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roddy

Dongcai, DUFE, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, 东北财经大学

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roddy

How many names can one university have :evil:

 

Anyway, as mentioned yesterday in my thread about moving to Dalian, I've ended up on a course at what is generally referred to as Dongcai. Some thoughts.

 

When I started looking for a course to enroll on I had some doubts for a couple of reasons. One was that I was looking for something fairly easy so that it wouldn't impact too much on work, but that would still be of some use. The other was that after being out of full-time education for the best part of a decade I might find it somewhat odd to be back in the classroom.

 

After a bit of hunting around - in retrospect I did nowhere near as much research as I should have, but it all just kind of happened on impulse - I ended up going for a BA in Chinese Language at Dongcai. NB, this is a CSL type course, with only foreign students, not a 'proper' degree in Chinese for Chinese students. It is however an accredited BA degree, and there is now a file with my name on it at 大连教委会 or somewhere (uselessly, but more of that later.)

 

Reasons for choosing this course were:

 

There was no way I was going to even consider studying for three or four years, so a full BA or MA in China wasn't really an option. However, Dongcai will let you into the third year with an HSK 7, which I figured meant I could do one year and then decide if I thought it was worthwhile sticking around for the second year and picking up the BA. I already have a first degree, so a second one isn't essential, but it wouldn't hurt if it was only an extra 9 months or whatever and I was enjoying the course.

 

Given that the HSK 7 was from a few years ago and I've been in China since, I assumed my level would be at the high end for the class. However I'm also painfully aware that never having systematically studied there are a lot of gaps and sloppiness in my Chinese, and I thought going back and sitting down with textbooks might do me a lot of good - while at the same time meaning things wouldn't be too challenging, as detailed above.

So as detailed elsewhere I sorted out the application with a bit of help from HYCC, got the student visa, jetted off to Dalian, found an apartment and turned up for class.

 

I'll make it clear here, the below applies only to the BA classes. I'm hearing only good things about the normal language courses that you'll likely be on if you just enroll for a semester or two. I would quite happily recommend anyone looking for a standard Chinese university course in Dalian takes a look.

 

I started off in the third year classes. Taking it bit by bit:

 

Teachers: The teachers are without exception pleasant and friendly people, but it's also clear that the majority haven't had (or aren't applying) training in teaching languages. Lip service is paid to raising ability to communicate, but then a two hour class follows where the only opportunity to open your mouth involves reading a sentence from the book.

 

I think a part of the problem was that having taught before I couldn't help but sit there and back-seat teach. "No, don't ask us that, we haven't done any warm-up exercises." "Don't play the tape, you haven't told us what we're listening for." However the fact that I've taught before means I'm quite confident in saying that there were serious problems with the classes. Things that a teacher should just not do where happening every few minutes and at times I felt like I was watching a slow, non-fatal, car crash. Some examples:

 

Shy students speak very quietly. Teacher then stands next to said student so she can hear what is said, rather than training the students to speak up and out.

 

Student has just said something which, due to any number of reasons, the majority of people have not understood. Rather than helping the student improve the utterance so others can follow, the teacher rephrases it herself, simultaneously telling the speaker 'that was shit, nobody understood' and the other students 'don't bother listening to the others, I'll tell you what they said'.

 

Going through exercises in the book, teachers going round the class, in order, asking questions in order. Result: everyone counts up to the question they'll be asked, figures out the question, falls asleep till their turn.

 

After explaining something, the teacher asks 'Do you understand?', observes a sea of book-turned faces, and then says 'Good, let's continue'. Do that and you have no idea whatsoever who has understood what. Ask a few pertinent questions.

 

For the majority of teachers and the majority of class-hours, they were teaching right out of the book, and in some cases actually managing to make it even less interesting than it sounds. When attempts to involve students were made it was often inept, if well meaning. One example was when after three or four (thankfully non-consecutive) hours of going over a long article in quite some detail, the question 'So, what do you think about family relationships?' gets thrown out to the class, and the poor guy looks surprised when nobody leaps to their feet and starts opining. Build it up with small, personal chunks (how do you relate to your family?) and work from there, and you'll get results.

 

I think part of the problem is that as the BA class, and the higher-end of the BA class at that, we got the 'senior' teachers. Sounds good in theory, in practice that means older teachers who were trained longer ago and teach in a more 'traditional' manner. Potentially great lecturers, but not language teachers in my book. Broadly speaking the younger a teacher was the better they were, and I suspect this is because they've been trained more recently. The language course students are taught I think almost exclusively by these teachers.

 

Symptomatic of this was something I didn't even notice until about a week in. Nobody ever asked questions. Not once did anyone say 'Excuse me, but why is the answer B?' or even 'I don't understand.' I did once and the poor guy looked so surprised I didn't dare do it again.

 

Students: Unsurprisingly and overwhelmingly Japanese and Korean. I didn't count but I think the class of 20 (yes, too many for my liking too) broke down roughly 9 or 10 Korean, 7 or 8 Japanese, one Thai girl, a North Korean guy (actually by far and away the friendliest and open of any of them) and myself. Again, nice enough people but very much inclined to stick to their own groups - they'd speak Chinese between groups for the sake of asking a question, but hardly ever did I see any of the Koreans or Japanese just chat in Chinese. If I started a conversation in Chinese with anyone it would move into Japanese or Korean as soon as anyone else turned up, and Chinese would be used only if they wanted to directly ask me something.

 

Partly I'd attribute this to the way the class was run. There was absolutely no attempt to run any kind of ice-breaker (although this was a third year class, approximately half the students were new). Very first hour the teacher told us that she didn't have a name-list so she couldn't get everyone to introduce themselves (!) and the second class we were told 'Well, you've all met each other now, so lets get cracking on the textbook.' Only one teacher suggested it might be a nice idea to only speak Chinese in the classroom, and she made no effort to enforce that. A few of the more out-going students did make an effort, but I suspect that even now a lot of them would have trouble naming a lot of their classmates.

 

Most annoying was an absolute antipathy on the part of many students to opening their mouth and speaking Chinese. On behalf of the new students, who were mainly Korean and had not been to China before, this was kind of understandable, but some people had been there for three years and when asked a direct question would come up with a monosyllabic answer or a request for more time to "想一想"

 

I put up with this for a couple of weeks, on the basis that surely it would get better. It didn't, and I moved up to the fourth year classes. This wasn't a decision based on the level of the language, as I was finding a fair amount of useful stuff in the textbooks, and the stuff I already knew I would have been happy to consolidate, it was more due to the teaching and the way the classes were working.

 

So, fourth year classes:

These have been much better, mainly for two reasons. Firstly, the classes are a third the size - we average out at six or seven per class. Secondly the students are actually capable of, and happy to, talk Chinese. There's still a lot of Korean and Japanese spoken, but if I butt in in Chinese I don't feel like I'm killing the conversation.

 

The teaching is somewhat better. The smaller class and more talkative students mean the teachers are more inclined to offer chances to talk. I'm inclined to say that the most is not made of these - very often you'll say something, be told 'very good', and that's it. There's no effort to pick out the errors which I know I'm making and make me correct them. But it's a million times better. And it's on the second floor, rather than the fifth.

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gato

What classes are you taking and what textbooks are you using? What are homework assignments and exams like? Just wondering what's taught in 4th-year Chinese B.A. classes for foreigners.

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roddy

I'll list the textbooks and classes below:

3rd year:

高级汉语口语, 汉语口语教程, 7-5619-0687-7. 4 class hours a week

高级汉语综合,现代汉语高级教程 下, 7-5619-1191-2, 6 class hours a week

高级商务汉语,经贸汉语高级教程,7-5600-3714-3 (FLTRP, all others are BLCU), 6 class hours

新闻听力,新闻听力教程,7-5619-0913-6, 4 class hours

现代汉语词汇,汉语词汇教程,7-5619-0865-2, 2 class hours

汉语写作,汉语写作教程,978-7-5619-1190-7, 2 class hours

Also on the timetable as a couple of hours of English (apparently this is compulsory, but I don't think they've thought about what happens if you have a native English speaker turn up. So I didn't turn up), a 中国人文地理 class and a 中国民俗. All two class hours. Those last two didn't start until after I'd switched class. Not sure if there's a textbook for them.

4th Year

中国社会概览,中国社会概览, 756190735, 6 class hours

高级阅读与表达, 当代话题:高级阅读与表达教程, 756191189, 4 class hours,

商务文书与写作,4 class hours. There is a book for this, but I don't have it. It's dreadful anyway.

There are also four hours of classes on law (中国法律概况,中国涉外法规) and two on 中国文史通论, although I've never been to that last one and I'm not sure if it's happening. The law ones don't appear to have books - or at least not ones we're told to buy.

There are also classes on translation, two hours a week, but they only run 韩日,韩汉 at the moment. When I was in third year I was told they'd need to sort out a 汉英 one as it's compulsory, but now I've moved to fourth year and will not be graduating I'd guess that's not going to happen.

That's something I think I forgot to make clear in the above post - you need to do a minimum of two years to graduate. Taking the fourth year classes means that I'm regarded as a 进修生 and won't graduate.

Exams I have no idea about, we haven't really been told anything, beyond a couple of teachers telling us to pay attention to this bit as it's in the exam or 'we won't do exercise 7, I'm using that for the exam‘. Part of final grades depends on partially either in class performance or essays done through the term and mainly the actual exams.

Homework is very light - couple of simple essays here and there, no length specified but people were handing stuff in about the 300 mark and it was just accepted. 'Do exercise 4' type stuff, but in the third year class very few did it (or would admit to do it) The only substantial piece I saw handed out was a 1000 character essay for one third year class. This doesn't bother me too much as I have plenty of stuff I know I need to be doing - learning to write ranking pretty high, and I'm taking 4.5 hours of classes a week at a private school (will write up about that at some point also).

I'm not sure how representative of other universities this is, but that's pretty much the situation here.

There's a bit of a legal / business slant, which reflects the university's focus.

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gato
商务文书与写作,4 class hours. There is a book for this, but I don't have it. It's dreadful anyway.

I have plenty of stuff I know I need to be doing - learning to write ranking pretty high

How are they teaching the writing class? I find practicing translating from English to Chinese to be a useful exercise. It forces you to focus on the mechanics and not worry about content as you would if you were writing your own stuff.

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roddy

The writing class is actually a complete joke and I've skipped it the last couple of lessons. Might pop back in to see if it's getting any better. The guy seems to think it necessary to, eg, explain the very concept of what an application letter is, rather than actually get into the mechanics of writing, and he also wastes as much time as possible by rambling off on tangents to cover up the fact he's not sure what he's meant to be teaching. I got the Developing Writing Skills in Chinese text which I think you recommended yourself elsewhere, and that's very good. Am working steadily through that.

At the moment I'm literally having to learn to write the characters by hand (up at about 1500 now), and then make sure I've got the right characters associated with the right words, and then move my writing up above the MSN / SMS stage. I'm doing all this in parallel. It's not much fun, but I do feel like I'm making some progress.

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roddy

Well, I reckon it's pretty good. Feel free to recommend it in the future :mrgreen:

I was in the UK at the time, so I probably wanted to get your recommendations but couldn't get hold of them. I got the one I did from Amazon at no small expense . . .

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Doja87

Hello everyone,I have been accepted to study PHD degree at DUFE,please how do you find studies there? Can anyone tell me about accommodation ,will I get a single room or shared one (I am a foreign scholarship student ) and are bathrooms shared there? Please can you also give me some advices , I am a little bit lost because I don't find much information about this university apart from what is officially said on its website, thank you in advance :)

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LinZhenPu

Has anyone attended this university for the BA in Chinese for foreigners recently? Interested in whether or not it has improved at all...

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