Before I came to Beijing last September I did not know a single word of Mandarin. And while my original intention at the Hutong School was learning the language, I happened to meet most of my friends just there. Starting in a group of six we faced the seemingly impossible task to distinguish between the different tones or the difference between ch & zh.
Initially, I was concerned that perhaps twenty hours per week might be too stressful or time consuming, however in the end it turned out to be undoubtfully the right decision. Of course it does take dedication and motivation but it is worth it. I still recall the feeling of reward and accomplishment upon improving or extending your vocabulary. And this almost daily as the teachers really push you to your limit.
I was lucky enough to have a great group to study with. It was a perfect balance of competition and fun. Long after I left Beijing I’m still in touch with four out of five of them.
A huge plus of the Hutong School are the freetime activites they offer almost every other day. Ranging from archery, traditional cooking and sihtseeing/city tours over to Kung Fu workshops or movie nights. The offer includes basically everything you need to know about Chinese culture and is often even for free.
During the five month that I spent in Beijing, the ‚Hutong School‘ turned into a ‚Hutong family‘ for me. Big shoutout to my teachers and the staff at the front desk for having that much patience with me and my spontaneous ideas! From my first to my last day I could rely on them supporting me and properly preparing me for the international Chinese exam.
The other day I had the opportunity to accompany a European friend who studied Chinese in Beijing University. To be honest, I highly preferred the interactive lessons at Hutong School over this lesson where 12 students repeated the same story over and over again. While this is certainly not represantative for their language course, I am sure that the small classes in Hutong School provide more efficient studying.
All together the School was well structured/organized and while it is perhaps not the cheapest Mandarin School in Beijing, I would be surprised if there was an alternative that could compete with Hutong School in terms of teachers and programs.
If I’ll ever decide to continue studying Chinese in Beijing, I know where I’ll be going.