Study Chinese in Shanghai
While you’ll definitely find that it’s cheaper to live and study in smaller Chinese cities, you get way more bang for just a little more buck in Shanghai. To begin with, the mix between Eastern and Western cultures
makes it a great transition place for people intending to stay in China for a while.
I’ve seen it plenty of times: someone moves straight from New York or San Francisco into one of the smaller Chinese cities and heads home before long, overwhelmed and unable to adjust. It’s better to acclimate
yourself in a big city for a good long while and then make whatever excursions you wish once you’re comfortable and really ready.
Of course, many people do prefer Beijing. But Beijing is colder and more filled with pollution and politics.
The three options for Chinese language study in Shanghai (or Beijing) are:
1) taking part in a university program
2) studying at a private language school
3) engaging a private tutor
The main benefit of university programs is that your study can sometimes lead to a degree in Chinese language which might do wonders for you on your resume, depending upon your personal goals. These programs are also cheap
for long-term study, averaging between $2-$3 thousand per year.
What some see as a serious drawback to university programs is the focus on reading and writing with scant attention to listening and speaking in an interactive way.
Private language schools can be quite a bit more accommodating and focused on meeting the needs of individual students. In addition to a more learner-centered, interactive environment, private programs offer flexibility
in scheduling. They are more able to fit you in when it’s convenient for you.
The last option, engaging a private tutor, gives you complete control over what you learn and how you learn it. Private tutors are easy to find—through local websites, newspapers, and by just asking around if you’re
already in Shanghai. The pay is a matter of negotiation between student and teacher, but the going rate these days seems to be somewhere between 30 and 50 RMB ($4-$7) per hour, depending upon how qualified and experienced the tutor is.
Alternatively, you can save your money and work out a language exchange arrangement. There is no shortage of Chinese in Shanghai looking for this. Also, the great flexibility in scheduling that having a private tutor allows
makes it ideal to combine an exchange arrangement with a paid tutor. Then you can take advantage of other reasons for being in Shanghai: work, for instance.