Does anyone know of affordable language immersion programs?

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leosmith
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Re: Does anyone know of affordable language immersion programs?

Postby leosmith » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:01 am

Xmmm wrote:
Heart Break Kid wrote:My budget is just for tuition, not airfair or rent by the way.



Okay, then AUAThai would totally work for you. I did my typical math in my first response: 25 * 4 * 4 = 1000. But actually, AUAThai offers 200 hour packages for $700. So you should be able to do a full year for a little less than $5000. And maybe you could settle the ALG controversy once and for all. :)

Why Thailand though? There is almost no Mandarin spoken their, outside of the tourist industry. Are you suggesting it merely for the low price? I think staying home and using the internet might be a better option than learning Mandarin in Thailand.
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Re: Does anyone know of affordable language immersion programs?

Postby IronMike » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:29 am

You could try and create your own immersion. If you can get some basic language under your belt before going, it would make it easier. But of course there could be issues:

a) Visa. Depending where you're looking to go, getting a visa could be difficult. If you're enrolled in a school easier than if you're just going as a tourist. Time frames differ as well.
b) Living. Some places (like Russia) require a letter of invitation for a visa, and here you get that either from a local or from a hotel. And hotels don't just hand them out. You have to have a reservation first.
c) Working. Not all foreign countries allow you to work w/o a work visa, which would in turn require a company to sponsor you. And don't even think of working under the table. That could have lasting consequences for you.
d) Teaching. You could find a local with some knowledge of teaching who would be willing to teach you the language, but then again what if he or she turns out to be bad at teaching you, or even bad at the language? Sure this method could be cheaper, but you get what you pay for.

Some others have already commented above, and if your budget doesn't include transportation or lodging, that's good. Even in a cheap(er) place like Bishkek, $5000 for six months of immersion is not much. (I only know about the FSU, so grabbed an example from my experience.)

I like Xmmm's recommendation. If you can get a job teaching English somewhere where they speak Mandarin, do that. My a-c above would be taken care of, and then you can find someone to teach you the language. Might even be able to find someone to barter with, English for Mandarin, and add in some formal classes. Hell, that might help you keep it under $5k or allow you to spend more time in country.

Just wondering and if too personal, ignore me: where are you at in your life that you can afford to take that much time off? I'm envious. ;)
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Re: Does anyone know of affordable language immersion programs?

Postby Heart Break Kid » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:55 am

IronMike wrote:You could try and create your own immersion. If you can get some basic language under your belt before going, it would make it easier. But of course there could be issues:

a) Visa. Depending where you're looking to go, getting a visa could be difficult. If you're enrolled in a school easier than if you're just going as a tourist. Time frames differ as well.
b) Living. Some places (like Russia) require a letter of invitation for a visa, and here you get that either from a local or from a hotel. And hotels don't just hand them out. You have to have a reservation first.
c) Working. Not all foreign countries allow you to work w/o a work visa, which would in turn require a company to sponsor you. And don't even think of working under the table. That could have lasting consequences for you.
d) Teaching. You could find a local with some knowledge of teaching who would be willing to teach you the language, but then again what if he or she turns out to be bad at teaching you, or even bad at the language? Sure this method could be cheaper, but you get what you pay for.

Some others have already commented above, and if your budget doesn't include transportation or lodging, that's good. Even in a cheap(er) place like Bishkek, $5000 for six months of immersion is not much. (I only know about the FSU, so grabbed an example from my experience.)

I like Xmmm's recommendation. If you can get a job teaching English somewhere where they speak Mandarin, do that. My a-c above would be taken care of, and then you can find someone to teach you the language. Might even be able to find someone to barter with, English for Mandarin, and add in some formal classes. Hell, that might help you keep it under $5k or allow you to spend more time in country.

Just wondering and if too personal, ignore me: where are you at in your life that you can afford to take that much time off? I'm envious. ;)



I'm a recent college graduate, but because of some issues I essentially won't have my degree for another semester. I have a few months to burn.

I was planning on teaching abroad, but my degree got held up. It seems like a lot of these companies do not care to look at transcripts and need more tangible proof of a degree (probably for visa reasons and what not).



leosmith wrote:
Xmmm wrote:
Heart Break Kid wrote:My budget is just for tuition, not airfair or rent by the way.



Okay, then AUAThai would totally work for you. I did my typical math in my first response: 25 * 4 * 4 = 1000. But actually, AUAThai offers 200 hour packages for $700. So you should be able to do a full year for a little less than $5000. And maybe you could settle the ALG controversy once and for all. :)

Why Thailand though? There is almost no Mandarin spoken their, outside of the tourist industry. Are you suggesting it merely for the low price? I think staying home and using the internet might be a better option than learning Mandarin in Thailand.


I'm assuming it is because I mentioned I have some interest in learning Thai in my opening post.
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Re: Does anyone know of affordable language immersion programs?

Postby whatiftheblog » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:46 pm

DaveBee wrote:
Heart Break Kid wrote:I'm an American and I am looking for a 6-12 month language immersion program in Mandarin, preferably something not exceeding 5k USD.

Does anyone know of any good cheap ones? It seems like I keep finding these placement sites which seem to charge a middle man fee (plus a lot of them are quite expensive).


I'm also interested in Romance languages, Vietnamese and Thai as well - perhaps others considering immersion schools could find this thread of use.

Any info or experience with language immersion programs is welcomed!
Several people have written about creating their own immersion programs, without going anywhere.

All Japanese All The Time (AJATT) is one that gets mentioned a lot, on here Scotroyenne, and Whatiftheblog are ones I've read. I think Small White's chinesepod method could fit into the same set.


Yes! Okay, granted, I've never tried to learn Mandarin, but it's obviously widely spoken - you can absolutely develop your own artificial immersion method for pennies on the dollar without leaving your home. If you have 6-12 months to work with, this is totally feasible. AJATT is correct in stating that "native speakers" are just people who happened to have been born in an environment where everything is in the language they claim as their native one - with a high-speed internet connection, you can do that just as easily at home in the US. I went from a pretty decent foundation but really terrible expression skills in French to getting accepted (through an interview) to an advanced professional masters program in France in under 12 months, all while working ~45-50 hours a week. Again, I get that French isn't Mandarin, and I don't know how far along you are in your studies, but my top pointers would be:

1. Focus on content you really love. Whether that's music, a particular film genre, literary fiction, politics, sports, beauty vlogs, anything, whatever you like. I lucked out in that I happened upon a particularly dynamic election cycle in France, and that's totally my jam, so I was glued to my computer all year. If you just do course after course after course, you run the risk of getting bored way too quickly, and then you stagnate. Take the reins and select content you naturally want to consume. Patterns will start emerging fairly quickly - you'll keep coming across the same phrases or sentences, and then you'll suddenly find yourself effortlessly reproducing them.

2. Get a shower speaker. Seriously the best $50 I've ever spent. Train yourself to have Mandarin content on throughout everyday activities/tasks - showering, getting ready, doing the dishes, vacuuming, commuting, whatever applies to you. This is what native speakers do. Rebuild your life around this.

3. Anything you can do in English, you can do in Mandarin - make that your new mantra. Transform anything that requires instructions - cooking, DIY projects, whatever - into Mandarin-only content.

4. "Vlog" for yourself. Imagine you're filming yourself for a vlog - you don't actually have to film yourself, but you can if you want to - and trying talking out loud about whatever you like, from how you feel on any given day to your opinions on politics or cultural phenomena or societal transformations or whatever. Pick a topic you want to talk about and just talk to yourself. You'll quickly determine where your weak points are. You can absolutely pause to look up a word or phrase you're missing. Chances are you'll find out you're better at it than you think you are. Do this daily.

5. Find something to get hooked on - a show, a podcast, a pop culture phenomenon, whatever. Develop habits that are all Mandarin all the time. I now feel that my day is incomplete without my 2-3 daily French podcasts/political talk shows, and I can easily spend hours on them.

6. Keep running lists of phrases you find interesting/useful - I do this on my phone. If I happen upon a phrase I find interesting, I'll type it up in a note to myself. Re-read those notes every day.

7. Create a separate Twitter / Weibo? account dedicated to your Mandarin immersion. Follow people/things you enjoy to ensure you keep coming back to it every day, multiple times a day. Read through threads and replies. Again, you'll quickly determine where your weak points are. Having constant exposure to content you love will keep you motivated, and developing an "addiction" in this sense will do you a world of good.

Good luck!
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Re: Does anyone know of affordable language immersion programs?

Postby Heart Break Kid » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:35 am

embici wrote:I would start by looking at universities, rather than at private language schools. My experience is that many (public) universities in countries have the most reasonably-priced "X"-as-a-foreign programs. Sometimes the programs are for foreign students enrolled there but often they are open to anyone.
This has been my experience (in Mexico and Quebec) as well as that of friends (in France and Greece). The quality is often very good and the prices can't be beat plus you'll have access to everything the universities have to offer: cultural events, libraries, discounts, etc.


What's your methodology for finding the schools?

Do you just type something along the lines of "universities in Quebec" - and then click on all the universities and look for the foreign language program?

If you know any faster or more efficient key phrases to kick into google, feel free to share. :geek:
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Re: Does anyone know of affordable language immersion programs?

Postby Heart Break Kid » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:53 pm

whatiftheblog wrote:
DaveBee wrote:
Heart Break Kid wrote:I'm an American and I am looking for a 6-12 month language immersion program in Mandarin, preferably something not exceeding 5k USD.

Does anyone know of any good cheap ones? It seems like I keep finding these placement sites which seem to charge a middle man fee (plus a lot of them are quite expensive).


I'm also interested in Romance languages, Vietnamese and Thai as well - perhaps others considering immersion schools could find this thread of use.

Any info or experience with language immersion programs is welcomed!
Several people have written about creating their own immersion programs, without going anywhere.

All Japanese All The Time (AJATT) is one that gets mentioned a lot, on here Scotroyenne, and Whatiftheblog are ones I've read. I think Small White's chinesepod method could fit into the same set.


Yes! Okay, granted, I've never tried to learn Mandarin, but it's obviously widely spoken - you can absolutely develop your own artificial immersion method for pennies on the dollar without leaving your home. If you have 6-12 months to work with, this is totally feasible. AJATT is correct in stating that "native speakers" are just people who happened to have been born in an environment where everything is in the language they claim as their native one - with a high-speed internet connection, you can do that just as easily at home in the US. I went from a pretty decent foundation but really terrible expression skills in French to getting accepted (through an interview) to an advanced professional masters program in France in under 12 months, all while working ~45-50 hours a week. Again, I get that French isn't Mandarin, and I don't know how far along you are in your studies, but my top pointers would be:

1. Focus on content you really love. Whether that's music, a particular film genre, literary fiction, politics, sports, beauty vlogs, anything, whatever you like. I lucked out in that I happened upon a particularly dynamic election cycle in France, and that's totally my jam, so I was glued to my computer all year. If you just do course after course after course, you run the risk of getting bored way too quickly, and then you stagnate. Take the reins and select content you naturally want to consume. Patterns will start emerging fairly quickly - you'll keep coming across the same phrases or sentences, and then you'll suddenly find yourself effortlessly reproducing them.

2. Get a shower speaker. Seriously the best $50 I've ever spent. Train yourself to have Mandarin content on throughout everyday activities/tasks - showering, getting ready, doing the dishes, vacuuming, commuting, whatever applies to you. This is what native speakers do. Rebuild your life around this.

3. Anything you can do in English, you can do in Mandarin - make that your new mantra. Transform anything that requires instructions - cooking, DIY projects, whatever - into Mandarin-only content.

4. "Vlog" for yourself. Imagine you're filming yourself for a vlog - you don't actually have to film yourself, but you can if you want to - and trying talking out loud about whatever you like, from how you feel on any given day to your opinions on politics or cultural phenomena or societal transformations or whatever. Pick a topic you want to talk about and just talk to yourself. You'll quickly determine where your weak points are. You can absolutely pause to look up a word or phrase you're missing. Chances are you'll find out you're better at it than you think you are. Do this daily.

5. Find something to get hooked on - a show, a podcast, a pop culture phenomenon, whatever. Develop habits that are all Mandarin all the time. I now feel that my day is incomplete without my 2-3 daily French podcasts/political talk shows, and I can easily spend hours on them.

6. Keep running lists of phrases you find interesting/useful - I do this on my phone. If I happen upon a phrase I find interesting, I'll type it up in a note to myself. Re-read those notes every day.

7. Create a separate Twitter / Weibo? account dedicated to your Mandarin immersion. Follow people/things you enjoy to ensure you keep coming back to it every day, multiple times a day. Read through threads and replies. Again, you'll quickly determine where your weak points are. Having constant exposure to content you love will keep you motivated, and developing an "addiction" in this sense will do you a world of good.

Good luck!



This is fine advice, but I am not really at a level where I can consume media yet.

Without practicing everyday, I am basically at a default level of "slightly above survivor mandarin". As in, I can go a week or so without practicing, and still know still speak at a very basic level. If someone dropped me off in a village in China, I could "survive" and then some - but I do not actually understand the language nor can I speak it on an affectionate level. I only know the very basics (albeit, I know them pretty well, but at this point is still memorization).

I am also illiterate, which makes immersion a bit hard for languages that have different "alphabets" from my native language (English). It would be nice if I could jump into some reading material to keep up my skills, but Chinese just does not work like that - the barrier of entry is really large in regards to becoming literate. I did buy a couple of baby books that are in pinyin (Chinese written out with Latin letters), but it's not really the same thing.

But yeah, you have the right idea - I think. But man, when I studied Spanish and German I was able to become literate pretty quickly (and you could always eyeball foreign words if you knew English).

I really like vlog tip, I will try to incorporate that.
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Re: Does anyone know of affordable language immersion programs?

Postby embici » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:57 am

Heart Break Kid wrote:
What's your methodology for finding the schools?

Do you just type something along the lines of "universities in Quebec" - and then click on all the universities and look for the foreign language program?

If you know any faster or more efficient key phrases to kick into google, feel free to share. :geek:


Try googling the words in Chinese for "Chinese language school university."

For example, if I was looking in Quebec for French I would search for something like "ecole de langue francaise universite quebec" or for Spanish in Mexico I might try "espanol para extranjeros universidad mexico"
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Re: Does anyone know of affordable language immersion programs?

Postby Axon » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:25 am

Have you considered doing a language program at a foreign university? Your own university almost certainly has contacts with Taiwanese or Chinese universities. My university had a tiny foreign language program and just one Chinese professor and we still got recommendations by the dozens for programs that were basically free rides to go learn Chinese in Taiwan. If you're unable to find such contacts I can get in contact with my old professor and ask her for those resources again.

On Chinese literacy: It is harder than you think to have a good time learning Chinese in China if you're illiterate. Immersion is way more than "a bit hard," it is depressing and demoralizing when the entire staff of a noodle shop is staring at you while you desperately go through the menu for characters you recognize. I lived in China for two months after studying for eighteen months (one year self study, six months classes) and I felt very alone and isolated because I simply didn't know what anything meant. I was drilling something like 30 new characters a day - all written down from things I saw around me - and I still felt like I was getting nowhere.

It took me another seven months of daily reading practice to get to a point where I could comfortably and easily know what signs, labels, headlines, warnings, and advertisements said in China - and I still read long passages of text very slowly.

I always write way too much. The point is that in order to be comfortable in an immersion environment, you need to be able to read and understand fast. Even if you know all the vocab, it takes so much practice to read Chinese at an acceptable speed.
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