Living with a Chinese family in Shanghai is an excellent way to improve your speaking and listening skills outside of the classroom.

At LTL we believe that learning Mandarin Chinese shouldn’t be all about textbooks and grammar exercises, but communicating with local people, and letting them teach you directly about the language and culture of China.

Your host family is sure to offer you a warm welcome into their home, and you’ll end up feeling more like a family member than a guest.

You’ll join them around the table for home-cooked meals, meet friends and relatives, and travel around for family excursions and celebrations at the weekends.

Laodice from Switzerland with her homestay family
  • Become part of a Chinese family
  • Practice your spoken Mandarin
  • Your own private room and key
  • Home-cooked Chinese meals
  • Breakfast and Dinner provided
  • All WiFi and bills included

Practice Your Mandarin

  • Listening skills: Hear Chinese around you from dawn ‘til dusk
  • Speaking skills: Improve beyond your wildest dreams
  • No Sharing: Only one international student per homestay
  • Mandarin 24/7: Never English

Live In Comfort

  • Quality: Clean, modern and spacious family apartments
  • Convenience: 30-60 mins from LTL
  • Privacy: Your own single bedroom and key
  • All-inclusive: Free WiFi and air con, bills all included

Experience Chinese Culture

  • Cuisine: Eat home-cooked Shanghainese food
  • Diverse: vegetarian, vegan, halal meals all available
  • Family life: Cook, visit relatives and celebrate festivals together
  • Modern China: TV, music and social media trends

LTL Homestay Support

  • Years of Experience: 80% of LTL students opt for homestay
  • Safety: We visit all families and stay in close contact
  • Suitability: Students and families are individually matched
  • Advice: We will help you to understand language

Shanghai Homestay Information

Each and every LTL host family has been personally selected by us. We’ve visited their homes and built strong relationships with them over the years.

Our families are all keen to make sure that each student who lives with them leaves Shanghai with a good impression of their city and culture.

We strongly recommend eating at least one meal every day with the family, not least because mealtimes are when students get their most valuable Chinese practice.

Dinnertime around the table is a great opportunity to get an insight into your host family’s life, share stories with them from home, and learn first hand about one of the most important aspects of Chinese culture – the food!

Many students remain good friends with their host family long after their LTL program has ended – and some even return to Shanghai for a reunion.

We spend time matching each student to the most suitable homestay. Once you have booked your program and homestay with us online, we will send you a questionnaire to fill out, so you can indicate your lifestyle habits and any special requirements and preferences.

Complete Beginners in Mandarin: Many students who stay in an LTL homestay have never studied Mandarin Chinese before. That’s absolutely fine – your host family will have had lots of experience communicating with complete beginners.

It’s amazing how much you can communicate with gestures and a dictionary phone app! Jumping right in at the deep end and immersing yourself in Chinese 24/7 will do wonders for your language progress too, since many everyday words will come up in conversation again and again. However, if you’d prefer a family that speaks a little English too, just let us know.

Vegetarians, Vegans, Halal and other Special Dietary Needs:  Let us know your dietary needs in advance and we will inform your homestay.

Dinner with the homestay family!

Other requirements: If you have any other special requirements or preferences, please contact us and we can discuss how we can accommodate your needs.

The Process

  1. Contact us, get advice, and sign up for the course and homestay option best suited to you
  2. Fill out the homestay questionnaire online
  3. Approximately one week before arrival: Receive information about your homestay and get in contact with them if you’d like
  4. Arrival Day: If you’ve booked an Airport Pick Up or a Shanghai Survival Kit then you’ll be collected by our private driver at the airport or train station and taken directly to your homestay address. Otherwise show the address we’ve given you to a taxi driver.
  5. First Day of School: Your host family will take you to the school for your first day of class, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost.

Pricing (Chinese Yuan)

Here are the prices in CNY for a sample number of weeks in an LTL Shanghai homestay.

1 week3,618
2 weeks7,026
3 weeks10,232
4 weeks13,245
5 weeks16,074
6 weeks18,728
7 weeks21,212
8 weeks23,537
9 weeks25,707
10 weeks27,732
11 weeks29,617
12 weeks31,368
13-52 weeks
(price per week)
extra night603

For alternative durations and prices in other currencies, please contact us.

Arrival and Departure Day

Students usually move into their homestay on the Sunday before their first day of class, and move out on the Saturday after their final day of class.


Why is the homestay option more expensive?

Staying with one of our carefully-selected homestays is not like renting a private room. You become a member of a family, and the rest of the family will go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Your hosts know you are in China to learn about the Chinese language and culture, so they will teach you new vocabulary, explain local customs, and if you’ve chosen the half- or full-board option, cook you delicious Chinese dishes too! In many cases families invite students to share in other aspects of their lives too – school events, family reunions and local festivals, for example. You’ll leave with a valuable insight into modern China, and memories to last a lifetime.

Will my host family talk to me and help me with my Chinese?

When we select our homestays we make sure that their motivations to become a host family fit with our school’s ethos. We don’t work with families who just want to earn some extra money by renting out a spare room – only those that are genuinely interested in meeting foreigners. The majority of people in China have rarely or never been abroad themselves, so our families are very keen to host international students and hear about their home countries. At the same time, they love introducing foreigners to their own culture. That means you will have plenty to talk about!

Even if your Chinese is not advanced enough for lengthy discussions on cultural differences, your family will still teach you a lot about their culture. We’ve been working with the same homestay families for a long time, and they are very patient with students in the first stages of learning Chinese. They will especially enjoy introducing you to Chinese food, and teaching you the names of dishes on the dinner table!

Can I stay in the same homestay as my friend or partner?

If you’re coming to Shanghai with a partner or family group and you wish to live together, we will do our best to find you a suitable homestay (subject to availability).

There is a 20% discount on rent per person if you share a bedroom.

However, if full Chinese immersion is what you’re looking for, be aware that living with another person who speaks your language is not ideal.

There will be the constant temptation to speak in your own language to each other, and you will probably spend less time speaking in Chinese to your hosts too.

We would be happy to organise one homestay per person – we even have junior-approved homestay families specifically vetted for minors, so older children can live in their own homestay if you would like.

Will I have enough privacy?

Our families respect students’ need for privacy and quiet time.

You will have your own room and your hosts will not enter without asking you first.

Are bills and WiFi included in the price?

Yes, all bills and home WiFi are included in the prices above.

And what if I’m really not happy living there?

If there’s something about your homestay that you don’t find satisfactory, please let us know immediately. We will either talk to the family and work out a solution together with them, or help you move to a new homestay if necessary.

Should I bring a gift for my host family?

You do not need to bring a gift, but your family will appreciate it if you do.

Usually small, simple gifts such as local food or souvenirs from your home country go down well.

Will I have any information about my family before I arrive?

Approximately one week before you arrive you’ll receive some information about your homestay family – the members of the family at home, their names, a photo of your bedroom and the family’s contact details. If you’d like to talk to the family before you arrive then don’t hesitate to send them a message – they’ll be glad to hear from you.

How many students live in each homestay?

We never place more than one student in the same homestay at the same time, unless you request to live with your friend or partner. For us it’s important that the homestay provides a genuine Chinese immersion environment – with a second international student this would not be the case, as you would inevitably talk in English or your own native language together.

What are the facilities like? Will they have a squat toilet?

The homestay families we work with are all middle / upper class and have a very high standard of living. We visit each homestay family at their apartment before selecting them for our program and check the quality of the accommodation. All have modern facilities such as central heating, air-conditioning, a television, refrigerator and wifi. The toilets are Western-style (not squat). Of course, the apartment may look very different to apartments you have seen at home in terms of design, but they are all clean and comfortable.

Do I have to be home on time every night for dinner?

We strongly recommend that you spend as many mealtimes as possible with your homestay family, because they are a fantastic opportunity to practice your conversational Mandarin and learn first hand about Chinese food and culture.

However, your host family knows that there will be days when you have other plans – for example, we have regular Wednesday night social dinners at LTL Shanghai. If you do plan to eat out, we simply ask that you contact your host family in good time to tell them you won’t be back in time for dinner.

You are free to socialise and go out as and when you want to, including travel at the weekends if you’d like.

You will have your own key and there is no curfew. Of course, it’s important to respect your hosts and keep quiet if you return late at night – that’s just common courtesy.

What if I have difficulty communicating?

Especially for beginners, there will be many times during your stay that you struggle to communicate exactly what you want to say. However, don’t be disheartened, because this process is what will push you to progress in the language.

We highly recommend that even complete beginners live in a homestay where no English is spoken for this exact reason.

However, if there’s something important that you want to communicate to your family, but your language skills don’t yet allow it, just let us know and we will be glad to help you.

We also work with some families where at least one family member speaks some English, so if you are especially worried about communication, please indicate that you’d like to be placed with such a family.

I’m scared of offending – is there anything I shouldn’t do?

Moving in with a strange family in a new city may seem daunting, especially if you’re afraid of offending them in any way.

But our homestay families have plenty of experience with foreign guests and they are aware of cultural differences.

They are very unlikely to be insulted by anything you do, and indeed they will more likely be interested in how you are different.

As long as you show common courtesy to your hosts – respecting their own privacy, wording requests in a polite manner etc. – then you will not cause any offence.

If you have any specific questions after arrival, or you would like us to communicate something particular to your family, let us know and we will help you.

What Our Students Say

Milas Testimony for LTL
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The family I ended up staying with were great, and I truly felt like part of the family. I became the “big brother” to their five year old son! They always wanted me to join in their daily life which was great.

Read More

Emily Testimony for LTL
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Emily joined the LTL Multi-city program which means that she's spending time in Shanghai, Beijing and Chengde. Here she talks about her experience living with homestay families and life in China at LTL Mandarin School.

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Etienne Testimony for LTL
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Like previous time, I stayed with a homestay for the whole duration which was good. The family always wanted to do things with me, play badminton, soccer, read books. It was nice feeling like part of the family.

Read More

Louise Testimony for LTL
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Before going to China, I remember being excited but also a little bit scared to choose the homestay option, but the hospitality that my homestay family showed me was more than I had ever expected.

Read More

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  • LTL Avatar Mojca Godec
    Mojca Godec , Student Advisor

    Welcome to LTL Mandarin School!

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