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Get an introduction to the Mandarin language through immersion in Chinese daily life. This four-week summer Chinese language program for high school students offers you the opportunity to take introductory language classes during the day, and then put your skills to immediate use by interacting with your host family and friends. With this combination of language lessons and first-hand cultural experience, you’ll be able to improve your Mandarin as you become a part of the community. You’ll also learn about different aspects of Chinese culture through activities like calligraphy, martial arts, and cooking classes.

Things to know about Summer in China

Confucianism is an important part of Chinese culture—it gives people a deep respect for hierarchy and a strong sense of family. It also means that the Chinese tend to avoid conflict in favor of maintaining harmony. Tradition plays a role in everyday life, and you’ll often see ancient temples overlooking modern city streets. Food in China is generally cooked with meat, so vegetarianism isn’t very common. But you’ll likely encounter some delicious homemade meals served with steaming cups of green or oolong tea.

Eligibility Requirements

Current high school students and recent graduates are eligible. Specific age requirements may apply; contact AFS for more details.
Must be in good academic standing (recommended GPA of 2.0 or above).

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare

Your journey to China

Your summer Chinese language program for high school students journey will begin in Los Angeles, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the United States. You’ll attend an overnight orientation and learn some essentials for your first days in China. Then you’ll travel as a group to Beijing where you’ll be welcomed by AFS staff and volunteers.

Before long you’ll be ready to head to your community. On the way you might see the steeped peaks of pagodas silhouetted against the backdrop of rocky mountains. You’re also likely to pass dense cities with sleek skyscrapers as well as ancient villages dotting the rural countryside. No matter where you are, you’re bound to come across bustling markets with vendors selling everything from clothing and hats to freshly-made dumplings.


Meeting your Chinese Host Family

You could live anywhere in China, but you’ll likely be in an urban area. In the past, AFSers have stayed in places like Chengdu City, Tianjin, Jiujiang City, and Anshan. Most families in China are small, with grandparents often living in the home.

By spending time with your family in the evenings and on weekends, you’ll have the opportunity to improve your Mandarin and engage with Chinese culture. Your language learning won’t be limited to books, but will become a part of every aspect of your life in China.

Settling into daily life

Your Chinese Language Lessons

With this summer Chinese language program for high school students, you’ll get the chance to study “survival” Mandarin, focusing on the most important, practical phrases you’ll need to navigate daily life. You’ll be taught by certified language teachers for a total of 45 hours over the course of four weeks. That means you’ll generally have 3 hours of lessons each day. The rest of your time can be spent with your host family and friends, putting that language learning to use in-context.


Exploring the Area

Chinese culture is vibrant and varied, with lots of different celebrations and festivals. Teenagers often enjoy Western fashion, music, and fast food. Parents are usually very involved in their children’s lives, so you should always check with your host family before you go out. Throughout your four weeks in China, you may have the chance to go on cultural excursions with AFS staff and volunteers. You can also participate in activities like painting, calligraphy, and martial arts in order to make friends and learn more about Chinese culture.


Food you’ll encounter in China

China is a great place to work on perfecting your chopstick skills, and most people will be more than happy to teach you the best techniques! Food usually consists of rice or noodles, fresh vegetables, and meat. Some popular dishes include jiaozi (dumplings with pork, chives, and onions), Peking duck (roasted duck covered with sweet wheat sauce and wrapped in a thin pancake), and Mongolian hotpot, which is like a Chinese version of fondue. You can also learn about the art and tradition of making, serving, and drinking tea.

Available Scholarships

What's Included

  • 70+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 50,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • Program activity fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found in China.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.

A new you awaits.

Apply for Summer Chinese Language and Culture Program in China!