Learn Mandarin and Teach English in China

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Gap year and summer programs - with a difference!

Africa & Asia Venture (AV) is one of the oldest gap year providers. Since 1993 AV has been offering unique immersive gap year and summer programs in Africa and Asia for those aged 17-25. You live in the local community in a group with fellow participants from around the world. Our 24/7 local management teams provide continuous support throughout your time with us.

We are taking applications now for our programs starting in 2019.


Experience China whilst fully immersed in the language and community.


You'll live in Hangzhou, often regarded as the country's most beautiful city. After a weekend orientation where you will learn a bit about Chinese culture, you'll receive a month of intensive Mandarin language courses.

After the course, you'll teach English to children for which you can earn a contribution towards the cost of your time in China.

Travel opportunities: The weekends are your own to travel and, after the program, if you don't want to fly home straight away you might choose to extend your stay to go further afield to discover even more of this incredible country.

  • Earn a contribution towards the cost of the program
  • Intensive Mandarin course
  • Adventure travel opportunities
  • Flexible dates and durations


Questions & Answers


based on 3 reviews
  • Impact 8.3
  • Support 8
  • Fun 8.3
  • Value 8.3
  • Safety 7.7
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
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Perilous Hills, Fuscous Rocks, And Other Interesting Translations

It is admittedly seven years since I returned from the inaugral running of this program, so it's probably a lot smoother running now than it was when I went (not that it was that chaotic, other than where I taught, which also was due to my own lateness in applying).

I very much enjoyed my time in China, especially as it is a place which has fascinated me since I was very young, and this was a good chance to experience it in a way unmarred by being in a large group being pushed around the famous sites at high speed. I very much enjoyed the fact that I could stay long enough in a given place to get to know people, some of whom I am still in touch with, and have visited on occasion. I still wonder if the English-speaking cafe at the foot of Emei mountain still has the menus which myself and the two others wrote out by hand (for free food) - If they are, many apologies for the fact they are probably rather illegible.

I remember on one trip out to a very rural part of Sichuan, we were trying to find our way to some local temple which was meant to be rather interesting, and after the obligatory being-followed-around-by-a-crowd-of-excited-children part of the day (typically lasts an hour or so), and the being-invited-to-drink-tea-with-an-old-dude-and-his-family part (another 15-30 minutes), we asked someone for directions, who got pretty excited. Soon, a middle-aged woman joined in, and both ended up getting rather loud and red in the face, gesticulating wildly. We were then informed by someone who actually knew mandarin that this wasn't an argument, they were just really into giving us directions. The temple had since been turned into a school, but it was quite pretty.

In short - if you're willing to be very laid back, eat anything, and not feel the need to be directed around, it's a great trip , which you will learn so much from (but that probably applies to life in general).

How can this program be improved?
To be honest, it suited me well. I don't think there is anything I would have changed about it. Some may be put off by the safety rating, but that's more of a feature of the country itself, rather than the actual programme. The way to mitigate it is to use some common sense and beware that busses can and will go anyware, even if the light is red.
Yes, I recommend
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Great opportunity.

If you are looking for a programme with lots of support and planned activity, then AV probably isn't for you. What this project gives you instead is a very rare chance to live with a Chinese family, and experience rural China in a way very few people have. AV gave an amazing glimpse into a fascinating country and a unique opportunity to experience a side of China that is rarely seen.

Yes, I recommend
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Great experience which will improve you as a person

It's hard to sum up a trip like this in a paragraph or two because the experiences were so diverse. This first month of homestay with a Chinese family and mandarin classes was a great view into the daily lives of Chinese people living in a city such as hangzhou. Homestay is the best way to make new friends, be exposed to new things and speak plenty of mandarin as the temptation of becoming lazy by speaking English with the other group members and not getting out and about just doesn't exist as your homestay will expose you to many different experiences and although they speak some level of English, will encourage you to practice what you have learned during the day.

The two following months of teaching in a rural area of china was one of the most challenging things I've done, but it's set at a level where everything is achievable so as not to become overwhelmed. I would say the best thing about the whole trip was the choice available to the group members. Participate as much or as little as you want (although participation is always warmly encouraged) and choose to do what you would like in the city during your free time and also in the rural town. All in all a great trip which leaves you with a great knowledge of Chinese life across multiple demographics, a feeling that you have helped and inspired young children though your English teaching and a set of skills (including a descent chunk of mandarin knowledge) which you did not have before.

How can this program be improved?
Potentially a longer aclimatization period at the start, perhaps a week.
Yes, I recommend

About Africa & Asia Venture (AV)

Africa & Asia Venture (AV) offers unique immersive summer and gap year volunteering and work experience programs in Africa and Asia for those aged 17 to 25.

We build groups of individuals and, normally in pairs or fours but never on your own, you...