5 Best Schools to Study Chinese in Rural China

So, you want to study Chinese in rural China? Would you rather practice your tones and characters surrounded by mountains, green fields, Chinese lifestyles, and most importantly, the best Chinese teachers? Good news! There are several options for you to study Chinese in small towns and more rural areas in China.

Why not study in a big city? Studying in small town China might be the best option for a few reasons…

  1. Smaller towns=fewer foreigners=less temptation to speak English
  2. Easier to immerse yourself in Mandarin Chinese
  3. 100% dedicate yourself to language with fewer distractions
  4. Explore a unique rural lifestyle few foreigners get to see
  5. Discover China’s gorgeous natural scenery!

Please note, there are very few options for foreigners to study Chinese in truly rural villages since these are mostly farmland. But studying in small towns and cities (>3 million people) gives you the best of both worlds: resources to have an excellent Chinese education, and authentic Chinese culture, community, and lifestyles.

If you are ready to study Chinese in small-town China, read on!

But…maybe you want a city life. Here are the Best Schools to Study Chinese in Beijing and Shanghai.

Chinese Language Institute in Guilin

Guilin is one of the most stunning and vibrant cities in China. With a population of about 1 million people (this is very small for China!), the city is known for its scenic spots, nature and hiking, and rice terraces. CLI gives students the chance to experience southern Chinese life while learning Chinese through immersion! Their Chinese programs are especially popular for foreigners in China because they are flexible, effective, and offer the chance to travel.

Chinese Language Institute has a 5-story center that includes 18 private classrooms, several study areas, and a full kitchen and dining area. The CLI campus also has 3 stories of private bedrooms (each with a full private bathroom), and a recreational room equipped with a pingpong table, electric piano, and mahjong table.

Omeida Chinese Academy in Yangshuo

Surrounded by southern China’s stunning nature, two rivers, plenty of mountains, this town is famous for its friendly locals, tourism, and natural beauty. Yangshuo’s population is only about 300,000 people. Additionally, the town is famous for its outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, and rock-climbing.

Study Chinese in Rural China

The Omeida Chinese Academy is located in Yangshou. In addition to Chinese language courses for all levels, they have classes in Chinese culture, tai chi, painting, and more! Omeida has two schools: a Chinese school for foreigners and an English school for native Chinese students. The two schools live and study on the same campus, allowing for endless opportunities for interaction and cooperation. This serves as an excellent bridge for enthusiastic students to meet and help one another comprehend each other’s native language.

Keats Chinese Schools Across Southern China

Keats Chinese School has 9 locations across southern China: Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Yuanyang, Jianshui, Xishuangbanna, Jingmai Tea Mountain, Tengchong, and Puzhehei. Interspersed with southern China’s gorgeous mountains and jungles, historic temples, and diverse non-Han cultures, you can choose from multiple rural locations.

Keats has a campus where students live, exercise, and study together. In this environment, students from over forty countries are totally dedicated to learning Chinese language and culture. They offer one-on-one, children’s, and group Chinese classes.

Study Chinese in Rural China

LTL Mandarin School in Chengde: Extreme Immersion!

No, it’s not Chengdu in Sichuan Province! Chengde is a small city of about three million (again, this is very small by Chinese standards) near Beijing. It has an incredible history as the formal summer home of the Qing Dynasty’s Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong Emperors. Today, it’s the home of the LTL Mandarin School’s language immersion program. They take immersion very seriously: No English-speaking classmates, only Chinese-speaking flatmates or host families, and introduction to local Chinese activity groups like football teams, hiking groups, or choirs.

Study Chinese in Rural China

It might first be incredibly difficult to live isolated from your native language and other foreigners in a small city. But if you want native-sounding Mandarin in less time, there’s simply no better way than to take the plunge into total Chengde life! See for yourself if total immersion in Chengde is the right path for you.

Study Chinese in Small Town China


Hebei University in Xiangyang

Hebei University is located in Xiangyang, Hubei Province. The city has about two million people, so it is not exactly a small town. However, there are not many foreigners living in Xiangyang compared to Beijing or Shanghai, so you will still be able to achieve the goal of studying the language in a more immersive environment.

Study Chinese in Small Town China

However, don’t think that you’ll be the only foreigner around. Hebei University has an excellent faculty, with 200 international scholars visiting the school since 2011. They also have student activity centers and a beautiful campus to facilitate student life! Check out the Chinese program at Hebei University here:

The old-fashioned way…ask a friend!

Needless to say, it can be hard for foreigners to find small towns or rural villages to practice Chinese. These smaller towns don’t have the same resources dedicated to foreign students as the big cities do.

One final way that you can find a place to study in rural China is by asking a Chinese friend if you can visit them in their hometown. While there might not be a formal language school or courses there, you can spend a few days or weeks speaking as much Chinese as possible in the real world. Of course, if you go this route, you won’t be able to get a special visa for studying. Any traveling with friends you do will have to be on holiday breaks from school or work.

There are lots of ways to study Chinese–you just have to find the one that works for your goals, schedule, and budget! Here are more resources for you:

9 Best Schools to Study Chinese in Beijing!
Best FREE Ways to Self-Study Chinese Online
Best Chinese Language Programs for the New Year 2022
Top 20 Universities to Study Chinese in China


Savannah Billman has a master's degree in Chinese Law and Society at the Yenching Academy of Peking University. She holds a B.A. from NYU Shanghai and has also written for The World of Chinese, TechNode, SupChina, and Sixth Tone.
Savannah Billman

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