I came to That's Mandarin to study intensive Chinese. I took 6 hours of private lessons 5 days a week for a month. I also lived with a Chinese family. I have been self-taught, using online resources and books to learn speaking, grammar and characters for 3 1/2 years, up until my lessons at That's Mandarin.
My classes were each two hours long. The teachers all allowed for conversation and review the first hour, which was very helpful and also fun to just get to talk. One class was spoken translation from English to Chinese. This was excellent and my favorite, as it helped me learn my many weaknesses in Chinese grammar and word order. The second class was listening to a recording and repeating it back. This was harder than I thought it would be, but was useful in both listening skills, and in teaching me cultural aspects of modern China as the recordings were about specific topics. My final class was reading in Chinese characters. I learned many new characters and words from this class. I had told my teachers initially that I was not interested in coming to That's Mandarin to learn writing characters as I've been working on that on my own, and wanted to use my time in China to improve my speaking and listening. That’s why I didn't have a writing class.
My family experience was great. The husband and wife had his parents living with them. Their son was in college and I used his room. None of them spoke a word of English, so at breakfast and dinner we conversed in Chinese. They prepared great meals and were excellent hosts. They even had a washing machine so I could wash my clothes in the apartment, but the grandmother offered to do that for me, which was very nice.
The location of the apartment was in a bustling area about 2 miles from the school so the walk was easy. I could have also taken a cab or a three wheeled bike. The school is in a great part of Beijing called Sanlitun, and there are tons of restaurants and businesses around the area. Every day I'd walk home a new way to see more of Beijing.
The only problem with the school was that the plumbing was not very functional. For a long day at the school, like I had, this was a problem and should be addressed in a better way.
I had no problems with the teachers on the teaching. They were very helpful and I cannot recommend this school highly enough. I ran into many fellow students who had tried other schools and said that That's Mandarin was the best.
I chose them because they had private lessons, and when I contacted them initially, and the woman learned I was doing an intensive course, she advised me to do a home stay rather than have an apartment (I was nervous about a home stay). That opened up modern Chinese culture to me, through the food and conversation. It would not have been anywhere near as valuable an experience had I lived in an apartment with an English speaker.
I am currently taking a 2-hour class online once a week with That's Mandarin, via Skype, to continue learning and to not lose what I did learn. I'm making progress and it keeps me motivated in my self-studies. I plan on going back for another intensive month of studying next year in Beijing.