China is one of the most influential countries on the planet. And its robust trade practices and leadership in technology are not the only reasons the nation stands out: it also has a canon of ancient history to rival any culture and is full of art, food, and thrilling opportunities for adventure.
Working or traveling in China is easier if you are able to speak and read the language, but the study takes time. Chinese Mandarin Immersion programs usually last at least a month and surround you with the incredible opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of the language. Once you have a handle on Mandarin, you can use it in business, personal relationships, volunteering, and so much more. Here are some things to consider as you ponder embarking on a Mandarin Chinese immersion program.
Know Before You Go
Once a relative closed and communist society, China has been relatively open to visitors for the last few decades. You’ll find a lot of Western amenities throughout the country and loads of transportation. And naturally, the opportunity to practice reading and speaking Mandarin exists around every corner.
It’s true that China is a superpower in many ways. It’s also true that many rural, poor areas need aid in everything from childcare to education and medical care. If you want to combine language immersion with humanitarian work, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities.
Whether your Chinese Mandarin immersion experience will last a few weeks or a few months, there are some crucial pre-planning steps necessary for visiting China. First, your visa. China does not offer visas on arrival so you must apply in advance; you will need to apply in person at a Chinese consulate or through the mail and provide details about your plans in the country.
Once in China on your Chinese language immersion, plan to pay primarily in cash, particularly outside of big cities. You may also want to bring a mask to wear in cities like Beijing and Shanghai on days when the smog is thickest. Your new Chinese friends can advise you about other customs and traditions, but it’s generally wise to avoid tipping and bring tissues with you in case public restrooms don’t have toilet paper.
When you travel to China with Global Leadership Adventures or GLA, you have the opportunity to live in a historic district on the outskirts of city life by week and spend time volunteering on farms when you’re not in the classroom. The 21-day program has three main elements: community service, hands-on learning, and adventure. You’ll live in Shaxi and do community service with the Bai community, a minority population in China. During your time with the program, not only will you learn Mandarin in China, but you will also learn the art of natural dye and more while you immerse yourself in hands-on experiences, and you’ll have the chance to walk the Great Wall of China.
Do you want to learn Mandarin in a university setting? With Frontier, you get to study at Yantai University for an entire semester. The intensive language program aims to help your verbal, written, and reading skills, giving you a comprehensive set of skills in Mandarin. Your studies are four hours each day, during which you practice the Chinese Mandarin language and learn more about the local culture. Studying alongside native students and teachers makes the immersive experience even more fruitful. On top of your language courses, you can take an elective such as Chinese calligraphy.
The best way to learn Mandarin is to surround yourself with native speakers, and what better way to do this than to visit China where it’s most commonly spoken? With Projects Abroad, you can do just that. You’ll have classes with an experienced language teacher, which will be tailored to your exact level.
You can study Mandarin in China full-time, or you can do it as an add-on course in conjunction with one of Projects Abroad’s volunteer projects or internships. By surrounding yourself with locals, you’ll get to hear the correct pronunciation and practice your speaking skills every day. If you want to experience the bustling city, you can join a course in Shanghai. If that isn’t your scene, you can join a course in the more peaceful and traditional area of Chengdu.
Programs can be catered to your own skill level, whether you’re a novice or have been studying Mandarin for a year already. Read more and apply today.
A Broader View programs are designed for new and advanced students alike in Yantai; you’ll be placed in courses that are appropriate for your level of experience and skill. Your class options range from Comprehensive Chinese and Spoken Chinese to Listening Comprehension and Chinese Reading. The program recognizes that immersion is about more than in-class study, of course: that’s why your afternoons will be spent having conversations out in the community and interacting with people.
A Broader View maintains a relationship with several local charities, and a part of your time in the Chinese immersion program will be dedicated to serving them. If you want to study Mandarin while you give back to the community, this organization combines the best of both worlds. You’ll have the chance to lend a hand at sites like orphanages and health centers.
Ready to Travel?
Ready to dive into the world of Mandarin and Chinese culture with both feet? Sign up for a Chinese language immersion program today, and soon you’ll be surrounded by the language and culture of China. And once you’ve found the right program for you, be sure to sign up for an account on Volunteer Forever and start fundraising for your adventure abroad!