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Best country outside of China for immersion?


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How about Chinatowns? Not just in the west, but in other Asian nations like Korea, Japan, etc.? I don't know much about the language situation in these communities, but I assume they must be increasingly Mandarinizied, just like the ones in the Europe/America.

Like everybody had said, If Mainland China is out of the picture, then Taiwan obviously is the best thing. Followed by either Singapore or Hong Kong. I don't know in which of cities you're most likely to be able to use your Mandarin.

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Having graduated with a Mandarin degree, I have friends living in various Chinese-speaking countries. Those continuing their studies are mainly in Taiwan as it's one of the best places for studying Chinese, but I don't know anyone actually working there... If you are having issues finding employment that suits you in China I'm not sure how much better Taiwan would be.

The people I know who work in HK say they barely ever use their Chinese, even in business transactions, it's pretty much all in English. Outside work everyone speaks English or Cantonese. People I know working in Singapore have more of an opportunity to use their Mandarin in business and it's easier to find a good personal tutor outside of work because there are still a fair number of people there whose native language is Mandarin. Also I know a fair number of Chinese who moved to Singapore to work; though I can't comment on Malaysia!

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Given that you're looking for immersion, I'm not sure there's really any other choice than Taiwan. Anywhere else is going to have a lot of influence from other languages.

If you're willing to slip a notch down from immersion to somewhere where you can guarantee yourself a lot of exposure - I'd also look at anywhere that has seen a lot of recent Chinese immigration. I think I've said this before on here, but I heard more Mandarin on the streets of Sydney and Melbourne (admittedly in central / Chinatown areas) earlier this year than I did in Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong and Taiwan has a different visa process from the mainland, plus I do feel they have different living and working standards, enough for me to consider them as a separate category from mainland China. And I have to admit, I do like them both more than being in mainland China.

So it seems the only possible alternative is definitely Taiwan!

I guess this should be considered a separate topic, but I'll just talk about it here. The problem I have right now is, I can only use my current skill set to work in China. In order to use Mandarin (like translating Chinese documents to English for example), I need to improve considerably, and that time has not come yet. I was just hoping there was a way to somehow integrate some Mandarin into my work, but perhaps I am asking too much.

I have to admit, I was happier when I was studying in the university because I can always see myself improving (and well, campus life haha). Now, because I spend the whole day just working and barely using Mandarin, it's really taking hampering my progress. So it's almost sort of pointless, why am I working in China, when I can do the exact same job and get better pay in my home country or elsewhere? The only reason I really want to be in China is to study and the immersion factor. So this is the big dilemma I have right now, either I sacrifice my career or my Chinese studies. And in the past two years I've been here, I think I've already sacrificed quite a bit with my career. I am fortunate I got a new job and is worth keeping.

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In order to use Mandarin (like translating Chinese documents to English for example), I need to improve considerably, and that time has not come yet.

If your career goal is to do document translation, then Hong Kong wouldn't be disadvantageous compared to Taiwan. Plus, it would be easier for you to go back and forth to mainland China if you needed to.

The more I read about your needs / goals, I feel that you should go to a place that will be best for your current career and not even worry about the immersion factor. With the money you make, you can afford more classes and spend time outside of work to continue your Chinese studies. While Taiwan is a good place for Mandarin immersion, I don't think anyone here can guarantee that your career is going to be better there vs. some other place. You even mentioned yourself that in your current situation, you're barely using Mandarin and it's hampering your progress. Well, you're in China now! It proves that just being in an immersion environment is not enough; you still have to spend time actually learning to get to your goal of being a translator (in Chinese).

While the circumstances you mentioned are unique to you, many people have faced similar situations and have had to make difficult choices. Thought I'd share a bit of my experience. Several years ago, with the equivalent of around 2 years of college Chinese in the USA, I decided that I wanted to work in China (also hoping the immersion would improve my Chinese) and spent several months networking and looking for jobs there. The job offers I got were more than 5 times lower in pay than what I would have gotten in the USA. BTW, I already had a Master's degree from the USA with many years of work experience. Ultimately I decided to return to the USA, get a job and learn Chinese on the side. In hindsight, I'm glad I made this decision because I'm doing much better in my career financially and have traveled to China on business with expenses paid by my company. Sure, had I done a full time immersion study program in China, my Chinese would be much better but I'd have no money to enjoy my life there and face an uncertain future. I've also realized, from spending the last couple of years studying Chinese on my own, that my Chinese level back then was actually really far back from the level of Chinese needed for the types of jobs I was looking for. (And I was not looking for translation jobs. I assume translation jobs will require even better Chinese.) In other words, I could have spent upwards of 5 years or more in China and still not find the jobs I wanted because of my Chinese abilities. At the same time, I saw more and more Chinese natives who were good at English, especially those who studied abroad and returned to China to work.

Anyways, that's just been my experience. It's all about the choices and alternatives available to you. For someone else who is a recent college grad, perhaps sacrificing a few years of better pay elsewhere to study in China is a better long term option. While my post is not exactly about the "Best country outside of China for immersion", I hope it will help with some of the decisions you'll need to make.

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Thanks jkhsu, you pretty much got it right.

Before coming to China, I had a really good job and pay back then, so I spent 2 years taking classes during the weekends. But I realized I wasn't improving much, particularly speaking. That is when I decided to quit my job to move to China and study in a university. I have no regrets about it, the immersion factor really helped in the past 2 years living here, but I think you are right that the immersion is no longer a factor.

However, going back to my home country now wouldn't be a good thing. My Mandarin level is not sufficient for a professional level, and if I go through the hiring process, they will question why I have returned with a half-baked skill. So that option is out of the window for now.

And that is why I asked what places outside of mainland China would be a good place to go. Perhaps they will be more lenient about my situation. I think my current job is good but I am giving myself a year to see if things are going to change for the better. But if not, then I am going to have to come to a decision. Wish me luck.

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I may be reading this wrong, but if my understanding is correct, you want a career in translation but your skills are not yet there. You're living in China but not taking classes, and working in a job that (I presume) is not in your chosen career field. In fact, you won't have a job in your chosen career field until your Chinese is good enough. So what you're really looking for (IMO) is not a place where you have good "career prospects", but a place where you can hold a decent job while studying.

Here's what I'd do. Do what you need to do in order to be able to have a career in translation, and make that your priority. If that means being relatively poor for a year or two so you can study full-time in a language school, then so be it. Your language skills aren't likely to become sharp enough by simply being in the country. At least not very quickly and without really making an effort. Even then, I'd be surprised.

In Taiwan it is certainly possible to go to school in the mornings and work in the evenings or vice versa. You can make a good bit of money teaching English here, and tuition at language schools can be cheap. You could even just pay for one-on-one tutoring at NTNU's MTC, NCCU, or TLI for a few hours per week, since you won't need a student visa (assuming your job is legitimate and therefore supplies you with an Alien Residence Card). The private teachers will push you as hard as you want to be pushed, from what I've been told. This is of course also assuming you're the type of student who will put your studies before all else. It can be easy to blow off one-on-one instruction if you let your priorities slip, and the teachers may get frustrated but they're getting paid one way or another so they're likely to just go with it.

Again, just my two cents, but if you really want a career in translation or any other field that requires professional-level skills in Chinese, you're going to have to really buckle down and study for a while.

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Hi OneEye,

That's what I have been doing prior to the job I recently got.

I hired a private tutor who covered writing/reading (used Boya textbooks) the past 6 months, and had several language partners help me with speaking. I was only working part-time or freelance back then so I had a lot of time to focus on studying, and the result was that I speak much better now. I still don't think my writing has improved though, and I am at fault as well, I rarely write/type Chinese outside of microblogs and online chatting. Unfortunately, I couldn't sustain a decent living this way and I was pretty much forced to find a full-time job, knowing that I will lose my time on studying. It was rough and sometimes depressing, I can tell you that.

The job I have now is pretty good, I may or may not have full use of Mandarin, but there might still be possibilities. This was discussed before I got hired, so they know what I want to do outside of my skill set. So again, this upcoming year will really decide how things will go for me.

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