I spent three weeks at the Keats Language School in Kunming starting mid August of 2011 with four hours per day of one-on-one instruction.
Classes and Language Instruction
The school makes a real effort to give students what they want. Lessons were tailored to what I asked for – instruction given only in Mandarin, focus on the useful topics I needed for travel in China (especially food), and focus on conversational Chinese. We practiced role play scenarios and worked on related vocabulary. My instructor had great patience and was an excellent listener, both very important qualities in a language teacher.
For more details on classroom activities see the following posts.
Dorm rooms are in central Kunming in the same high-rise as the classrooms in. Small but comfortable with adequate storage for a short stay. My only complaint was that I had reserved the homestay option which “disappeared” upon my arrival. Click here for the full story.
I did not eat at the school,opting instead to practice Chinese in the many neighborhood restaurants. Prices are reasonable and you can easily spend less on food than with the school’s meal plan. The drawback of not eating at the school is that it makes it more difficult to meet other students. With one-on-one classes and few school activities there is little other opportunity.
Although this was my first language immersion program in China, I had studied Chinese before and had a working vocabulary upon arrival. I highly recommend studying Chinese before you start such a program. Going into a language school cold, especially for a short period of time, can be overwhelming, making it difficult to progress quickly.
Having some vocabulary and language structure under your belt makes the transition much easier. You can start using Chinese to communicate much more quickly which is the key to effective language learning. Once you start thinking of the target language, Chinese, as a means of communication and not just something you are learning academically, you will greatly increase your ability to use the target language in the real world.
Questions or Comments. Drop me a line.
For links to all the posts in this series see the Kunming page.