Where shall I learn Chinese?
“A fish learns to swim in water, not on land”
In other words, find a way to immerse yourself into a Chinese speaking environment and a place in which you feel comfortable. That’s 90%. The remaining 10% is fast internet, resources, teachers and classmates.
What you will learn in this post?
How to make sure you find a place that helps you learn Chinese. Kungfucius will list several schools and cities, but there is no clear “best” category here. It is much more important to know how you want to learn a language!
So: Listen to yourself.
- Which climate is best for you?
- How do you like to commute?
- Which hobbies do you want to engage in in Chinese?
- Which people do you want to meet during your studies?
- How do you like your office space to be set up?
What is a suitable environment to study languages
There are some general tips that help you progress faster in a language. Let’s get to it:
- Good sleep
Good sleep is probably the most important ingredient to learning anything. Or in other words, a lack of sleep has often been associated with about 40-50% less learning compared to participants that slept well and good sleep might help learning in some sleep phases.
The problem with sleep is usually either temperature or noise. In few cases also other issues such as unsuitable beds.
- No long commutes
Long commutes can be exhausting. Best is to completely avoid this. Some light exercise can be very helpful, so a short, 20 minute walk can be very helpful for learning in general.
- Good climate
Good climate can help be in natural light.
- Natural light
Natural light, especially in the early morning is one of the most important points to support good sleep and attention. There are many benefits ranging from Vitamin D synthesis using UV-light to new studies about health benefits of infrared light.
Longer story, in this post I will give you a list of 10 cities and schools where you can learn Chinese and I will tell you what to do! Besides schools, I will focus on commuting, hobbies, and environment.
Exercise can help a person destress and relax. But it might also have plenty of positive outcomes for language acquisition. A research of a small group of participants hinted towards light exercise activity being potentially helpful in vocabulary acquisition. Kungfucius is not fully convinced yet. That being said, some physical activity could be very much helpful for mental ability as many studies have shown.
What are your goals?
Why do you want to learn a certain language? Do you want to focus on oral language acquisition or on the ability to study in a certain language or do you need to pass a language test like the HSK?
In the case of a pure oral language acquisition goal, it is best to expose yourself to many youtube videos and simple conversations. Academics need to read much more.
Best 10 cities to learn Chinese
Shanghai is basically mostly Mandarin speaking while the local Shanghai dialect is still important, it is not so prevalent in everyday life. In Shanghai, you can commute mostly by metro. Most places have A/C.
The issue: you can find many French, English, Japanese, German, Italian… speakers. It is an issue for you to
In Nanjing you have a clear Mandarin overall and many options of a large city with lot of different possible hobbies. There are a few issues: Nanjing can get very hot in the height of summer.
Hangzhou is another beautiful city that is on the rise. It is not quite a leading city like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen or Beijing, but directly below these four leading Chinese cities in a category on its own.
Xi’an is home to many students and IT industry. As such, Xi’an can be a good and affordable place to learn Chinese. Like other cities in the list, Xi’an can get very hot in summer and has also cold winters.
One of the easiest places to go in terms of visa or covid requirements, it is cheaper than many other places on the list and you still have many options to connect with locals. However, overall you will have to make a conscious effort to create a deep immersion environment around you as English and Malay are the prevalent languages and besides Mandarin, many Chinese dialects are extensively spoken.
Teipeh or Taibei has many universities and language schools. The disadvantage is that Pinyin and Wade Giles might be used and not Pinyin exclusively and traditional characters are in use in Taiwan.
- Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur has a large ethnic Chinese population, but Mandarin is not very common in Kuala Lumpur where Cantonese is the dominant local dialect. This being said, more and more people learn Mandarin and the simple visa requriements and cheap costs could make Kuala Lumpur a potential good place to study Chinese.
Kuching is much smaller compared to Kuala Lumpur and even cheaper.
Mandalay has a large Chinese speaking community, but it is not very suitable due to current situation in Myanmar.
- Kota Kinabalu
Great for hiking and connecting with tourists. It can be a good place to learn Chinese in Malaysia. However, you might need a different visa here than in the Malaysian peninsula.
Schools to learn Chinese
Probably one of the best schools for full immersion language learning is Middlebury school in Vermont, USA. The 8 week program is very intense, but also very expensive. The 2023 program is from June 23 to August 18 and it costs 14,420 USD. One of the most expensive full immersion Chinese programs around. More information on Middlebury’s Chinese language course here. On campus, there is a rule only to communicate in the target language which helps create a full immersion experience that is supplemented by classroom learning.