https://www.duolingo.com/Martinologue

Going to China for a month to learn Mandarin. Has anyone done something similar?

I've been learning Mandarin for a year now using a number of resources. I've completed 2/3 of the Duolingo course, I also use HelloChinese, DuChinese and Pleco, and I am currently taking my third semester of in-class Chinese courses at a local community college. I've really started from nothing besides 你好 and 谢谢,and now I certainly feel like I've acquired a strong base. I thought it might help me to make it to the next level to go to china, take formal courses there 4 or 5 days a week and be completely immersed in the language. I can only go for a month, it's already amazing that I can take this much time off through my work. Has anyone done anything similar? I'm wondering what can I expect in terms of progress? Is 1 month too short? Any piece of advice is welcome!

1 week ago

25 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/idkhellomaybe

I don't have any kind of advice to give, I just wanted to say well done! You've worked hard and I'm pretty sure one month is enough when you're willing to learn. It won't harm you for sure anyway. You will learn and you'll also gain lots from your trip so it's a win-win situation. I haven't done anything similar, but I really really want to. :(( I was once told that it's the best way to learn even if you have only the basic knowledge of the language (hi, how are you, etc). I wish you good luck!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/fremanolas
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You could also consider going to Taiwan (instead or in addition). It's a great place to learn Chinese, get to know friendly people, eat great food, etc.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/addohm

Great place to fatten up ;D

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Grace742327

I agree with total immersion. However, it is also important to have a support group/community who understands what you are going through. It is not going to be easy, but of course, it can be done! Jiayou!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/addohm

I absolutely agree here. Having someone with you that understands your level of understanding would certainly ease the process. You can probably find a guide for a few hundred 块 that you can discuss your goals with first.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Martinologue

Oh definitely. I probably didn't mention in my post but I'm going to a mandarin language school there and will be taking intensive courses 5 days a week, so there will definitely be some level of support there. I will be staying with a local who knows I am learning mandarin and so hopefully will have an idea what I'm going through. Also, the city where I'm going I've already been to and so I'm already somewhat familiar with the environment, transportation etc.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Grace742327

It sounds like you already know what your goals and plans are. The more you are aware of your surroundings (street signs, people's conversations, menus...etc.), the faster you'll pick up. Also, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Good luck!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JeanLucasHubbard

If you can force yourself to spend 95% of the time speaking only Chinese, you're going to see some of the best progress you've had in your entire learning journey. Obviously it would be awesome if you could stay there forever and just soak it up like a sponge, but if you really focus 100% of your energy on learning while you're there, it will have been so worth it.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Martinologue

Thanks! And yes that's definitely my plan, focus on speaking mandarin most of the time, watching mandarin TV, listening to mandarin music etc. Hopefully this gives me the boost I need to take my learning to the next level!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Japan_is_Perfect

I go to China each year for a month to study Chinese. I think a month is a good amount of time. You will be constantly immersed in the language. Depending on where you go, the "challenge" will be different. I go to Tianjin each year, and the challenge I take on is getting from a mall to my hotel on the subway without getting lost or asking for help unless I need it. If you have acquired a good amount, try challenging yourself with other things such as ordering off a menu at a local restaurant only in Chinese. Just being in China is very good for you in terms of immersion. Also, most of China is across the international date line (depending on where you live), so if you are planning on keeping a streak be very careful. That is how I lost mine. Anyways, I think this is a great idea and a month is a great amount of time. Safe travels!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Japan_is_Perfect

Immersion is important. I am only fluent in Chinese because I was born in China and lived there for most of my life. Once I moved abroad, my English improved and my Chinese got worse. We started going back to China 1-2 times a year for immersion (and to visit family) and my Chinese is improving drastically. This just goes to show how important immersion is. Also, if you're in Tianjin, the Great Wall (NOT in Beijing) is a must-see. Not in Beijing because many tourists go there and it is way too crowded.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Martinologue

Thanks, thats definitely my plan! Im not going in the Beijing or Tianjin area but Im taking notes! Definitely on my bucket list!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Japan_is_Perfect

The food in any part of China is exquisite! Always, the best food is found in hole-in-the-wall places for cheap prices. If you're going to Shanghai, the baozi there is a must try. Anywhere you go, there is good food. I definitely recommend. If you do end up going to Beijing-Tianjin area someday, then the Great Wall (in Tianjin) is great. The forbidden city is nice as long as it's not too hot or crowded. Lonqquing gorge in Beijing (I think) is great as long as it's not too hot.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RuizAPR
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I have! I was in China for six weeks for study program about clean energy initiatives in China this summer. I spent the first week in Beijing, the next four in Hangzhou, and the last week in Shanghai. While I only studied Mandarin formally for three weeks out of the six while I was there, as part of the curriculum, I had studied Mandarin in the past in high school and did my best to retain as much of it as possible and try to acquire more in the years following, so I had something to go off of. Moreover, it was interacting with locals where my Chinese would really be tested. I would just say, be prepared for locals to immerse you completely. Once I was heard speaking even a little bit of Chinese, they would often speak exclusively in Chinese, especially in Hangzhou, which is much less international and has fewer English-proficient people than Beijing or Shanghai. Even though that made me uncomfortable sometimes because I thought I looked foolish, it was good for practicing communication and listening comprehension. Also, take advantage of signs to learn new vocabulary. I remember seeing signs, seeing new characters, and always either writing characters down or typing them on my phone to find out what they mean. Also, watch TV. You've probably noticed that almost every program, even when in Chinese, has Chinese subtitles; it's good because you're not relying on English and it reinforces sentences in spoken context. Don't drink tap water, by the way. Either boil it first or buy bottled water. Anyway, have fun in China!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KennyHolst

I had the complete opposite experience. My experience was that regardless of what city you're in, most people who think they have half decent English will pretty straightly refuse to speak Chinese to you if they don't think you're fluent. Especially in Shanghai. They think it's a waste of time, and people that care enough to know English will want practice in that.

But that's not to say you won't get immersion practice, even in Beijing or Shanghai you won't have any difficulty finding people who don't speak a word of English. For example, you'd have to go out of your way (i.e. go to foreign catering spots) to find a restaurant anywhere where they have English speaking staff. And pretty much no one over 30 anywhere is going to want to speak in English.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/addohm

Hah. This is how my wife is. She is China born and raised and refuses to speak Chinese or even help me learn because "she is still learning English". Oh well. In Shanghai there is a large foreigner community and I'm very good at staying away from the spots they're expected to be. Districts like Xuhui are just as dense and developed as districts life Pudong or Xintiandi, but nobody speaks English - not even in Ikea! Lol. My wife and I travel all over China and I don't think there is any one place I can confidently say is the most ideal for learning Chinese. Native folk usually say things like "6 months in my hometown/village and you'll be fluent" but I'm not willing to live at those standards.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ichthus731
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Wow,I'm envious, that's such a great opportunity! Hope you have a great experience.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/andrew39032

I went a few years ago for work. My preparation was a few months of chinese podcasts and a few expressions I learned from friends.

Try to find a university or college when you get there. You should be able to find a few people who are interested in learning english. Trade speaking time with them. Spend set time - an hour at a time - speaking only english then switch to same topic in mandarin. Try to all your daily transactions in chinese. Buying breakfast, traveling to a location, asking for a direction to location you know. Anything to get comfortable speaking. Everytime you use a new word write it down on a small note pad. Review every evening and then again every morning.

I also found that you should not start any conversation with a sentence that you can pronounce perfectly. So instead of saying "good morning its a lovely day" keep it simple so that you dont get the equivalent of "yes, but it rained during all of january and I can't wait for the warm breezes of spring to come down from the mountains".

A month is such a great opportunity. Good luck

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_OldChinaHand1_

Immersion study in Chinese is the best. In the 1970s and 1980s when China was not really open to the West, I had a Chinese Mandarin immersion study in Taiwan for one year. I was working for the US State Department and it was at the American Institute in Taiwan's Chinese Language and Area Studies School on Yangmingshan outside of Taipei. All classes were taught in Mandarin by native speakers and I had six hours of class per day five days a week. I improved in all listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Bear in mind, that you might not be able to use Facebook in China due to how the government now controls what can be written or read on the Internet. Why don't you consider doing a one month immersion in Taiwan?

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KennyHolst

You just need a VPN that puts your location outside of China. You just need to install it before you get there because you probably won't be able to find any there. And.. don't use it for anything that would piss off the Chinese government, and you'll be fine.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_OldChinaHand1_

I have a Chinese friend living in Sichuan. When she was in Thailand, she opened up a Facebook account. After getting back to China, the government has denied her access to it. She found VPNs in China to use but they only lasted for a few days before the government blocked her access to Facebook again. Installing a VPN before you get to China is a very good idea.

6 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Chuuripputsurii
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I went to China to perform with my Orchestra for two weeks. Though it was short, I feel so confident in my Chinese abilities. One month will be fine and I'm sure you'll have a blast.

6 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/penny_666

I lived in Kunming for 6 months in 2006. It was awesome. Kunming is good because it is cheap, people tend to always speak Chinese, great library (only costs 1 quai.) The climate is never too hot and never too cold, plus lots of minority groups. I used to speak Thai with these 2 Daiminzu guys who worked at the restaurant I always ate at. Accommodation is cheap, I lived in a red light district for 20 quai a night. Police only talked to me once, asked me what I was doing there, but apart from that I was never bothered by anybody. Made lots of friends there.

5 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/addohm

I live in China. It's my opinion that one month is too short unless you really focus on immersing yourself completely and spending all your time talking with locals. I'd also suggest making sure you don't stay in one city the whole time. The thing about apps, books, or courses is that they don't really teach you how to listen and/or speak well. Just because they call it "the common language" doesn't mean it sounds like what you've been taught, everywhere. Sounds, phrases and slang change from region to region. It's not as simple as having an accent in English.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KennyHolst

I'd just be a bit cautious with changing cities as a beginner. Every time you do it feels like hitting a soft reset button; you basically have to re-learn a bunch of sounds every time. Even between Shanghai and Beijing there's huge differences. To give an idea, people in Beijing told me that talking to people in Shanghai was difficult FOR THEM.

I'm not saying someone should stay in the same city forever, but they'd probably do well to stay mostly within the same general region.

1 week ago
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