Newsweek recently posted an article entitled “The Mandarin Scam: So you want to learn Chinese? Your best bet is to say at home.”
The author takes issue with the quality of Mandarin language instruction, and the teaching methods used, in China. He concludes that a student of Mandarin Chinese would be better off using online options or staying home and learning.
While I don’t doubt that there are problems with the way Mandarin is taught in China (students who study Mandarin in Taiwan have their fair share of complaints), there is one thing I am sure of: It is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to learn to speak Mandarin fluently if you never live in China or Taiwan.
I suppose there might be a rare exception–someone who moves to an enclave of Chinese speakers abroad and learns to speak Mandarin that way, but for most, they will never achieve fluency until they live abroad in Taiwan or China and speak Mandarin all day, every day, for six months to a year.