Konall Culture Exchange: Year Round
This course contains two hours per day of private one-to-one Chinese study and one hour per day of Chinese cultural activities, which is well suited for those who want a
Jan 2015 in Shijiazhuang
Submitted by Matthew Phan - Singapore | February 01, 2015
Hi, I'm writing this review because it wasn't so easy to find up to date reviews of KCE, and I want to let anyone considering coming here to absolutely do it. I visited from Singapore and had a few requirements (i) I work and needed a flexible program instead of a three month summer type thing, (ii) I was somewhere around HSK level 5 and needed to know how to bridge the gap to 6, (iii) I had little interest in touristy stuff in BJ, my interest was purely in the language. The school more than matched expectations. Teachers were excellent - I had Helly and Dan Dan for 2-3 hours a day each; one was for conversation and grammar and the other was purely for HSK 5 vocab. I sort of loosely knew most of the words, but it was very helpful to run through the words and be made to know how to pronounce, write, and use each word. Most painfully I had to memorize passages but I finally understand why it is necessary for foreign students to do this - it reinforces language patterns. If I had any questions about the language (I have issues with basic sentence structure as my first language is English) or about China or anything at all I could simply raise them. The 1-1 is really great in this respect. Food was fine; relatively little meat is served in general in China so be prepared for that. The cityscape is somewhat drab and the pollution is a big issue - I'd advise obtaining masks before arriving because they are not that widely available - but the people are great. A fellow student hooked us up with a bike group and we went cycling a few times in the nearby hills. Fellow students were fantastic too - a good diversity of folks, feels cosy cos there are usually less than ten of you, and tend to self-select for interesting conversation. Made a few friends I very much hope to stay in touch with. Finally, I stayed in an apartment with a helper to cook and clean; it was fine but think the helper is not necessary as food outside is very cheap even if you eat in restaurants. In conclusion, this program is totally legit and I would come back in a shot!
Well worth it
Submitted by Steve | March 18, 2013
I spent five weeks there last summer and was really impressed. I had been self taught and really needed a push to get out of my comfort zone. My teacher certainly did that! After a 20 minute Skype evaluation before my arrival they had my level nailed. That's the beauty of one on one teaching, your instructor adjusts to your ability level - and you can't hide in the back of the class either! The only thing I would do differently is stay with a host family rather than have my own apartment to intensify the immersion experience. Speaking of which, the entire time I in Shijiazhuang the only foreigners I saw were my fellow students, so this school is a terrific way to really focus on learning Mandarin. Highly recommended, and if my wife will let me I plan to go again next year.
Health and Safety:
I felt safer walking the streets there than in any American city.
If you want to learn Chinese, go here.
Submitted by Noah - Ferris State University | March 18, 2013
Overall, the school is a great place with people to help you every step of the way. Students all hang out together, and on the weekends either visit a tourist destination or hang with each other. I highly recommend a family to stay with to build the immersion, forcing yourself into the language through conversation is the only true way to learn.
Great education and an even better experience
Submitted by Justin Bougher - Indiana University - Bloomington | March 18, 2013
I stayed in Shi Jia Zhuang for a short five weeks but my experience there greatly improved my mandarin. Though my course work expanded my vocabulary and highlighted areas for improvement, it was daily life that solidified my knowledge. The immersion experience is much more intense and fulfilling than in expat centers such as Suzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing.
I encourage anyone considering KCE to try a home stay. Living with a local family, not only did I expand upon my knowledge of Chinese culture, but I also developed great friendships.
I've lived in Chongqing for six months but I learned more in Shi Jia Zhuang after five weeks. I strongly suggest anyone seriously considering learning Mandarin to attend Konall Cultural Exchange.
Submitted by Erik | March 18, 2013
The perfect school for Mandarin study whether you're continuing it or starting from scratch. Teachers are some of the warmest people I've ever met and lessons are super effective, mostly due to the extreme immersion. I've been here for half a year already and my Chinese is much better than I ever thought it would be. Thanks!