Learning Chinese in China: 11 Quality Chinese Schools in Beijing, Shanghai and Beyond
If you want to study Chinese in China, there are lots of ways to go about it.
Sure, you could try to manage on your own with self-study—but a more solid option may be an in-person, immersion-style program.
There are countless schools throughout the huge country offering these courses, accommodating all different skill levels, goals, interests and travel itineraries.
We’ve lined up the best of the best here!
You’ll be happy to note that some have branches in cities around the world (so there may be one near you) and each one offers an online immersion option too (which may come in handy if travel plans go awry, or you just want to prepare before traveling to China.)
- That’s Mandarin
- Capital Mandarin
- Hutong School
- Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU)
- Tsinghua University
- Beijing Normal University (BNU)
- LTL Mandarin School
- Keats School
- Hanbridge Mandarin
- Shanghai International Studies University
- Chinese Language Institute
Summary: Established all-ages Chinese school with 15+ years experience
Locations: Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and online
That’s Mandarin has taught over 50 thousand students since 2005.
The school advertises instructors who are university graduates with teaching experience. Their teaching methods focus on survival and conversational Chinese, as well as story-driven learning designed to help you memorize new language in context.
That’s Mandarin has several adult course offerings, including intensive courses, part-time courses, summer programs, one-on-one courses and HSK preparation courses. There’s also a Visa program, which is a great option if you’re looking to stay in China long-term.
There are short-term options that are just a couple of weeks long in addition to longer commitments. There’s also a large variety of lessons for children and teens.
That’s Mandarin can help you secure a suite, homestay or private or shared apartment. But if you happen to be in Beijing or Shanghai already, you can drop by for a free sample class before you commit!
Summary: Group and private lessons, including test prep and cultural lessons
Located off the Sihui East metro station in Beijing, Capital Mandarin is a private Chinese school. It offers group and private lessons for standard and intensive courses, as well as test prep for HSK, BCT and YCT.
Capital Mandarin also offers summer camps, cultural group lessons like calligraphy and aromatherapy, kung fu classes and even teacher placements in which you can study Chinese as you teach English.
Plus, the school will help you find a place to live while you study, in a dorm, hotel or local homestay.
There’s even a children’s exchange program for kids ages six through 12, if you want to make this a whole family experience!
Summary: Adaptable instruction with flexible class times
Locations: Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Qingdao, Chongqing, Zhengzhou, London, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Sydney, Brussels, Guadalajara and online
If you need flexibility, Hutong School is a great option. You can also take classes when it’s convenient for you, including morning, midday and evening.
Regardless of your level, Hutong School can adjust to suit your needs, whether you’re looking to improve your skills or prepare for the HSK exam. Hutong School can also place you in an internship or volunteer program accompanied by language instruction. There are additional programs of business lessons, summer camps and family classes.
Hutong School also provides cultural activities, such as cooking lessons, movie nights, board games and more to round out your learning experience.
Plus, Hutong School advertises that all its teachers have at least two years of teaching experience, so you know you’ll be receiving quality education.
If you can’t get to China right away but are loving this school already, check out their international options (in such diverse locations as Sydney, Brussels and Guadalajara) and online options.
Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU)
Summary: Extensive Chinese education including degree programs, intensive short-term programs and online courses
Location: Beijing and online
Beijing Language and Culture University is a university under the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China with a specialty in language studies.
BLCU is a great option if you’re looking for a more extensive Chinese program because it offers undergraduate and master’s degrees, as well as intensive short-term programs.
BLCU also offers online courses that span an entire school year on elementary, intermediate and advanced Chinese studies, as well as advanced training. Alternatively, you can opt for their short-term classes, which include free resources such as a digital textbook, a cultural experience online and more.
Summary: A research university that teaches all levels of Chinese to international students
The Tsinghua University International Chinese Language & Culture Center (ICLCC) is a research university in Beijing that draws participants from over 30 countries around the world.
It offers courses for eight levels of students, ranging from beginner to advanced. Classes run for four hours per day, five days a week.
You’ll receive a full Chinese language education at Tsinghua, as trained instructors help you hone your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. You’ll also become acquainted with Chinese culture and business Chinese.
Students can take electives in the evenings, which cover special topics like calligraphy, Chinese songs and business Chinese.
You can also sign up for a summer course, study for one 18-week semester or stay longer.
Beijing Normal University (BNU)
Summary: Teaches all levels of Chinese alongside a varied curriculum and offers degree programs
Beijing Normal University (BNU) has nine levels of instruction, from beginner to advanced.
The school has both long-term and short-term study options for non-degree programs.
The long-term options last for at least one semester. After a placement test, students are placed in classes of 15-20 students, at 20 hours per week.
The varied curriculum teaches history, literature, geography and more, alongside language skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking. Lessons also include cultural extras like calligraphy, kung fu and Chinese poetry.
The short-term study program is a summer session, which features intensive language classes during a four-week session. The course is split between Beijing and Shanghai, giving you a taste of both cities.
If you’re looking for an even longer-term option, you can also enroll in a degree program. Beijing Normal University offers an undergraduate major in the Chinese language, with an emphasis on Chinese language pedagogy, business Chinese or Chinese language and culture.
There’s also a master’s degree program in teaching Chinese to speakers of other languages.
LTL Mandarin School
Summary: Learning program is focused on immersion and learning outside the classroom
Locations: Beijing, Shanghai, Beihai, Xi’an, Chengdu, Chengde, Taipei Singapore and online
For LTL or Live the Language Mandarin School, it’s not just about learning the language in the classroom.
The school encourages you to fully immerse yourself in all areas of your life, going the extra mile by connecting you with a local homestay family, organizing activities according to your interests and much more.
This dedication to students learning outside of the classroom is the main reason for its growing popularity.
It started off with just one school in 2009 in the historic capital of Beijing. Since then, the school has branched out to Shanghai, Beihai, Xi’an, Chengdu and Chengde, with the last location offering a complete Chinese immersion program.
For those who are outside of the Mainland, LTL also has schools in Taipei and Singapore. The Taipei school lets you discover Traditional Chinese while the Singapore branch allows you to learn Mandarin in a melting pot of cultures.
You also have a choice of signing up for online classes if you aren’t based in any of those locations. There are fixed options for small groups, one-on-one and kids.
Alternatively, you can sign up for the Flexi classes for groups or individuals. This option allows you to cancel and re-book classes at any time so that you can learn according to your schedule.
Summary: Chinese immersion in a pleasant location with a wide variety of program options
Location: Kunming and online
Located in beautiful Kunming, Keats School offers a variety of Chinese immersion programs in the place best known as the City of Eternal Spring. With spring-like temperatures all year round, Keats is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with hot summers or harsh winters.
There are quite a few programs available for learners. For those looking for the full package, complete with room and board, the options include an HSK prep course, one-on-one classes, small group classes, a children’s course, a study and volunteer combo as well as a study and tour combo. You can also sign up for a customized program if you have specific needs.
An online program is also available if you can’t attend classes in person.
If you want to see if Keats is a good fit for you, consider checking out the free trial. Although the trial is for the online program, it’d still be a good way to test the waters for those thinking about in-person classes.
Summary: Variety of courses for students of all ages and learning needs
Locations: Shenzhen, Chengdu, Zhuhai and online
Hanbridge Mandarin was founded in Shenzhen in 2006. It has since expanded to Chengdu and Zhuhai, teaching students of all ages and catering to all of their individual needs.
From immersion courses to at-home tutoring sessions, Hanbridge Mandarin has a wide variety of options for children and adults alike. If you’re looking for something more specific, such as university prep, industry-related or a grammar-focused course, you’ll definitely find it at this school.
In addition to language courses, Hanbridge Mandarin also offers cultural classes to learn about different aspects of China, including feng shui, traditional Chinese medicine, calligraphy and tea.
For those that are outside of Shenzhen and Chengdu, online classes are offered in three formats: private, group and language coaching. A language coach really hones in on your points of struggle so that you never get stuck on pronunciation or any particular grammar point.
Shanghai International Studies University
Summary: Degree programs for advanced students and non-degree programs for HSK prep
Locations: Songjiang and Hongkou
If you’re hoping to have a career that involves Mandarin in some way, you should definitely consider a bachelor’s program at the prestigious Shanghai International Studies University (SISU).
SISU has two campuses—one in Songjiang and the other in Hongkou. The Hongkou campus is dedicated to Chinese language studies and is conveniently located in the city center.
All undergraduate programs are in Chinese. SISU is definitely intense compared to the rest of the options on this list, but it’s a perfect fit for academically inclined learners.
Do note that you’ll need to have a New HSK Level 5 certificate and take an entrance exam to apply for most courses. For degrees in Chinese and teaching Chinese to speakers of other languages, no entrance exam is required but you’ll need to have a New HSK Level 4 certificate.
If you don’t meet those requirements, there are also non-degree programs that will help you with HSK prep.
Chinese Language Institute
Summary: Individualized instruction and immersion in a beautiful location
Location: Guilin and online
Situated in quite possibly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the Chinese Language Institute in Guilin is perfect for outdoorsy Chinese learners.
CLI specializes in private instruction, providing students with personalized lessons to attend to their individual learning needs. For learning Mandarin, you have two programs to choose from: Chinese immersion and online.
In the immersion track, you’ll be dedicating 20 hours per week to Chinese lessons, as well cultural activities and trips.
The program can be customized for either short or long-term learning goals. You can also sign up for the optional Pengyou Program where you’ll be paired with a Chinese university student for local language exchange.
Should you choose to study online, you can purchase a set number of hours and then book your lessons that fit within your schedule. Online classes are available seven days a week.
If China calls out to you, go ahead and answer. Just be sure to do so in Chinese!