per week.

Class Size

Maximum 6 students per class year round – including the high season for the school (June- August).

Class Duration

Group lesson duration = 55 minutes
Private tuition = 60 minutes per lesson

Exam preparation

HSK preparation is offered throughout the year in private lessons: 20 hours per week or 30 hours per week.
Individual HSK preparation can be arranged for a minimum of 1 week, for as long as you wish.

First Day of School

As students take a Skype assessment prior to arrival in China, you will be straight into class on the first day of your programme.

There are one or two main start dates every month of the year – open to everyone, including complete beginners.
Students meet school staff at 08:00 am at the subway station by the school and everyone goes for an Orientation Breakfast, before the programme starts at 09.00am. A nice gentle introduction so that you can get to know the staff and other students, before you begin your studies!
If you already have any Chinese language knowledge you can start a programme on any Monday of the year.
If the date you choose is not one of the main starting dates, then you are asked to arrive at the school, on Monday to start classes straight away. You will get to know the students and staff during your course, and there is always someone on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Remember the Beijing staff know the city and how things work in China and are here to help. They will do all that they can to assist you and ensure your Mandarin language course in Beijing runs as smoothly as possible.

Beijing School Teachers

All teachers are required to be certified professionals, with a minimum 1000 hours teaching experience. The school has over 50 teachers working for them and can cater for the needs of a wide range of language students, whether already living in China or coming to China from abroad (many for the first time), specifically for language lessons.

The Beijing school teachers must have a Bachelor’s or a Master’s Degree in ‘Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language’. During this four year course they learn how the Chinese language works, how to teach it to foreigners, and learn more about their own culture. They are also required to pass English language exams and do work experience placements. Prior to starting at the language school, all teachers have completed at least two years of teaching experience at another school.

Beijing School Students

Students at the school are drawn from all around the world, and have different language abilities and goals, but all share a common desire to improve their Mandarin language skills.
The school is at its busiest from June to August, with around 80 students per week.
In the quietest months there will be around 20 to 30 students per week.
Whilst students can study Mandarin from one week to a year in Beijing, on average students study for 4 to 6 weeks.

All students benefit from the peace of mind provided by the school’s 24/7 emergency support – whilst we sincerely hope you won’t need it, it is reassuring to know that should you need emergency help whilst living in China, the local staff in Beijing are only be a phone call away.