CET Beijing: Intensive Language
92% Rating
(24 Reviews)

CET Beijing: Intensive Language

Want an intensive academic environment where Chinese is the the top priority? CET Beijing students sign a full-time language pledge and live with a Chinese roommate. All classes are centered around language learning, and the goal is to use your Chinese out in the city, where it counts. Practice ordering at a restaurant, share stories at a local high school, go behind the scenes at an environmental protection NGO. Your one-on-one class is designed to target your particular strengths and weaknesses. Your teachers are some of the best in the field. A highlight of the program is an overnight trip to a new city--Xi'an to see the terracotta warriors, or Hangzhou to hike around beautiful West Lake. You'll live in a dorm with new furnishings, private bathrooms, and wi-fi access. This program is for students of all levels, from beginners to heritage learners. The January Term is open to students with at least 3 semesters of Chinese language instruction.

Subject Areas
Asian Studies
Liberal Arts
Degree Level
Academic Year
Online Application
Official Transcripts
Letters of Recommendation
GPA Requirement
Starting Price
Price Details
CET makes it a point to include as much as possible. The CET program fee covers tuition, housing with a Chinese roommate, activities and excursions (including an overnight excursion), weekday lunches, medical insurance, visa fees and course materials/textbooks.

The program fee does not include transportation to/from Beijing and meals (other than those mentioned above).

Still wondering how to budget for your time abroad? CET offers scholarships, and CET staff is happy to provide advice on keeping discretionary purchases to a minimum (i.e., they can tell you where to get cheap eats).

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 24 reviews
  • Academics 8.9
  • Support 8.8
  • Fun 7.8
  • Housing 8.5
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 16 - 24 of 24
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A wonderful adventure

I loved my time here in Beijing. I went from barely having the means and confidence to communicate in Chinese, to speaking it causally. The language pledge was one of the most difficult things, but I wouldn't of had it any other way. I love everything this program had to offer, made great friends and improved my Mandarin tremendously!

How can this program be improved?

The language pledge was great, but I think that listening to music and watching movies in your native tongue should be allowed. After being in class all day, speaking Mandarin with classmates and room mates, your brain gets a little overloaded. A song, or an episode of your favorite TV show helps get you back on track.

Yes, I recommend
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My Time at CET Beijing

There is truly no substitute for studying abroad, but there will always be someone who tries to convince you not to go, because of some horror story. I guess the best thing, and the most true thing I can say about CET is that I felt safe, sane and intellectually stimulated the whole time. I've never studied abroad with another program before CET, and so for that reason I can't draw any comparisons, but I feel very confident in saying that as far as study abroad programs who get things right are concerned, CET is certainly among them.

How can this program be improved?

Well the main thing I would change is already being changed. Wen Xing Street is...ghetto. So it's good that CET is leaving it. Other than that, though I did not experience much trouble myself, I would just encourage CET's administrators to continue investigating how to make pre-program contact with participants easier for the student. You can never have too much transparency.

Yes, I recommend
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Daily Life in Beijing

Living in Beijing, for the most part, was the best experience of my life so far. The food was out of this world, the people were generally hospitable, and the memories you make with your friends and roommates are priceless. School work is tiresome at times and can really wear you down, and the pollution can get to your brain, but it wasn't worth sweating over. There was always someone you can hang out with to cheer you up if it got to be to much. Even your professors care about your well being and will ask how you're really doing when you're feeling down. Also, thanks to the little bit of time we had off during the semester, there was enough time to travel and see more of China. During my stay, I went to about five different cities all along the southern coast - some of them twice. There's just so much to see and do that I honestly feel I could never get bored. Also, day to day life was done in the middle of a district made up of only Chinese people. This was a nice way to really focus on bettering my local Chinese and getting to know the people around me and how they live. Honestly, I feel like BIE was just far enough away from strong foreign influence that I got to experience a part of Chinese culture that most others don't when they visit. And that was what I feel made my whole time in Beijing with CET priceless.

How can this program be improved?

The final exams. I think that the OPI's should be the finals. I feel like they really test our ability of what we can actually produce from what we've learned during the semester.

Response from CET Academic Programs

Thanks for taking the time to write a review on your CET program! It's always wonderful to hear about your experiences abroad and is invaluable to us as we help new students most of their study abroad experience. Please stay in touch! Join our LinkedIn group; follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; and feel free to contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of your experience further. -Shelley Jessee, CET staff

Yes, I recommend
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Complete immersion and rapid improvement...if you make it happen.

CET Beijing's trademark characteristic is its language pledge. This presents a lot of challenges and anxiety to incoming students, which is very understandable. Being cut off from your home culture in a brand new country can be intimidating and terrifying. My classmates often reacted to this by speaking English to each other, which of course is detrimental to the program's success.

The success of the program depends mostly on the commitment that the students themselves make to upholding the language pledge and enforcing it among themselves.The first few weeks of the spring semester in 2014 were critical for establishing precedent for speaking only Chinese. A few students, for example, set up an "English Jar," into which students had to throw one "kuai" (Chinese unit of money) each time they spoke English.

Bottom line, this program works. All Chinese, all the time, will not fail if you stick with it. Problems start to arise when participants break the language pledge constantly.

How can this program be improved?

Again, the language pledge is not a perfect policy. Essential to this program are self-enforcement and full commitment to the pledge. It can be very hard to communicate cultural references in a new, unfamiliar language, even to fellow Americans.

Therefore, the program should establish the rules early on, but avoid preaching at students about the rules. A more effective strategy is to encourage students to positively reinforce the language pledge to their friends.

Response from CET Academic Programs

Thanks for taking the time to write a review on your CET program! It's always wonderful to hear about your experiences abroad and is invaluable to us as we help new students most of their study abroad experience. Please stay in touch! Join our LinkedIn group; follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; and feel free to contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of your experience further. -Shelley Jessee, CET staff

Yes, I recommend
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Preserverance Has It's Rewards

The third week of the program I found myself crying in the resident director's office. I had arrived at the program 2 weeks late, and had to catch up. I came into the program with a bare minimum language ability but with knowledge of Mandarin.

Over the course of 3 and a half months I raised up to an intermediate level. I now work and live in Beijing, China and I would never have been able to do that without fighting through the pain, tears, and suffering of learning a language as hard (for an English only speaking person) as Mandarin Chinese.

I was blessed with people who cared about me, wanted to see me do well, and kept subtly pushing me along the way towards completing the program. The day I graduated from CET has been one of the biggest and brightest moments of my life and I would encourage anyone wanting to learn Mandarin to do the same thing as I did and attend the CET Intensive Language Mandarin program.

How can this program be improved?

With everything said, I wish there were better method for handling students in the classroom that had differing learning speed. I understand that it is very hard to differentiate in any classroom, but for those who have a hard time and want more remedial help, perhaps there can be better mechanisms put into play.

Yes, I recommend
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Wonderful experience

CET was exactly what I had hoped for for my study abroad experience. By the end of the program my Chinese skills had exceeded even my most optimistic expectations. My confidence in using the language was also greatly increased. I am sill in touch with my Chinese roommate and we often share pictures now that we are far away.

How can this program be improved?

I sometimes felt like there was a significant disconnect between the American and Beijing offices of CET. I had emailed the Beijing office a month or two ago after returning home and have received no reply.

Response from CET Academic Programs

Thanks for taking the time to offer us feedback on GoOverseas, Shelby. We value student feedback and strive to improve our programs and procedures based on the feedback you and other students give to us each semester. We're sorry that you felt there was a disconnect between our offices in the US and in Beijing. Our staff aim to respond to all emails and calls in a prompt manner. It seems your outreach must have been missed by an error of some type. Please be in touch with CET (800.225.4262 or [email protected]) and ask for the Asia Programs Coordinator. We look forward to hearing from you.

Yes, I recommend
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CET Intensive Chinese in Beijing

When someone asks me what it was like to study abroad with CET in Beijing, I always say, “It was awesome.” So why is this? CET’s Intensive Chinese Language program not only provides you with great support from teachers who are more than willing to help you, but also with a warm and friendly environment by competitively selecting Chinese roommates from across Beijing and by choosing a wide variety of American college and sometimes, gap year students.

The immersion experience in Beijing really adds to what this vibrant city has to offer, because you are placed in such small institution such as the Beijing Institute of Education (BIE) and because you are in a neighborhood where, by nature you along with your classmates are the main group of foreigners, compared to other neighborhoods like Wudaokou 五道口 or Sanlitun 三里屯, you become very close to the others American and Chinese students in the program. Excursions, which are included in tuition, that take place every Friday around Beijing’s various sights, such as the Summer Palace, the more modern 798 Art District, and an acrobatic show, allows you to see Beijing more through the eyes of a local than a tourist.

The most critical characteristic about this program is the language pledge. Although the language pledge is strict in class and out, it also challenges you in a positive way. The Chinese roommates are also under a language pledge. I remember within a month, seeing the changes and improvements in everyone’s language level. After the first few weeks kick in, it’s much more enjoyable to speak with everyone. As a 200 level (2nd year at the college level) student in Beijing, I had about 3-4 hours of class per day. Scattered throughout the week were one-on-ones with teachers and one-on-twos with other students, which effectively target your oral Chinese skills. Other students who placed into 300, 400, or 500 level Chinese classes had additional classes about other aspects of Chinese culture in Chinese.

There are also volunteer experiences outside of the CET bubble as well. I volunteered in Wudaokou at BEAM, Bridging Education and Mobility, for their Big Brother, Big Sister project last spring every Saturday (2013). BEAM is organization aimed to “provide the proper incentives and support for teachers in migrant, rural, and disability classrooms to turn their own ideas into unique opportunities for their students to grow". I was able to both make connections with some of Beijing’s migrant children, but also with other expats working in Beijing and other international students studying at different universities in Beijing.

The most positive takeaways for me about this program were the immersion possibilities outside of the classroom. CET really encourages you to explore the city and reimburses cultural visits to museums, movies, and historical sites under 70-100 RMB (*price varies). I had the most fun exploring other parts of China over a weeklong spring break, seeing David Guetta at the Great Wall Music Festival, and meeting other expats by volunteering at BEAM every weekend. The connections that CET provides is invaluable and both the staff and teachers are very open and approachable. However, it is good to keep in mind that this program has high expectations on academics and because of the language pledge, you may feel more homesick than if you were on a non-language pledge program. The pollution in Beijing is not the most ideal, but many CET students, including myself were able to go to a local gym for exercise. Also good to know that in this program, only lunch is served at the cafeteria so students have to buy their own breakfasts and dinners. However the neighborhood has a lot of family run businesses and restaurants that have good food for very little. I had a very positive experience with CET and if what I have written above sounds appealing to you, then it may be the right fit for you too.

How can this program be improved?

Breakfasts provided within the program.

Yes, I recommend
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Great Program

I initially selected to go to China through CET because a former student at my college had studied abroad with their program, and upon her return, her language skills were significantly improved. Additionally, both I and my parents felt it safer to go through a program rather than directly applying to a college in China, especially because at the time my language skills were at a low-intermediate level and I was concerned about whether I would be able to get by on my own in Beijing.

In terms academic rigor, the program definitely didn't disappoint. The classes were very small (about 8 people in each main class and 4 in drill groups), and the teachers were incredibly experienced. Both the main grammar classes and the drill classes were extremely helpful and structured well. The one-on-one lessons that were offered were particularly great –– not only was I able to increase my fluency significantly and get help with individual issues, but also develop a rapport with my teachers.

The campus was very safe, but also very small especially in comparison with the other CET campus in Beijing. There were about 40 CET students and equally as many Chinese roommates. At times this could feel almost constraining, but in general there really was a great sense of community. I came out of this experience knowing all of the people in my program very well. Everyone was incredibly nice and there were plenty of activities for students to branch out beyond campus, and the staff was incredibly helpful in this regard.

The best part of the program for me though, was getting to live with a Chinese roommate. She was such an amazing person, and we became really great friends during my stay in China. We still keep in touch.

How can this program be improved?

It would have been great if more electives were offered, but I understand why that was difficult to do for lower leveled students.

Yes, I recommend
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Life Changing Program

I studied abroad through a Fellowship program that channeled me through CET. I didn't know much about study abroad at the time, and blindly went in, and only now realize how well-suited the program was for me.

The program was the perfect size - big enough where we had lots of different students and roommates so that it felt like a community, but small enough where we could get individualized attention in class. The classes felt like they were planned down to the minute - our main teacher was incredibly experienced, and effective at drilling us and making sure we understood the nuances of the lesson of the day.

The program highlights were a camping trip on a section of wild, unrestored Great Wall, and my Chinese roommate. We hung out, talked late at night in the dorms, and he even took me to the hospital. He's such a fun and quirky guy, and we remain really good friends.

How can this program be improved?

It's a language pledge program, so it's hard to do this, but I would've loved to learn more about Chinese history and culture through English readings or lectures - it's difficult to go all that deeply into a subject in Chinese when you're an intermediate-high level student

Yes, I recommend

About CET Academic Programs

CET Academic Programs is a study abroad organization that has been developing and delivering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. Originally “China Educational Tours,” CET began operations in Beijing, and today offers a varied portfolio...