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Beijing Blog

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  • Take Look(Book) at Our Latest Beijing Photos

    Program Director, Gao Yuan, took some amazing photos of life in language at our Beijing Academy and compiled them in a Lookbook here: http://bit.ly/1nAxpcA. Once we receive the individual photos, we will send an updated blog post so that you can view and download for free. Be sure to check back soon!

    -Ryan H.

  • Tianjin Getaway

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    This past Saturday we took students to Tianjin, a municipality around two hours away from Beijing. Tianjin is the fourth largest city in China by population, and has been a major seaport and gateway to China since the city’s formation.

    Thanks to an early start, we were able to get a lot done despite going to an entirely different city. We started off with a nice relaxing boat ride. It was a worthwhile trip not only because we were able to see and learn about some of the most important buildings, but also because we shared our boat with many local Chinese and students ended up having really great conversations with them, once again putting their Chinese to the test in real life situations.

    For lunch, we headed over to a bustling snack street. Before letting students chow down on Tianjin’s different delicacies, we had everyone eat together at a Tianjin specialty restaurant. During lunch a performer even came into our rooms and told us a story about foreigners coming to Tianjin using traditional Chinese clapper talk.

    After filling up on all different kinds of traditional snacks, we went on over to visit Nankai University, one of China’s most historically significant universities. One of China’s top universities, Nankai University is also the alma mater of former Premier Zhou Enlai. Our tour guides provided us with lots of interesting facts about the school and we even found a few good locations for taking pictures.

    We ended our trip at the historical Culture Street, a shopping area featuring classic Chinese architecture and shops selling a mix of traditional Chinese goods and souvenirs. It was a long, fun-filled day, but students were glad when we finally made it back to the dorms in Beijing.

    Timothy Liu, Director of Residential Life

  • Important Information for Beijing Academy 2014

    In case family members missed it previously, we are including important information on the Beijing Academy below. Please keep this for your records and reach out with any questions or concerns!


    MMLA Program

    Beijing Institute of Education

    2 Wenxing Street

    Xizhimenwai, Xicheng District

    Beijing 100044, PRC

    北京西城区西直门外文兴街2 号



    • CET Office in Beijing - From the U.S. dial:  011+86+10+6834 2428

    -Monday-Friday day time only

    • Email to MMLA Staff: mmla.beijing@middleburyinteractive.com
    • For inquiries about student status and other  non-emergency issues, please contact:

    -Kim Sine in the CET office in Washington, DC by phone: 202-349-0683 or KSine@academic-travel.com



    • CET Office in Beijing - From the U.S. dial:  011+86+10+6834 2428

    -Monday-Friday day time only

    • MMLA Office in Vermont - In the U.S.:  802-458-5495
    • MMLA/CET Staff in Beijing - From the U.S. dial:  011+86+186-6843-1986

    -Do not call for non-emergency inquiries.

    • Calls to Beijing: When calling from outside Beijing (within China), dial a “0” before the Beijing area code (“10”). If you are calling from outside China, dial “86” (China’s country code) before the Beijing area code. Mobile numbers do not have area codes.
    • Calls from Beijing: When calling the US from Beijing, dial a “00” before the U.S. country code (“1”). You can then dial the normal area code and phone number.
    • Tim Liu’s cell phone is +86 186 6843 1986 in case phone contact is required.


  • Gaining Invaluable Language Experience by Exploring the Summer Palace

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    Sunday was another day out in Beijing, and our destination was the Summer Palace. Basically a huge park, the Summer Palace is a mix of natural landscapes and man-made features. We entered from the North gate, meaning we had to tackle Longevity Hill before we made it to the Summer Palace’s most notable feature: Kunming Lake. While on the hill, students explored the various pavilions, temples and bridges – of course, we took advantage of these great photo opportunities.

    When we finally got to the lake, students were surprised at how big it actually was. It was also interesting to learn that the lake was entirely man-made! We walked along the Northern side of the lake, under the Long Corridor. This roofed walkway was constructed so the emperor’s mother could walk through the garden even when it was raining. Filial piety is an important part of Chinese culture, and hopefully our students return with some newfound respect for their elders after being in China for so long!

    This trip was filled with lots of unexpected surprises; for example, many Chinese visitors were very curious about why our students were in China. This gave students a lot of opportunities to use their Chinese to talk with the Beijing locals. While communicating with the locals was a little bit difficult, students persevered, using a combination of Chinese, Charades and sign language to get their point across. Being able to interact with locals is one of the most valuable aspects of being at the Beijing Academy and we were happy to see our students taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

    While we weren’t able to see all of the Summer Palace (it is quite large), we did get to see the most important parts, and definitely learned a lot while we were there. With the first weekend behind us, students are all set to return to the classroom and get ready for our adventures next weekend.

    -Timothy Liu, Director of Residential Life

  • Weekend Excursion to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

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    When you hear Beijing, there are two places sure to come to mind: Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. For our first weekend in Beijing we decided to bring the students to these incredible sights as a great way to understand Chinese history and culture.

    As the site of several important historical events, including protests during the May Fourth movement, the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China, and the student protests of 1989, Tiananmen Square is an important site for students to see in person. While there isn’t much to actually do in the square, being there and thinking about its history is quite a unique experience in and of itself (and a great place for group photos!).

    Right next door to Tiananmen Square is the Forbidden City, which was the home of Chinese emperors for almost 500 years. To increase our efficiency, we split off by class to explore after entering. Students enjoyed walking through the huge complex and learned about some of its history from their teachers. Inside the Forbidden City, students got to see the Emporer’s residence, “office” and ceremonial spaces.

    While it was a beautiful day, it was also quite hot out. To make sure students were as comfortable as possible, we left early in the morning rather than in the afternoon and provided plenty of water for each student. We made it back to the dorms to rest during the hottest time of the day.

    -Timothy Liu, Director of Residential Life

  • Start the Day the Beijing Way

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    Each morning our RA’s kick off the day with the morning assembly, where they convey important information to our students without using English. What results is a spectacular display of classic language pledge communication methods, including skits, hand motions and a lot of charades. Students must watch and listen very carefully to put together the Chinese they are hearing and the movements of the RA’s to get important pieces of information that they will need for the day. 

    Another big part of the morning assembly is to get students excited for the day. Our RA’s do this in a number of ways. First, they start with having students repeat our slogan:


    This roughly translates to: “Today will be fun, studying is easy! Chinese is good, Chinese is wonderful, Chinese is excellent!” But some things are lost in the translation.

    Another way students prepare for the day is through participation in a variety of morning assembly activities. Yesterday, our RAs led a few traditional Chinese exercises that many people in Beijing perform in the morning to stay healthy. Needless to say, students loved being able to get up and move around.

    -Timothy Liu, Director of Residential Life

  • Language Pledge in Beijing

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    It was a big day for us all in Beijing. After a night’s rest, students were all ready to go for their first day at the MMLA Beijing Academy. They started off with some testing and a taste of classes in the morning. We could tell everyone was having a good time, because we could hear students laughing all the way from our office!

    While teachers were busy grading, our RAs led a series of exciting ice-breakers for students to get to know one another. They started off as one big group but then split off by class so students could get to learn more about the classmates and RA that they will be with for the next three weeks.

    In the afternoon, students were finally able to exchange cash and take out money and RAs took them out to the local supermarket to purchase necessities (toothpaste, shampoo and chocolate, of course). They also had a chance to check out and familiarize themselves with the surrounding neighborhood.

    Finally, at night we held our official Language Pledge ceremony. We started off with a bit more of orientation, focusing mainly on their schedule for the next three weeks and the Language Pledge. All of our students told us that they are here to learn Chinese, so we let them know about all of the advantages the Language Pledge brings for Chinese language learners. Fortunately, all of our RAs have done language programs before and were able to weigh in and tell students about their experiences with the Language Pledge. By the end of the talk, students seemed like they were all ready to take on the challenge!

    The actual ceremony was a formal affair, and we mean formal – staff and students all put on their best outfits for the ceremony. We then proceeded to read the pledge aloud together in Chinese and everyone signed the Pledge together. It was quite an emotional time for everyone, students were laughing and smiling, and one of our teachers even shed some tears.

    We are all looking forward to speaking only Chinese with our students from now on!

  • Welcome to Beijing!

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    We are happy to announce that all students attending the 2014 MMLA Beijing Academy have arrived safely! Luckily, there were no real flight issues and even traffic from the airport back to campus was on our side - not very common here in Beijing.

    Check in was a breeze, since our RAs helped set up students’ rooms before they arrived. After a short rest, we gathered everyone together for our first group picture before heading out to enjoy some authentic Chinese food for our opening banquet. Students, teachers, RAs and administrators all gathered to enjoy a large variety of classic Chinese dishes; one of the best parts about eating in China is that everyone can try so many different dishes.

    Our RAs mixed in with students during dinner and had great conversations about China, the Chinese language and MMLA in general. It seems everyone is a little bit nervous but also very excited about the Language Pledge and only using Chinese for the coming weeks. Since our RAs have all done Language Pledge programs in the past, they offered some good advice on how to overcome the difficulties of only speaking a foreign language (body laguage, weird sounds, etc.) and can speak about the effectiveness of the Pledge at improving students’ Chinese levels.

    To finish off the day, we had a small orientation meeting to introduce our entire staff and to go over our major rules of the aAademy. At this point students were practically falling asleep, despite our best attempts to keep everyone energized, but at least they all made it past 9pm before going to sleep!

  • Meanwhile…in Beijing

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    We know that all of our students are probably packing and preparing for an exciting summer in Beijing, but our staff has already touched down and is working hard to make sure everything is ready for students’ arrival. Our office is getting set up, student materials are being prepared, and RAs have even started making hand made dorm signs for each room.

    We are all looking forward to meeting all our students soon!

  • Welcome to the 2014 Beijing Academy

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    Dear Beijing Academy Students, 

    Our names are Tim Liu and Yuan Gao, and we will be serving as Director of Residential Life and Program Director, respectively, for the Beijing Academy this summer. We are writing today to catch you up on all we have been doing to prepare for what promises to be an amazing language immersion experience. We would also like to take this time to give you an update on what you can expect to experience during this summer’s program.

    We have been working with the Chinese teachers and staff here in Beijing to make sure we take advantage of the neighborhood and city around us; our aim is to make daily afternoon activities a true extension and expansion of class. To that end, we have trips planned to visit the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City, just to name a few. We are also working hard to ensure students have opportunities to interact with locals with a variety of class projects that involve speaking with Chinese natives.

    Students and staff at the Beijing Academy will take advantage of the surrounding areas, both immediate neighborhoods and across greater Beijing, to make each day’s goals and objectives come to life. The Beijing Institute of Education’s campus is located near two major subway lines, a large bus transfer station, the Beijing Zoo and the Beijing Planetarium. There are a number of supermarkets within close walking distance, as well as numerous local shops, where you can find your supplies during your stay in Beijing. 

    Looking ahead, we have some tips and advice we would like to pass on to you and your family as you think about packing and preparation. First, know that summertime is when Beijing typically receives roughly three-quarters of its annual rainfall. Be prepared for frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms as well as humid weather. Make sure to pack an umbrella and some rainwear. When it comes to food and culinary adventures, our cafeteria will provide an array of Chinese dishes and, of course, there is no shortage of choices across town. That being said, we encourage you to—if you haven’t already done so—let our staff know of any specific dietary requirements or allergies so that we can make proper arrangements. Students will be able to call home once per week on Sundays between 7:30 and 9:30 am, Beijing time. Students will call to check in with parents when they initially arrive on campus.

    In conclusion, we hope to relay to you just how much we are all looking forward to having you with us in Beijing. As we get closer to the departure date, please feel free to pass along all questions and comments to the MMLA office. We are all eagerly prepping the final details and look forward to seeing you in China!

    Best Regards,

    Tim Liu and Yuan Gao

  • 2014 Posts Coming Soon

Photo of the Day


Beijing students participate in icebreaker activities to get to know each other better.

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