Overview

Complete Mandarin immersion in China is difficult to achieve. To truly be fully immersed into a Chinese language environment one, has to take a few rather “extreme” steps. Firstly, you cannot have any class mates or study in a school where other English speaking students are around. Secondly, you have to live in an environment where there is no international community and local Chinese cannot speak English. Thirdly, people need to speak standard Mandarin – not some local dialect – so you can understand what’s going on around you and become part of local culture. Finally, the place needs to be interesting and fun so it is actually enjoyable to spend time there. And that is how extreme Chinese immersion works.

You will always be the only foreigner in Chengde!

  • Chinese immersion
  • Chinese homestays
  • Chinese friends
  • No foreigners
  • No English
  • No Starbucks
  • Mandarin 24/7
  • Stop English!

    Stop English!

    Real immersion - stop speaking English completely
    Local culture - don’t be a tourist and truly join Chinese culture
    No foreigners - only you in the neighborhood – everyone else is Chinese
    Guaranteed - never tempted to use English. Ever!

  • Rapid language progress

    Rapid language progress

    Quick - there is no faster way to study Chinese than extreme immersion
    Speaking - especially your spoken Mandarin will progress very quickly
    Good pronunciation - surrounded by natives, you will pick up good habits
    Local - from internet slang to Memes - speak the real Mandarin of today

  • Culture

    Culture

    Chinese culture - join and become part of local culture while abroad
    Live The Language (LTL) - dream, speak and live Chinese every day
    Discover - live in a world that very few foreigners have explored

    Real - this is the real China and how Chinese people live today

  • Support

    Support

    Organized - fully organized – you can fully focus on immersion and studying
    Individual - all tailored for you – no other students in your program
    Support - local support team to help you settle & meet local friends quickly
    Safe - help is 24/7 available, in case of an emergency also in English

The Difficulties of Immersing Yourself

Immersion in China

Nadia enjoying full Immersion in Chengde with her host family

Real immersion is a passion and a commitment that is not easily achieved. By the nature of it, at a Chinese language school other students studying with you will not be native Mandarin speakers. For that reason, the first people you will meet, study or go for lunch with in China will most likely be other foreigners. Also, international students tend to very quickly create their own bubble, as we are culturally much more similar to each other than to local Chinese and all can speak English. To make things worse, the Chinese who are used to dealing with foreigners, have an international outlook and whom it is relatively easy to make friends with, tend to speak pretty good English.

The same dynamic happens in pretty much all Chinese cities with foreign communities, independently of their size. While in Shanghai there are hundreds of thousands of foreigners to speak English with, in a city like Harbin or Guilin there might be much fewer. However as a result of being the only few foreigners in a very Chinese world, these smaller groups of foreigners studying abroad together tend to stick even closer to each other. Having even just a single English speaker around you can destroy an immersion environment if you meet and speak to that person every day. And in a culture as different as China, going for dinner with a fellow international students and English speaker after a tiring day of studying Mandarin is a natural choice. Also in many cities in China – especially the South like Kunming, Guilin or Guangzhou – people speak local dialects that are very different to text book Mandarin. Not understanding when locals speak with each other can make immersing yourself into local language and culture very difficult.

In many years of Chinese teaching, we have seen countless times that its exactly those dinners where you don’t practice your Mandarin, the possibility to speak English to get things done or hanging around with Chinese friends who want to practice their English are what holds students studying Mandarin in China back.

So we decided to change this.

How to achieve real immersion

We believe in real and true immersion. That is why we created the LTL Chinese immersion program to offer a true immersion environment for students who study abroad and want to learn Mandarin quickly. It was a long and difficult process, but we got there. Let us tell you how:

First we found the perfect city to learn Mandarin in China: Chengde

Chengde (承德) is where Mandarin was codified in 1952 and people here are known to speak the most standard Mandarin in all of China. At the same time very few people outside China know the city. This might be partly because a lot of people confuse it with Chengdu (成都), which sounds similar in English but is a very different and much bigger city in Southwest China – famous mainly for being the home of the Pandas. There are no international companies, no expat or international community in Chengde and you can stay there for years without even seeing a single other foreigner. Locals speak no English, as there is nobody to speak it with and one needs to use Mandarin to do anything here.

In Chengde you can enjoy full immersion - No English spoken anywhere

In Chengde you can enjoy full immersion – No English spoken anywhere

Second, we designed a course structure to free you from the temptation to speak English. All classes are taught individually and you will have no foreign class mates. Classes do not take place in one location with other students together, but are taught in your home or a tea shop close by. This ensures you won’t be going for lunch with other students or speak English during breaks. Homestays speak no English. Shared apartments are exclusively shared with Chinese flat mates. Finally, we keep the program small to make sure we don’t flood the city with foreigners. There are usually about three and never more than ten LTL students in Chengde, which is not much in a city of half a million people.

Third, we help you to settle into Chinese culture. Before you go we will have a pre-Chengde meeting with you, where you will tell us what you like to do in your free time. We will then put you in touch with locals with similar interests. This can be anything from joining a local football team, signing in a choir or participating in a hiking group to introducing you to some of our local friends to have dinner together with (people in Chengde love to eat).

You will speak, hear, and live the language 24/7. And that is what we at LTL (Live The Language) are all about. People often ask us (and sometimes doubt) how we can get a complete beginner to HSK 6 within a year. Well, this is exactly how we do it. Real immersion works. Check out Anthea’s video about her journey with LTL from zero Chinese to HSK 6 within a year of study with us for a genuine example of fluency within a year.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do real immersion with my friend together?

Unless your friend is a native Chinese speaker and knows no English, of course you cannot. When you are together with a friend you will inevitably be speaking to each other and that means you are not in a real immersion environment anymore. It is possible to organize a program for friends or families together in Chengde, however then it will be just exactly that: a Chinese language course in Chengde and not a complete immersion environment anymore.

Extreme immersion sounds a bit scary. Is this the right program for me?

Depends on what you are afraid of. If you are worried of not meeting other international students, not being able to speak English or can’t live without McDonalds then this program is not for you and you should not go.

If you are afraid of not being able to communicate, not knowing anyone or safety then there is no need to worry. In a complete immersion environment your Mandarin will improve very fast and you will quickly gain confidence in speaking in, simply because you will do it every day. Also people in Chengde are very welcoming towards foreigners. So as long as you are willing to join them, it is easy to make friends. Finally, Chengde is an incredibly safe city.

I like the idea, but it might be a bit too fast for me?

Yes, going straight into a complete immersion environment after arriving in China is too fast. This is why we combine studying in Chengde first with a more “standard” Chinese language course in Beijing for most students. You can find more information on this page or on our Chinese Immersion Beijing and Chinese Immersion Shanghai websites.

Can I go straight into complete Mandarin immersion?

If you are already an experienced China traveler, speak enough Mandarin and are up for the challenge then yes you can. Please contact us for more details.

What if I need help?

Complete Chinese immersion of course doesn’t mean you are on your own if you struggle with something. We are always there for you and in case of an emergency also in English. Our local Chengde teaching and support team is incredibly committed and hard working to make sure that our students not only learn Chinese quickly, but also enjoy their time here. We are always available for questions, help or just a chat if you need one. If it is an emergency you can call and reach us 24/7.

For whom is extreme Chinese immersion not suitable?

You should not sign up for the Chinese immersion program if you are not willing to completely immerse yourself into Chinese culture and language. You need to be ready to leave all international and English contacts behind and dive deep down into what is a very different culture. Big Chinese cities offer expat bubbles with plenty of support systems for foreigners struggling in China. Chengde does not. Don’t go if you are not ready for this.

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