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samurai

Advice needed about studying in China... Nanjing or Hangzhou

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samurai

Hello everyone! How are you? I hope you are all well...

I am currently based in London but am thinking of coming to China this year (for the first time). I intend to pursue a language course at a university for a few months, before attempting to travel around. Can anyone give me advice about where is good to go to learn Mandarin efficiently?

Having analysed my Lonely Planet Guide to China to death, I have narrowed down my choices to Nanjing (because the mix of city life, history, culture and location is appealing) or Hangzhou (because it is considered one of the most scenic spots in China and my friend who is studying there at the moment heartily recommends it).

Which choice is better? I want somewhere where I can learn Mandarin, make Chinese friends easily and also do some part-time English teaching...

Secondly, which universities do people recommend?

I am thinking at the moment of:

Nanjing Daxue;

Nanjing Normal University;

South East University;

Zhejiang University.

Which one is well-esteemed in China and considered the best place to go? Which one also has a reputable language and culture course for foreigners?

For anyone who has studied at the above-named institutions:

(1) What is the teaching like?

(2) How about accommodation, centrality and proximity to other areas in the city?

(3) How many other foreign students are there?

People say that it is better to go somewhere with fewer foreign students because then one is more compelled to use and practise one's Mandarin. I don't know how true this is, but I would like a healthy mix of Chinese and international students...

Many apologies for this inordinately long message, but ANY advice / help that people can give will be greatly appreciated.

No matter where I end up, I hope I will get the chance to meet some of you and become friends.

Thanks a lot, and have a great weekend!

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roddy

To be honest, I'm not sure there's much to chose between Nanjing and Hangzhou. There're both provinical capitals with a few tourist attractions, close to towns with other tourist attractions and not too far from Shanghai. I don't think you'd have any trouble making friends or finding part-time work in either of them.

Roddy

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sinofan

I'm in a similar situation, I graduated last year, tried taking the corporate dollar in London and now want to go (back) to China. I'm interested in the fact you want to learn in Nanjing, I taught in China 4 years ago in Fujian province and always wanted to go because people told me it was so much nicer than most other Chinese cities. What have you found out about studying there?

I'm considering Peking university because of its reputation, but I'm worried I wouldn't be able to get teaching work so easily in Beijing as there are so many lao wai. Its also quite pricey.

I'm also drawn to Kunming because the countryside is so beautiful- near to Lijiang/Dali and Tiger leaping gorge, and because of the temperate weather.

I'd be very interested in your thoughts/research!

Tristan

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BeijingSlacker

I might be wrong, but I've heard Nanjing's dialect is the closest to standard Mandarin in southern China, and Nanjing has much more history and culture stuff.

These don't make Nanjing a better choice to you as its highly subjective to choose between cities.

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Quest

"standard Mandarin" is pretty subjective as well.

In Nanjing, I believe Nanjing mandarin is the standard.

Is there standard English?

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roddy
but I'm worried I wouldn't be able to get teaching work so easily in Beijing as there are so many lao wai. Its also quite pricey.

There's no shortage of teaching work in Beijing. Also, although Beijing CAN be more pricey (there are more opportunities to spend your money in cafes and western restaurants) if you take care it can be little more expensive than anywhere else.

"standard Mandarin" is pretty subjective as well.

Subjective standards? :help

Roddy

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Quest
Subjective standards?

Roddy

That was in reply to:

but I've heard Nanjing's dialect is the closest to standard Mandarin in southern China

If Nanjing natives speak mandarin as their mother tongue, I don't see how a beijinger can judge on the "standardness" of Nanjing mandarin. The beijing standard is pretty much self given.

To you Roddy, British English is always the standard, but say that to Americans, and they would say that's BS.

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roddy

I'm sorry, but 'standard Mandarin' (lets call it Putonghua) isn't subjective - there are standards, books, tapes, tests (for foreigners and Chinese). Beijing folk might like to call it a Beijing standard, but they’d have very little basis for doing so – you get that kind of nonsense spouted in every city in the north east, and if any of them do have slightly more justification for it than another – so what?

However, there is a standard, and the Chinese use it a lot – ads for service jobs will request that you speak it, elementary school teachers are tested on it. If our Beijing slacker wants to measure Nanjing against it, he can – though as he points out himself it’s of very little value.

Roddy

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Quest

so it was a very innocent post by beijingslacker afterall.

let's happy20-20drunk.gif

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BeijingSlacker
"standard Mandarin" is pretty subjective as well.

In Nanjing, I believe Nanjing mandarin is the standard.

However, there is a standard, and the Chinese use it a lot – ads for service jobs will request that you speak it, elementary school teachers are tested on it. If our Beijing slacker wants to measure Nanjing against it, he can – though as he points out himself it’s of very little value.

It seems that the idea of standard Mandarin bothers some people. But as Roddy said, there does exist a single standard for Mandarin pronunciation in Mainland China, and this standard is strictly followed in many ways. Also, I cannot see how the fact that English doesnt have a standard leads to the conclusion that Chinese doesnt have a stardand either.

To Quest:

I am sorry if my comment offended you in any ways, I wasn't trying to suggest anything else by saying that there is a standard. (I've learnt to be much more sensitive on issues like this on this forum where most Chinese people are native Cantonese speakers rather than native Mandarin speakers) However, I cannot simply ignore the fact that there is a standard of Mandarin in Mainland China. Its just the way it is. If you feel like blaming anyone for that, it should be the PRC government. I was actually curious if you went through the Chinese education system or if you have any ideas how it is like now. The Pinyin system is strictly followed, which mean there is a single nationwide standard of Mandarin pronunciation. The first two questions on the Chinese part of the National College Entrance Examination are usually on standard Mandarin proununciation.

I actually happen to know a fair bit of Nanjing accent because my best female friend now is from Nanjing who majored in Chinese. Her writen Chinese is way better than mine ,but she told me she had a hard time distinguishing between "eng" and "en" as in 先生 and she still made tons of mistakes now. Also, they cannot distinguish "N" and "L". A well-known joke for them is a tongue twister "奶奶拿来牛奶"(Another one goes "南京男子篮球队”), which would sound very funny if you get a Nanjinger to say it. She told me explicitly she didnt like the sound of Beijing accent, which didnt really bother me, but she still asks me how to pronounce certain words once in a while, and let me correct her pronunciation because she was looking to work as a Mandarin instructor at some private school.

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Jive Turkey
However, there is a standard, and the Chinese use it a lot

So there is such a thing as an objective standard for Putonghua, and there is such a thing as "standard Putonghua," eh? If so, please enlighten us. Tell us about standard Putonghua. What does it sound like? Tell us what group of people speak this "standard Putonghua." Enjoy your stroll through the minefield.

I've asked a few assessors for the PSC what "standard Putonghua" means, and none of them gave the same answer. Fortunately, none of them are so arrogant or ignorant as to think that there can be such a thing as a "standard Putonghua." A handfull of standards by which they assess a speaker's Putonghua? Yes. A standard Putonghua? No.

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roddy

Oh, I don't know if anyone actually speaks it. Presumably all those people who get the jobs requiring '普通话标准‘. TV and radio presenters, I'd guess. Dashan.

Roddy

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imron
A handfull of standards by which they assess a speaker's Putonghua? Yes. A standard Putonghua? No.

Ok, this is really just semantic nitpicking.

The fact is, people in China commonly talk about "标准" putonghua, and it's not uncommon for people to talk about how "标准" one person's putonghua is compared to another's.

Amongst Chinese there is definately the notion of a standard by which to judge someone's putonghua. It might not be a standard carved into stone tablets and passed down from above by the relevant authorities, but the notion of what's standard and what's not still exists.

Granted, experts and academics are always going to argue and debate the finer details of what exactly constitutes this standard (and most likely they will never agree 100%), but the rest of us will just continue on with our merry little lives having a reasonable idea of what this standard is.

Perhaps "standard" is the wrong word to use, but you can forgive us for just directly translating it from the Chinese :mrgreen:

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woodcutter

I suppose Samurai is wielding his weaponry in China by now, but if I might return to the original post, Nanjing University has a superb reputation and is right in the heart of the city. As I recall the main Uni in Hangzhou is less convenient. Most people who work in Nanjing love the place, the "centre of the world" one colleague used to say, it is a slightly bigger and more convenient city than Hangzhou, and it wouldn't lack anything Hangzhou has, including a large lake.

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