Learn Mandarin Chinese in Shanghai -- where you can immerse yourself in Chinese culture and practice your Mandarin but at the same time involve yourself within the center of business, trade, finance, and commerce in all of Asia.

Every city in every country has some sort of local accent, and China is no exception. What’s different in Shanghai, however, is that the “local accent” is not just an accent, but rather a completely mutually unintelligible dialect from the official language, Mandarin Chinese.

Folks call this dialect Shanghainese. It is part of the Wu family (one of eight mutually unintelligible families), and functions in Shanghai society alongside Mandarin Chinese and English. Shanghainese establishes a personal relationship between locals, and thus many local merchants speak Shanghainese on the streets, and businesses are sometimes done in any of the three languages, depending on the linguistic ability and relationship between client and provider. Most of the time, two business dealers will start speaking in Mandarin Chinese, and upon discovering both are Shanghainese, they will continue the conversation in Shanghainese.

Shanghai is a fantastic location to learn and practice your Mandarin Chinese. Don’t let the speaking of Shanghainese be a setback to going to Shanghai! If anything, it is a cultural experience, and a great way to further understand Chinese culture. There is so much to offer here: whether you’re looking for a chance to practice your Mandarin, learn about Chinese culture, or understand business practices in China (in Chinese!), you will find plenty of opportunities, here, in the Pearl of the Orient.

It's important to choose a program that works best with your schedule, what type of learning style you have, and what you want out of the experience; luckily, there are all sorts of options that can work best with what you’re looking for! Here are some programs that are popular in Shanghai:

University courses

Shanghai has one of the best systems of education in China! Taking classes at a university is a popular choice for university students because credits can easily be transferred back to their respective home universities. Popular universities for learning Chinese include Fudan University, Jiaotong University, Tongji University, and East China Normal University. Taking classes will not only allow you to learn the language, but it can also teach you different approaches to a subject you might have learned about at your home university! For those who are not students, this option tends to be harder to access, but it’s not impossible.

Private tutoring/group courses

Both of these are great options for those who are not able to attend universities. These can also take advantage of the small amount of people and encourage communication between students, which tends to be the best environment for language learning. Beware however; private tutoring tends to be double the price of group courses.

Language study & internship combination programs

In addition to language learning, many programs also offer internship opportunities for participants. Add to your schedule and enhance your experience in Shanghai by partaking in an internship! You’ll learn so much more, not only through practicing your Mandarin Chinese, but applying it to everyday life and immersing yourself in Chinese work culture.

Shanghai is a great place to learn both about Chinese culture, practice your Chinese, and immerse yourself in the urban environment. Although the majority of people are able to speak some English, most will not be able to hold a detailed conversation with you. In fact, the Chinese will respect you more if you speak Mandarin to them, and thus this is a great way to practice it! Some people will start to speak with you in English, however you must actively respond to them in Mandarin, and this way you will be able to gain others’ respect and improve your skills.

The weather in Shanghai weather is similar to weather you’d find in the Midwest of the United States, but on a more extreme level. In June, the monsoons come in, and within the middle two weeks, you will experience humid rain and thunderstorms. After that, the hottest time of the year will have hit: and temperatures can get up to a humid and flustering 40 degrees Celsius! This can last until August. In the winter, there is snow and is quite cold. Whether you go in the winter or in the summer, it’s best to be prepared!

Shanghai is divided into Puxi and Pudong districts.

Puxi is located west of the Huangpu River (the name is literally composed of “Huangpu” and “west”), and is older than Pudong (which is linguistically composed of “Huangpu” and “east). Because it is older, Puxi retains more of Shanghai’s historical, cultural, and commercial roots, and is also Shanghai’s residential center. Puxi contains many famous shopping streets, such as Nanjing Road and Huahai Road; as well as main attractions such as the Bund and Tianzifang, an attraction that combines traditional architecture with various marketplaces and delicious food.

Pudong, in contrast, is newer than Puxi and located on the east bank, and is more the business and economic center of Shanghai. It is home to the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, Shanghai Stock Exchange, and the Shanghai World Financial Tower. The iconic Oriental Pearl tower, located across the Huangpu River and across the Bund, is also located in Shanghai. Both districts have their urban sites, as well as more countryside areas. You will have more luck practicing your Mandarin in these countryside areas (rather than traversing the more touristy areas), however this is not to say that people in the metropolis won’t speak to you!

Although Shanghai is such an urban city, it’s pretty affordable to live! There are many convenient and cheap ways to travel between locations, such as taking the bus (around 2-4RMB, or around 40 cents), or taking the subway (around 4-6RMB, or around $1). Americans will also find taxi fares to be cheaper in Shanghai than back at home, with prices starting at 14RMB, or around $3.

Food is also relatively cheap, the cheapest being in smaller restaurants near the streets. Make use of the public transportation: it is one of the best in the world. If looking for a more fancy meal, restaurants will be located in rather large structures, and while they are more expensive, this doesn’t mean they will be any more authentic!

When it comes to price, the only thing to worry about is the living! While cost of living is relatively cheap, apartments are becoming more and more expensive due to Shanghai’s extremely fast industrial developments. Expect apartments to be around 6000-15000RMB a month ($1000-$2500) within the city. This number also depends on the living location.


There are quite a few scholarships that can also help fund some of the costs specifically for students heading to China. If you're not a student any longer... welp, we'll let you know when adult scholarships become a thing:

The China Scholarship Council is one of the largest scholarship programs in China, as it is funded by the government. There provide many scholarships, is constantly updated, and there are plenty of options for getting to Shanghai.

Chinese Language Programs in Shanghai

Displaying 1 - 15 of 34 programs
EF International Language Campuses
Learn Mandarin in Shanghai with EF
9.25 •12 reviews

Travel to the world's most populated nation to immerse yourself in the...

EF International Language Campuses
EF Language Year Abroad in Shanghai, China
9 •12 reviews

Travel to China for a semester or year and learn Mandarin in a city...

149 reviews
Silk Mandarin - Language Training Institute
Intensive Chinese Programs in Shanghai with Silk Mandarin
9.6 •149 reviews

The Intensive 30 Course is with 30 classes per week our most immersive...

LoPair Education
Learn Mandarin and Au Pair in China
8.25 •20 reviews

General Description: - Live with a Chinese host family - Tutor English...

RISH Chinese Learning Center
Chinese Full-immersion Summer Camp in China for 8-18 Years old
9.76 •50 reviews

Top-ranked Chinese summer camp organizer in China; 10+ years of...

150 reviews
That's Mandarin Chinese Language School
Intensive and Part-time Chinese Language Programs
9.57 •150 reviews

1-on-1 course pricing from rmb 168 to rmb 260 only per class

That's Mandarin Chinese Language School
Chinese Summer Camp in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen
9.43 •70 reviews

Between the months of June and August your Kids and Teens ( 7- 17 )...

Hutong School
Hutong School: Study Chinese in China
9 •58 reviews

Study Chinese in China with Hutong School and discover a fascinating...

That's Mandarin Chinese Language School
Small Group Chinese Language Courses in China
9.55 •29 reviews

Part-time and Intensive Small Group Chinese Language Courses in China...

That's Mandarin Chinese Language School
HSK 1-6 Preparation Courses In China with That's Mandarin
9.67 •3 reviews

Get the desired HSK test result to obtain the Chinese work visa or to...

That's Mandarin Chinese Language School
Teen Immersion Chinese Language Programs in China
9.25 •4 reviews

Designed for teen or high school students to quickly master Chinese...

Hutong School
Intensive Chinese Language Program with Hutong
9.6 •5 reviews

Immerse yourself in Chinese language and culture and quickly improve...

Hutong School
Language Summer Camp in Shanghai
10 •3 reviews

If you're aged between 14 and 17 and are looking for an unforgettable...

SN Mandarin
Learn Chinese in Shanghai | Selected Chinese Language Courses with SN Mandarin
8.46 •13 reviews

Planning to go to China to learn Chinese and experience the culture...

Silk Mandarin - Language Training Institute
Chinese Summer Camp with Silk Mandarin

This program is ideal for parents who want to give their child a head...

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