Can I study Chinese in China for free?

Yes, you can study Chinese in China for free, or at a reduced cost, through various channels such as scholarships offered by the Chinese government and universities, language exchange programs, volunteering opportunities, and utilizing public resources.

Can I study Chinese in China for free

Can You Really Study in China for Free?

While it may seem too good to be true, there are indeed avenues through which one can study Chinese in China for free or at a reduced cost. However, the definition of “free” here may vary and typically entails a form of exchange, whether that be teaching English in return, partaking in research, or volunteering.

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Truth behind “Free” Language Programs

“Free” language programs often have hidden costs. While the tuition might be waived, other expenses such as accommodation, meals, travel, and textbooks may still apply. Some programs also require you to work part-time, usually as an English teacher or as a university assistant.

Another thing to bear in mind is that many “free” programs are short-term, offering intensive language study for a few weeks or months rather than a full academic year. Although these can be excellent opportunities for immersion and rapid language acquisition, they are not always suitable for those looking to achieve high-level language proficiency.

For further information, you may want to check the Chinese Government Scholarship program, which provides comprehensive scholarships to international students.


Identifying Genuine Opportunities

Identifying genuine opportunities for free study involves doing a lot of research. Contacting universities directly or visiting their websites is a good start. They can provide information on any scholarships or exchange programs available.

One must be wary of scams, however. Any program that requires a substantial amount of money upfront, does not have clear contact information, or is not affiliated with a recognized institution should be viewed with caution.

Reputable resources such as the China Scholarship Council can provide credible information on the different scholarships and programs available for international students.

Scholarships for Studying Chinese in China

Type Scholarship Brief Description
Government Scholarships Chinese Government Scholarship A full or partial scholarship administered by China Scholarship Council, it covers tuition fees, accommodation, and provides a stipend.
Confucius Institute Scholarship Aimed at encouraging students and Chinese language teachers to study in China, it offers full or partial scholarships.
Belt and Road Initiative Scholarship A full scholarship offered to students from countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative. It covers tuition, accommodation, living expenses, and comprehensive medical insurance.
University Scholarships Tsinghua University Scholarship Provides full or partial scholarships for students, which include tuition fees, accommodation, and a monthly stipend.
Peking University Scholarship Offers a variety of scholarships to international students, covering either full or partial tuition fees and living costs.
Fudan University Scholarships Provides several scholarships for international students, including the Chinese Government Scholarship and the Shanghai Government Scholarship.
Other Scholarships Hanban Scholarships Provides full and partial scholarships for students wishing to study Chinese in China.
Huayu Enrichment Scholarship Offered by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education for students who want to undertake short term Mandarin studies.
Blakemore Freeman Fellowships Offers one academic year of advanced language study in East and Southeast Asia, including China.

Free Online Alternatives

If you’re unable to physically study in China, don’t worry. There are many free online alternatives available to help you learn Chinese.

Language Exchange Programs

Language exchange programs are a great way to learn Chinese for free. These programs pair you with a native Chinese speaker who wants to learn your language. You spend half the time speaking in Chinese, and the other half in your language. This is not only an excellent way to practice speaking and listening, but also a great opportunity to learn about Chinese culture and make new friends. Some popular language exchange platforms include Tandem and HelloTalk.

Online Learning Platforms

There are many online platforms that provide free Chinese language courses. Some of these platforms include Coursera, edX, and Duolingo. While these platforms might not be as comprehensive as a full-time study program in China, they offer structured courses with interactive exercises that can help you grasp the basics of the language.

Free Online Resources for Learning Chinese

The internet is full of free resources for learning Chinese. Here are a few you might find useful:

  • Chinese Grammar Wiki: A comprehensive, searchable wiki of Chinese grammar points.
  • HSK Test Preparation: Official website for the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi), the standardized test of Mandarin Chinese proficiency. The site offers free sample tests and vocabulary lists.
  • YouTube Channels: Channels like “ChinesePod” and “Everyday Chinese” offer free video lessons.
  • Anki: An open-source spaced repetition flashcard program, which is useful for memorizing vocabulary.

Free Online

Tips and Strategies for Studying Chinese for Free in China

While scholarships and online resources are excellent aids, there are other strategies one can adopt to study Chinese for free in China. Here are a few tips and strategies that can be helpful in this endeavor.

Building Local Connections

Establishing local connections can significantly enhance your language learning journey in China. These connections could be local friends, language partners, or even neighbors who do not speak your native language. Conversing regularly with them will not only help you improve your Chinese language skills but also give you a deep understanding of Chinese culture and society. Platforms like Meetup or Couchsurfing can help you connect with locals and other expats.

Volunteering in Exchange for Lessons

Volunteering can be a great way to learn Chinese for free. Some local NGOs or community centers might be open to providing free Chinese lessons in exchange for volunteering work. This could involve teaching English, assisting in community events, or any other skills you may possess. Not only will you learn the language, but you’ll also contribute to the local community. Websites like Workaway provide information on such exchange opportunities.

Leveraging Public Resources

China’s public libraries, universities, and community centers often provide free resources for learning Chinese. Libraries offer free access to books, newspapers, and sometimes even language learning materials. Universities might have language exchange clubs or open language courses that you can attend. Community centers often hold cultural events where you can practice your Chinese while engaging in traditional activities. Information on such resources can usually be found on their respective websites or local government portals.


  1. Education in China
  2. Chinese as a Second Language
  3. List of Universities in China
  4. Chinese Government Scholarship
  5. Confucius Institute


Can I study Chinese in China for free?

Yes, it's possible through scholarships, exchange programs, volunteering, and using free public resources.

Are all "Free" Language Programs completely free?

Not necessarily. Some "free" language programs might have hidden costs like accommodation, meals, travel, and textbooks.

What are some Government Scholarships for studying Chinese in China?

The Chinese Government Scholarship, Confucius Institute Scholarship, and Belt and Road Initiative Scholarship are some government scholarships

Are there any free online resources to learn Chinese?

Yes, there are many free resources like language exchange programs, online learning platforms like Coursera, edX, and Duolingo, and other online resources like Chinese Grammar Wiki and HSK Test Preparation.

How can I learn Chinese in China by volunteering?

Some local NGOs or community centers might offer free Chinese lessons in exchange for volunteering work.

What can public resources in China offer for learning Chinese?

Public libraries, universities, and community centers often provide free resources for learning Chinese like books, newspapers, language learning materials, and cultural events.

What's the importance of local connections in learning Chinese?

Local connections can help you practice speaking and listening, and also give you a deep understanding of Chinese culture and society.

What are some university scholarships for studying Chinese in China?

The Tsinghua University Scholarship, Peking University Scholarship, and Fudan University Scholarships are examples of university scholarships for studying Chinese in China.

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