Learn Chinese in China: Find the Best Program for You

Learning Chinese in China offers unparalleled advantages, particularly through immersive learning experiences that significantly enhance language acquisition. Immersion in the local environment allows learners to practice Mandarin in a variety of real-life situations, from navigating public transportation to ordering food, which reinforces classroom learning in a natural and continuous way.

Moreover, this direct exposure to the language is complemented by cultural immersion, providing learners with a deeper understanding of Chinese customs, traditions, and social etiquettes. Such an approach not only aids in grasping the language more effectively but also enables students to appreciate the subtle nuances and cultural contexts that influence the way Mandarin is used daily.

By living and studying in China, learners are not just memorizing vocabulary and grammar; they are actively participating in a cultural journey that enriches their language skills and personal growth.

If this idea piques your interest, this guide will help you home in on a city and program that meet your individual learning needs and goals. This comprehensive overview covers the major university and local language school programs in ten different major cities in China. From there, we will also provide a step-by-step path from program selection to application, admission, and arrival.

Choosing the Right Program and LocationThe Best Study Abroad Programs in China’s Major Cities Learn Chinese in BeijingLearn Chinese in Shanghai Learn Chinese in Guangzhou / ShenzhenLearn Chinese in HangzhouLearn Chinese in ChengduLearn Chinese in ChongqingLearn Chinese in DalianLearn Chinese in Xi’anLearn Chinese in YunnanLearn Chinese in GuangxiNext Steps

Choosing the Right Program and Location

Choosing the right program and location is crucial when planning to learn Chinese in China, as it can significantly impact your learning experience and cultural immersion.

When selecting a language program, consider the intensity and duration that best fit your learning style and goals. Intensive programs, for example, are ideal for rapid language acquisition but require a high level of commitment, while less intensive courses allow more time for cultural exploration.

Additionally, the educational methods used by the program, such as interactive speaking activities, real-world language practice, and cultural workshops, should align with your learning preferences.

The choice of location in China also plays a vital role in shaping your experience.

Cities like Beijing and Shanghai offer vibrant urban environments, abundant language learning resources, and a mix of historical and modern Chinese culture. These metropolises provide a fast-paced lifestyle and diverse linguistic environments due to their mix of local and international populations.

On the other hand, smaller cities or towns such as Kunming or Dalian can offer a more immersive cultural experience with fewer English speakers, prompting you to use Mandarin more frequently. These locations often boast a more relaxed atmosphere and lower living costs, along with unique regional cultures and scenic landscapes.

Furthermore, consider the regional differences in language and culture. For instance, studying in northern China could expose you to standard Mandarin pronunciation, while opting for a program in Guangzhou introduces you to Cantonese culture and language, offering a different perspective on China’s linguistic diversity.

Each region and city in China provides distinct cultural exposure, historical sites, and local cuisine, enriching your language learning journey with unforgettable experiences and insights into Chinese life. Therefore, when choosing your program and location, weigh these factors carefully to find the best fit for your personal and educational aspirations.

Chinese Classes Near Me: How to Find the Best Chinese Classes and TutorsTop Universities in China for International Students

The Best Study Abroad Programs in China’s Major Cities

Learn Chinese in Beijing

University Chinese Language Programs:

Tsinghua University: Known primarily for its engineering and science programs, Tsinghua also offers high-quality Chinese language courses tailored especially for exchange students. These courses are well-regarded and provide a solid foundation in Chinese.Peking University: Although Beida is more famous for its social science programs, it offers Chinese learning programs, often in partnership with international universities. The university is known for its comprehensive approach and high academic standards.Beijing Language and Culture University: Also known as “Little United Nations,” BLCU is highly popular among international students and offers a range of online and in-person Chinese language programs​.Beijing International Studies University: This university offers semester-based courses focusing on intensive reading, speaking, listening, and conversation, including HSK test preparation. Short-term courses are available, particularly during the summer​.University of International Business and Economics: This university offers elementary, intensive, and business Chinese courses catering to students and professionals interested in economics and international business.

Chinese Language Schools:

Beijing International Chinese College: This school offers immersive Chinese language courses. It’s an excellent option if you’re looking to understand the Chinese language and culture more deeply​.Mandarin Zone School: This school provides a variety of programs tailored to different students’ needs, emphasizing improving communicative ability in Chinese. It’s a good option for students looking for a personalized learning experience.That’s Mandarin: Known for their in-house teaching platform, That’s Mandarin offers a variety of courses including part-time and corporate Chinese. They also provide a range of flexible options suitable for different learning needs​.

Learn Chinese in Shanghai 

University Chinese Language Programs:

Fudan University: Fudan offers exceptional quality standard Chinese courses. Its prestigious status ensures a high educational standard, although its campus is relatively far from the city center.East China Normal University: ECNU offers long-term Chinese language classes emphasizing listening, speaking, reading, and writing to build a strong foundation in the language.Shanghai International Studies University: Known for its multidisciplinary and multicultural nature, SISU offers normal and intensive Chinese language class options, catering to a variety of learning needs and goals.

Chinese Language Schools:

Mandarin House: This school has a self-developed curriculum aligned with HSK standards, providing personalized learning experiences from business Chinese to custom HSK preparation.SN Mandarin Chinese Language School: This school offers an intensive Chinese language course for deep immersion. It is an excellent option for those who want a comprehensive learning experience in a shorter timeframe.GoEast: This school offers a range of courses from beginner to advanced levels, including business Chinese and HSK preparation. Their method involves a mix of self-study and personal instruction, aiming to provide a comprehensive learning experience.

Learn Chinese in Guangzhou / Shenzhen

University Chinese Language Programs:

Sun Yat-sen University: One of the top universities in southern China, Sun Yat-sen offers comprehensive Chinese language and culture courses for all levels. It has a diverse student body, including over 3,000 international students.Ji’nan University: Known for its high percentage of foreign students, Ji’nan University offers a broad range of Chinese language courses, including business Chinese and HSK preparation, along with regular semester courses​.South China Normal University and South China University of Technology: Both universities are well-reputed in the Tianhe District for their Chinese language programs and rich campus life.

Chinese Language Schools:

Expat Chinese: This center provides Mandarin and Cantonese lessons tailored to Western learners. They offer a variety of learning experiences outside traditional classroom settings, such as monthly workshops and cultural activities.Hanbridge: They provide a variety of courses, including Business Mandarin, HSK Test Preparation, and Chinese for Kids and Teens, among others. The school is noted for its qualified tutors and customized lessons tailored to students’ needs.

Learn Chinese in Hangzhou

University Chinese Language Programs:

Zhejiang University: This university is known for its prestigious language programs and offers a range of courses from beginner to advanced levels, including intensive HSK preparation.Zhejiang Chinese Medical University: This university offers a Chinese Language Program targeted at beginners aiming to improve their Chinese proficiency. The program spans one semester to one academic year and includes comprehensive Chinese, listening, speaking, and cultural studies.Zhejiang University of Science and Technology: Their programs are structured to improve Chinese language skills and understanding of Chinese culture. They offer both long-term and short-term courses to cater to different learning needs and schedules.

Chinese Language School:

Mandarin Mates: This school offers offline Chinese language classes designed to provide immersive and interactive learning experiences. The classes cater to various levels, aiming to enhance students’ Chinese language skills effectively within the cultural context.

Learn Chinese in Chengdu

University Chinese Language Programs:

Sichuan University: The Chinese Language Program is designed for international students and includes comprehensive language training and cultural education. It features experienced faculty, diverse courses, and modern facilities. Classes, capped at 25 students, focusing on reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Afternoon extracurriculars like calligraphy and Taiji are offered. The program organizes weekend trips and functions as a test center for HSK and other Chinese language proficiency exams.Southwest Jiaotong University: This university offers long-term Chinese language and culture programs for international students. Courses cover various aspects including intensive reading, extensive reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Students are placed in levels based on initial tests. The program emphasizes small class sizes and experienced teachers for efficient learning.Chengdu University: The non-degree programs for international students focus on Chinese Language and Culture, including courses like Chinese Listening, Spoken Chinese, and an Overview of China. Additionally, cultural activities like calligraphy and Tai-Chi are offered.

Chinese Language School:

XMandarin: This school offers personalized and small group Chinese language courses. The school tailors programs to individual interests and speeds, ensuring a quality educational experience. They also provide cultural events and assist with China Student Visas.

Learn Chinese in Chongqing

University Chinese Language Programs:

Chongqing University: The program covers various aspects of the language, including reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. The course materials and application requirements highlight a well-structured curriculum designed to accommodate different levels of learners. Interested students can expect to engage in a rigorous study schedule, complemented by cultural immersion activities to deepen their understanding of Chinese culture.Chongqing Jiaotong University: This university provides a Chinese Language Learning Program with options for both semester-long and year-long studies. This program caters to individuals aiming to improve their Chinese language skills from basic to more advanced levels. The university’s approach involves a combination of classroom instruction and practical language application, facilitating a conducive learning environment for international students​.

Chinese Language School:

Hutong School: This school offers various Chinese language courses tailored to different needs, including HSK preparation, business Chinese, and courses for children. They provide both private and group classes, with small class sizes ensuring individual attention.

Learn Chinese in Dalian

University Chinese Language Programs:

Dalian University of Foreign Languages: This university offers long-term Chinese Training Programs with options for one semester or one year. Their programs start in both spring and autumn, with application deadlines typically set a few months before the start dates. Courses are taught in Chinese and are designed for a range of levels from beginner to advanced.

Chinese Language Schools:

Smile Chinese: This school offers a range of Chinese language courses, including intensive Chinese and business Chinese.Panda Chinese: This school specializes in personalized Chinese language courses and HSK / BCT preparation classes. It caters to the need for intensive survival courses, such as Chinese for spouses.

Learn Chinese in Xi’an

University Chinese Language Programs:

Xi’an Jiaotong University: This university offers a comprehensive Chinese Language Program aimed at developing students’ foundational Chinese skills and intercultural communication abilities. The program integrates Chinese culture into the language teaching and prepares students for the HSK examination. The program duration varies from one semester to one academic year, with different fees for application and tuition.Xi’an International Studies University: XISU offers a range of graduate and undergraduate programs with a strong focus on foreign languages and literature. It is highly recognized for fostering foreign language competence and adaptability among its graduates. The university is committed to international exchange and maintains partnerships with numerous institutions worldwide.Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University: This university program offers comprehensive Chinese language modules that cater to various learning levels, aligning with the CEFR and HSK standards. Credited modules and non-degree courses, alongside practical Chinese courses and a Summer School, are available for both undergraduate students and non-degree learners.

Chinese Language School:

Xi’an Mandarin School: This school offers various Chinese language courses, including small group classes across different levels and private tuition customized to individual needs. They focus on practical language skills and cover topics from daily life to business Chinese. The school provides short summer and winter courses combining language learning with cultural immersion activities in Xi’an.

Learn Chinese in Yunnan

University Chinese Language Programs:

Yunnan University: This university offers a variety of Chinese language and culture courses designed for international students. The program focuses on all aspects of Chinese language and includes many cultural activities for students’ overall development. The tuition fee for the non-degree program is approximately RMB 5,800 total​.Yunnan Normal University: This university’s programs specialize in one-on-one to one-on-five teaching programs covering Chinese language and culture. It also offers specialized programs like intensive training and HSK preparation. The tuition fee for the non-degree program is around RMB 12,500 total​.

Chinese Language School:

Keats School: This school offers intensive, one-on-one Chinese language courses, tailored to the individual’s learning pace and style. The school spans across many famous cities in Yunnan, including Kunming, Dali, Tengchong, etc. It is well-regarded for its focus on ensuring students can practice Chinese in a natural setting, enhancing the learning experience beyond the classroom.

Learn Chinese in Guangxi

University Chinese Language Programs:

Guangxi Normal University: A comprehensive public university in Guilin, Guangxi Normal University is known for its beautiful campuses and strong education programs. It offers a variety of Chinese language classes for all levels and is particularly noted for its international exchange programs.Guilin University of Technology: This university offers short-term (8-week) and year-long Chinese language courses.

Chinese Language Schools:

Omeida Chinese Academy: This academy offers various Chinese language courses catering to different needs, from intensive immersion to part-time lessons. Features include a language partner program with native speakers, volunteer opportunities, and a range of extracurricular activities set against the backdrop of Yangshuo’s stunning scenery.Chinese Language Institute: This school offers immersive Chinese language programs in Guilin. They provide a range of learning options and are known for their flexible scheduling and diverse cultural experiences, making learning Chinese in a beautiful and clean environment even more appealing.

Additional resources:

Learn Chinese in Montreal: Which Classes and Tutors are Right for You?Learn Mandarin in Hong Kong: Top Schools, Key Benefits, Challenges, and Expert TipsBest Chinese Classes in London: A Review of Schools, Tutors, and Online Options

Next Steps

Research and Decide: Consider your goals, budget, and preferred city/environment. Research each program and its offerings.Apply: Once you’ve chosen a program, complete the application process, which may include submitting documents, language proficiency scores, and application fees. Regardless of if it’s an accredited program with a university or a program organized by an independent language school, they are usually pleased to help with the application process.Secure Funding: Apply for scholarships, financial aid, or personal funding to support your studies.Visa Application: Upon acceptance, apply for a student visa with the help of your chosen institution. Generally, students aiming to study in China need to apply for an X1 or X2 visa, depending on the length of your study program. While certain countries enjoy visa-free access for short periods or under specific conditions, it’s crucial to check the latest travel advisories and requirements before planning your trip. How to Apply For A Chinese Student Visa, Tourist Visa, or Work Visa

Pre-departure Preparation: Engage in pre-departure language learning, familiarize yourself with Chinese culture and etiquette, and prepare necessary documents and living arrangements.Arrival and Adjustment: Once in China, participate in orientation programs, get to know the area around your school and living accommodations, and start immersing yourself in the local language and culture.

Further reading:

How to Find a Really Good Approach to Guide Your Chinese LearningHow to Find a Really Good Chinese Teacher to Guide Your LearningHow to Find a Really Fancy Chinese Textbook to Guide Your Learning


Learning Chinese in China presents a unique and enriching opportunity to explore the language and culture directly from its source. Whether you’re drawn to the historical depth of Beijing, the modern pulse of Shanghai, or the scenic beauty of Kunming, each city offers its unique flavor of Chinese life and learning. We encourage you to consider this transformative experience, not just for the language proficiency you will gain but for the personal growth and global understanding it promises. Learning Chinese in China is not merely about acquiring a language; it’s about immersing yourself in a culture, meeting new people, and seeing the world from a different vantage point. Take the plunge and explore the vast, dynamic country of China while becoming fluent in one of the world’s most spoken languages.

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