Review of Keats Language School, Kunming China

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.

Keats Language School, First Impressions

First Day of Language Class

Language Lessons Continue

End of the First Week

Second Week of Classes

Third Week of Classes – Review, Review and more Review


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.

Meal Plan

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.

Learning Chinese

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.

8 thoughts

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this review! I’m going to Keats in October and am at ease 🙂

    1. Hi Delphine, Thank you for the kind comment. It’s always nice to hear that someone has found my posts useful. Have a great time and let me know how it goes.

    1. Hi Paul, Thank you for the comment. Unfortunately I don’t know anything about Huayang. If you are looking for practical language practice, i.e., communicative teaching rather than just grammar drills, I highly suggest some amount if private instruction. I find that even though schools say they focus on speaking skills they typically resort to grammar drills in the classroom. With private instruction you have greater opportunity to control the teaching/learning methods. Good luck to you. I’d love to hear about your experience when you finish your course.

  2. Thanks !
    I am just nearly two months into my second semester! It is awesome here and I took the advice and did private lessons and doing really well with it. I’ve had classmates that moved here from keats but I’m sure the opposite is true too as Huayang seems to attract people who cycle and climb because its easier to the mountains and closer to the outdoor clubs.
    Really loving it!!

  3. Hi, thanks for the article. I’m basically trying to see if this place is legit haha. Where are you from? And how did you get to Kunming? It looks a little tricky getting there from the UK.

    1. Hi Max, I’m American. Yes they were a legitimate school when I was there in 2011. Although I have no reason to doubt that they are still running a good language program, I’ve not stayed in contact with them and don’t know the current status of the school. Getting there was not so difficult as Kunming is a fairly large city and China has many domestic flights. I flew to Beijing and then took a domestic flight the next day to Kunming. Good luck with your studies and travels.

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