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jbradfor

Intensive Summer Chinese Programs in the US

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jbradfor

When I started studying Chinese (in '88 ), I took a summer intensive program at UC Berkeley. This was a 10 week, 10 credit program, and is equivalent to an entire year of College language class. [We went through an entire book of PCR in 10 weeks!] Class consisted of 3 hours of classroom and 1 hour of language lab per day... and then several hours of studying..... I was really happy with the program, in large part because it went fast enough that we were able to put together a meaningful sentence after only 2 weeks (or so), compared to months or more in normal programs. So I highly recommend such programs to anyone, assuming it fits your schedule. These types of programs works out well for the common demographic of college (or high school) students planning on studying in China soon, as they usually don't have classes in the summer and most exchange programs start in the fall.

So, based on that, I thought it would be useful to start a thread for sharing experiences, good and bad, with such summer programs.

Any takers?

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xianu

Lots of schools actually offer intensive summer language programs. University of Colorado usually teaches 1st year and often teaches 2nd year, and sometimes 3rd year, depending on enrollments. Other ways of getting intensive language without leaving the states is to hit the programs like Middlebury summer language, where you are as close to immersion in a foreign country as possible. Students live in language specific dorms, take a language pledge, etc. I think the Claremont colleges started a similar program in the so cal area, but I don't know if it has been maintained. Also, for those who have had some college Chinese, and are looking for summer employment, the Concordia Language Villages have jobs for camp counselors, teachers, probably life guards, etc. They run like a summer camp for kids, but need college students for counselors, and all camp activities are done in the target language (so you can make lanyards or play volleyball in Chinese). and I think you get paid a tiny amount, too.

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OneEye

I know University of Texas offers 1st year courses every summer, and sometimes second year and higher. It's also a 10 credit course, and it covers PCR I and half of PCR II.

I actually plan on taking the first year Japanese I and II courses next summer.

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Meng Lelan
I know University of Texas offers 1st year courses every summer, and sometimes second year and higher. It's also a 10 credit course, and it covers PCR I and half of PCR II.

???

What's PCR, Practical Chinese Reader? So they're not using the New Practical Chinese Reader?

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OneEye

Yes, they still use Practical Chinese Reader.

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Meng Lelan

The old version? That's really strange. I would think UT Austin being such a progressive university would use NPCR in the Chinese program.

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OneEye

I'm not sure why. I'm glad though, because I don't really like NPCR as much, it's more expensive, etc. I don't really think it's a problem. They move on to other texts after the first year anyway.

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Meng Lelan

Is anyone here going through the Middlebury Summer Institute in Chinese language? I think they've got sessions for pre-college, college, and graduate students. I'd like to know of any feedback.

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cui ruide

Regarding Middlebury Summer Language School 9-week Chinese program (not the one for teenagers).

I took 3rd year a couple of years ago. I believe reactions are usully overwhelmingly positive, if you think the price is worth it. The teachers are assembled from the many of the leading universities in Chinese (Harvard, Berkley, etc.), most of which are natives of China or Taiwan, with lots of experience at university or private Chinese language programs. Students and grad students live in a couple of dorms on campus along with the teachers. Meals (except for breakfast) are scheduled so you eat only with your school. There are lots of cultural activies outside of class as well as inter-language sports competitions. There are official social gatherings every couple of weeks. At the end of the program there is a big show where students and teachers perform or sing to show off what they've learned. Vermont is beautiful in the summer. The campus is idyllic.

Class is several hours in the morning, then a oral one-on-one in the afternoon I remember.. Plenty of homework to review/preview at night. First-year students are speaking strugglingly but coherently in a week's time. Second-year seems to be the most "fun"--mostly I think because this stage in languag learning is when you've gotten down the basics to quickly learn new vocab and grammar, but you haven't hit the plateau yet. Third-year I think is supposed to be one of the harder years--it's when you plateau; you start with 40ish words a day and end up closer to 100... Lots of "shumian" vocabulary--more formal and weird to practice speaking... I don't remember which books, but they mostly describe modern Chinese social trends. Third-year students get pretty burned out I think. There's a 4th and 5th year level, too, but I don't know as much about those. I remember hearing them complain about lots of chengyu, and I think 5th is more Classical-based... Not sure about the grad student programs.

No matter what you will come out of the program feeling very comfortable speaking and thinking in Chinese. Depending on the level you take and how good your memory is, you might also feel very comfortable in all the vocab and grammar you learned. One complaint is that everyone's tones are terrible, though, because you're always speaking with non-native speakers/students all the time. But I don't know how you can get by this fact in a US based program.

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Meng Lelan

Thanks for the review.

I would imagine it feels kind of "artificial" maintaining a Chinese speaking atmosphere in some place in Vermont. Like if you go out shopping or take the public transport or something like that, and of course you can't practice Chinese in that sitation in Vermont.

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chen88

So apparently PCR does not mean Polymerase Chain Reaction... ha ha...

The Monterey Institute's Summer Intensive Language Program is a great language study option, although all students live off-campus. Like Middlebury, the program is extremely intensive.

Cornell University's FALCON program also appears to be an excellent option, although I am not familiar with anyone who actually went there.

Middlebury's MA program has a summer component, but it is for future teachers of Chinese.

If at all possible, students would be better off just going off to China for the summer. They would get a lot more out of it, and the price tag may end up about the same.

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Meng Lelan
If at all possible, students would be better off just going off to China for the summer. They would get a lot more out of it, and the price tag may end up about the same.

Yes. I agree 100%.

Except when extreme situations such as SARS and swine make students decide to stay home in the US. Then they tend to do Middlebury, Monterrey, etc.

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cui ruide

The immersion environment of the Middlebury langauge is certainl artificial, but it is rather successful, I think. Additionally, there is really rather little need to go off campus for more than a few things. Most necessities can be found on campus (regular students refer to this as the bubble..). Of course there are places to go off campus for fun and relaxation, but most everyone does this in the company of their classmates, language pledge in tow. Townsfolk respond to the summer students in a variety of ways... The college passes out language cheat sheets, so some clerks might try to go along with it, but I know a lot get kind of fed up with it haha. Last summer I passed some drunk kid stopped on his way from the bar in town responding to the Middlebury police in fledgling Chinese... Maybe not the best example, haha, but interesting..

Going to China may be cheaper and more authentic, but you have deal with the hassle of China, which quite frankly is a huge ordeal. Visas, shopping, living, interaction, traffic, medical emergencies, insurance, ordering food, etc. Of course all of these annoyances can becomes pleasures, and learning Chinese must eventually lead to China.. But it's a lot more to deal with. Middlebury provides a well-known and well-respected 9 week program in a scenic Vermont town where everything is provided or easily accessible and your only real concern is learning the language--of which you will be learning a lot, maybe more than you want.

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roddy

Given that the OP is specifically asking about the US, and we're getting a lot of useful info on US programs, could we keep the China vs US discussion for elsewhere - here, for example. Many thanks.

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Meng Lelan
we're getting a lot of useful info on US programs, could we keep the China vs US discussion for elsewhere

Sure, no problem - here's a question for those in the mid West US --- is Indiana University still running the East Asian Languages Summer Immersion because I have not heard of anyone going there in recent years. Anyone try to study Chinese in the summer there? I think that would be the Bloomington campus in Indiana.

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cook ding

Hi everyone, I asked this question in this thread, but I'll ask it here since its relevant; I am trying to learn Classical Chinese with no prior background in Chinese. I was wondering if anyone knew which programs would be best for those who are complete beginners, and whether there were any such programs that would be especially helpful for learning Classical. I would imagine that this would involve something like more emphasis on character recognition than learning conversational Mandarin; I'm not at all opposed to learning Mandarin, its just that I am specifically hoping to learn enough so that I can take the Introduction to Classical class that is being offered at my university next fall. Thanks for your help.

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muirm
Cornell University's FALCON program also appears to be an excellent option, although I am not familiar with anyone who actually went there.

I attended the FALCON program summer session to start my Chinese studies. I enjoyed the experience very much. We had 3 hours of (no English allowed) class per day, 1 hour of lecture in English, and two language lab sessions. It was pretty intense, but it definitely paid off for me. I wanted to continue on with the full year program, but I had to drop down to regular paced Chinese and continue with my actual major.

I also ended up meeting meeting my future fiance in FALCON that summer! (Your results may vary)

The following summer I went to IUP, which was also fun. This summer I'm attending PiB, which I'm really excited about. Summer study programs sure are a great way to squeeze in a lot of study when you have to do something else for the rest of the year.

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