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Xiaochao Guo, That’s Mandarin

It’s such a joy and honour to be able to share your language and culture with foreigners
October 11 2023
2 Min Read

This week, we spent five minutes with Xiaochao Guo, the CEO of the That’s Mandarin language school in Shenzhen.


If you had a magic wand, what would you change?

Magic wand… If I had one, I would build a bridge between China and the world using the “magic” of Chinese language. Only when we understand each other do we truly connect.

What was your first job in international education/language education?

I started teaching Chinese 20 years ago in Beijing. I was giving private lessons to foreigners who were frustrated studying Chinese at university. I made sure they started speaking and communicating from day one, rather than learning the complicated writing first. This approach proved to be effective – by the end of the first year I had so many students that I had to stop accepting new students for a time.

What’s the most rewarding part of working with international students?

International students always make me see China in a new way – it’s such a joy and honour to be able to share your language and culture with foreigners who are interested to learn.

Once they start learning Chinese, many students manage to break through the stereotypes about China and discover subtle differences between the Chinese and foreign cultures. Their journey is often from not understanding, to falling in love with Chinese culture – because it’s so vibrant and diverse. Our students also often share that Chinese people are not quite like they are portrayed in Western media – it’s a country which is surprisingly full of motivation, love for life, and freedom.

Introduce yourself in three words or phrases.

Nihao, wo shi Xiaochao! This means “Hello, I’m Xiaochao” in Chinese. Replace my name with yours, and you’ll be able to introduce yourself in China.

What’s been your best work trip?

Perhaps traveling with my colleagues overseas, to the US and Europe, visiting the local K12 schools. It helped us research the market and develop better Chinese learning products to meet the needs of local students.

“It’s not easy to keep it simple, fun and useful”

We also went on a road trip to Yellowstone National Park once! There was no cellphone coverage there, so we almost got lost, but the nature was fantastic. Since then I always download offline maps on my phone before I travel.

What’s the biggest challenge to your profession?

Keeping pace with modern technology. Our goal is to make our Chinese language learning platform, NihaoCafe, both functional and aesthetically cool. We work every day on making it better for our students. It’s not easy to keep it simple, fun and useful – but if we succeed, it will make the job of learning the most difficult language in the world a little bit easier.

What’s the best conference in the sector and why?

There is no best, only better. In my opinion, as far as the Chinese learning industry is concerned, the more schools are out there, the better. As they say in Chinese, when a “hundred schools of thought contend” – and at every conference, there is someone to learn from.

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