How We Learned Chinese Faster Than A Bullet with That's Mandarin

By Sophie Steiner, July 22, 2021

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You’ve mastered nihao. You’re throwing out ‘wo ai zhongguo’ like it’s your job, but you get stuck using too many ‘ting bu dongs’ in your daily life, and it’s getting old. Time to graduate from laowai Chinese and improve your proficiency – like we did – with That’s Mandarin

About That’s Mandarin 

That’s Mandarin is China’s leading multi-dimensional Chinese language school, affording students of all levels the opportunity to improve their Chinese language abilities in the fastest and most efficient manner. 

One of the longest standing centers, since being founded in 2005 in Beijing, That’s Mandarin has 16 years of teaching experience, delivering excellence in Chinese teaching to international students from all over the world.

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That’s Mandarin serves more than 5,000 new students each year, and has served over 50,000 students, hailing from more than 200 countries, across their Beijing and Shanghai locations, plus online platforms. 

Products & Services 

That’s Mandarin is so much more than just your average language learning center.

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Their team of professional educators, curriculum developers and engineers offer offline campuses, NihaoCafe – an online Chinese language learning platform – Chinese summer camps for an immersive experience for kids and teens, China school trips, and NihaoCafe CRM – a learning management system. 

Teaching Philosophy 

That’s Mandarin differs from other traditional language learning centers in that their philosophy is “break from convention, communicate first.” With 24/7 online and offline communication available 365 days a year, students receive the most immersive and effective form of language training there is. Offering both small group and one-on-one private courses, students can tailor their own learning program to meet their individual needs. 

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By offering both online materials – such as videos, articles, exercises and whiteboards – along with printed materials – like their proprietary printed textbooks that cover HSK 1-4, focusing on daily life vocabulary – as well as lesson dialogues, vocabulary and grammar introductions, and unique practice exercises, That’s Mandarin tailors coursework to meet the needs of different learning styles.  

Our Experience 

We’ve tried everything from Rosetta Stone (do yourself a favor and skip this, it has taken years to undo the poor pronunciation we first learned from this outdated program), Chinese classes and one-on-one tutor lessons, so we decided to throw That’s Mandarin in the ringer to see how it holds up. 

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In person group classes are held at their Wuding Lu location, near Changde Lu, on the hour for 45 minutes from 9am through 11am daily. Students select their HSK level and are placed in a group class accordingly. One-on-one tutoring can be arranged at all hours of the day to meet students' needs. 

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We first participated in a group class, that usually numbers four to six students in total. Attendees can learn from their peers' questions and from the teacher directly, as all courses are highly interactive, involving listening, speaking, group dialogues, reading (both characters and pinyin) and – in more advanced levels – even writing.

If students are participating in a more intensive program that spans a few hours throughout the day, there are ample break areas, like two expansive outdoor patios, study rooms, an internet cafe space for NihaoCafe users, and a coffee and tea room, with drinks provided. 

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As for the one-on-one session, our teacher was extremely engaged, matching her vocabulary to our level of Chinese, correcting improper use of grammar and word choice in an effective manner that ensured we understood why it should be spoken that way.

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The courses are tailored to align with HSK levels, but – by using their own self-created textbooks, fully illustrated – they are able to break the levels down even further so students can focus on the specific areas of interest, and where they need to progress most. 


The technology used is the key differentiator between That's Mandarin and other Chinese language learning schools. Using their own platform, teachers are able to upload lessons ahead of time, and all coursework completed during class can be viewed by students at any time on any device, including specific examples given and notes taken. 

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Last year, through the NihaoCafe platform, That's Mandarin created an interactive story with over 70 characters in 40 different locations and filmed an HSK-graded TV series with 192 episodes. The standard NihaoCafe system follow this series, and all the grammar, vocab and exercises are based around the story. This helps students learn Chinese in context and provide an insight into real, modern Chinese life. 

It is exactly because the classes are so interactive, and use all forms of learning (listening, reading, speaking, etc.), that students can progress through the program so rapidly.

As an exclusive offer for That’s Shanghai readers, click here to receive two weeks of Chinese lessons FREE – a value of RMB1,200! The time is now to improve your Chinese level! 

To learn more about That’s Mandarin, scan the QR code to connect with a course consultant for inquiries or click here to connect to their website. 

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