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mi3gai4rui4

suggestions on IUP , BNU , Princeton summer

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mi3gai4rui4

I'm currently in my 3rd year of university mandarin. This next summer (possibly my last summer before graduating), I was thinking it would be a good idea to spend some time in Beijing and take language classes to bring up my proficiency.

One general question I have is, Is an 8 week program long enough to really improve my Chinese? Should I wait until after I graduate and then go for a full semester?

Has anybody done a summer program and noticed a huge difference? or been disappointed at how little they improved?

My current plan is to do a summer studying in Beijing, then do a 4th year of mandarin at my university in the USA, and then after graduation possibly going back to China, but to work, not to focus on studying language.

Sorry if this post's topic is not well defined. But moving on with further questions:

Assuming I do a summer in Beijing, the options I'm considering most right now are IUP, BNU through University of California, and BNU through Princeton.

I know the basics of the nature of all 3 programs, and I'd really just like feedback on how much people enjoyed / learned mandarin during their time there.

Thanks for reading all that.

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leifkarlen

I attended the Princeton in Beijing program in 2005 and learned a tremendous amount in the 8 week program. I'm currently back in China at a "regular" university program, and I greatly miss the quality and efficiency of the PIB program! If money isn't an issue (or you can get financial aid), I think attending such a program would be a sound investment.

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mi3gai4rui4

Do you have any complaints about it at all?

How did you find the "I will only speak Mandarin" oath?

Are the students who do it mostly Princeton students?

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leifkarlen

No major complaints, really. Sure, there were mornings when I wished we didn't begin at 7.30, and times when I thought they could spare us some chengyus, but in retrospect we learned a tremendous amount in 8 weeks. The language pledge worked well, and eating together with the teachers was the equivalent of several hours of kouyu class. Can't remember exactly, but I'd say about 30% were Princeton students.

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Jamoldo

Warning: almost all of this is what I've heard so take it with a grain of salt.

Princeton: Learn a lot, very very intense, like bootcamp, but you don't really leave the dorm (ie. you pretty much just eat, study, sleep) ,don't meet Chinese people. That being said, everyone I've talked to has been very positive about it. They did stress how tough it can be at times though.

BNU: A joke, just like normal summer programs at any university in China. No real homework, teachers are lax, and there are no real actual students around to hang out with. A waste of money. BTW I'm at BNU and have been for a year now and like it a lot but people definitely told me not to stay the summer. I went to a university in Dalian, Liaoning Normal University instead (do a search for it if interested). I had the same opinion with regards to workload, but Dalian was great for the summer and I made good friends who didn't speak English. So it was beneficial and Dalian's a great city.

IUP: A complete waste of money now and in a mess orginization-wise. My friend just finished two years at IUP and she says they lost their long tenured director, the computer software is not up to date (as it should be), and the teaching quality has plummeted recently (she's a Harvard PHD student who has been there since 2005, when she raved about how great it was). She was saying how they give the best teachers to advanced students when the less advanced types need it much more. The structure looks good though: Intense, lots of 1 on 1 time with teachers, very small classes (like 3-4 students). But she said it's just not worth the cost. Her suggestion: do CET Harbin or go to Taiwan and do ICLP or BLI in Beijing (started by ex-IUP staff).

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leifkarlen

Agree with Jamoldo that Princeton is very intense, and it's true that there isn't much interaction with Chinese students. However, there is an enormous amount of interaction with the teachers, not just during the small and individual classes, but also outside of class: lunch with the teachers at least twice a week, weekend trips etc. (Some of my best 口语classes took place during bus rides to places outside of Beijing...).

In short, although there is a great deal of character-memorization, there is a great deal of interaction as well.

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mi3gai4rui4

Jamoldo,

referring to BLI in Beijing, is that the same as BLCU?

On the BLCU website it says that it used to be called BLI, but it seems to old to have been set up by teachers who left IUP.

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mi3gai4rui4

I just decided to go to Princeton in Beijing rather than ICLP or IUP next summer.

I eliminated IUP because of several online or second-hand accounts I read saying that the teachers are better at ICLP. For instance, this article comparing IUP and ICLP came to that conclusion.

After that I needed to choose between PiB and ICLP. I chose PiB.

One reason was this this blog post on housing in Taipei. I really recommend this blog to anybody considering going to ICLP, including the other posts, which are more positive.

I'll point out that the student writing that particular blog was studying at ICLP through a scholarship program that gave him a specific amount to pay for housing, and he was very reluctant to pay any more than that scholarship would cover. People who aren't as stingy might not have as many problems. This is of course is a situation facing all those getting their own housing in Taipei. I chose to attend a program that provides dorm housing. One less thing to worry about during my first time in such a strange land.

I'll try and write a blog about my experiences at PiB (hopefully it'll get through the Great Firewall) and post the link here.

Thanks a lot to all on this forum who helped me decide.

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whitebigsanitat

That's funny, I just chose IUP over PiB and ICLP for the summer. Actually, from what I've read, ICLP probably would have been the best choice for me, but I realized (after sending in my application fee) that I wouldn't be able to get to Taiwan before the quarter started. I chose IUP over PiB because A) I heard that there's more of a summer camp feel at PiB and B) IUP has a smaller class size. I'll also try to post a bit about my experiences.

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yingxiong

I have some good friends who did the IUP program last year. Their methodology as far as I understand is pretty straightforward, which is why I sometimes am perplexed at how they get away with charging so much (if you calculate out the hourly rate). Essentially they expect students to come to class very prepared. There is no learning vocabulary words and making sentences with those words during class like you find at many schools in China. You will have memorized them the night before and pretty much familiarized yourself with the entire reading for the day. You use class to really discuss the reading with the teacher and work on building a deeper understanding of the text and vocabulary. I think it's effective, but still, is it worth the money? If you work with a flexible tutor, you could conceivably get the same methodology at probably 20% of the rate.

For full disclosure, I manage a language school in Beijing (http://www.1on1mandarin.com) and an online school (http://www.guavatalk.com). We have had IUP teachers on our staff, so our teachers are trained in that methodology. But what we've found is that not everyone wants that kind of intensity, and the methodology is primarily appropriate for students at the intermediate/advanced level. At our schools, we customize the style of teaching to the needs of the student. That's why we ask a lot of questions about goals and learning style before the student begins studying and create a customized study plan, which includes teaching methodology, homework intensity, and relevant curriculum for each student. Since we primarily specialize in 1on1 teaching, this kind of customization for each student is not only do-able but our commitment and brand promise to all students.

We do have a much more affordable summer program for students as well. We do not provide housing, but do have contacts with a number of real estate agents that we work with closely to match up students with housing. If you are coming to Beijing this summer, check out: http://www.1on1mandarin.com/summer or shoot us a question at [email protected].

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