Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
elliott50

Distance learning Chinese language programs based at UK universities

Recommended Posts

elliott50

I have just finished a three-year distance-learning Chinese program offered by Sheffield University in the UK, which I have really enjoyed and so can wholeheartedly recommend.

The course involves regular telephone and written assessments, plus attendance at Sheffield for four weekend sessions in a two year period (though I think only the two exam weekends are compulsory).

I did the language course as part of a MSc in "Chinese Language, Business and International Relations", but the language training element is now also available outside the degree. (The non-language elements of the degree are excellent too by-the-way, though I'm still working to complete my dissertation...) You can do the course from anywhere in the world - some of my fellow students were based in mainland China, Taiwan, HK, Japan, USA...

The course page is: http://www.shef.ac.uk/seas/dlc/chsemodules.html

The only thing they don't tell you is that you really need to practice the material with a chinese person for at least an hour each week to keep up with the pace of the course - at least I did anyway and used a private tutor.

As an alternative, but for absolute beginners. The Open University in the UK is also just about to start a beginners' Chinese course. As I also have a degree from the OU, I can wholeheartedly recommend that institution too!

The course page is: http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses/bin/p12.dll?C01L197

Unfortunately, this course is only available in the UK and Europe.

I spent many years doing evening classes in Chinese, including at SOAS in London, but it wasn't until I submitted to the rigor of the academic program at Sheffield university that I really made progress.

As I believe both of these courses deserve to be better known by learners of Chinese around the world, please feel free to ask me any questions.

Elliott

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

roddy

What actual level did the course bring you to over those three years - are there any external references you could point to - ie, you completed book two of some Chinese course, or you were told you should be able to get a certain score on some exam?

Thanks for the post, by the way, very helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
elliott50

Over the three years studying part-time by distance-learning on the Sheffield course, I got to the same level as if I had taken a year off work and studied full-time resident at the university.

The first two years of the course (modules "Intensive Chinese I & II") cover all 4 skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) for 1066 words and 720 simplified characters. The material is presented as web pages on two CD-ROMs and is based on the classic 1st year undergraduate text "Colloquial Chinese" by T'ung and Pollard (also still used for example at SOAS in London for their equivalent courses).

The third year course, "Practical Chinese for Research", is focused solely on teaching you how to read, comprehend, translate and summarize authentic texts (in simplified characters) with the help of a dictionary. The 20 authentic texts are very wide in scope, ranging from personal matters (love, marriage, domestic violence, old age...) to public policy matters (politics, economics, environment, drugs...). Most texts are drawn from newspapers or the Internet. Each text comes with some really helpful supporting notes, giving you just enough support to make sense of the text and do the required exercises, but not so much help that doing the work does not still present a challenge!

As a result of the third-year course I am confident that I can pick up any contemporary Chinese text in simplified characters and make sense of it, given enough time and a good (preferably electronic) dictionary. I'm afraid I did not count how many different characters I encountered when doing the third course, as that was not the point. Around a thousand additional words are given in the supporting notes, but there are many more new words that you are expected to look up for yourself!

If you are taking the Sheffield distance-learning Chinese courses outside of a degree program, you can probably skip lower level courses if your standard is high enough. The staff at the distance learning centre are very friendly, so just send them an e-mail and ask.

(BTW Sheffield also have a very successful distance-learning language learning program for Japanese too...)

Elliott

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chen Jiu

I am currently studying through Sheffield's online Chinese Business International Relations Masters course. I would recommend it too so far having nearly finished my first year. I couldn't tak ethe language part though as my level was already beyond the starting point, so catering for different language levels would make the course even better. Has anyone found that doing an MA/Msc (yes, without the language it becomes a Msc) in a China-related field opens doors to either a job in China (non-teaching), or working with China in some way?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chen Jiu

A slight twist on this one which makes the original recommendation all but redundant. Sheffield have announced that their East Asian studies distance learning programme will be shelved due to low numbers. Existing students will be supported until graduation (phew!) but there will be no new intake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
elliott50

Thank you for breaking this news Chen Jiu, I hope you are able to finish your studies smoothly.

I have to say, I am very sad for future students of East Asia that Sheffield University have decided to withdraw all of their distance learning courses because of budget constraints. Without a distance-learning option, I certainly would never have studied the course. I am also sad too for the hand-full of staff working the distance learning centre, who are presumably facing redundancy.

The only good news is that the new UK Open University course in Beginners' Chinese is just about to start. We can only hope that the OU become a champion of this area.

Elliott

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
joneeboy72

Sheffield have packed up because there is just not the interest in doing their courses, especially the most basic ones. There are so many places across the UK where local education authorities run basic and intermediate Mandarin courses at a very low cost, but even those are not well supported.

Of course it is better to have a Mandarin speaking person to practice with, but in the UK that is not at all difficult. Most Cities have a Chinese Society, open to anyone to join, and apart from that, the country is teaming with well-educated Chinese students, many of whom would be delighted to assist anyone wanting to learn/improve their Chinese, in return for the student getting to improve his/her English. These days, the oral part of that can be done online too.

I have seen little mention of studying in Mandarin in China, but that must surely be one of the easiest, quickest and cheapest ways, judging from the many thousands of foreigners who are doing just that, and it is definitely the place for learning the characters..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pinshot

i have done 2 courses with OU (computer related) but i need to learn Chinese for personal reasons and dont have the time with work and all.

Is there anywhere i can transfer my 2x30 point computing courses with OU to count toward a Chinese degree?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shi Tong
it is definitely the place for learning the characters..

While I agree with you that it's the place to be to learn the speaking and listening, since you're surrounded by it all the time, I'd actually disagree with this.

Learning Chinese characters, though possibly a little easier in situ, is also a completely self stufying type of affair. I am pretty good at speaking and listening, and am self studying my writing. Being there, IMO, would make less difference for writing/ reading.

I'm still really confused by the UK system of Chinese courses.

Please someone direct me if they can!!

As far as I can tell, you can get basic courses (which I can do easily), and intermediate (which I can do easily when speaking and listening, and probably have a little more challenge with the writing).

Where can I get myself qualifications for GCSE/ A Level/ Degree- seems like I cant even find a place to get a GCSE, and yet I know several Degree courses!:help

hahaha! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JenniferW

Shi Tong - I've been studying Chinese in the UK - though did spend several years working in China before retiring, with some classes there while I was working.

I studied in the UK first for GCSE Mandarin (Edexcel). I did this on my own, though with a friend who I met up with once a week. We entered for the exam through a local 6th form college. They were prepared to take us as external candidates, though that costs more than taking the exam at an FE college where you've been attending a course.

I carried on studying on my own, and then took the old HSK Level 2, going to SOAS for the exam. Then I did New HSK Level 3 and Level 4, going to Sheffield Uni for the exams. For all of this I've been studying on my own, but this year I added in a month in Beijing, with 1-to-1 classes at a language school, which was a great help. I've been doing this all on my own because I live in a small town in England where there were originally no Chinese classes at all, and where there's now a beginner's course - way below the level I want. It's possible!

I'm now starting on AS - and planning to attend classes in a city in the region going there once a week. It's meant to be around the same level as the new HSK Level 4 - but I only just scraped through that, and the AS is going to demand more as regards reading and writing, so it's a reasonable next step for me - I'm a very part-time student.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Neil_H

There are some courses offered at my local colleges, but sadly not enough people sign up for them. My course is due to start Monday 19th but Iam expecting to be told it is cancelled due to insufficent numbers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Neil_H

Just found out after two years of waiting that it will run. :D

13 people on the course.

This will force me into learning more characters and hopefully give my study some structure.

I don't care it is below my level - just the chance to mix with some other students and have some fun will be nice. Getting a qualification at the end will also feel good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sentinal2k3

Hello Elliot,

Thank you for making such an excellent posting. I am also searching now for a BA in Chinese language and studies online. I was wondering if you had any more information about the program you completed online. I ask because the link provided in your original posting longer works.

Thank you for your help

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
elliott50

Sorry for my very delayed reply...

The University of New England distance learning BA and MA degrees (http://www.une.edu.au/study/chinese/) look to be the only ones in the world that are currently operating.

Does anyone have any experience of these, or know of any others?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
roddy

You'd be better off starting a new topic explaining what you know about the course and asking any questions you still have - for one thing, the University of New England is not in the UK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
elliott50

OK Roddy, sorry!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cumberbatch

Oh wow, the distance learning programs sound good. I would have wanted to register because there aren't a lot of good Chinese schools where I live right now, and online courses are the only ones I can do. Oh well...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...