Mandarin More Than Ever

There’s never been a better time to study in China

China is currently the leading study abroad destination in Asia and the fifth-most-popular destination in the world for U.S. students. Along with offering affordable study costs and high-quality education, study abroad experiences focused on immersion are the best way to improve Chinese language skills. Chinese is notoriously regarded by the U.S. State Department as the most difficult language to learn for native English speakers. However, the two tongues actually map onto each other remarkably well. English speakers can become very fluent-sounding speakers of Mandarin and vice versa because the vowel sounds and grammar structures are relatively similar.

However, despite enormous investments in English education, changes are currently taking place in parts of China to strip English language education of some of its importance within the country’s schools, which may result in even more value being placed on Mandarin skills.

From Mark Zuckerberg’s recent debut of Chinese language skills to Sasha Obama’s decision to learn the language, more and more people agree that learning Mandarin is important for future leaders of the West. Study abroad opportunities for students in general resulted in less anxiety when interacting with people of different cultures, increased diversity in friendships, and a broader intercultural network. As Chinese students are the largest and fastest-growing population of international students in the U.S., the ability to communicate and understand the Chinese language and culture respectively is of growing importance.

That’s Mandarin!
With ten years teaching Mandarin and seven years running camps, That’s Mandarin! Chinese Language School has the experience necessary to ensure a fun, professional, and safe language-learning environment for middle and high schoolers in Beijing or Shanghai. The school uses its own unique approach to instruct 3,000 students annually in language skills they can use right away, in real-life contexts from cartooning, storytelling, and buying vegetables to climbing the Great Wall. That’s Mandarin! offers six Chinese summer camps to choose from: morning, day, family, full time with hotel accommodation, full time with homestay accommodation, and tailor-made programs. Their talented and enthusiastic teachers are all university educated and experienced in working with students of all ages and abilities.

Travel for Teens
Travel for Teens emphasizes the wonders of today’s China, where ancient civilization fuses with high-tech modernity, and claims that now is the time to experience this incredible transformation. This 17-day trip takes participants on a unique tour of the best China has to offer. Students can visit Shaolin monks and learn the art of kung fu, take an authentic cooking lesson in Sichuan, bike around the ancient city walls of Xi’an, walk the Great Wall, and experience China’s contemporary culture and ancient past in Beijing. There’s even a service visit to help out with endangered pandas at a rehabilitation center in Chengdu to top off the trip in this exciting country.

ISE — Intercultural Student Experiences
Intercultural Student Experiences (ISE) has more than 40 years of experience coordinating educational travel programs that immerse students in the language and culture of the destination and help them launch a lifelong interest in becoming global citizens. On ISE’s China programs, Mandarin students learn first hand about Chinese history and culture with a local bilingual guide and build upon their language skills in real-world situations. ISE’s immersion programs in China offer much more than a typical tour. Students will visit the Great Wall, Tian’anmen Square, and other iconic sites, but will also engage with Chinese students in the classroom and experience China’s rich cultural heritage through meaningful personal connections. The Terracotta Warriors, the Temple of Heaven, and the Bund will create memories that last for a lifetime, all the while opening students’ eyes to the incredible diversity of the world outside their comfort zones. As students see China’s history and present unfolding before them, they’ll gain confidence to use Mandarin in their own futures.

Real China
Real China, based in Colorado, has been taking various K–12 Chinese programs to China and Taiwan for ten years. They don’t offer a set itinerary — every trip is fully customized and is designed to meet teachers’ specific needs. The trips usually last two to three weeks and focus on international service projects, Chinese-immersion activities, and cultural tours that help students earn international service hours and improve their knowledge of China. Real China has a diverse service team. The staff members are bilingual in Mandarin and English and are experts on both cultures.

LTL Mandarin School
LTL is an owner-managed, mid-sized private language school in Beijing. They focus on homestays, 24/7 student service, and student community. Classes have a maximum size of six, while all teachers are full-time staff and university graduates in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Most students live in homestays, but LTL also offers shared and serviced apartments. The school aims to be a “home away from home” in China, creating a community of like-minded people who explore and discover China together. Airport pickup, welcome breakfast, school dinners, Great Wall trips, and almost daily student activities create a tight-knit, committed, and fun student community.

Where There Be Dragons
From programs that focus on China’s economic development to programs that inspect China’s ethnic diversity to courses designed around intensive language instruction, Dragons has a 21-year history of mapping out and delivering programs of exceptional quality and intimacy. No other organization has been in China as long as Dragons, with as many programs, and with such a sustained presence.

Each Dragons China program is limited to twelve students and is staffed with three primary instructors as well as appropriate language staff. Dragons instructors are much more than chaperones: they are informed educators who teach — academically and experientially — about the history, culture, economy, arts, politics, and development issues of modern China. On language-intensive programs, professionally trained language instructors often provide one-on-one instruction for as many as four to six hours of teaching each day. Program components offered include: homestay, trekking, leadership, independent study project, language study, service learning, survey of development issues, comparative religion, and rugged travel.

China Study Abroad
At China Study Abroad, the mission is to offer an experience of a lifetime in China with exclusive opportunities to study, volunteer, intern, and travel in China. For those who want to have a safe, meaningful, and successful stay in China, CSA can take care of all the logistics. From picking participants up at the airport to showing them around the bustling cities, from arranging housing to paying bills, they do it all so participants can focus exclusively on having a unique and valuable experience.
After successfully hosting thousands of students, there isn’t anything they haven’t already handled. CSA knows there is nothing worse than being stuck in a foreign city with no one to turn to. They make sure that never happens to anyone who is part of the CSA family.

Sino Language & Beyond
SLB is a reputable, privately-run, Chinese summer camp provider. SLB has been dedicated to promoting two-way language & cultural exchange between the students of China and the U.S. since 2003 and is now working in partnership with the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), which represents 70% of U.S. public schools. Building on a long-term presence in both countries, SLB has close connections with local communities, and a deep understanding of the intercultural, health, and safety issues inherent to study in another country. Programs are designed to provide excellence in language study with ample opportunity to interact with local children and to reflect on intercultural encounters in structured settings. The idea is to make sure what students have learned is not just a theory, but a practical ability to communicate in the language, to understand, and to make themselves understood. Currently, these programs are available.

For students:
• Summer Camp in China: Chinese language and culture immersion, leadership and service
• 1-on-1 online LIVE Chinese lesson
• Gap year exchange program in Shanghai.

For educators:
• K–12 Superintendent delegation to China
• Chinese teacher or program leader professional development program
• For U.S. K–12 schools:
• Customized school trip to China
• Exchange program/sister school setup with a Chinese school
• Joint-diploma program with a Chinese school.