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Cookery classes are regularly held upstairs at the French Concession continental restaurant Mesa and are also held once a month at the Westin Shanghai. The food on offer varies monthly – from desserts to Italian or Southeast Asian cuisine – and the quality is very high. The Y350 charge includes the cooking and eating of a three-course lunch. The Portman Ritz-Carlton has a similar deal twice a month for Y328.

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Countless language schools have been set up to feed the throng of eager expats aiming to master Mandarin. It’s advisable to talk to students first to gauge their satisfaction with a school’s teaching methods. The following language schools are reputable and offer group or private tuition.

Berlitz (Bèilìzī; 6334 6262; www.berlitz.com; 35 fl, Ciro’s Plaza, 388 West Nanjing Rd; 38835) There’s another branch in Pǔdōng (6881 0558).

iMandarin (3222 1028; www.imandarin.net; Suite 721, Shanghai Centre, 1376 West Nanjing Rd; 1376721) With six branches, new classes start each week; from beginners to advanced, children’s courses, summer camps, business Mandarin. Cantonese classes also offered.

Mandarin Center (Wénhuà Yánxí Zhōngxīn; 6270 7665; www.mandarin-center.com; 16 Songyuan Rd, cnr Hongqiao Rd; 16) Part-run by the humanities department of Fudan University, with evening and weekend Mandarin classes, as well as instruction in Shanghainese dialect. Useful website.

Mandarin House (Měihé Hànyǔ; 6288 2308; www.mandarinhouse.cn; Room 1901-1903 Plaza 66, 1266 West Nanjing Rd; 12661901-1903) With seven branches around town, new classes start each week. Courses at all levels, with an average of four to six students per class.

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