Study and Learn
In November 2009, Peter, the President of Think Abroad, spent two weeks taking Mandarin Chinese courses, exploring Beijing and surrounding cities, while engaging with teachers and students alike at our newest Affiliate Foreign Language School (AFLS) in Beijing, China.
The teachers at our AFLS in Beijing, China understand that the key to improving your foreign language skills requires more than just classroom time and study, but also immersion in the culture, people, and food. In that respect, the school offers a variety of weekly cultural activities available to all students to promote a better understanding of the rich Chinese culture and language.
Our partner school in Beijing is accredited by Berlin State Government to provide Bildungsurlaub for all of our German students as well as a Swedish institution called CSN, which works with Swedish study abroad students. American students who are currently enrolled in a U.S. university are also eligible to earn U.S. college credit from classes taken. However, your home university will ultimately make the final decision about your ability to earn academic credit.
Regardless of your background or country of origin, every student will ultimately be taking Mandarin courses at an outstanding private language training center, that is committed to the foreign language acquisition of its students.
The goal of every Think Abroad immersion program is to present as many opportunities as possible for students to be speaking, and engaging in the language of the host country in which they are living. With the accompaniment of formal lessons, led by accomplished and experienced instructors, students are guaranteed a well-rounded, and detailed methodology toward their learning Mandarin Chinese, even if they are a true beginner.
Our AFLS in Beijing is no different. Students will be speaking Mandarin on the first day and everyday after that with classmates and native Chinese teachers as well as living in one of the greatest cities in the world. So pack your bags, and get ready to be immersed in the Beijing culture and life in China!
SCHOOL LOCATION and CLIMATE:
Our Affiliate Foreign Language School in Beijing is located in the Haidian district of Beijing, which is the second largest district in Beijing after Chaoyang. The school is centrally located close to cafes, restaurants, busses and a subway line. The school is situated on the 5th floor of an office building and is walking distance from subway line 13; the subway station is called Shangdi.
This busy, intellectual district is home to Peking and Tsinghua University and is known as China’s version of Silicon Valley as many high-tech multinational corporations like Microsoft, Google, Lenovo, Siemens, Sun Microsystems and Huawei. The school serves an eclectic base of international students who are united in their common interests of studying Mandarin Chinese, and learning about the Chinese culture.
The literal translation of the word Beijing in Mandarin Chinese is “northern capital”. It is true that Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and after the establishment of the PRC in 1949, the government changed the name from Peking to Beijing in English. Today, you will still hear people refer to Beijing as Peking. In some other languages like Spanish for example, Beijing is still called, “Pekin”.
This amazing city is recognized as the educational, cultural and political center of the People's Republic of China and was host to the 2008 Summer Olympics. The Forbidden City (Gugong) is located in Beijing as well as portions of the Great Wall, which stretches across the Northern part of Beijing.
At the heart of Beijing's historical center lies the Forbidden City, the enormous palace compound that was the home of the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Forbidden City also hosts the Palace Museum, which contains imperial collections of Chinese art.
Please view our summary of the climate for a year in Beijing and the best and worse times to visit. That is if you have a choice in the matter. Also, you can find detailed temperature data by viewing this website: http://www.chinaweatherguide.com/beijing-weather.htm
According to Michael, the school Director, "We pride ourselves on our ability to facilitate individual connections with China through language instruction, cultural immersion and career development. Whether students come for business, academic study, or pleasure, our students always leave with a better understanding of the Chinese language and culture, building a special life-long connection to China".
"We use the Communicative Language Teaching method to improve the students' Mandarin Chinese skills. Students are encouraged to actively learn through speaking, listening, drills and guided activities. The combination of intensive spoken practice and everyday experience is the most effective way to improve your Mandarin Chinese skills. Frequent grammar practice is emphasized to encourage clear communication and structural understanding; helping you master new conversation skills quickly."
All of the Mandarin Chinese teachers have College degrees and have had years of experience teaching foreign students Mandarin Chinese. It does not matter what level you start at, they have a proven method to improve you language skills. Also the support staff at school is always available to assist and answer any and all questions to ensure your experience in China is a fun, safe and fruitful one.
Another amazing option our AFLS in Beijing offers, as an adjunct to the formal language classes. This adjunct is called the"Language Exchange", which is when the school organizes networking/meeting opportunities for students to communicate and interact with Chinese University students. This option is free of charge and is sure to expose students to the Chinese people, culture and language, outside of the classroom setting. Some students have toured Beijing, met for tea or coffee, or even played a sport with their language exchange partner; however, it is up to you and your partner in what you choose to do and see while together.
The small classes size (5 average and 10 maximum) allow the students to receive close, personal attention from their instructor to further emphasize concepts covered in any given lesson plan. The minimum duration of stay at the school is two weeks. However, if a student desires to have a more solid foundation of Mandarin Chinese, they are advised to stay for at least a month, so that they may further ingrain many of the difficult aspects of Mandarin Chinese (tones, characters, grammar, etc). Again, within the course curriculum, the school places a strong emphasis on both practical and essential language skills such as speaking, listening comprehension, and reading characters. At the conclusion of the course, students will be required to fill out a questionnaire that will ask them to evaluate their overall experience our their teacher, the school and housing accommodations.
Students who wish to bring their laptops along can utilize the school’s vast Internet connections, computer labs, and resources. The school has WiFi throughout, which can be accessed anywhere in the school. In addition to WiFi access, there are multiple computers (approximately 9) that are all equipped with high-speed Internet and additional word processing applications. Students can rent cell phones or buy international phone cards to make calls home. If you have an IPhone, you can add the Skype application to make international calls from the school's WiFi connection for an amazingly cheap rate. Students can also receive and send faxes free of charge.
Upon arrival, students will take a short placement test to determine their current level of Mandarin Chinese fluency. Based upon the student’s level of comprehension, they will be placed in the appropriate class level.
General Features: There will be no more than 10 students in a given group and the average class size is 5. The minimum age to be eligible for the program is 18 years old and the school boasts a truly international student mix. Each class is 50 minutes in duration and there is a 10 minute break in-between classes. The school requires a minimum stay of two weeks. All students receive a certificate upon completion. All beginning courses start on a monthly cycle. After-class tutoring by Mandarin Chinese teachers is a fantastic option for those continue their studies after class. Students can receive assistance with homework, work on weaknesses, review classroom materials to name a few things.
Standard Course (20-hours per week): Achieve rapid progress in your Mandarin Chinese by focusing on practical language skills of speaking, listening, and reading phonetics with an emphasis on oral conversation. This is a group course. Classes meet for four group lessons a day, 20 hours per week Monday through Friday. The course focuses on practical conversation skills. The standard course is broken up into five different levels to accommodate the various abilities of different students.
Elementary: You will learn Mandarin Chinese Phonetics, tones, basic words, grammar, and sentence structure. Understand simple messages, instructions and directions. You will be able to talk about everyday activities and use basic grammar constructions.
Lower Intermediate: Carefully selected topics allow you to quickly improve your spoken Mandarin Chinese, focusing on vocabulary, grammatical skills, and sentence structure.
Upper Intermediate: You are well on the way to fluency in Mandarin Chinese. The skills and knowledge gained through teacher-driven interactive classes will enable you to process conversation without having to first translate back to you mother tongue in your head.
Group 20 or 30: You can choose four or six group lessons per day. Classes start at 9 am and finish at 12:30 or 3:20 pm. Your Mandarin Chinese language skills will improve immensely in this intensive course. All students can earn college credit with any of the Mandarin courses at our AFLS in Beijing, China.
Combined Course (25 or 30 hours): This course combines the best of both worlds. Four group lessons in the morning then a lunch break in the afternoon. You can add one or two private lessons for review and extra practice or to focus on any other areas of interest you might have, such as business, medicine, law, or any other industry-specific lexicon. Please let us know if you are interested in this course and we will be able to price it out for you.
Semester Course: For those who want to study abroad for a semester or two.
Private Course 10, 20, or 30: Your experienced teacher will customize your Mandarin Chinese class to maximize your progress. Students learn at their own pace and on their preferred timetable in this one-on-one setting. The class schedule can be arranged from 10 to 30 lessons per week. Each lesson is 50 minutes. Private lessons may start any day except for national holidays and weekends.
GROUP BEGINNER START DATES FOR 2010:
CULTURE and SOCIAL ACTIVITES:
Our AFLS in Beijing provides students with the option of enrolling in various cultural programs and activities. There are at least two social/cultural events planned each week.
Through participating in these cultural activities, students will have the opportunity to utilize the language skills acquired in the classroom in Chinese society and allow themselves to become accustomed to the realities of Chinese life. Each month the school organizes monthly networking dinners for the students. In addition to classic Beijing excursion like the Great Wall, Beijing Opera and Acrobatic Show, the school arranges other cultural activities like the ones found below.
In addition, students will be able to view Beijing life and culture with a deeper sense of understanding and appreciation after partaking in any one of the authentically Chinese cultural and social outings.
The school employees 9 full-time, native Mandarin Chinese speaking teachers. And during the high season, the school adds 5 additional full-time teachers to meet the demand. “All of our teachers have university degrees and many years of experience teaching foreigners Mandarin Chinese," the Director reports.
Each instructor is required to complete a training course, that prepares them to teach Mandarin to non-native speakers, as well as learn how to anticipate questions and issues that may arise during class. As part of their ongoing education, all of the teachers participate in annual, one-on-one training sessions as well as quarterly developmental seminars. Using a variety of creative teaching techniques and resources, all of our instructors have an ingenious capability to adapt and cater to all learning styles, thereby creating a stimulating and inclusive environment for all students to participate and learn new material. At the conclusion of the course, students are asked to fill out an end-of-program satisfaction survey in which they will be asked to evaluate their instructor’s teaching abilities and their overall experience at the school.
A former student, Alyson, from Michigan in the USA states that, "I enjoyed my experience at the school very much. The teachers were young and engaging, and the content they taught was practical and useful for everyday living. The teachers were also able to adjust classes to the level of their students very easily. The small size of the school was helpful in creating a sense of community, which is very important when living in a different county. I would highly recommend going with this school to study Mandarin Chinese".
There are many different housing options provided for Think Abroad students. We work hard to ensure that each student’s housing requirements, specifications, and accommodation needs are sufficiently met. Our AFLS in Beijing offers 4 types of housing options for our students.
Homestay: For students who desire an authentic Chinese experience while living in Beijing, Think Abroad highly recommends the homestay option. The Homestay is when a student is housed with a native Chinese family. The family will provide traditional meals, facilities, and some linens for their guests. Also, each student will will receive transportation to the school each morning.
However, the ultimate benefit of the homestay option is that it will allow the student to greatly enhance their Mandarin Chinese abilities due to the countless opportunities to practice speaking, and hearing Mandarin Chinese in a traditional, family environment. This real-life exposure to the language will increase your confidence and ability to communicate in Mandarin Chinese!
Please read Think Abroad’s article about living in the homestay setting with your host family. In the homestay setting, you will have your own private room, 2-meals (breakfast and dinner) and shared bathroom. Most homestay accommodations are located less than 50-minutes by public transportation to and from the school.
Student dormitory/studio apartment: These dorms are mostly newly renovated and located in a hotel. Student who live here receive transportation to school in the mornings. No meals are provided, but the apartment is equipped with a microwave and a refrigerator. WiFI internet Access is also available for only $25 per month.
Hotel or Serviced Apartment: The school can also book a hotel or serviced apartment within walking distance or a short bus ride to the school according to your preferences and needs. On your application, please let us know if this option is for you.
Airport Transfer: Airport pick-up and drop off is optional, but is highly recommended for all students, which costs each direction. This option is the safest and most convenient way of arriving in China. A school representative will pick-up and take all students directly to the school or accommodation. At the international arrivals terminal, the school driver will be holding a sign with your name on it. There is a fee for this service.
High Season fee increase: All fees for the courses and accommodation have a 10% high season supplement in July, August and September. And for bookings less then 4 weeks in July, August and September, the high season supplement is 20%.
Textbook: $15 each book, including textbook and students' book.
China's Public Holidays in 2012:
New Years Day Holidays: Jan. 1 to Jan. 3
Chinese Lunar New Years Days: Feb. 13 - Feb. 19
Qing Ming Holidays: April 3-April 5
Labor Days: May 1 - May 3
Duan Wu Holidays: June 16
Mid-Autumn Holidays: Sep. 22
National Days: Oct. 1 - Oct. 7