Vancouver is Canada’s “gateway to the East.” Whenever I need to fly out to Asia, usually with AirCanada, all flights leave from Vancouver. Additionally, Vancouver has a very large Asian population and is usually cited as one of the cities outside of Asia that has the largest Chinese community. This means that Vancouver, and by extension the whole province of British Columbia does a lot of business with Asian companies. For example Vancouver’s Bentall Centre was purchased in 2016 by China’s Anbang Group for $1.3 billion dollars (pictured below.)
Many Chinese investors have learned English in order to do business in North America, the reverse however is not true, though many Canadian companies outsource their manufacturing in China. A friend of mine travels often to Guangdong province in order to arrange the manufacturing of security cameras for his company. Conversation, however, is difficult and he always needs to be accompanied by an English speaker. Unlike the neighbouring Hong Kong, Guangdong is not as friendly to foreign travellers (things are changing fast though, I am sure.)
What language learning services are available in Vancouver in order to learn Chinese? In this post I will review a few of the most popular Chinese language schools in Vancouver and what they offer with respect to services.
Key Language School
In my opinion, the best thing this place has going for itself is it’s location. Next BCIT, a large post-secondary learning institution, Key Language School has access to a large pool of potential students. It offers only Mandarin classes but it has a variety of options for children and adults. For example, there are adult Business language classes, one-on-one tutoring and online courses available. Intensive classes cater to a tight timeframe. If you are a busy person who works downtown and would like to do classes after work, this is the place for you.
As a bonus, this place has excellent reviews in Google. All of the instructors are native Mandarin speakers and the curriculum developers are teachers with North American designations. Therefore, you get the ability to learn Mandarin in a curriculum, which you are likely comfortable with.
Although a little out of the way, Langara Collage offers an excellent opportunity to learn for those of you that are more comfortable with taking lessons from a recognized institution. Langara offers many courses and is responsible for the post-secondary and continuing education of many in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Their classes follow the school year with courses beginning in January, April, July, and September. As it it is a “regular” school institution, classes sizes are likely bigger than in a private language school, which may be a drawback if you think you need some extra help and/or practice. Courses are in the range of $2oo CA for adults.
Vancouver Mandarin School
This is another private school, located in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood of Vancouver. At a first glance, this school caters mainly to immigrant parents who would like their young children born or raised in Canada to have the opportunity of speaking and writing Mandarin. It has excellent reviews online but it’s website looks unprofessional and rather outdated. This however, should not deter you to contact them because the teachers are highly qualified, possessing degrees in Chinese literature and education and a graduate degree from the University of Austin, Texas.
These are just some of the options available for those wishing to learn Chinese in Vancouver. Other schools can perhaps offer different programs, which can better suit your lifestyle or business needs. In order to find out which is best for you start with a simple online listing and work your way through the options. Find out prices, class size and perhaps most importantly find people who have gone through the programs themselves and are willing to testify.