Are you interested in studying Chinese in China but not sure where to start? Check out our comprehensive guide on studying Chinese in China to find the best option for you.
Shanghai is a popular destination for those looking to study Chinese due to its mix of traditional Chinese culture and modern innovation, as well as its top-rated education centers, vibrant nightlife, and dynamic economy. As one of the top destinations for language learning in China, Shanghai offers a diverse and immersive environment for students to develop their language skills and experience the rich culture of China.
The cons of studying Mandarin in Shanghai
If you’re coming to China ONLY to study Chinese, Shanghai may not be your best option.
First of all, it’s the most international Chinese city. This means that you’ll find many people who can speak English. The reality is that in 2014, you can live quite comfortably in Shanghai without speaking a word of Chinese. Also, you should take into consideration that Mandarin is mainly based on Beijing’s dialect.
Therefore, living in a place like Shanghai where the local people don’t speak Mandarin among themselves is certainly not optimal (even though I must say when they speak with foreigners, people, and even Shanghainese tend to use Mandarin).
To be honest, if the only reason why you’re coming to China is to learn Chinese, then your best bet would be to choose a second-tier city like Xi’an or Qingdao; or even a smaller town, where learning how to speak Chinese would be your only way to survive (if you care about your social life).
A decent alternative to second and third-tier cities is Beijing, as it’s a bit less international than Shanghai, they speak “pure” Mandarin, and the most prestigious universities in China are there.
The pros of studying Mandarin in Shanghai
Conversely, if you have bigger plans such as finding a job or building your own business, then moving to Shanghai – and therefore learning Chinese here – could be a wise choice.
Shanghai is one of the most vibrant cities in the world; there is a lot going on and by coming to study Chinese here, you’ll meet a ton of interesting people. Here you may very well find your future business partner!
Finally, if you aren’t too adventurous and you’re a bit afraid of the cultural shock that you may experience in China, Shanghai may be the easiest choice, as here you have the opportunity to live a lifestyle that is not so different from the one you had back in the West (provided that you want it and you have the money to afford it).
However, if your interests are related to education, research, or art and design, then Beijing is probably better.
Best schools to study Chinese in Shanghai
Note: Although we only accept schools that have a good reputation, this list of private schools is a sponsored listing
That’s Mandarin is a premier Chinese Language School delivering excellence in Chinese teaching since 2005 to more than 100,000 students of different nationalities. They offer Chinese classes in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Milan and Melbourne, as well as anywhere else in the world online via our in-house platform NihaoCafe. With a unique approach to language learning and in-house teaching methodology, the school aims to be the most experienced and one of the best Mandarin schools in China.
That’s Mandarin focuses on providing top-quality service and the best learning experience to all students — whether they are studying Chinese in China or online.
You can choose from a variety of formats such as Group or Private classes, Intensive or Part-time programs. Special courses are also available, including Chinese Visa programs, HSK Preparation courses, Business and Corporate Chinese courses, and Summer Chinese Immersion programs for adults and kids.
Besides this, they offer Intensive Group Programs, Part-time Group Programs, Private Lessons, a Chinese Visa Program, and HSK Preparation Courses.
LTL Mandarin School
LTL Mandarin School is a Chinese school for foreigners, with schools in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengde, Taipei, Beihai and now Xi’an. LTL was created to ensure students a completely immersive experience into the Chinese language and culture. With a wide range of study programs, the school offers each student the opportunity to achieve their goals through lessons in small groups, individual, business Chinese lessons, internships, school trips, high school programs, preparation courses for HSK and more. LTL is also one of the centers authorized by HSK and monthly offers the possibility to take the exams from the 1st to the 6th level.
SN Mandarin is one of the most well established Chinese schools based in Shanghai. With branches in London & other cities in China, SN Mandarin combines the benefits of private academy flexibility and university qualification to offer dynamic Chinese training service featured by “caring service”, “qualified teachers”, “efficient enrollment”, “fast progress”, “small group size”, “flexible schedule” and “student visa supports”, “online & offline blended”, etc. Since 2007, more than 6000 students have realized their dream to study Chinese in China.
SN Mandarin is authorized to issue government letters including JW202 for you to apply for the student visa (both X1 and X2), in any month and with group or private classes. So if you plan to come to China to learn Chinese without worrying about your visa, SN Mandarin’s programs are the most recommended.
SN Mandarin offers a wide range of programs to meet students’ needs, including intensive semester programs, part-time classes, private classes, summer camps, and business programs, among others. Also, it is the official Chinese language and cross-culture training school for world Top 500 like Auchan, Cocacola, Emerson, Evonik, Faurecia, FAW-Volkswagen, KOSTAL, Schaeffler…, which is another proof of the quality of this institution.
GoEast Mandarin is a Chinese language school based in Shanghai. GoEast teaches at all language levels both at its campuses of Shanghai Yangpu & Xuhui, and online. Every GoEast teacher has a university degree in Chinese linguistics-related major, is a native speaker of Chinese, and is fluent in English. Since 2012, GoEast Mandarin has taught thousands of students with a renewal rate of 90%. GoEast offers free open classes if you want to try it out.
Hutong School is a Chinese language school that was founded in 2005 by a group of foreign China enthusiasts. Today the school has branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Chengdu and a further 7 worldwide. Through offering a wide range of programs and a unique in-house teaching methodology, Hutong School aims to help students of all ages improve their Mandarin skills and understanding of China. Courses can be customized to suit individual needs and include Intensive Chinese, HSK Preparation, Business Chinese, Youth Summer Camps, and Internships.
Universities for studying Chinese in Shanghai
Shanghai International Studies University, 上海外国语大学
Shanghai International Studies University isn’t as prestigious as Beiwai (its equivalent university in Beijing) but, during the last years, thanks to the huge investment from the local government, this university has become one of the best in the country when it comes to foreign language studies. Just like Beiwai, the university also has a Chinese language department that trains future Chinese teachers and offers Chinese study programs to foreign students.
This university is the perfect place to get in touch with Chinese students with a strong background in Chinese language teaching who, at the same time, are interested in learning more about your language and culture.
Fudan University, 復旦大学
Fudan University is one of the top universities in China and one of the few universities that can actually compete in reputation with Tsinghua and Peking University. The reputation of this university ensures you high-quality standard Chinese courses. Also, you can find some of the brightest minds in the country here, so it’s the perfect place to start gathering contacts related to your future projects. The drawback is that Fudan’s campus is quite far from the city center.
Shanghai Jiaotong University, 上海交通大学
Shanghai Jiaotong University, also known as “Jiaoda,” is located in the central area of Xujiahui, making this university an excellent choice if you don’t want to move far away from the city center. Even though in China, Jiaoda isn’t considered as prestigious as other universities such as Fudan, Tsinghua, Peking or Sun Yat-Sen University, internationally, it consistently ranks among the top five Chinese universities.
In addition those mentioned above, there are other universities in Shanghai that also offer high-quality courses. So lets at least mention them:
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