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BJM2126

Private vs. Uni?

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BJM2126

I am hoping someone can help me with my situation;

Basically I am looking to study Mandarin in the fall for around 6 months or possibly longer. I am definitely looking for an intense program. I do not want too many english speaking foreigners as that may detract from my immersion but at the same time, I wouldn't want to be the only one either. As far as cost is concerned, while I do not want to spend an arm and a leg, I am willing to spend if I can get some really good instruction. I would say my level is a true elementary, took a course at Columbia and have studied informally, can probably recognize 350 characters or so, can hold basic conversations. Finally, in terms of location, I would probably look to stay away from Beijing (unless somebody knows of a really great opportunity there). I know how saturated Beijing is with foreigners and I would like to stay away from developing the "er" sound in my speaking. Would be open to either Shanghai (may have to compromise a little on the number of foreigners) or possibly somewhere like Nanjing. Here are the questions I am hoping someone can help me with.

1) Are private schools really worth it? Their intensive programs suggest up to 30 hours of

study (ACLS, CLE), which I would have to think one would make good progress given

this. So on the surface they certainly seem worth it, but I worry that they may be kinda

"cheezy" for lack of a better word and there might not be much opportunity to learn

from local's. I have seen some posts on these programs but not enough to make a real

judgement on the quality of these programs.

2)With the Uni's, will they be able to provide the same level of intensity as the private

schools, for someone at the elementary level? I have heard rumors that the lower your

level, the less class time you get.

3)Are there any reputable programs that help you apply to Uni's and also help facilitate

your travel's to China?

4)Can anyone recommend a quality program in Nanjing? What are the Pro's and cons of

the different Shanghai schools?

Basically, I am weighing the convenience of the Private school vs. the better chance of immersion (and prestige) on a Uni. Any help/input is very much appreciated.

BJ

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weilian

I attended an intensive program at BLI(Boomerang) and I'm now studying with them several hours a day. I wholeheartedly recommend their program as a good value - especially when you need to get up to speed quick. I studied around 20 hours a week which I feel is the most you can do and still keep your sanity at the place. We studied two books concurrently and I got through about 3 and a half semesters of texts within the four months. Also, since you're studying in a one on one/two environment you can get your teacher to correct you from using 'er.'

Whether or not you speak Chinese outside of class in either a uni or a private program will be based on a set of lifestyle choices that you yourself will decide. While Beijing is saturated with foreigners, its also saturated with a lot of Chinese people. Its really up to you.

The teachers there are mostly former IUP, one former Middlebury or former BNU. Send me a private message if you want a bit more information. I consider it a stroke of luck that I got a whiff of this place from an acquaintance or else I might be up a creek when it comes to my language skills.

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Iriya

Why would anyone go to a private school when all universities are offering Chinese language courses is beyond my understanding.

Moved to more relevant topic. R.

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fanglu

You should read the many archived discussions on the forums - there are a lot of good reasons. For a start, flexibility, teaching style, class size.

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jbradfor

To that good list, I'll add for non-full time students, especially people with a full time job and/or family.

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JenniferW

I've just spent around 4 weeks in Beijing attending classes at a private language school - Live the Language.

I had a maximum of a month available, and wanted to focus on particular things rather than sit in group classes covering a general course, and Live the Language gave me exactly what I wanted. They set up classes to fit my travel dates, the number of hours I wanted (less than the typical 20 hours of uni courses), and good teachers who focused on what I wanted to spend time on. The cost was no more per hour than many private tutors are now charging in Beijing, so it may not have been cheap, but I came away feeling I'd had value for money. They were also really good to deal with.

In the past I've attended short courses at Bei Wai and at Xibei in Xi'an, and this was way above those in quality. I'll probably go back again next year for a short course somewhere, and after this, don't think I'll even bother to think about the typical short courses the unis are offering - this was so much better.

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Scoobyqueen

Like JenniferW, I also just attended the Live the Language school (I have written some feedback elsewhere on this forum). I was impressed with Live the Language and also went away with the feeling I had achieved what I set out to do. The school is owned by a foreigner and the organised approach is reflected with a person asigned to track student development. I can also recommend BLI which is also owned by a foreigner. Reviews can be found elsewhere on these forums. I would always choose one to one tuition over group programmes as apparently you get the double out of it so the experts say. To compare classes at Beijing Normal uni translate into 40 yuan an hour but with 20 students per class, a private class at a good school like Live the language may cost 120 yuan an hour, but you get to focus on a programme tailored to your needs.

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abcdefg

Though I have not attended that particular school, I agree wholeheartedly with JenniferW and Scoobyqueen about one-to-one classes being the best way to go, particularly when one has well defined goals and limited time.

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matteo

 

This is a bit of an old thread post but popped out as the most relevant when searching for discussions of the "private vs uni" kind...

The general consensus seem always to be that:

On 4/30/2011 at 8:23 PM, abcdefg said:

one-to-one classes [are] the best way to go, particularly when one has well defined goals and limited time.

 

I'm curious to know whether in your opinion there's a big difference between one-to-one and one-to-two classes (assuming that the two students have very similar level and objectives).

You might get less time dedicated specifically to you, but I guess it could add a bit of variety and make it flow a bit easier?

 

By the way, I asked a few schools about it and the difference in price is not very high, my understanding is that you only get a 10% discount per person when sharing a class.

 

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Flickserve

One to two can also be helpful - you don’t have to work continually at maximum intensity. Some of the materials covered by the other person could be good reinforcement for you and vice versa.
 

However, more of an issue would be logistics. 

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abcdefg
8 hours ago, matteo said:

I'm curious to know whether in your opinion there's a big difference between one-to-one and one-to-two classes (assuming that the two students have very similar level and objectives). You might get less time dedicated specifically to you, but I guess it could add a bit of variety and make it flow a bit easier?

 

I never took classes with only one other student, so I can't really say for sure about that.  

 

I did take some classes with 3 other students and another series with 4 other students. These were in Beijing, at a very early stage in my Chinese study. What I remember from then (a long time ago) is that I tended to mentally half-way rest when the other students were being quizzed or answering the teacher. It was difficult for me to stay fully engaged. 

 

When I do a one-to-one class with a good teacher it is very intense. I emerge at the end exhausted, but in a good way. Sweaty and gasping for breath like after running a 10 K foot race. (Exaggerating slightly here.) There is no "coasting" at any point during the lesson. I am constantly using 100% of my resources.

 

I've known people who disliked that situation, who found it painful., who wanted a "gentler" learning situation. Personally, I find it exhilarating and thrive on the challenge. 

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JenniferW

I've been a language teacher as well as a student, and have experience of one-to-one, classes, small groups and large groups. Overall, it's what you'd expect - the fewer people in the classroom, the more the teaching can be specifically designed for the one - or few. But one-to-one with a teacher who doesn't have the appropriate experience can be worse than a good teacher with a larger group.

 

I have been in a class with only two other people (twice a week for a year) and it was a good experience. The group was small enough that there was a lot of time for individual attention, but other people to share the load (and cost) with, and enough of us for role play, for example. We were also not all at exactly the same level, and certainly varied in our learning styles and speed, but I'd say it was one of my most productive experiences as a student. But I also remember we all also rated the teacher.

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