Wuhu has a Chinese language school called “Aston Language Center”. It has a very familial atmosphere. Most of the students there are English teachers employed by the school to teach in schools in the surrounding area, or Chery Automobile, a fast growing domestic auto company. They are given free Chinese lessons as part of their work package.
There are foreign students going there just to Mandarin, but they are in the minority. When a friend of mine was there, only three such students were there, including one Polish and one American. So there was just one group class for beginners. If you are not at the beginner level and want to join a group class, this school may not suit you.
The teachers are “very nice, clever and ambitious but lack experience”, my friend said. Most of the teachers are very young, 18 or 19, still studying in the university. Some of them come from the countryside, who make a living as a teacher for 1000RMB per month only.
Generally speaking, my friend said, the teaching method and material is far from satisfactory. But he said he was quite happy with the school. He was taking one-on-one lessons and could have say in what and how he wanted to learn. Therefore, teachers’ experience did not matter that much. Since different teachers took turn to give him lessons, some of the teachers were actually quite good, he said. He was unhappy with the first teacher the School assigned, and he made a complaint. The School assigned other teachers to him afterward.
My friend planned to enroll in the school for a week and he ended up studying there for two weeks. He paid 60RMB per hour for one-on-one lessons. The School was wonderful and offered him opportunity to join the beginner group class for free.
The School was run by a female director who speaks excellent English. It occupies a whole floor on 5/F in a building without an elevator (yeah, can see that Wuhu is not a modern and rich city). You have to climb 100 steps to reach the school. On the same floor, there are classrooms, facilities and reception area at one end, and student apartments at the other.
Near the school, there is a lake and a park. When my friend was there, some teachers lived in the student apartment with students. They went out together for Tai Chi in the park before class.
I will talk more about accommodation and living in Wuhu soon.