Hutong School

Hutong School


Join Hutong School to study, intern or volunteer in China. Founded in 2005 in the Hutongs of Beijing, Hutong School has over 10 years of teaching experience. We now have locations in Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Qingdao, Chongqing and Zhengzhou. All our programs are focused on full immersion in the Chinese culture. We offer weekly activities for our students to experience the Chinese culture. Meet the Middle Kingdom firsthand while making friends from all over the world.


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Yes, I recommend this program

It’s really easy to meet other people who you’re able to communicate with and the staff are all extremely supportive and friendly. The welcome parties at the start of the months are the most enjoyable but other tourist activities and group activities are also an amazing opportunity. There’s not many opportunities to meet natives within Hutong aside from staff but by exploring by yourself or with friends allows this opportunity anyway. The flats were in very convenient areas close to public transport, the school and other places like shopping centres and clubs. The school really sets you up well to ensure that you have people you can turn to when you need help, and that you’re pretty much independent. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had ;)

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Seeing the ‘Beijing Bikini’ was a bit of a cultural shock, and was by far the most surprising aspect I saw
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Yes, I recommend this program

As soon as I arrived at the school from the airport, I was immediately getting my bearings and meeting fellow students at the school. The overwhelmed feeling I arrived with quickly subsided as I was given a lot of attention from the staff who provided a lot of help settling me in.

Learning in a class environment, the level was perfectly tailored to me, pushing the upper limits of my capability so that I was always felt challenged and motivated. Whilst the pace of learning course content daunted me at the start, my teachers were always supportive and ensured I never fell behind. In the brief three weeks I was studying at the school, I went from barely clinging on, to fully engaging with the conversation in class. It made it all worthwhile when I could speak confidently in Chinese with Beijing taxi drivers and understand them even through their thick Beijing accents, as well as keep up with conversations to a much greater extent with other native Chinese speakers I met.

I am hugely grateful to my mandarin tutor back in England who suggested the Hutong School when I expressed and interest to study abroad. I couldn’t agree more with her high regards for studying a language in its country. I found it greatly rewarding studying in the fully immersive environment provided by the school. My family were particularly grateful to the school who supported us when we applied for a visa.

I have taken away a massively increased love of learning the language, and whilst I can’t replicate the ideal learning environment I found at the Hutong School, I have a keen interest to maintain a similar momentum of learning I developed there.

It’s a great pleasure to be keeping in contact with the amazing group of friends from across the world that I met at the school. Integrating with them at school and in self-organised events outside of school made it an all round more enriching time. I couldn’t have found a more likeminded crowd to explore Beijing with. I can’t think of many other opportunities in life where it’s possible to find a crowd with so much in common and such a similar internal drive. It’s set me up with an invaluable set of contacts for the future.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Overall I had a blast at Hutong School in Shanghai, and the fact that I only stayed for 2 months was regrettable.

For starters, whatever the teachers do, they do so in the interests of their students. They are professional and they try their best to cater to our needs and preferences. My laoshi kept me interested and engaged in every class, and she gave me more than I requested. She helped me to reconnect with my Chinese heritage that I went home with a newfound appreciation for the culture and the elegance of the language.

What the city has to offer, from a variety of Chinese cuisine to innumerable scenic and historical spots, is also a reason why this programme is highly recommended. Although Shanghai may not be as formal as Beijing, the culture is still very much alive there. One of my personal favourites was the palpable solidarity among the elderly during Guangchang Wu! In addition, the public transportation is superb, so it’s extremely easy to get around in Shanghai as well as to explore out of Shanghai.

Participating in school activities is a must! Some can be overpriced, but there are plenty of them to pick and choose from. If I hadn’t gone to any, I wouldn’t have been able to further experience the true lifestyle and culture of Chinese society, and I wouldn’t have met some of the most interesting people coming from all corners of the world.

Certainly, not everything went smooth and perfect. In my case, the application process took longer than necessary. Should the same thing happen to you, I recommend calling the office directly to get immediate and clearer response to your queries. Another tip is to contact the programme director or your consultant in private in case of any urgent matters since not all staff are readily available to assist 24/7.

For me, the trouble at the beginning was totally worth the fun and learning I experienced in Shanghai.

What would you improve about this program?
1. Better and more thorough explanation of the selected programme (early notice would be greatly appreciated)
Talking from my personal experience, I felt indignant when I was told that my class would have to be cut short from 4 to 3 hours, as the status of my class had changed from group to private with my classmate's departure. I understand that school policy dictates so, however, I was told at the start that I was entitled to a 4-hour class, and I was not made aware of the different permitted class hours for private and group.
If only this detail had been highlighted to me on the first day, I would have been happier to abide by the change.

2. Better information concerning housing
When I came, the bedding was not clean and the AC was broken. It would be great if a room check is done before the new student's arrival, and perhaps they can be notified about things they may have to buy for themselves (e.g. new set of bedding, towels, etc.). If this is too much work, existing occupants of the apartment can help with giving this kind of information to their new roommate.

3. Make textbooks cheaper
I think having to pay 180 kuai for a beginner textbook is unreasonable. I know there are textbooks that are much cheaper, selling at 30 kuai each, and those are textbooks for higher levels, and they seem to have much more content in comparison with those for beginners. It would be nice if the disparity can be minimised.

In conclusion, I think applicants have the right to be fully informed with regards to what they should be expecting when they come to Shanghai. If this is done well, students will surely have a better experience of studying at Hutong.
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Yes, I recommend this program

It all started in early 2012. A friend of mine told me about Hutong School, and how he had a great experience with it, in Beijing. I decided to try it myself, and got in touch with the school through their website. The staff immediately proved to be a great help, and in a short time I had booked an intensive study program. I arrived in Shanghai in July 2012: a boy who worked for the school was there waiting for me, and accompanied me straight to my apartment (included in the registration fee): spacious and clean. In the following days lessons began, 4 hours a day from Monday to Friday. I was entrusted to my teacher after a brief test, concerning my knowledge of Mandarin. In addition to the lessons, the school organized various activities and involved staff members and students: martial arts lessons, Chinese cuisine, group dinners, trips etc. It is definitely worth it, and it has left me beautiful memories. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn Chinese, in China, having fun while learning!

What was your funniest moment?
When I attended to the Chinese Noodles making course: I really struggled with it. At least, in the end they were edible!
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Yes, I recommend this program

I have had an enduring interest in learning languages and had taken a Chinese (Mandarin) language course in college; however, I learned more in 3 months living in Shanghai than I did over an academic school year at a university. I was given an initial, informal screening to determine my strengths and weaknesses. That helped both the teaching staff and me come up with the best course for my interests. There was no hassle or pressure for me to reach a goal for the school, but focused mainly on my goal and potential. The coursework and content were thoughtful and tailored to help me become more fluent in the language. The teachers emphasized correct speech and pronunciation, which is invaluable to any language learning, and also helped develop all aspects of the Chinese language including reading, writing, and correct grammar usage to help me express more meaningful thoughts and phrases. The academic work was just as rewarding as the friendships I made during my time here as I still keep in touch with my former classmates and teachers. I highly recommend this school and program for anyone interested in an authentic Chinese language program at any age or ability level.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Michael Danahy

Michael is a graduate student with international experience both working and traveling. He is constantly broadening his horizons and looking for opportunities to pursue his interests.
Michael Danahy

Why did you choose this program?

I was looking to improve upon my Chinese (Mandarin) language ability and I came across the Hutong School website. I reached out to see if I would be a good fit for them and if they would be a good for me. I reasoned that, if I would go to China, my Chinese would infinitely improve and I would be able to experience the competitiveness and emerging Chinese market, the country's culture and its history; all of which was highlighted in the Hutong School's Intensive Language program.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

What didn't they help me with? My consultant was well versed in what was required in regards to documents, travel visa applications, and the proper procedure that was needed to make my trip possible. I only had to get my personal affairs in order (money, flights, communication, etc.) and maintain accountability to meet deadlines.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

My advice would to be open-minded and don't let fear or comfort prevent you from taking opportunities such as this. International traveling requires that you be open to new challenges and be able to meet them with understanding and compassion. Physically going to a different country and experiencing a culture distinctly different from your own provides you with a new perspective and improves your adaptability to things unfamiliar, which allows you to grow in ways you would never have thought of before.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The Hutong School staff will offer an initial assessment of your learning goals, strengths and weaknesses in the Chinese language - this will tell them what information they need to determine what is the best program for you. You may opt for a 1-on-1 personalized instructor if you prefer or you would be placed in a small classroom with students that are comparable to your current level. Your classes will include all language basics (speech, writing, reading).

Before or after classes, depending on your availability, you have free rein to explore the city and visit any number of attractions or simply hangout with friends or study. Depending on your instructor, you can expect exams and casual conversations to determine your progression.

Every week the school will have cultural activities that range from cooking and eating exotic Chinese cuisines, traveling to famous markets or landmarks, or welcome parties for the new students.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was initially hesitant to make such a dramatic move as this would be the farthest I have ever traveled, going to a place vastly different from where I am from and for the longest time away from everything that was familiar to me, and I was doing all of this by myself. After the weeks of correspondence, I had enough confidence in myself and trusted the school implicitly that this was going to be an opportunity I would not want to pass up.

Being active with the school and making the qualitative friendships I did while I was there helped deal with homesickness or feelings of insecurity.

Do you have any last words for any future Hutong School participants?

The effort you put into this experience is what you will get out of it. There is an obvious impact China has on today's markets and will continue to have in the future, be it business or technology or other sectors, and having the experience of living in China and learning Chinese is a great advantage to anyone even remotely interested. By investing in this experience, you are investing in yourself and your future, so it would be in your best interest to work hard and take advantage of this opportunity as best as you can.

Hutong School provided me with the highest quality education and gave me a chance to be with people from around the world who shared the same interests and passions I had. The classmates and staff members I was with on a daily basis were the most impressive, talented, and kindest people I have ever met and I still regularly keep in touch with. The school works incredibly hard to help your experience work as best as possible so you owe it to yourself to make that same commitment.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Joseph Williams

Job Title
Program Consultant

What is your favorite travel memory?

Although it's a little typical, nothing can beat seeing The Great Wall for the first time!

On a summer's day with some other students, we hiked a long to a section where there were no other tourists, just us and this magnificent silence. This rare occasion of silence, accompanied with the breathtaking view of the Wall snaking over the hills was a moment I will never forget.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

During my time at Hutong School I have had the pleasure of meeting many different students from all parts of the world. This has led me to develop a deeper understanding of cultural communication, while teaching me many things about my own culture.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Fortunately we are very flexible here at Hutong School. If I were lucky enough to have the chance, I would first enroll in a 3-month Intensive Chinese Program to develop my Chinese language skills.

Immediately after I would enroll in an Internship Program to test what I have learned and strengthen my professional profile so that I would stand the best chance of finding a job in this ever more competitive job market.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The Hutong School team is one that can cater to the many needs that our students have. With a multilingual team who are ready to face any challenges that face them, we provide the best customer service that we can.

Once you arrive, we have a team on 24 hours a day to solve any problems that may arise.