Chinese Language Classes

Parent Q&A

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  • Looking for a mandarin teacher in Berkeley/Albany area my son is 7 years old and wanted to learn a language and chose mandarin. It is his first time we want to encourage him in his journey and hope he enjoys this very much. Please if you know some weekend courses or even late after school classes I’d be willing to try and help him in this journey.

    We've heard great thing about this program from another family. My boys have been taking Mandarin lessons with an online tutor for 2 years, but decided that they needed to try an in-person with a different approach

    Hi there,

    My au pair is from China and speaks Mandarin (she's from Beijing) and is a teacher back in her home country.  She is willing consider one on one classes for your son if you are interested.  Please private message me and I can put you in touch with her!

    Let me know!

    Reply now »
  • Hi! We are a family in North Berkeley seeking for this school year 2023-2024 a Mandarin-speaking babysitter/tutor, afterschool program, or pod for our 7-year-old going into 3rd grade who has been in a Mandarin immersion school for the last two years. Does anyone know of anyone they would recommend or an afterschool program or pod? Thanks!

    You can look into Hanwen in Berkeley and Su Yun in Albany for aftercare for elementary school aged kids. 

    I forgot to say that a good zoom tutor is Kyle Chen. She is incredibly engaging. My kindergartener who normally doesn’t like computer screens or talking to people on computer screens, played games and learned more vocabulary in half an hour and asked for more. Her games are creative as well. 


    I'm not sure if she is taking any students but she's an excellent Mandarin teacher.  We met Coco Laoshi when she was a teacher at She Ren Mandarin Immersion school and my daughter attended.

    cchinese2016 [at]


    My daughter is at Hanwen and generally pleased with it (I mean, she would rather we pick her up and let her play on an iPad for hours and hours instead but haha, no). There's a 50 minute Chinese language session then the rest of the time is play time, which I feel is a good balance. They include a weekly Chinese painting/calligraphy class too. Oh and they offer optional enrichment lessons too (kung fu, piano, abacus).

    I like that she has friends at her elementary school, then other people she hangs out with at the afterschool program that are from other Berkeley, Oakland, and Albany elementary schools. I think it's important to have friends in and out of school. The parents, teachers, and staff seem nice too.

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  • Weekend Mandarin School/Class

    (2 replies)


    I’ve been looking to sign my soon-to-be 7 year old up for an in-person weekend Mandarin class in the East Bay and the reviews are all a few years old.  Does anyone have good recommendations?  Or experience at the weekend program offered by Yu Ying Learning Center in Alameda?

    Thanks in advance!

    My kid goes to preschool at Lake Merritt Child Care Center in Oakland Chinatown. They have a weekend Mandarin class, but I dont know too much about it.

    Our son attends Lake Merritt Child Care Center, which we love, and they offer a weekend Mandarin classes for kids 5 yo and up. I believe the session has already started but runs until December. It is Saturday 9:30 - 11:30 am and costs about $500 total. 

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  • Hi families,

    I have a very social and talkative 9-year old who has been in a Mandarin immersion program since preschool and is a fluent speaker. She will be switching to a non-Mandarin immersion school but is interested in keeping up with speaking Mandarin. Does anyone have any ideas for a volunteer program or a Mandarin speaking meetup or something for kids her age? We're not interested in the 3-hour structured classes that teach reading and writing--just conversation. I reached out to "Friendly Visitors" but they do not offer volunteer opportunities for kids. Any ideas would be appreciated!


    We also have a 9 year old who has been in mandarin immersion since preschool and is fluent in Mandarin. We are also moving her to a non-mandarin immersion school this upcoming school year.

    While we intend to attend as many events with her now former schoolmates as schedules allow, we would love to learn about any opportunities for speaking mandarin with this age group, too, if you are open to it. We are in North Berkeley.

    Yu Ming might have some programs like this? Alternatively, you can find Mandarin-speaking families to do playdates?

    My four-year-old and I only speak Mandarin when we hang out (I'm a native speaker). Although there's a huge age gap between mine and yours, I do read books like Harry Potter and Monkey King in Chinese to him, and we do drawings, math and worksheets in Chinese. So if your daughter is interested and doesn't mind the age gap, she can try joining us for play and conversations and see if it's a good fit. 

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  • After School or Weekend Mandarin lessons

    (1 reply)

    I’m interested in my little ones learning a second language. They are 4 years old turning  5 this summer. We live in Oakland and I don’t mine private lessons or a class setting. I’m even interested in any possible camps this summer. I appreciate your recommendations to any programs or private instructors. Thank you BPN!

    Just signed my little one up for Yu Yung Learning Center in Alameda...not sure how it will be but worth a try ... my little one looks forward to it reading description. 

  • Mandarin lessons for 2 year old

    (3 replies)

    We currently live in Richmond and would like our 2 year old daughter to start learning some Mandarin.

    Would anyone be able to help us out and provide recommendations for private tutors, internet sources, summer camps or after school / pre-school programs that we can use? 

    We're not sure if we can afford SHU-REN or a private school when she's older, so would prefer something more affordable.

    Following. I'm the only Mandarin native speaker in my family so I am looking to expose my 2-year-old son to more Mandarin dialogues. I'm also up for sharing a private tutor with your girl! Feel free to PM. 

    There are some Mandarin immersion daycares in the East Bay, including Happy Garden in El Cerrito and Albany Sunflower Daycare. When she’s starting kindergarten, you can look into the Mandarin immersion school in West Contra Costa USD- I believe this public school is located in Richmond, but may be moving? Or Yu Ming, which is a charter school in Oakland. 

    You might be interested in Hearstrings Mandarin run by Sharon Gan. She's based out of the Portland area

    She was running classes (via zoom) 3 days a week (you only have to attend 1 class/wk)(including Saturdays which we were attending) but for the summer she is just doing 1 day a week - I think Mondays (check w/her). Sadly we can't attend on weekdays because we are in daycare. We started w/her at around age 2.

    We are now searching for a new weekend online option....

  • Looking for a weekend Chinese school

    (1 reply)

    My daughter is 8 years old. She has been in a weekend Chinese school for three years before we relocated to Berkeley very recently. We speak Chinese at home, and her reading and writing has been great for a third grader. We are looking for a weekend Chinese school that has patience with language learner, but also provide in-depth learning. Any input will be appreciated!

    Look into HanWen, in Berkeley. Right now, they have classes during the week - their next session begins next week, on Aug 24; they may have classes on weekends. Mostly remote.

    Our daughter attended their aftercare program through her Kindergarten year, into the pandemic, and continued Zhuyin classes though Summer. We got into a Mandarin Immersion school this year and have a different schedule so we aren't continuing, but we've had a wonderful experience with the school and I would wholly recommend their program.

  • My 6th grader is interested in learning Mandarin, perhaps on a weekly basis, but not with little kids. When he was in preschool and kindergarten, he took weekly classes and attended some summer camp sessions with New Sprouts in Oakland, which no longer exists. Thanks for your insights!

    Hanwen School on University and Sacramento has Mandarin after school classes and camps.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Learning Mandarin Chinese

July 2014

I love languages and am beginning to learn Mandarin Chinese from an online program through the library. I have learned a little basic vocabulary but I think I need some in-person practice to get it firmly in my brain. I did some web searching and didn't find many resources for adults to learn Chinese in the Bay Area. Can you recommend something, or do you have ideas about a good way to get some practice? It doesn't have to be a class. I have 2 young kids, so free time and money are in short supply. I live in East Oakland. Xiexie!

Four ideas for Mandarin practice, based on my own experience. 1. has an East Bay Chinese group that meets in South Berkeley. I used to go with my baby. 2. The Oakland Public Library Asian branch in Chinatown has a kid's program in Mandarin Saturday mornings. Parents participate too and it's good for beginner level Chinese learners. 3. It isn't too hard to get a Mandarin exchange partner on Craigslist if you post or check the activity partner posts. 4. I've been told that many Chinese-speaking families hang out at the park in Albany village every day. I know it's a bit far from you, but that way you can bring the kids. You might check small parks in any Chinese-populated area near you and probably find the same thing. Eliza

A couple of ideas. You could try to find a conversation partner who's a native speaker. You practice your Mandarin, they practice their English. I did this about 10 years ago through Cal's English program for international students. You might check with English language schools in the area or universities. You could also try craigslist. There are also a number of meetups for Mandarin speakers in the bay area. Look on Of course nothing beats actually being in China, but I know that's tough when you have a family. Man man lai ba! fellow Mandarin speaker

This may or may not be a practical solution for you, but it would be an effective one: taking Mandarin at Mills College (also in East Oakland). The director of the Chinese program at Mills is Chiuhung Chen. She runs one of the most effective language-learning programs I've ever seen in operation. Her pedagogical methods are rich, fun, and evidence-based. Many of her students have conversation partners in China - just one of many resources she finds for them. Mills is great for Moms, too. A safe, friendly campus. Not just students, but staff and faculty take Chinese at Mills. wo ai wo de zhongwen lao shi

East Bay Chinese School

April 2014

Hello, I am interested in enrolling my daughter at East Bay Chinese School. It's website states it was established in 1981 but I don't see any reviews on BPN. Any reviews or experiences would be most appreciated, thank you! Judy

My son was a student at East Bay Chinese School for four years. Looking back, his first year teacher was fine. The second year teacher was not a good fit for my son, who was transferred to another teacher mid-year. The following two teachers were good.

The biggest problem he had was some of his classmates were always misbehaving and distracting the lessons. Teachers were having problem controlling such behavior. Parents must volunteer a certain hours each year or they pay more if they do not volunteer. Some of those parents do not speak English, which sometimes made them seem rude.

My son had a lot of homework each week and that took his time away from his regular school work. I would say he learned some Mandarin at EBCS, but nothing to write home about! My son is learning Mandarin online now and he is much happier. Former EBCS mom

Mandarin for 9th grader, independent study

Sept 2012

Hi everyone: I'm new to the neighborhood and am seeking suggestions for independent high school study for Chinese mandarin. My son is enrolled as a 9th grader at Maybeck High and they don't offer Chinese. I've already contacted Tilden Prep, and Berkeley high independent study. Does anyone have other suggestions? I'd consider a private tutor but am not sure how to receive high school credit going that route. Any suggestions appreciated. Thanks Elaine

Mentoring Academy on College near Rockridge BART offers Mandarin I and II employing the Middlebury Language program and a tutor. Courses are approved. johnmuster [at]

Chinese language class for young kids

August 2010

I'm looking for a Chinese language class for young kids. A class after school or on the weekend. I know kids pick up languages easily when they are young and want to take advantage of this opportunity. I am looking for a class in Oakland or south Berkeley. Thanks

My 7 year old has taken a lively and fun Mandarin class with Po-Wen Chen on Monday afternoons at the Albany Community Center on Marin Avenue for the past three years. Po-Wen is a wonderful, warm, committed teacher. The kids learn songs, basic vocabulary and characters, and play lots of games. Po-Wen has classes for kids ranging in age from 1 - 7. She has a masters degree in child development and really knows how to reach her students. Alison

I have been pleased with the program offered by CCEA New Sprouts in Oakland.

My preschooler attends the Saturday morning Mandarin class near Lake Merritt. Fall 2010 enrollment has just started for the session starting in September. There are also classes for elementary school age children.

I've found it to be a great way to expose my little one to the language (she started when she was 2). They also have a parent-and-tot (starting at 18 months) class on Friday mornings. For the younger kids, it's very much play- based, and they also provide you with access to an online resource, so parent and child can practice during the week.

The website is: esther

Shu Ren International School offers after school Mandarin classes at their campus in Berkeley. They also have additional cultural enrichment classes such as martial arts and Chinese music. More information is on their website: shu ren mom

Mandarin summer mini-camps for 5 year old

Feb 2010

Hi- I'm hoping to find a great Mandarin language summer program for my son, who is five. We'll be back in the Bay Area for a month (as we've moved away!), so I'm hoping to find something that runs 3-5 days a week, 1-3 hours a day, for weekly or monthly sessions. Any chance you know of one? former berkeley mama

Shu Ren International School in Berkeley offers a Mandarin summer camp in two-week sessions throughout the summer. Our son is in school there and attended the camp last summer and had a lot of fun. The teachers are great and the kids learn a lot of Chinese. Registration forms are available now at:
shu ren mom

Chinese classes for adults

Aug 2009

A long time ago I took a couple of years of Mandarin and still retain a little bit of the spoken language, but very little of the writing. I would love a class that would refresh my basic knowledge and perhaps do some writing and character recognition. Are there any evening or weekend classes like that for adults in the East Bay? Linda

UC Berkeley Extension has a whole language department. They have classes in Arabic, Chinese, French, Greek, Japanese and Spanish. Languages fan

Try UCB Extensions. My friend took their night classes a few years ago and liked the teacher. Because she wasn't a native speaker (not to say she doesn't pronounce Chinese well), she was really good at teaching to the beginners as she understands where they're coming from. UCB staff/faculty used to get discounts at Extension. anon

Afterschool and summer Chinese classes

Feb 2007

I'm looking for information on Chinese language learning, both summer camps and after school or weekend, for my 5 year old daughter who's currently in kindergarten. Does anyone have new info.? Pauline

Keystone Chinese School is held on Saturdays from 9:30 to 12:00. It located in Albany and good for kids from age 4.5 to 16. For details, please visit their web-site at

Chinese class for 12-year-old

Aug 2003

My 12-year-old son will be going to Beijing in 2 summers. He will be studying the language during this time, but I would like to get him started. He has taken a bit of Japanese during an after-school program, but otherwise has no exposure to any Asian languages. Do you have any suggestions on how best to proceed? Matt

My daughter's Mandarin teacher just sent me this email (below) last week. We've really enjoyed taking classes at the Albany Community Center.

Do you know any child who is going to be in 3rd through 6th or 7th grade this September and wants to learn Chinese? Annie Wei, my mentor, will teach an upper grade beginning Chinese class at Albany Community Center at 10:15 am in the Art Room. (If she can have minimum of 6 children sign up for her class.) Annie has more than 20 years of experiences of teaching children Mandarin both in the US and Taiwan. She taught in East Bay Chinese School for more than 10 years. Couple years ago, after she retired from the East Bay Chinese School she started teaching in Alameda Community Center (mostly FCC families) and one of the Piedmont Elementary schools. Please pass the words to your friends and hopefully we can have this class starts on 9/6 too. Feel free to contact me for any question or concern. Hope to see you all in September.

Phoebe Chen (925) 283-8866 phoebechen at

Hi, Matt, About learning Chinese (Mandarin), any good suggestions will depend on the learner's ability and interests. I taught Mandarin to Japanese adults and children for six years. In my teaching experience, it is key to emphasize Mandarin pronunciaton for children because children have an ear for pronunciation, whereas the older the adult, no matter how you teach they are set in their pronunciation. The other point is that for children, a small amount of time every day is good for studying (adults might do fine with twice a week for longer times, but not so with children.) Good luck to your son! junallison

Chinese class for 12-year-old

July 2003

Can anyone recommend a chinese school summer program for a 5 year old? Thank you!

The Berkeley Chinese School (located in Albany) has a summer camp, as well as a preschool and after school program during the school year. The phone number is 510-525-9666. Elisa

I have seen the Chinese Summer Camp on the newspaper couple of weeks ago. The school is called Berkeley Chinese School, I think. It starts from preschool, Kindergarden and etc. I was planning to send my daugther, but she is too young for it. The number is 510-525-9666. mun33