Today we are pleased to have the chance to have a Q&A session with Zier from Keats Chinese School. We have known Zier for quite some time and today are happy to have her join us at Learn Mandarin Now to answer some important questions.
Hi everyone! It is my great pleasure to take this interview with Learn Mandarin Now. My name is Zier Liu and I am one of the founders of Keats Chinese School in Kunming, China. I have been working at Keats since the school was established in 2004. I obtained my bachelor degree in Management Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I love Keats and I really enjoy working here and making friends with people from all over the world.
2. It seems that more and more foreigners are coming to China for either business or study. Do you believe it’s best that people actually learn Chinese in China? If so, what are some of the benefits?
Yes, definitely. It is absolutely different when you learn a language at its origin. When you learn Chinese in China, you will be forced to listen to Chinese and speak Chinese every day. This is a full immersion experience for many students. Especially learning Chinese in Kunming gives our students more opportunities to talk to the locals in Chinese because English speakers in Kunming are not as many as those in Beijing or Shanghai. That’s one of the reasons why many students escape from the big cities in China and come to study in Kunming to get themselves fully exposed to the Chinese language and culture. When learning Chinese in China, you can also make a lot of Chinese friends, which is hard to accomplish in your home country. In this way, you can experience the most Chinese style of living.
3. There are lots of schools in China where students can learn Mandarin Chinese these days—and, sometimes, people might have a hard time selecting a good and/or legitimate one. What key things should students look for when they are selecting a language school in China?
The most important factor for selecting a Mandarin Chinese school is to determine their teaching quality. Many people think that they can teach as long as they are native speakers. It is totally wrong. At Keats School, all Keats teachers are experienced in teaching Chinese and employ advanced teaching methodology and techniques that are developed by Keats Research Team. Those teaching methods were tested and proved to be efficient and helpful. Due to the high satisfaction rate on the teaching, Keats welcomes around 40% returning students each year.
The second important factor to choose a school is to check out their legal status. Many “schools” which claim to offer Mandarin Chinese courses do not have a school license. Instead, they are registered as companies. In China, companies without a school license are not allowed to offer educational training programs. This increases the difficulty to be eligible to offer training, which is a good way to ensure the teaching quality. If you study at a place without a school license, your visa and your legal stay in China cannot be guaranteed and protected. Therefore, it is important to check out the school’s license before you sign up for any courses. It is also the school’s responsibility to send you an official invitation letter for an X2 student visa application before you arrive in China.
The location of the school is also important. Air pollution, local culture, dialects are all critical factors to be considered for selecting a place to learn Chinese at. It is better not to choose the big international cities as English speakers are so common there. Second tier southern cities are recommended because they have less pollution and more diverse local cultures.
4. I understand that you are working at Keats Chinese School right now. Can you tell us some more about your school?
Yes, sure! Founded in 2004, Keats Chinese School is one of the top Mandarin Chinese language schools in China. We offer full services including single room accommodation with private bathroom and three meals a day. Our programs include intensive one-on-one Chinese language courses with Chinese culture lessons, small group Chinese classes, online Chinese lessons, HSK Preparation program, Study + Volunteer program, Study + Tour program, and Children Chinese program. We also offer a range of free services such as airport pick-up and drop-off, unlimited gym membership at Keats Fitness Center, laundry, Internet access use without limit or you can use the computers at school for free, a tour of the surrounding (bank, supermarket, post office etc.), travel planning in China, SIM Card for cell phones, medicine for minor illnesses.
To match your learning needs in the best way possible, we develop individual learning plans that match your proficiency level and goals. Our versatile methods and variety of activities will maximize the amount that you learn in the time you study Chinese at our school. It’s our goal to make you a fluent Mandarin speaker as soon as possible and bring you closer to Chinese culture through culture lessons and activities.
The secret why we have so many returning students is that Keats students can always achieve satisfied learning results after studying Chinese at Keats. At Keats, we really care about our students’ progress. Each student will be assigned with an academic advisor, who will track the student’s progress and satisfaction rate. We provide 24/7 assistance to our students. From our past 12 years of establishment, we have developed a unique teaching methodology and a teacher management system. Our aim is to help the students learn the most Chinese in the shortest possible time.
Many students enjoy learning Chinese at Keats because of our cosy learning environment, excellent teaching quality, all-inclusive services, convenient location and after-class cultural activities. Once you sign up at Keats, you will have no other worries or concerns.
5. Keats Chinese School is in Kunming, and I believe it’s a beautiful city. Many people might not be familiar with the city, so can you tell us more about the school and its location?
Yes, no problem. Known as a “Spring City”, Kunming is home to some of the mildest and most pleasant weather of any city in China. A mountain city just north of the tropics, high temperatures average around 21C (69F) and lows are typically around 10C (50F). Kunming also has some of the cleanest air and bluest skies of any Chinese city.
Kunming is the capital of Yunnan province. Yunnan is one of China’s southernmost provinces, bordering Vietnam and Laos to the south, Myanmar to the West, and mountainous Tibet to the northwest. This makes Kunming, near the center of Yunnan, a perfect springboard for further travel in Asia. When Keats students, especially long-term students, find themselves a little tired when studying Chinese, they usually travel to Vietnam or Thailand for about 4 to 5 days.
During your time when learning Mandarin Chinese in Kunming, many exciting destinations await your discovery right here in Yunnan Province, just a short bus or train ride from Kunming. These include the mysterious Xishuangbanna, a wonder of the world; Lunan Stone Forest, the ancient kingdom capital; Dali, and the beautiful Lijiang under the snow-capped Jade Dragon Mountain, and the famous Shangri-La. Many of these sites attract thousands of visitors for their colorful minority culture and amazing scenery.
One of the biggest draws for tourists coming to Kunming or students studying Mandarin Chinese in Yunnan (other than the great weather and cleanest air) is the city’s ethnic diversity. Tibetans, Hui, Bai, Dai, Yi, Naxi and other groups contribute to a cultural melting pot that differentiates Kunming from the majority of other major Chinese cities.
6. If I am a student considering studying Mandarin Chinese in China, maybe at Keats Chinese School, are there many issues to be overcome with obtaining visas and other things? Can you briefly talk us through about the procedures with regard to visas and actually getting ready to study?
Yes. Keats Chinese School is the very first private Mandarin Chinese school in China that is able to help our students get the JW 202 form. Therefore, we offer full support for the visa application for our students. It is strongly recommended that you apply for a student visa if you come to China to learn Chinese. The process for studying at Keats is very easy, which is only 3 steps:
1. Sign up for a course on our website: keatschinese.com and send the full payment for the program;
2. We send you the official invitation letter and the JW 202 form for an X1/X2 student visa application, you can apply for a visa in your country;
3. Book your flight to China. So far, Keats School’s visa rejection rate is 0. Choosing a school that can help you with the visa smoothly is very important. Once you have your visa and flight tickets ready in hand, we will send you a list of things about what to prepare for your stay in Kunming. Then you will be ready to come!
7. Currently, I am at beginner’s level. How much improvement can I expect to achieve after studying using your programme?
Normally, for an absolute beginner who takes our intensive one-on-one course with 4 hours per day can achieve lower/upper intermediate level after studying at Keats for 24 weeks. If you only have a 4-week vacation, then you will be able to conduct basic conversations in Chinese such as ordering food, booking hotels, talking about the weather and hobbies, asking for directions, etc. If you want to obtain an advanced level of Chinese with a professional focus for your career, it is suggested to take the one-on-one lessons at Keats for 1 year. Some previous Keats students have successfully found jobs in big Chinese companies or started their own companies in China.
Keats teachers prepare written syllabus for everyday’s class to make sure that our students can fully use the classroom time to make improvements. We design the course structure according to the students’ level of Chinese and their learning goals.
8. I don’t have a big budget, so how much can I expect to spend on the programme in total?
If you don’t have a big budget but want to improve your Chinese in China, you can take our small group class which is as low as $3.80/hour.
Besides the famous one-on-one immersion Chinese language program at Keats, the small group Chinese class is another popular program of Keats School. Every year, more than 200 students choose to join the small Chinese classes. The small group Chinese class is an ideal language program for students who want to live in Kunming for long term with a low budget or for students who are now working in Kunming.
There are 2 semesters a year, Spring semester and Fall semester. Spring semester usually starts at the end of February. Fall semester usually starts at the end of August.
The small group Chinese class is 2 hours a day Monday to Friday, 16 weeks for one semester. The levels for the classes are: beginner, elementary, intermediate, and advanced classes. The tuition fee is RMB 4000 per semester.
9. I am sure you work with lots of different types of students. What is the biggest mistake many make when they study Mandarin Chinese?
The most common mistakes made by Mandarin learners are the order of the sentences, the tones, and inappropriate using of words. These mistakes are largely attributed by lack of real situation practice. That’s why we encourage any Mandarin Chinese learner to learn Chinese in China instead of in their home countries. Once you are in the all-Chinese environment, you can quickly adapt your way of expression in Chinese to the correct ones. In addition, when you take the Mandarin Chinese language courses in China at Keats, your pronunciation, your sentence structure, and your tones will be corrected in time with the help from our professional Chinese teachers.
One misconception about learning Chinese is that many people refuse to learn Chinese characters at the elementary stage. If you want to master the Chinese language and to possibly use it at work, you don’t have to wait until you reach intermediate or advanced level to learn the characters. You don’t have to be able to write characters, but being able to recognize and to type Chinese characters can bring you so much more convenience and advantages at work.
10. Thank you Zier! How can people get in touch with you directly if they have more questions or queries?
Students are welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website keatschinese.com. Your questions will be answered within 5 hours. Just email us with any questions about studying Chinese, living in China, or studying at Keats. We look forward to seeing you at Keats. Thank you very much, Yang Yang!
So, if you are considering studying Mandarin Chinese in China, we’re sure that the foregoing advice from Zier will definitely be helpful to assist you in making the right decision. Happy learning!