Checklist for Selecting the Right Chinese School
Interested in learning Chinese? You can start anytime by enrolling at a Chinese language school, but remember that choosing the right school can make a world of difference. Renowned Chinese philosopher Confucius once said – “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” This perfectly sums up the importance of preparation – in all areas of significance.
Choosing the right institute will not only make learning Chinese a whole lot easier, but also suit your budget, schedule and learning style.
If you’re keen on studying Chinese but haven’t been able to decide on which school to enroll in, we have just the right checklist for you. Here is a detailed list of the essentials you need to tick off before you decide to commit:
- Student Numbers – There are lots of schools teaching Chinese, with an almost-identical curriculum. If you want to choose what’s best for you, look at the stats. For instance, a Chinese language school with over 10,000 students is a safer alternative for you, compared to a school with just a handful of students. You can find the stats on the school’s website to get an idea of their authenticity.
- Testimonials – Read through the review section of a particular language school before you sign up for a course. This will also give you valuable insight related to the particular Chinese course you plan on taking up. For e.g. the course structure for adults will greatly vary from the course structure for children – and testimonials can give you a sneak peek into what you can expect.
- Qualified Teachers – This one’s a no-brainer, as qualified, bilingual and professionally-trained teachers with degrees are a prerequisite for any reputed language school. You might want to opt for one that has an average of 1000 hours of teaching Chinese as a 2nd or international language. Wondering why? Because numbers speak volumes!
- Flexible Class Times – If you have a 9-5 job, you won’t have time for full-time classes, which is why a flexible class schedule is a good idea. This will help you make the most of your time while learning a new language. Weekend and evening courses are ideal for working adults who want to pick up Mandarin. Also ensure that the school you choose offers private and group lessons – so that you can pick what works for you.
- Accredited Curriculum – You’ll benefit greatly if you make sure that the institute uses teaching material directly from Hanban – which is the colloquial abbreviation for the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOTCFL). It has been recognized as a Public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.
- Recognized Teaching Standard – It’s best to opt for an institute with an accredited teaching standard – preferably in line with the HSK, IB Chinese, and European CEFR standard. This will help you progress in a structured manner and gain recognized certifications. No compromise is the best choice in this situation!
- Customized Courses – A reputed Chinese school should offer private Chinese courses, group lessons, conversational/business Chinese courses, HSK exam preparation courses, kids’ Chinese courses, PSLE Chinese tutoring, or GCE O/A level Chinese tutoring and/or an IB Chinese programmes. This makes it easier for you to choose a course that’s customized to your requirements.
- A Four-Pronged Teaching Approach – If you want to speed up the learning process, an easy and practical style is ideal. An institute which combines the four basic elements of learning Chinese, i.e. speaking, listening, reading and writing will get you speaking the language in no time at all. A solid foundation is necessary to get to the next level.
- Convenient Location – If you’re living in the bustling Lion City, you’ll definitely want a convenient coaching location that’s easy to reach – such as the heart of the city. A distant location is inconvenient, takes up more time and will only add to your stress. This is especially important for those who’re opting for group classes.
Learning Chinese can be simple, provided you have the right teacher, a well-structured lesson plan, quality teaching materials and the right Chinese language school.