Established in 2005, That’s Mandarin is a private Chinese language school with study options in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai, and planning to other cities in China and worldwide. This review will walk you through the pro’s and con’s from a student’s perspective.
That’s Mandarin offers language programs in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai comparable to other private language schools with a range of small size class options to study all the way up from beginner to advanced, HSK training as well as summer & winter camps. Many students joining group classes tend to be beginners and advanced students often opt for 1-on-1 classes as they can go at their own speed and customise study topics.
The school offers the following programs:
- Intensive Small Group Program, with this program students can obtain a student (X2) visa and join the Fall, Spring or Summer term (with fixed start dates). The curriculum is based on the students’ collective interests and goals.
- Part-time Small Groups, this program is suitable for students working in China and who want to learn Survival Chinese and meet others with similar interests and learning goals. Each class only has up to 6 students. Class times are fixed based on the group’s schedules and range from 2 to 6 hours per week.
- 1-on-1 Intensive or Part-time, this options offer the most flexibility with the course curriculum based on student’s interests/goals. Students can also pick their own class schedule from 2 hours per week (Part-time 1-on-1 Program) to 30 hours per week (Intensive 1-on-1 Program). A special discount is available for Intensive students who complete their lessons within a specified time frame.
- Chinese Summer and Winter Camps, offered for kids aged 7-17 years old to take Chinese classes, cultural activities and field trips. The program runs from 2 to 4 weeks, with different start dates and program types.
- Corporate Chinese Program, this option is structured on a company by company basis, taking into account the organizational requirements and each individual’s learning needs. Lessons can be conducted at That’s Mandarin or in the office.
The school also offer tailored programs to meet individual needs as well offer HSK preparation classes.
The school offers accommodation options which is recommended for students new to China. Coordinating your own short-term accommodation in China can be difficult due to language barriers and the challenge of negotiating with wily Chinese real estate agents!
The Beijing branch has an excellent location in Dongzhimen nearby plenty of restaurants (Gui Jie, Ghost Street), and not far from Sanlitun (the youth epicenter of Beijing). The Dongzhimen subway station is a ten-minute walk away and there are plenty of hutong neighbourhoods to explore nearby. Compared to other private programs the school really stands out with their facilities. The Beijing campus has a hall, spacious classrooms and a rooftop terrace perfect for enjoying lunch in the sunshine or practising Kung Fu.
That’s Mandarin in Shanghai is located in Jing’An area of Shanghai, which is a cool trendy area with plenty of western and Chinese restaurants, parks, shops and a park nearby. The campus is housed is within a walking distance to Jing’An subway station (Line 2 & 7). Accommodation for a room nearby should be about 3,000-4,500 RMB per month if you opt to organise your own housing.
Tuition fees at the school are on par with most private language programs. Naturally private language programs are more expensive than university language programs due to smaller class sizes and students services. That’s Mandarin though do have regular promotions and discounts, so watch out for their website.
The school has a good reputation in general and works with major companies to offer language classes including McKinsey & Company, IBM, Morgan Stanley, Sun Microsystems and CCTV. A lot of students find the school through word of mouth and recommendations from friends which are a good sign.
The school also stands out too with its own unique curriculum. The foundation of the school’s curriculum focuses on individual-focused learning, with the aim of matching students to a course that suits their motivations, as well as their unique teaching methodology. The school’s founder who was previously a language teacher at a Chinese university, developed his own teaching methods after finding international students struggling with traditional methods. He found that students learn better through story telling and link word (creating connections between English and Chinese pronunciation) and he has integrated this approach into the school’s curriculum. This methodology is well suited to beginners and English speakers. Teaching standards at the school are known to be generally very high as well.
With average class sizes of 2-6 students, That’s Mandarin offers a very focused classroom environment.
The school attracts students from all around the world with a high number of students from the USA, UK and France, as well as from Singapore, Japan, Korea and Thailand. Age demographics tend to be mixed. Ranging from high school students to university students and even families. A lot of professional people also join the school to study.
At the Beijing campus students are often more into Chinese culture and tend to have previous Chinese language study experience, already studied before. Shanghai is a more popular option if you are new to China and want to ease yourself into China, or eat French food at night!
The school offers regular cultural activities each week, including calligraphy, making dumplings, tai chi and mahjong. The school also takes suggestions from students as well. The school is expanding and regularly hiring people as well so there could be opportunities too if you’re looking for a job.
The school offers online classes through its own-developed online learning Mandarin Café, which is a good way to continue your language studies after completing a program at the school and to maintain your language skills outside of China.
Plus the school hosts an online portal that allows you to access what you’ve learned in the classroom. Mandarin Café allows students to save time writing down list after list of new vocabulary. Through Mandarin Café, each time a student learns new vocabulary or grammar, the teacher will enter it into the student’s account. So no matter where you are in the world, as long as you have internet access, you can review, reuse and refresh the materials you’ve studied at the school. You can also check or arrange your class schedule on Mandarin Café.
The school does not offer an internship program, academic credit or scholarships.
That’s Mandarin is a very professional, inclusive and well-managed language school. The program is suited to all ages and takes a lot of the stress out of coming to China with accommodation support, airport pickup, and organised activities. If you’re not in need of an internship and wish to focus on learning Chinese in a friendly learning environment with nice facilities then this school makes for a good choice.