Ah, the art of learning.
Remember what it was like in middle school, high school or college?
No matter where you went for your studies, your classes were probably all arranged in a similar, rigid schedule.
Over the course of several months, you were assigned homework, readings, essays and tests.
This might be the accepted way to learn, but, unfortunately, not everyone can benefit from it. Some like to learn in a hands-on approach, while others prefer lectures.
And then there are those who learn best through short, immersive and intensive courses.
If this last option is the one you prefer, you’re in luck! Break out of the slow-learning cycle with intensive Chinese courses.
And since many of these courses are held abroad, you also get to visit gorgeous Chinese locations and become immersed in the language as well as the culture.
What Are Intensive Chinese Courses?
Intensive Chinese courses are an alternative that few Mandarin learners know about. They can completely change the way you view your language-learning journey.
Do you need to learn Mandarin Chinese quickly for your job? Do you want to visit China or another Mandarin-speaking country to engage in a more immersive experience? If so, intensive courses may be worth looking into.
Intensive Chinese courses differ from regular Chinese-learning courses in several ways:
- They’re much briefer than your typical course. Many of the courses we’ll be covering last anywhere from a few weeks to a full summer.
- They’re held in Chinese locations. While you’re enrolled in an intensive Mandarin Chinese course, you’ll be eating, sleeping and breathing Chinese language and culture.
- They’re fast-paced. Regular courses go at a much slower pace. Not intensive courses! You’ll be (most likely) living in China, studying with other non-native speakers and experiencing the Chinese language firsthand through immersion.
Why Go the Intensive Route When Learning Chinese?
Using an app, a book or other means of learning some Chinese phrases may be all you need for your purposes. But if you plan to move to a Mandarin-speaking country or are involved in business practices that require constant communication with Mandarin speakers, then an intensive course is a more solid foundation to go for.
If you’re not a fan of casual learn-as-you-go courses, intensive Chinese courses can offer a more solid education instead of just casual learning for travel. Here are a few more reasons to go the intensive route:
- Intensive courses allow learners to fully immerse themselves in the Chinese language. Casual learning just doesn’t facilitate an immersive experience. If you want to really learn Chinese and learn the language fast, along with some practical cultural education, intensive courses are the way to go.
- You can learn Chinese faster through intensive courses. Since so much information and practice is packed into these courses, you’ll pick up a lot more usable Mandarin than you would from casual learning.
- Overseas intensive courses offer a chance to travel as well. Many of the courses we’ll be discussing are immersive, meaning you’ll be traveling to China to take them.
- Intensive courses are usually relatively inexpensive when compared to longer university-level courses. You’ll have to pay for the course, food, lodging and the plane ticket. Since these courses are so intense and brief, usually a few weeks to a few months, you wouldn’t be spending as much as you would paying tuition for a full semester.
To make the most of your intensive course, supplement it with other learning resources. Keep checking your Chinese learning apps, visiting your favorite Chinese websites and using FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Don’t forget that you can also use the interactive subtitles, flashcards and vocabulary lists to learn English phrases better than ever!
5 Intensive Chinese Courses You Can Take Abroad
Want to explore Beijing all day and night? Who wouldn’t! This course from CIEE will whisk you away to Beijing for eight weeks of hardcore learning. To apply, all you need is to be a college student at an intermediate or advanced level of Mandarin, a GPA over 2.5, the time and the cash.
If you want to compact a full year’s worth of Chinese education (plus invaluable cultural exposure) into two months, then CIEE’s Summer Intensive Chinese Language program is a great option. As a nice bonus, this program includes travel insurance and benefits in your tuition, so you can travel without worry. Plus, there are scholarship opportunities as well.
Imagine getting to learn Mandarin and travel the glittering streets of Beijing. Work and pleasure definitely combine in this program.
It’ll cost you just under $7,000 to enroll and the deadline for enrollment for their Summer 2018 program is April 1st, 2018. If this deadline has passed check the website to find out when the next opportunity to enroll becomes available.
CLI’s immersion program is by far the most option-packed program on this list! You can select the duration of your intensive course (two weeks to a full year) and your housing preferences. You also have the option to live with a native Chinese speaker during your stay.
Your education will include small group session, one-on-one tutoring, multiple instructors and a strong focus on spoken Mandarin.
Guilin is a dramatically beautiful part of Southern China, dense with limestone hills and breathtaking scenery. If you want an immersive Mandarin-learning experience with some time to do a little backpacking, this would be ideal for you.
This program is pretty unique because you get to customize your own curriculum to suit your personal needs. Tuition ranges anywhere from $1,180 to $32,090 and relies heavily on what course and duration you select. The possibilities are almost endless! Emergency assistance, rent, the course, visa assistance and more are included in your tuition. Financial aid is also available. You can enroll and begin your course at any time!
Miracle Mandarin’s course in Shanghai is an ideal option for those who prefer being taught a language through real-life situations. In this way, the course is different from many other intensive courses that tend to be more systematic and academic. If you want to be able to speak and read in real-time, this course is for you!
Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate Chinese speaker, you qualify for enrollment. Decide if you want to study for eight or sixteen weeks, and have your visa and plane ticket ready. Miracle Mandarin doesn’t list their rates, but you do get to book a free trial class. Just be ready to study for six hours a day, five days a week. Luckily, there aren’t any deadlines to enroll here.
Shanghai is a hot-spot for clubbing and youth culture. You can definitely balance intensive Chinese learning with a bit of fun here. Don’t want to travel? No problem! Miracle Mandarin also offers online videos and live classes.
Asia Exchange has a wonderful immersion program at the renowned Guangzhou University. This program offers an opportunity to study abroad in a more formal setting in the capital of Southern China.
This course is distinctive because you don’t just get an immersive Chinese education. You also get to learn about Chinese law, culture and economics. A perfect course for one planning to do business in China.
While Guangzhou is a much more diplomatic area in China, there are still many sights to see and experiences to be had. It’s a sprawling narrow city where you can check out the serene Pearl River, outskirts of Hong Kong and famed architecture of the Guangzhou Opera House all in one day’s trip!
To apply, you need to be at least eighteen years of age with a high school diploma and have the $2,880 fee for tuition and transcripts. You’ll need to make your own living accommodations and arrangements, but with the hundreds of hostels all over Southern China, this course is still a great option at a lower cost for a full semester abroad.
Want to learn more? You can request a free catalog and application information from their website.
Need something with a flexible schedule? TMI Chinese offers a wide range of courses that you can take at any level, any time!
Their intensive course is a four hour a day program and you can choose your own duration from one week to a full year. You can expect some serious one-on-one time with your teachers and peers, as classes are capped at six students per class.
Beginners, intermediate learners and advanced learners will be tested into their appropriate class. The Taiwan Mandarin Institute can arrange your living accommodations for you (within a couple of miles from the school) or you can arrange them on your own. You can even choose what time of the day you wish to study!
Since there are a lot of options for this course, pay varies significantly from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand. It all depends on what you’d like to try! One of the best qualities of this course is that a full refund will be offered if you aren’t satisfied with your living accommodations or classes, so you can rest easy that you won’t waste your money.
Taiwan isn’t a very big island, but it’s definitely full of exciting sights and pleasures. From sprawling markets to beautiful traditional Chinese temples to delectable hot springs resorts and beautiful mountain sights, you could really have an amazing adventure with this program while also learning Chinese.
There are so many great intensive Mandarin courses to choose from! If you need to learn Chinese very quickly and want to experience what life in China is really like, one of these fantastic intensive courses may be the best choice you’ll make on your language-learning journey.
好运! (Hǎo yùn!) — Good luck!
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. They write about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.
And One More Thing…
Since you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously serious about learning Chinese.
FluentU can help.
FluentU lets you learn real Chinese from dramas, TV shows, commercials, music videos and more. It naturally eases you into learning Chinese language, and you’ll learn Chinese as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos, as you can see here:
FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how they’re used. Tap to add words you’d like to review to a vocab list.
From the description page, you can access interactive transcripts under the Dialogue tab, or review words and phrases under Vocab.
FluentU’s Quiz Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It suggests content and examples based on the words you’re learning. You have a 100% personalized experience.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.