CLI: Chinese Immersion Program in Guilin, China

Video and Photos

Just one of 1000's of tasty dishes available withing walking distance of CLI. This one was on Culture Street and cost about $1.
Guilin's famous sun and moon pagodas 'in the downtown' as the locals say.
The CLI lobby with all the alumni's names written on the pillars. Mine is there twice now!
learn mandarin in china
learn mandarin in china
Study in China
Study in China

About

Immerse yourself in Chinese language and culture with CLI! Located in the picturesque city of Guilin and officially affiliated with Guangxi Normal University (GXNU), CLI provides the premier intensive Mandarin program in China.

The fastest way to reach Mandarin language proficiency is through CLI's immersion program. CLI Immersion includes 20-weekly hours of one-on-one instruction with three highly qualified, unique CLI instructors. One-on-one instruction provides constant student teacher interaction, immediate feedback, and accelerated language learning that is often lacking with large group classes.

In addition to language courses, CLI offers weekly activities and monthly travel excursions, including cooking classes, game nights, tours of Guilin and much more. CLI warmly welcomes you to learn Mandarin Chinese in China!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 46 reviews
  • Academics 9.8
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.8
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
  • Instruction 9.7
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.1
  • Value 9.3
Showing 1 - 8 of 46
Default avatar
Andrew
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Jan 6 - Jan 17 Short-Term Immersion Program (CLI Dorm)

I first found out about CLI from a quick google search on "Immersion programs in China". CLI showed up high on the list, and some research verified that it was legit. After doing some comparison shopping into other programs, CLI remained the best-value, best-looking program for a short-term program. Another huge perk was its excellent location in Guiling, one of the prettiest cities in China (It's also a short train ride from Guangzhou and Hong Kong).

From beginning till end, it was an unforgettable experience. After an outstanding pre-departure experience, I arrived to the CLI center Saturday afternoon and was warmly greeted by an intern - one of the local Chinese university students hired to support the CLI program. She took me up to the recreational room and I was immediately thrust into one of the almost-constant games of Mahjong. An hour later, I was invited to dinner by another student, an Australian professor-turned-expat, whose colleague was throwing a fancy dinner for him. I couldn't believe my luck, as I had the chance to participate in a traditional Chinese formal-style event, complete with excessive delicious food and generous Maotai Baijiu toasting.

One of the huge perks of CLI is that its students come from literally all walks of life. Summers and semesters tend to have far more college-aged students, but my time at CLI had a large variety of ages, professions, and backgrounds. Some of my best friends here were law students on break, professors of music and engineering, other college students, and international people from everywhere. It's a great chance to not only improve your Chinese knowledge, but also your general knowledge of the world.

The actual city itself, of course, was incredibly beautiful. There are constantly activities scheduled and planned by CLI, and an intense guide-book constantly being updated with suggestions from current and former students. Guilin is a smaller city, by Chinese standards, which means it's cheaper and more authentic than the bigger ones like Beijing or Nanjing. You can get a bao for literally 1 yuan, or some famous Guilin Mifun for 5 yuan. The CLI campus is well-situated next to a busy city street, as well as walking distance to city center and a nearby Wanda mall.

In terms of Chinese education, it's absolutely excellent. You're assigned 3 teachers: Comprehensive, Reading/Writing, and Listening/Speaking. They are personally assigned to you, with flexibility in teacher-choice and schedule, and they coordinate amongst each other to ensure you get the best education possible. Classes run from 0820-1020, 1030-1230, 1400-1600, and 1600-1800. You can use any textbook you want, but they are very strong at teaching the HSK series as well as the Integrated Chinese series.

Overall, I cannot recommend this program enough. Come check out CLI as soon as you can!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
One of the teachers here, Oranje, loves to take students on expeditions to the local Escape Room. I've been to escape rooms in America, and they're nothing like these ones. In Guilin, they have horror-themed Escape Rooms in massive floors spanning multiple rooms. There are live actors that participate in the festivities, terrifying you as you try to solve puzzles to escape. The stories are constantly changing, with 2 to choose from at any given time. So much fun!
Default avatar
Bobby
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Immerse yourself in CLI's Chinese Immersion Program

The great thing about CLI's Chinese Immersion Program is that it is truly authentic. If you choose to listen, speak and communicate only in Chinese, the CLI community will respect your wishes. Not only will you get four hours of classes each day, staff and students who live at the CLI building will also be talking with you in Chinese. If you are an absolute beginner, no problem. Staff respect this and will communicate to you in English when necessary.
I found the support given to be fantastic. This happened from the very beginning when applying for the program, right through to post departure follow-up. When I arrived in Guilin, I discovered my phone was so out-dated that I needed to buy a new one. One of CLI's interns came with me and helped my buy an appropriate phone. Back at CLI, staff helped me with downloading and installing the necessary apps for communication like WeiXin (We Chat).
Since students, interns and some staff live in the same building, there is never any issues of not having support when you need it. This is one of the advantages of CLI, it is not only a school, but a living, breathing community.
Another advantage is that lessons can be molded to suit your own interests. If you like text-book learning, that is fine. There are plenty of options there. If you prefer another method of instruction, you have personal preferences, or would like to study a different way, that can also be arranged. I preferred conversation, and my lessons were based on this.

What was your funniest moment?
My funniest moments were in class. What I said and what was understood had two complete different meanings. The teacher(s) and myself would sometimes double over in laughter from my mistakes.
Things like "chatting with the driver" would be interpreted as "chatting up the driver" or "maintaining a house" would sound like "maintaining a mistress". Let us say, the list goes on and does not get any better!
This just highlights the importance of tones and a tonal language.
Default avatar
Jeff
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best: I Studied at My Own Pace

I needed to review previously studied material for spoken Chinese. I needed to overcome shyness to speak and build fluency. CLI listened and designed my 1-week course to do this successfully. I even used classwork to talk to a local coffee shop worker. A small conversation, but a huge victory. Before I only used Chinese in the classrooms to complete lesson. I had little confidence to speak to Chinese people in real life situations. Now I have the confidence. Thanks CLI. I hope to return. Also, very skilled teachers and very friendly staff. I felt welcomed.

What was your funniest moment?
I thought one student was an intern and got confused by some teachers and interns names, but I eventually straightened everything out. Funny.
Default avatar
malik
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

CLI Immersion Progeam

I arrived at CLI in September and studied there for 3 months. The less English you use the better you will be. You should be ready to prepare for classes the night before as well as reviewing what you have already learned. If you do this you will be able to finish one book a month and progress at a steady pace. You will become friends with your teachers which will help when class is rough and you are mentally exhausted. You also need to find Chinese friends outside of the school so you can practice speaking. A majority of the students at CLI only speak English which will mess with your brain and hinder you ability to speak and think in Chinese.

What would you improve about this program?
A more strict language pledge to vastly improve the resultant proficiency you leave with.
Default avatar
Ronnie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This is the ONLY way to learn!

CLI attracted me because of its flexibility (start whenever you want, for however long you want), but now that the program is over, I truly understand why every aspect of this program is optimal for learning Chinese. It all sounds too good to be true, I know, but trust me -- this is the right program.

First of all, the flexibility and scheduling IS fantastic: I recommend trying to go for at least 8 weeks if you're a beginner! You want to make sure you're giving yourself enough time to actually learn & absorb, as well as participate in the evening & weekend activities.

Second of all, the one-on-one tutoring is absolutely STELLAR. Completely irreplaceable. I'll never try to learn a language in a big traditional classroom setting again. It's hard, because you can't just hide in the back of the class if you forgot some vocabulary or don't understand the grammar -- but that's exactly why it's so effective. Can you imagine any method that would teach you Chinese better than speaking Chinese one-on-one for HOURS every day with your teachers? I sure can't!

One thing I didn't expect was how absolutely patient, kind-hearted, and generally amazing the teachers & staff all are. Every now and then a teacher-student pairing won't be ideal (in which case you can easily talk to the staff and work out a schedule with a different teacher) but a vast majority of the students absolutely adore every one of their teachers -- myself included! My experience would have been nothing without the wonderful teachers & staff at CLI.

Lastly, I just have some advice. When you pursue this program (because of course you should!), make sure to use your time wisely. Speak Chinese outside the classroom as much as possible. Speak with other students, with the interns, with other teachers, with shopkeepers, with locals -- speak all the time! This is the one mistake I see many students making -- defaulting back to English when they're not in the classroom.

Good luck! I promise you won't regret it if you choose to take this adventure. It will change your life to become a member of the CLI family! :)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Study and practice as much as you possibly can, but do remember to be patient with yourself. You are not a machine: you can only learn so much at a time. Just keep speaking Chinese as much as you possibly can and slowly but surely you will become a Chinese speaker! :)
Default avatar
Daniel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience!

I've been to CLI twice now, once as a chaperone for a large group of 7th graders and again as a student myself. Both experiences have been nothing short of phenomenal. They've shown not only a high level of professionalism, but an unexpected level attentiveness to the individual needs of each student (be they 13 or, um, considerably older) -- especially those unfamiliar with the language and area.

I arrived with absolutely zero Mandarin skills, and in two short weeks left with a solid foundation on which to build. I also requested that a full one half of my class time be devoted to Chinese philosophy and history, which they were able to accommodate extremely well. Studying philosophy in the original language while visiting tea houses and temples older than my native country was an experience I will never, ever forget.

The housing is clean and orderly, the teachers patient and knowledgeable, the curriculum completely flexible to meet the needs and desires of each student and the city is absolutely stunning.

I plan to visit CLI again as many times as I am able, and I give them my highest recommendation.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I had the pleasure of enjoying river snail and beef intestine soup with chicken feet for the first time in my life.
Default avatar
Scott
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

5th time to CLI

I just returned from Guilin several days ago after spending 5 weeks at CLI. This was my 5th time at CLI! I have been studying Mandarin Chinese for about 4 years. The first time I traveled to Guilin to attend CLI's immersion program was 3 years ago. My first experience was great. Although my language skills were not very good that first time, all of my teachers were very patient with me and also very encouraging. Learning a new language does not come naturally for me. The next 4 times progressively got better and better! As my level of fluency has slowly increased over the past few years, it has literally opened up a new world for me. I can thank my teachers and the helpful interns at CLI for allowing this to happen. The teachers and interns are all native Chinese speakers. They have all been awesome, not only am I learning a language, but in the process of learning they allow me to experience their culture and history, through instruction as well as through participating in weekly organized activities. All of my teachers over these past several years have been awesome! I can tell that becoming a teacher at CLI is not easy as these teachers must be the best of the best. As the classes are all 1 on 1, your teachers can really work with you and find out what your goals are and which teaching methods seem to work best when having class with you. I have looked forward to and enjoyed every single class session that I have had at CLI. The interns who work at CLI are local college students. Each time I travel to Guilin, a car picks me up at the airport and delivers me to CLI. As I am getting out of the car door, no matter what time it is (including the middle of the night), there is always an intern coming out the front door to meet me and escort me to my room. My first couple of times at CLI, I relied heavily on the assistance provided by the interns. They took me to the bank, accompanied me to places to eat, showed me where the grocery store was and if necessary helped me order food and communicate. They were like my protective bubble as well as personal teacher and friend when I was not in class. This is really a well thought out system! Guilin is an ideal place to learn and practice your language skills. One reason is that there are very few foreigners here and most locals don't speak english. This really forces you to be immersed and you have little choice but to practice your speaking, listening, and reading. Over the years, I have not only become friends with the teachers, interns and employees at CLI but also some of the local business owners and their employees (at the restaurants and shops I frequent). Even though I am a from a foreign country, I am always welcomed in Guilin, as if I was part of the family! Two years ago after returning home, I decided to start taking the online (skype/video) classes with one of my teachers at CLI. This way I can study year round and choose the frequency of classes that works best for me. I still look forward to going back to Guilin each year, however setting up weekly online classes with my teacher has kept me moving in a forward direction while I am back home. As you can tell, I highly recommend CLI!

Default avatar
Kevin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome Choice!

I went to CLI in September for two weeks intense Chinese study. I was not sure about Guilin or CLI before I left but after being there for two weeks I can honestly say it was an awesome Choice! The school is great, the rooms are large, clean and all have AC and bathroom. I had three different teachers which was unique and allowed for different teaching styles to be experienced. Everybody was super friendly and went out of their way to help you with anything you needed. The facility itself is large and has lots of areas to socialize rather than being stuck in your room all the time. Also, you have access to washing and drying machines for your convenience. I will defitetly go back to China and CLI next year and am looking forward to another great experience.

What would you improve about this program?
Not sure what to say here as everything I experienced was excellent!