Learning Q&A2017-05-22T19:53:42+00:00
How long will it take to become fluent in Mandarin?2018-08-09T10:30:16+00:00

Good question! If you are taking a part-time learning approach with PM, we say 80 lessons upon completion of the Intermediate course to achieve daily fluency. That could be 80 weeks or shorter if you chose to start with intensive beginner courses.

For an independent speaker level of fluency, we say two years upon completion of Upper Intermediate course. Be a good student, and we will get you there!

What if I miss a class?2018-08-09T09:57:41+00:00

We know sometimes life got in the way. So don’t worry, with any group classes that you missed you will be able to attend a FREE mark up lesson with a different group (subject to availability).

Alternative options would be private make up lessons via Skype or One to One, or home study with teaching material provided. What’s more, our online platform will be opened to students next year.

Who is the teacher?2018-08-09T10:29:39+00:00

Our teachers are native Mandarin speakers who hold a master or a PHD degree in Education, Linguistics, or cultural communication; who have average 3 years of teaching experience; who are Londoners with fluent English and multicultural awareness.

How big is the class?2018-08-09T10:30:53+00:00

Our beginner classes have only 4-8 students, while other levels could be 3-10.

Group classes of such size are the best way to get involved, get teacher feedbacks, at the same time big enough for you to interact with other classmates, and make some like-minded friends!

Should I buy the textbooks?2018-08-09T09:55:58+00:00

Yes, we think you should. Textbooks are offered at a discounted price for our students, but you can also buy your own.

Do I need to pay for training material?2018-08-09T09:55:22+00:00

We are providing our in-house training material for FREE, which includes the lecture notes in PPT, worksheets and a Phone App.

Can I take a trial lesson first?2018-08-09T09:54:44+00:00

Of course! You’re welcome to join any of our current classes (except for Entry Beginner Course) for a trial.

Can I pay by lesson?2018-08-09T09:54:06+00:00

No, sorry. We can’t accept Pay-as-you-go. It’s a subscription modal, as language learning is not a one-off thing.

But we accept students to enroll during term-time, if their level is from Elementary onwards. Then you will only need to pay for the remaining lessons you will be taking.

How can I pay?2018-08-09T09:52:57+00:00

We mostly accept payment online. If we invoice you, you can choose to pay with the E-invoice, or via bank transfer. If you would like to pay cash, we can accept that and give you back a payment receipt.

What is the price?2018-08-09T09:52:22+00:00

Our lessons are priced at £30 per two-hour lesson, each course is either 10 or 12 lessons, you do the math.

Advanced HSK 5 and 6, and Business classes are priced at £36 per two-hour lesson.

Can I visit your center?2018-08-09T09:51:31+00:00

Yes, you can, but only at our City center during office hours please. Ideally with an appointment with us.

Where are your two centers?2018-08-09T09:50:56+00:00

Our main center is in the City, close to Monument station by the river, where our head office team works from.

The other center is on Oxford Street, it’s within an English day school, where we rent their classrooms for evenings and weekends.

When are your courses run?2018-08-09T09:50:13+00:00

We run group classes Monday to Thursday evenings between 6:30pm to 8:30pm, and all day Saturdays.

If the timing for our group classes do not suit you, you might like to consider private tutoring. We have tutors available any time, seven days a week.

How long is a term?2018-08-09T09:49:27+00:00

Beginner courses have 10 lessons each term, other levels have 12 lessons each term. The regular courses will deliver 1 lesson per week, the intensive courses will deliver 2 lessons per week, mostly on Saturdays.

Is it easy to learn Mandarin?2018-08-09T09:48:34+00:00

It’s easy to learn Mandarin as a beginner, as you will be learning the very simple phonetic system, which composes only 490 syllabus! That’s why our Beginner students are the most proud of their achievements of their 0 to 1 step in just 10 to 20 lessons.
In your future total language skill training, it gets more challenging. But we know how to help you get there in each step.

How will I be trained?2018-08-09T09:47:45+00:00

Each level has different training modules to reflect the language skills in use. Beginner is foundational and survival context, Elementary is conversation flow, Intermediate is storytelling, Upper Intermediate is independent speaker fluency.

PM’s philosophy is language is for communication, via adopting active learning, tasked-based training approach.

Do I just learn from the market textbooks?2018-08-09T09:46:11+00:00

Of course not!

Textbooks help PM to set the curriculum especially on progressive HSK levels, however, in our classes, it’s just 20% of your learning time. Presentations, videos, activities, worksheets, and games are designed into our teaching plans to take up the 80%, as our classes are Students Centred.

What is the curriculum?2018-08-09T09:45:13+00:00

You can find the curriculum of each course on the respective course page online.

Each course we are using a textbook to set the curriculum, currently it’s Discover China for Beginner courses, and HSK Standard textbooks for Level 2 onwards, BCT Chinese for Business courses, and in-house developed material for Advanced Business course, and survival courses.

Where can I find details of the courses?2018-08-09T09:43:22+00:00

On our website. We publish and update new courses on a monthly basis. Navigate to Group Courses on the top menu, find your level, and see all the available courses listed on the page.

How can we book a programme?2018-08-08T13:03:30+00:00

By approving our training proposal, and making full upfront payment to secure your booking. PM will issue VAT invoice for your company once all proposal details are confirmed.

What levels do you teach?2018-08-08T13:00:27+00:00

We teach all levels.

At our two centers, we offer group courses for Level 1 to Level 6, for general language fluency purpose, or business purpose.

What is the curriculum?2018-08-08T12:58:37+00:00

For a complete beginner group, we have the curriculum included in our brochure, it’s well-tested foundation training programme with embedded culture awareness training.

For higher levels, we will consult your training goal before designing a bespoke programme to suit your need.

Can I learn with a colleague, a friend or my partner?2018-08-07T09:51:10+00:00

Can I learn with a colleague, a friend or my partner?

Yes, this is a good idea too. We call the 1 teacher 2 students training the diamond methods, there are so many benefits of learning with a partner, to create better engagement and motivation with a discounted price! All private lessons with 2-4 students will be charged at £30 per student per hour.

Who should choose private tutoring?2018-08-06T17:10:53+00:00

We generally believe that private tutoring is one of the most effective way to learn a skill, be it Mandarin, piano or physical fitness. You get all the help and instead feedback from your teacher, you will be fully engaged at all time, and the lesson progress is designed to suit you.

According to our experience, it will suit 3 types of students:
– Students with a busy schedule, who requires the teacher to be relatively flexible
– Students who want to customize their learning content
– Students with a short-term training goal, you need to learn something at a timely fashion to be used or to be tested

Why Practical Mandarin?2018-08-07T09:52:08+00:00

Because we are good at what we do!

We don’t believe that anyone can speak Chinese can teach you Chinese.

We are the Mandarin Specialists working full-time year on year to develop and improve how to teach students to speak this language easily and fluently.

Our training is offered at an affordable price, but we don’t discount any of our effort to deliver an excellent program. Our materials are developed with years of experience and practice.
Our teachers have average 4 years of teaching history. Not anyone who speaks Chinese can train you well! You got to choose the specialists!

Can I pay for each lesson one by one?2018-08-07T09:51:57+00:00

We cannot operate on pay-as-you-go. Your tuition will need to be paid upfront in one go.

This is to secure your teacher’s time and their productivity as a free lancer. You will assign your lessons to the teacher upon receiving your tuition fee.

How do I pay?2018-08-07T09:51:48+00:00

Based on your booking, your private tuition fee will be invoiced to you.

As each student’s booking is different, there is no online payment available for private lessons. We will issue you a digital invoice for payment instead. You can pay with your card online securely and swiftly or pay via bank transfer.

What is validation period and what happens if I went over the period?2018-08-07T09:51:41+00:00

Just like all products, it has a shelf life.

Based on the number of your total booking and agreed lesson schedule, we will set an estimated deadline for you to take the lessons within the period. E.g. for a set of 12 2-hr lessons, if you were to have one lesson per week, then your validation period will be 14 weeks after your first lesson.

The valid period will be assigned on your invoice and on your teacher’s job assignment, any remaining lessons after the valid period might not be fulfilled by your teacher without refund.

Should your schedule changes which might require an extension, please do get in touch with us.

What is 24hr cancellation policy?2018-08-07T09:51:31+00:00

This is important, it’s to remind you of your arrangement and to protect the teacher’s time and productivity as a freelancer.

Once an appointment has been agreed between a tutor and student, any date or time change to that scheduled lesson time must be agreed with at least 24 hours notice. Lessons cancelled or postponed with less than 24 hours notice will be charged at full rate.

How flexible is it?2018-08-07T09:51:25+00:00

We understand your busy schedule and therefore offers good flexibility to help.

Usually, we assign the teacher based on your primary available time for lessons, after organising the first lesson, we will leave it between you and your teacher to schedule in further lessons. Should you have changes in your schedule, you can contact your teacher to re-schedule the lesson.

How is private tuition charged?2018-08-07T09:51:19+00:00

Our private lessons are charged by the hours you would like to book.

For lessons at your premises or our lounge or a public space, it is £55 per hour. For lessons at our Bank/Monument office, we will book a private meeting room for you, it is £60 per hour.

For bulk booking, we have good packages for you to choose from, please ask us for it.

Is there any age limit?2018-08-07T09:50:58+00:00

Not really.

Most of the tutors are DBS certified, however due to H&S, we can only offer private lessons at your own premise for all minor learners.

Where do lessons take place?2018-08-07T09:50:48+00:00

One of the benefits of private tuition is to save you from travelling.

Our teachers will travel to your preferred location, your work premise or home, as long as it is within zone 4. Alternatively, you can also have lessons at our Bank/Monument centre under a slightly higher hourly rate. Or in a café or our office lounge, some students choose a library room too.

Who will teach me?2018-08-07T09:50:12+00:00

We have a team of 15 teachers to do the job. You can view everyone’s profile here. 

Our teachers generally hold M.A and P.H.D in Education or relevant studies and have years of extensive teaching experience in China and the UK. Based on your level and learning goal, we will assign the most suitable and available teacher for you.

What would I learn?2018-08-07T09:49:51+00:00

It’s your private lessons, we design your learning content around you!

If you are a complete beginner, we suggest you to use our in-house foundation course content, for general fluency, travel or business purpose, but the teachers will add personalized content during the training if necessary.

If you are of higher level, you could choose to follow our fluency skill training curriculum or incorporate your own material, ie your company introduction, product information, files or emails, or industrial news.

It’s your call, set your goal, we will help you achieve the target!

Why Practical Mandarin?2018-08-08T13:08:45+00:00

Because we are good at what we do!

We don’t believe that anyone can speak Chinese can teach you Chinese.

We are the Mandarin Specialists working full time year on year to develop and improve how to teach students to speak this language easily and fluently.

Our training is offered at an affordable price, but we don’t discount any of our effort to deliver an excellent program. Our materials are developed with years of experience and practice.
Our teachers have average 4 years of teaching history. Not anyone who speaks Chinese can train you well! You got to choose the specialists!

Would students get any certificate/qualification?2018-08-08T13:07:55+00:00

Yes they will.

We are a little celebrity in Mandarin language training in Europe, do you know that? Thompson Reuters has interviewed us to feature on the Chinese state TV channel, many other schools in China know about us, we even helped our student to get scholarship to study in Taiwan.

Therefore, our certificate is of significance to certify your learning achievements, should they pass the final test of course.

Is there any learning assessment?2018-08-08T13:07:13+00:00

Yes there is, in every programme you choose to study.

We have developed written test and oral test to carry out an assessment at the end of their study. This can also be customised for you as well, based on students’ progress and your package length.

What happens if the group needs to reschedule?2018-08-08T13:06:32+00:00

We will try to be flexible for you. Usually corporate training is running on a weekly basis within an agreed period of time, however should your company has urgent needs to adjust the schedule, we will discuss with the tutor and postpone or reschedule the lesson, if possible, on such special occasion.

What happens if a student missed a lesson?2018-08-08T13:05:41+00:00

Not a big issue to worry about!

This happens from time to time due to work travels or personal holidays. Besides the materials we offer to students, there is a FREE phone app with all our learning content uploaded for the students to catch up and review at their own time.

What’s more, we are in the process of developing our E-learning platform, where video lessons will be uploaded for students.

Can we do a demo lesson first?2018-08-08T13:04:21+00:00

Yes, sure!

Demo lesson is a good way to give your staff a taster experience, let them see what to expect, and for you to evaluate and decide. However, regular hourly rate will be applied.

Who are the teachers?2018-08-08T13:02:16+00:00

We have a team of experienced Mandarin language and culture training specialists, working full time or part time with us.

Based on your selected programme, we will propose the most suitable tutor for you and send you his/her profile for approval. All our teachers hold M.A and PHD in relevant academic background and have extensive teaching experience globally.

Can students use the language after a term?2018-08-08T13:05:02+00:00

Absolutely. Our students will speak and use Mandarin for greeting from Day 1!

We take pride in seeing our students speaking the language at work or in life. Students will be given over 80% of the time to speak and practise in class. They can introduce and greet their colleagues in Mandarin after just 1 hour, and able to survive on a business trip to China after our Business Beginner Lite programme.

What materials are you using?2018-08-08T13:01:30+00:00

We have in-house developed and customized materials ready for all levels, in the format of presentation PPT, classroom worksheets, learning content and classroom quizzes uploaded to Phone App.

All material is created by our full-time academic team.

What is Mandarin? Is it Chinese?2015-03-17T19:24:08+00:00

Mandarin is the standard and official form of language for China, spoken by over 730 million people, the Chinese people would call it “Puton Hua”, while Chinese ie”Zhong Wen” is referring to China and the language spoken by Chinese people. Though China has rather a good number of languages spoken by its people, Chinese is referring to Mandarin, the standard and official language.

All that being said, we could say Mandarin = Chinese in this case. That’s the language you are learning from us.

Why should I learn Chinese?2017-05-22T19:53:45+00:00

We would give you the Top 5 Reasons to learn Chinese, which we did by posting this blog post.

Ultimately, we think it should just come down to how you would want to spend your time. In everyday life, an evening or a few hours in the weekend, could be spent on the couch, watch a movie, in a café or a bar, by yourself or with friends, it can also be spent in sharpen yourself with a language you might not be able to understand a word now. As our founder’s favourite quote goes – “It’s OK to be smart”. 

Learn Mandarin and connect with a wider world, you should try it. You can also learn about stories from our students who have started the journey of learning Mandarin Chinese here.

Last but not least, you got to be convinced why you choose Practical Mandarin as your school, read About Us.

Can I just learn Chinese phonetically?2017-05-22T19:53:45+00:00

Yes and No.

YES as we know some students have progress really well with just Pinyin focused study, as well as students who have lived in China for a period of time or who have good exposure to Chinese language through family. Basically they learn how to speak it first, without being literate. If that’s your end goal, we encourage you to learn and get fluent.

However, NO is because learning Pinyin is just Step One of learning Chinese, there are only 409 sounds from Pinyin. Of course you can not speak the language with just these 409 sounds. You need real vocabularies, which are words made up by characters, there are so many logics in the word formation that helps you to memorize and expand your vocabulary effectively. That’s also where you will find fun and true sense of achievement when you read out a Chinese character words in the street!  

Why should I learn Chinese characters?2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

As we explain above, learning Chinese characters basically makes you literate and it’s the most important enabler for you to progress into intermediate or advanced level of Chinese proficiency. So the answer is rather simple.

For the amount of characters you need to learn to use the language, GOOD NEWS! According to research, 500 most common Chinese characters will enable you to read 75% of everyday Chinese, 1000 characters then you are upgraded to 97%.

How to understand Chinese characters?2015-03-17T18:39:56+00:00

Chinese characters are very logic, believe us, even though they might just look like pictures to you now. Well, there is a reason why some characters do look like a picture, these are the words we call Pictograms. There are many others of course, but we will teach you to decode them with a simple and fascinating system.

How many years do I need to be fluent in Mandarin?2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

For part time study, we suggest you progress by adding 300 new vocabularies each year, that’s only less than one a day! That will enable you to progress by improving one level up HSK tests each year. Of course if you have more time to invest, you can accelerate the progress much much quicker. In general, you will need like 3 years of part time study to achieve fluency.

What is HSK Test?2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) is an official examination designed to assess the Chinese language proficiency of non-native speakers from Level 1 to Level 6.

The certificates are the official mean of language proficiency proof for education and professional use.

We’ve created a section here with details of HSK requirements and the correspondent courses we offer in Practical Mandarin.

Why do I need HSK certificate?2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

You don’t need it if you don’t want it of course. As explained, not only HSK certificate is a great add-on to your job CV, it’s also a personal achievement to be witnessed by “having something on the wall”, as the students say. What’s more, most students love setting mile stones, HSK level tests are a great way for you to keep track of your study and your progress.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 1?2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level One requires a command of 150 words, and it’s designed for learners who can understand and use some simple Chinese characters and sentences to communicate, and prepares them for continuing their Chinese studies. In HSK 1 all characters are provided along with Pinyin.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 6 months before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 2?2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level Two requires a command of 300 words, and it’s designed for learners who can use Chinese in a simple and direct manner, applying it in a basic fashion to their daily lives. In HSK 2 all characters are provided along with Pinyin as well.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 1 year before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 3?2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level Three requires a command of 600 words, and it’s designed for learners who can use Chinese to serve the demands of their personal lives, studies and work, and are capable of completing most of the communicative tasks they experience during their Chinese tour.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 2 year before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 4?2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level Four requires a command of 1200 words, and it’s designed for learners who can discuss a relatively wide range of topics in Chinese and are capable of communicating with Chinese speakers at a high standard.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 3 year before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 5?2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level Five requires a command of 2500 words, and it’s designed for learners who can read Chinese newspapers and magazines, watch Chinese films and are capable of writing and delivering a lengthy speech in Chinese.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 4 year before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

How long does it take to study and pass HSK 6?2017-05-22T19:53:46+00:00

HSK Level Six requires a command of 5000 words, and it’s designed for learners who can easily understand any information communicated in Chinese and are capable of smoothly expressing themselves in written or oral form.

Depending on your learning frequency and personal progress, we recommend a part time study of 5 year before taking the exam from complete beginner level.

Will you courses focus on helping students passing the HSK exams?2015-03-17T19:19:21+00:00

For our Entry Beginner and Advanced Beginner course, we design it to help you pass HSK 1 test, we almost can guarantee your result if you attend our classes regularly and organize your home study as instructed by your teacher.

For our Elementary course, you will need to complete 2 terms with additional HSK mock up test training and vocabulary revision, which depending on the group’s interest, we can implement into the course structure, or just add additional 3-5 weeks of training after the two terms.

Same rule goes for our Lower Intermediate and Intermediate level, which is relevant to HSK 3 and HSK 4 respectively.

Can I have extra help to prepare for HSK tests?2015-03-17T19:25:03+00:00

Of course we can. Not only we can send you instructions and learning material, mock up tests for your study, you can book private lessons with our teachers. If you are a current student, you will have 20% off discount on the hourly fee. Especially if you are taking the HSK Speaking test, we do recommend you have a good few weeks of private training. We really want you to success!