The Chinese Language Winter School at the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) is a 4 week  program in January each year for students to study Chinese intensively in a fully immersive environment. I participated in this program during my year abroad studying at HIT in order to improve my Chinese language skills.



  • 4 weeks, 20 hours/ week of Chinese language classes
  • 15 students per class
  • Includes trips to Harbin central street, Ice Festival, etc.
  • Cultural classes e.g. making jiaozi (a kind of dumpling) and arts and crafts
  • Textbooks: Short-term Spoken Chinese series (available at a discounted price during registration)
  • Tuition: 2800 RMB, accommodation: 600 RMB (shared dorm room on campus)
  • Website



  • Students sorted very well into different ability groups (due to the large number of students on the program there were lots of levels available)
  • Taught entirely in Chinese – thus providing a fully immersive environment
  • Focus on spoken language (thus making the most of the immersive environment), but we were also required to learn the characters of all new words so written Chinese was not neglected
  • Excellent teachers with many years experience teaching Chinese at the university (rather than the student teachers some private language schools use)
  • Students are encouraged to use the vocab and grammar points in general conversation practice and homework/ presentations rather than just memorising example sentences
  • Very affordable program compared to private language schools and some other universities
  • Price includes trips to the world-famous Harbin Ice Festival and other tourist sights (n.b. I managed to negotiate a discounted price of 2400RMB by not joining these trips, not sure if external students would be able to get this discount though)



  • Very fast pace – quite hard to keep up with at times
  • Lots of homework meant that students had limited time to travel around town in the afternoons
  • Quite large class sizes, sometimes in excess of 15 students per class
  • I would estimate that around 90% of students came from the same university (somewhere in Korea) and so already knew each other, making it rather less international than advertised and harder to make new friends
  • No flexibility on dates and doesn’t fit in well with non-Asian university schedules, although they also run the program in the summer which would suit more students


If you are interested in attending the HIT short-term Chinese language program or another short-term program in China don’t forget to comment below!


One thought on “Review: Harbin Chinese Language Winter School

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