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So how was your first day of classes?


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Those of you who are enrolled in Chinese universities, how about describing your first few days of classes? Or if already done, just add a link to the post like this:

Brian US 's first day at RenDa

Gymnosopher's first week of Chinese classes in Xi'an

So that the rest of us can live it vicariously..

(I'm using long words today - but haven't the faintest idea if whether it sounds native or is just plainly uncorrect)

Index of posts

Brian US: accounting Master student at 人民大学

First day at RenDa (in another thread)

#2 marathon class

#5 note taking...

#8 teachers and slides

#26 Bachelor level teacher and booklists

Thrice12: beginning language student at Qindao Ocean University


#12 no-show students

#25 teacher (not) correcting students

#35 (no) placement test

#53 class leaders

Gymnosopher: language student in Xi'an

Level selection (in another thread - the whole thread is actually relevant)

#10 no-show students

#13 mixing class levels and no-show students in higher levels

#16 听力 (listening class), 阅读 (reading class), electives

#20 level testing/class selection

#27 beginner classes and tones correction

Bunny87: intermediate language student at Wuhan University

#14 听力 (listening) class

#19 Timetable, electives

#21 Level testing, campus

#40 settling-in issues

#45 综合 (comprehensive) class, 口语 (speaking) class, class size issues

#56 class size considerations, health issues

#58 more on 综合 and 口语, info about the 写作 (writing) class

Xuefang: intermediate language student at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou

#24 comprehensive (综合) / intensive reading (精读) / teachers

#20 timetable and electives

#42 writing (写作) and 泛读 (reading) classes. Opinion on teachers.

#54 book list, 口语 (speaking) class, opinion on teachers, personal background.

OneEye: intensive language student at the Mandarin Training Center (NTNU) in Taipei

#29 daily schedule, level placement, paying electives

#32 intensive vs regular classes, student nationalities, jet lag, special classes for overseas Chinese, lots of info about levels and optional classes

#39 more about OneEye's study plan in intensive courses

#46 MTC vs ICLP

#48 MTC vs ICLP and IUP, pace and book lists.

#55 Japanese speakers

Prateeksha: language student at BLCU

#60 booking a dorm, vegetarian food, internet access, placement test, subjects and classes, homework

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I should also add that I started the first 10-15 minutes trying to get accustomed to my teacher's southern accent. The next 30 minutes were spent trying really hard to pay attention. Around the 45 minute mark the caffeine for an 8am class starts to wear off and I crash for about 15 minutes into day dreaming. The last half hour is spent wondering when class will end only to realize we get a 10 minute break until we start again until 11am+. I figure this is how most of my classes will go.

During the break, a brave classmate came up to try his English out with me while his friends looked on in amusement. I had success in finding someone in my major that wants to practice English, but due to his language skills our conversation turns into Chinese (my ideal study-buddy).

I was astonished my teacher was able to talk for three hours straight with only a couple sips of water during the break. In the last hour, at the point of exhaustion, I felt more assured when the girl to my left just twiddled her thumbs and the girl to my right texted a friend for the remainder of the class time. I look forward to my next lecture at six tonight.

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I showed up to the class and asked the teacher if he minded if I took pictures of the powerpoint with my cell phone. They go through the slides fast and I don't know all the characters, but the teacher said he would prefer if I didn't take pictures. Pretty sure he said the slides would be e-mailed or posted online at some point. I'm the only one that goes to class with a laptop, which I use to record the entire lecture while I sit in the front. Not sure how useful it will be, as I haven't gone through the recordings after the 12+ hours of classes I've had in the last two days.

What I've done the last few classes is stare at the board and write the characters without looking down to get my speed up. The writing is sloppy, so it works better to write bigger. I'm pretty self conscious about looking up basic words in my dictionary with my other classmates working hard to get where they are, and I skirted by with two years of language study.

I was hoping I wouldn't be far behind with a major in accounting as I can understand the numbers. However, all my classes are pretty much on theory with essays/cases for work. I was thinking about the programs in the states that may go into corporate tax and advanced accounting dealing with financial statements. The bachelor classes are different with a textbook they generally follow. My teachers will list 5-10 books they recommend for reading, but I haven't received a definite answer on how to approach it. One teacher said the first book listed may be too difficult for me, so basically left me with trying to find a book I found suitable myself...

The class I was worried about the most was statistics, but going to the first class today I found most of the slides in English. We went over some software, which was new to most of my classmates so I see myself on even ground.

Do you take notes in Chinese during class?

In short, I write down characters from the powerpoints but I mostly just try to follow the teacher. For the slides in English, I take notes in English. I'll try to pull myself together this weekend and think out a study plane. Should involve actual reading, listening to the recorded lecture, and word lists. I "plan" to do this, which may or may not happen.

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@thrice12 : so how is the level of classes? nothing too challenging if people are falling asleep? But then perhaps they already know the bases... I hope they don't drag the class pace down too much.

@Brian US : Wow, sounds pretty tough. I hope you can get the powerpoints soon. Don't know if it can be useful to you, I read about blind people who recorded lectures and afterwards listened to the recordings once at normal speed and then one or several more times at a faster speed... But of course it may be impractical if there are too many words you don't recognize and/or if you have many hours of classes each week.

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...but the teacher said he would prefer if I didn't take pictures

That's quite weird. Unless your camera is very noisy or you're using a flash, I can't understand what the problem is...? I get sort of flattered if students take pictures of the blackboard when I have written on it (it's very common these days actually, since everyone has a camera equipped smartphone). Then I know that they care a little bit at least. ;)

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My friend told me yesterday about how some of the teachers at Renmin University are "a big deal." Some are successful in their business or academic field and maybe only teach one class a week. I don't want to generalize all the teachers, but maybe some don't want their slides to be easily distributed. Apparently this doesn't happen in the undergrad classes, but my classmates will not get up until the teacher has ended class and left the room. I was only able to talk to my teacher after catching him waiting for the elevator after class. It is the first week of class, so I suspect more students will start sleeping when we sit through a three hour lecture at 8am.

With the powerpoint slides, the teacher was mumbling in a southern accent and I barely understood him. I think he also said some reasoning about how the other students don't take pictures or maybe he thought I was asking to use my cell phone in class to text?

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Well i opted for the lowest class, which is split into three groups (A1, A2, A3), with A1/A2 being the same level and A3 being at a slightly faster pace with a lot less pinyin; the teacher actually asked me if i wanted to move up a group, but my reading and writing is non-existent! so i'm quite happy with the class i'm in now.

It really is basic stuff and i'm getting quite bored already but i'm still learning new things! The Koreans/Japanese seem to find the characters very easy to read and write (obviously), but most of the other foreigners struggle.

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So much for sleeping, there are some students 'in my class' that seem to turn up as and when they please... I have spoken to some other students that only do half the lessons as they have work/life to be getting on with too, and know of some that have it arranged to only have class on certain days, but with these guys the teachers seem to genuinely have no idea where they are.

Works for me, class size has reached its quota but the group isn't so big thanks to the no-shows - just strange to think people would enrol to a course and have such limited interest in attending. And even then, walking in 20 mins late is one thing but yesterday 3 guys came at 9.30 for the 8.20-10am class - they seemed to be talking about watching a football match? Who knows, though curiously it's the same students who disappear for 30 mins+ at a time for cigarette breaks.

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This is exactly what's happening in my class; people seem to turn up as they please, even if it's just for the second half. I see people that leave during our 10 minute break and don't come back till the second half! Maybe they are changing classes, since i know some people go to a higher class for speaking/listening. I find it quite disrespectful that people can literally fall asleep for most of the class. These people are paying to learn a language, yet some seem so unmotivated and don't even care about the classes.

I've missed 2 days so far, but that was due to illness and having to go for my medical.

edit: this guy got a scholarship (1 year language, 3 year masters) and he barely turns up!

edit 2: something i'm finding cool is that i'm recognising characters when i'm out and about, i can't really remember what they mean, but it's quite satisfying - i just need to put in the hours outside of class and drill them into my head.

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@Gymnosopher and thrice12

Well perhaps in beginner classes those students who already have studied the basics are bound to be utterly bored during the first few weeks... time zone differences may also be difficult to adapt for some, and of course others just don't care about learning. Let's just hope for your sakes that they don't drag the pace down too much in the future weeks, since you two seem keen on learning Chinese.

@thrice12: yes, I know the thrill of encountering recently learned characters in the wild... I think many people get that feeling even after many years of study (cf Roddy's Signese blog).

@Brian US: perhaps you could check whether your teachers have themselves published some textbooks about the same subject as the classes you are attending. I don't know whether Chinese professors would add their own books in the reading list as Western ones would. Did they?

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Some people here do seem to change classes for second halves too, though when I asked my teachers originally about the possibility of this they said it can be done but means you won't be accredited for the higher level you go to. Of course, knowing a language is reward enough in itself, though we do have to try and pigeon-hole ourselves for others' pleasure.

Hopefully they won't decide to change tact but at the current rate -two weeks in here- I can't see these guys suddenly becoming model students.

Also, Re they could be bored with the basics, or that it's more a bottom class phenomenon (as surely the higher up you go the more seriously people are taking their study) I've heard from a guy 2 classes above (which seems to be 4 years+ of Chinese study and with trainee translators) that the exact same thing goes on there. I am unsure whether some of these people have done the course before as the first guy I sat next to had his whole textbook annotated and spent much of the time sleeping, which could be indicative of the problem of 'inbetweeners' like myself not feeling fit to a level up or down but if it's that bad they could just bite the bullet and move on up ;) . Due to my moving classes I missed the first class where they decided to start in the middle of the textbook for some reason, guessing based on everyone's general level, but like you said - if that's because of those further ahead and they just don't show up whilst the rest of us try to find spare minutes to go over the first half of the book... Yeah.

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Well, I've only gone to one class this entire time due to really stupid policies of Wuhan University. I mean, it's a nice university, but registering is SO annoying. They have enough English to tell you why they won't let you proceed to the next step (mind you, step 5 is picking classes). It took over a week for me to finally register.

Anyways, I went to the 中级 (middle level/"intermediate") 听力 (listening) class. It was from 9:40am until 11:25 with a ten minute break somewhere in the middle.

1. Hardly half the students actually arrived on time. a good quarter came AFTER the break, just in time for the quiz. Quite a few left early. I wouldn't be surprised to figure out it was the same bunch.

2. Basically, we listened the the entire lesson and the questions again and again. This was after we repeated the vocabulary about 3 times each (there's 20 vocab). Then, she went one by one to give synonym's for each word, or give it's appropriate usage. Then we listened to some story that was nearly 5 minutes long on a recording. And then we listened to it again. and then we listened for questions of part A and answered them ourselves. and then we heard the story again. and then we did part b. then a break. then we did part c, which functioned as a quiz. that i failed since i had no idea what i was supposed to actually do for the quiz. (she probably went over the directions on day 1 that i wasn't there for). anyways, then we just kept listening to the story and answering more and more questions, and finally she went over the quiz which i already had forgotten. what a waste.

and yes, you would think that students would be awake... but... no. there's the students who only need to hear the story once. and there's the students like me who won't ever understand the story no matter how many times you play it since it's using vocabulary from the last 4 lessons that they've already covered that I've never heard of before. but i actually do think she was a pretty helpful teacher. she had so many sentences with alternate uses or synonyms of the words and examples that weren't out of the book. and then she had a transcript of the listening (which would be more helpful if we could look at it while listening at one point or another) that she referred to in order to justify why a question had the answer that it did.

all in all, it's challenging. the tingli class is twice a week, and every class is a new lesson. with 20 new words. but i wish there was a syllabus to confirm this.

but the classrooms are quite nice in wuhan university. it's a large building that is new enough to keep me happy. the campus is also pretty nice. i'm happy :)so far.

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@gymnosopher: strange that it happens also in advanced classes... ah well. Let them sleep and study :mrgreen:

@bunny87: ooof the tingli class sounds like hard work but I guess you will learn a lot. It's good that you are happy with the university so far. What does your timetable look like? If you have Tingli only twice a week, it's not every day the same? Did you get to choose electives?

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听力 is pretty tough for me too - though it seems like our lessons are structured in a different way to yours. As we're using the 汉语教程 books for everything we're following those there too, which consist of a number of super hard 'lessons' for us to work through. These are broken down into sections of 'listening comp', 'extensive listening' and 'pronunciation & intonation' but basically all merge together as part of the cassette tape recording (we were all surprised to see the teachers lugging these huge tape players around but the books were published/printed in 1998).

So it's a little different from what Bunny seems to have at Wuhan in that regard as though there may be listed 5-10 'new words' through each chapter for most of us there are so many new words than that. UnLuckily for us there are also transcripts printed into the back of the book which means we can try to read along - and before we found that it was an utter nightmare/waste of time here too. This also means though that some people seem to have answered all the questions before class, so no sooner has the scenario & question been asked these 2 girls quickly rattle off 'A/B/C' before I've even had a chance to see what the possible answers are! Mostly this seems to have pleased the teacher, where he acknowledges this as the right answer with a quick 不错 before continuing the tape onto the next scenario straight away... If we're lucky he'll ask around the class what people think and realise the rest of us don't know so spend some time trying to explain a word or idea on the black board (yeah we're still using chalk over here) with pictures. I guess I'll just need to figure out a way to better manage my time so that I can do the 1hr 40 lesson before the lesson - with extensive use of Nciku etc, it just feels a little like doing all the work outside of class undermines the lessons themselves a little.

We too have this twice a week, with 阅读 twice a week and regular class (in effect grammar and vocab) 5 times a week. There are also optional calligraphy and painting classes however at 2 hours each that seems to take a lot out of possible nap homework time so we'll see how it goes. With regards to amount covered, seems like we're doing 1 chapter in regular class per week which is a couple of grammar rules and like 30-40 生词, 1 chapter of 阅读 which in theory is only 13 new characters and 24 words first lesson and 19&20 second (seems to exponentially go up now that I look at it) however a lot of the new words are composed of in effect new characters for me - with me writing out 74 characters I didn't know how to write (despite maybe knowing some of the words themselves) for the first chapters quiz.

But anyway, time to get back to the grind

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i haven't bought the book, but i suppose i feel a little better about wuhan university. i thought it was a blast from the past in my 听力 course. i walked in to find rows of sunken monitors in desks with fat headphones hanging besides them. not that we can use the computers, they just mirror the teachers computer. so you can watch her hit 'pause' and 'play' on the audio files. we are following a book. not sure which one it is, i'll probably buy it on Monday. my schedule is actually quite nice. M - W - F i have classes from 8am-11:30pm. then T - R I have classes from 2pm-5:30pm. Only 2 classes a day, but they last an hour and half, and some if the teacher keeps talking...

4 days a week i have 综合. No idea what that is. comprehensive something?

2 days a week i have 听力. listening.

2 days a week i have 口语. speaking.

1 day a week i have 写作. writing.

1 day a week i have 阅读. reading aloud?

as far as electives go, i didn't really pick any of my classes. they asked what level i was, and that's all they need. each level has a pre-made schedule you just kind of get thrown into. however, they have several groups per level since there's so many students. I did see 4th year Chinese has classical that i REALLY want to take... but at least i understand why i might not qualify for that class. but i need to talk to them about entering a calligraphy and/or painting class. though it will interrupt my nap homework/study time, i think i need something less intense to keep me busy. and happy. i'd love to send home paintings...

how is it set up where you're at? (in reference to picking courses, that is).

also, i'm afraid that those 5 classes will have vocabulary that adds up too quickly each week. i wouldn't be surprised to have my own set of 75 new characters a week.

and yeah, in effect i'm going to have to do the lesson before the lesson just to get some decent grades. not that i'll be like those girls who have the answer before the teacher plays the question. even though i'm learning a ton, i don't want to explain to family back home that i'm learning a lot even though i'm earning an F in my 听力 course...

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It would be a bit of an exaggeration to say we got to 'pick' courses, and the testing process (that at least I was put through) seemed a bit of a joke. Basically, on our application forms we put down what level we thought we were at in reading/writing/speaking/listening and about previous learning and then when we enrolled we were told that the first thing would be a test in XX room on XX day. However, this can't have been the same for everyone (maybe they staggered it) as of the hundred or so people only a handful were there when I was but whatever. Then after waiting half an hour the test consisted of going and talking to a teacher 1 on 1 for like 3 minutes (in my case) where they asked you to write your chinese/english name and how long you'd studied etc. I guess this continues until they decide the level to stick you in, where for me it came unstuck when I told them in Chinese that it was hard to say how long I had studied - hard to say as in hard to tell and quantify but I guess they thought I didn't know how to, and so asked me in English to which I gave the same useful response :D

Anyhoo, the next day class lists were posted up by the library and we had to buy our books. So your courses are all set for you and you're with the same students in each - or as we've established above, that's the theory but people seem to have their own ideas...

Glad to hear Wuhan's going well - my gf did her undergrad there and always gets nostalgic about the uni/town/food, though says the (foreign? i.e. English) language department is like up a mountain or something equally nefarious?

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