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Tsinghua University Chinese Courses


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Chttay, thanks for the update on your second semester. Glad to hear that, if necessary, it is fairly easy to move from one level to another level, from one session to another session. In addition to regular class work, are the teachers helpful in HSK exam preparation if a student were to need this additional assistance?

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It's easy... But you have to pass an interview of sorts to move up. You cannot move to a different class in the same level, unless you change from morning to afternoon. If you are in the afternoon, you can't change to morning very easily because morning classes are usually full and the most popular.

As for HSK... You could ask questions at the end of class or in the break about a certain grammar point but otherwise, the answer is no. Not really. Of course, whatever you are studying will have at least some crossover to HSK levels. So if you are in elementary 2 or pre-intermediate, a lot of the key grammar points and words would be in HSK 3 and 4 with some 5 too.

If you want specific HSK classes you can either get yourself a tutor or go sign up for HSK prep classes at Global English or another private school in Wudaokou. When I was at Tsinghua they did have a HSK elective course you could do but it didn't seem regular enough (it was about twice a week). Also, for the additional cost, it was cheaper to sign up at a private school in Wudaokou and go everyday.

Hope that helps.

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Hi ChTTay,


not sure if you have any information on this.. but i am coming to tsinghua and as exchange student. my main goal is to take chinese courses to improve my chinese. my documents say that i have been enrolled to study at the "Department of Chinese Language and Literature", after doing research seems like this is a different department than the Chinese Language Program, and i dont think i am able to take the courses you guys take at the Chinese Language Program. My question is do you know anything about the "department of chinese language and literature"? do they offer chinese language courses? and quality vs the chinese language and culture center (where you guys are)




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I reckon they are the same thing... My certificate from 2013 says its from the "Department of Language and Culture" so they may have just changed the name a bit,

If you applied for a Chinese course then I imagine they have put you on a Chinese course. If you let your University or something apply for you... Then ask i woukd ask them to confirm.

Have you been sent any confirmation emails about the course itself? Do they not mention that you're signed up to study Chinese?

If you are really worried, then ring Tsinghua's international office and ask them. I wouldn't bother with email as they usually take a long time to reply.

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Wow, thanks for the speedy replay!


One quick question for you as well, are the dorms segregated by students such as ( exchange students, undergraduates, graduates, language students)? my documents came with different dates for dorm registration, I may be able to choose between exchange students and language students. do you know if any of the dorms are better than the others? also what do you think would be best for me? single, double, AB? i'm thinking double since ill be able to meet someone right away?

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I don't know about dorm buildings really. I wasn't even aware they were segregated like that as I had friends in what seemed like all dorm buildings - spread across.

If money isn't a problem, i'd go for a single room. While a double (the type with two separate rooms but a shared bathroom) will enable you to meet one person quickly, I reckon the risk of having that person be annoying is more than the chance of them becoming your best friend. I didn't know anyone who was actually good friends with their double room mate apart from when they came together and shared a room. I did know a load of people who found their double room mate to be annoying... Like showering at 2am every day or snoring so loud they could hear them through the walls... Or taking 1 hour in the shower right before class. Etc etc

As for meeting people, I wasn't in dorms at Tsinghua but i'd imagine that its just like any University dorms. You can pretty much talk to anyone as most people are new anyway.

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I am going to apply for Tsingshua MIT Global MBA program at Tsingshua University starting Fall 2015. I looking for affordable apartments and jobs in china. I know a lot of international students are finding English teaching jobs. Can someone please explain to me how to apply for those jobs? Is there someone else planning to apply for the MBA program? Is there a alumni that graduate from the MBA program?

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As for teaching jobs...

Your best bet would be to look at the classified section of "The Beijinger" and apply for 10 or more jobs on there. Out of that 10 maybe 1 or 2 would probably end up being decent. There are usually a lot of jobs teaching children and also a few one on one positions. You should just apply when you arrive in China though, as they will want you to come and meet them / interview and probably start immediately.

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Almost all International Student speak English, especially the ones on the Chinese program. There are exchange students from parts of Asia that might just speak their language and Chinese. A fair few Korean students studying degrees didn't seem to speak English, just Chinese and Korean. Everyone in my language classes could speak English. Most of them lived in dorms.

The English ability of Teachers varies quite a bit. Really there won't be any English in class at all unless you are in the very beginner level. At that level, there may be a few words of English spoken. Where possible though, Chinese should and is spoken. As a result, teachers in the lower levels tend to know some English. However, I never once spoke English to them.

In the higher levels some of the teachers do not know any English. It's not necessary for them really as, by that level, students can usually communicate in Chinese pretty well. The teachers just tend to know Chinese grammar etc really well but no English. They tend to be older teachers the higher the level also.

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Hi guys, 

Just wanted to post a review of the fall semester at Tsinghua because this forum and ChTTay's review have been so helpful.


Preparations and background

I applied for the fall semester of 2013 and my goal was to get my level of Chinese up as high as possible. I already took some courses here in the Netherland on an off for a couple of years but wasn't really actively learning. Registering for the semester went quite easy and I received my informationpackage in a big yellow DHL envelop somewhere in June or July (following the progress online is easy peasy). It contains your confirmation, procedures for registration and housing, information about what to prepare when arriving, a map and documents to apply for your visa. The only problem I encountered was that I wasn't able to register for on-campus housing, which only a few were able to do so. Furthermore they ask you to take 6 pictures of yourself, which is three more than they actually use. You can also take the photos in one of the shops behind the maingate of Tsinghua (off-campus), using photoshop they made me look good after a huge hangover from the jetlag (included in the service!), so you don't have to be afraid of embarrassingly awkward photos.


After Arrival

I had the luxury that someone helped me settling down in Beijing. He helped me getting a bank account, buy a bike, show me around and find a room. The bankaccount is not really necessary but can be handy when you run out of cash. Take into account that you can use your European creditcard only at limited places and that banktransfers (even in China) are a bit painful. They need to know the exact location of the bank, which I of course didn't because I was jet-lagged and I had no idea where my guide was taking me to. Remember: Hùzhào means passport, and they will need your address in Peking when setting up a new account. They will need the same stuff when you get a simcard. Then, the bike-problem (I'm Dutch, so I can't live without one) was solved by buying one in front of the main gate next to the place where you take your photo. 300 rmb for the small foldable ones. The disadvantage of the small foldable bike is that you won't be going fast, the advantage: you won't kill yourself by going too fast. I stayed at Tsinghuayuan, the pink flats behind the McDonalds and the BK. 3000rmb excl utilities small bedroom with furniture without a commonroom and shared  kitchen and bathroom. My flatmate was Chinese and helped me a lot in the first couple of weeks, but you will have some culture clashes when sharing a flat (mostly regarding privacy and hygiene).


Registration at Tsinghua

As said, be on time! Preferably half an hour early and take into account that you will need to find out where you need to register. The queue unfortunately will be long. It's China and it won't be efficient, so unless you get excited by the idea that 100 people are in front of you in the queue, I would advice you to have everything sorted out and come as early as possible. My only problem during the registration was that they only accepted VISA creditcards and not Mastercard. You can however pay with the debitcard from the local Chinese bank. About the Chinese name thing, just like that every Chinese student has an English name, you will need a Chinese name as well. Think about it beforehand (ask a friend, check the internet for standardized translations of you name etc), or accept the consequences that your name will be just as awkward as the English names of some Chinese.


Placement test

It's on paper, multiple choice and they test your vocabulary and listening skills. It will be quite hard if you aren't already HSK 5 or 6. I learned 600 words before coming to China and I think I pretty much failed everything, but don't worry, if you had everything correct, you wouldn't need any classes right? They will also ask about your experience and what level you want to get in to and before or after you get the chance to look into the coursebooks. When doing a second semester, you aren't obliged to do the placement test again.


Placement test results and first classes

I heard from some students that they in case of doubt, they will place you in the easier class. They placed me in pre-intermediate but I found the first couple of lessons extremely difficult. So either the students I talked to were wrong or it was because I prepared only on Skritter before coming to China. Anyway, I followed the classes and had no idea what the teacher was saying, at all. My reading was a bit better and I asked the teachers whether I should move to an easier class for speaking, listening and general. On which they laughed, because mostly the students want to go the other way. They convinced me to stay, because mostly after some hard work, students get accustomed to the tones after a while and will be able to listen to what is said.



There are 2 beginners levels, 1 pre-intermediate, 2 intermediate and 2 advanced. You can also choose some extra electives, like pronunciation class, Chinese handwriting, HSK prep etc. I think the advanced levels even can choose their courses (financial, newspaper reading etc) but I'm not sure. You can switch classes/levels in first week and you can try them out as you wish. In pre-intermediate I got the courses: Reading, Listening, Speaking and General. Every level has different courses, for example the beginner levels go more into speaking. So the books are also from different sources. But I can tell you that the books were mostly from BLCU or Peking Univ Press. Also the teachers often (not all!) also teach at BLCU or Beida (Peking University). My class had around 16 students. You are assigned to the morning classes or the afternoon classes and you can switch in the first week. Just find someone who is willing to swap classes with you by posting a note or something. Often students wanted the afternoon classes because they didn't like the cold mornings, but for me personally I like to be able to study in the morning and do my homework in the afternoon. Whatever works best for you.


Class review


Without doubt, the hardest class. BLCU book, listening to a tape, answering questions, than listening to it again and then reading the Chinese text. Mostly only the 2 guys who already had been in China for a while and were accustomed to the sounds, knew the answers to the questions.



Beida book. Good teacher, bad book. They were short texts, you had to read them through quite quickly and then answer the questions.  At least the teacher was interesting, telling often about the modern Chinese culture that you don't get out of a course book, discussing things as Taiwan, internetlanguage, the reason why grannies are collecting plastic bottles etc.



BLCU book. Definitely the most fun, but I couldn't really participate until I was accustomed to the language, which took me 2,5-3 months. Learned loads of grammar.



BLCU book. It's okay. The teacher is great, very experienced but the book had some boring chapters (Sun yat sen, the rise of an empress etc). The other books (except the Beida one) were more up to date and interesting. It will also be the first book that teaches you new grammar by explaining it in Chinese. Not easy.


Looking back

It was a wise choice to stay in pre-intermediate. On the other hand, it took me a lot of effort to understand the teachers and become accustomed to the level. I worked almost every afternoon and evening on my grammar and homework to become better and catch-up with the level. I think after 2 months things started to make sense and after 3 months I had enough confidence to actively participate. The first month was really hard up to the level that I had to look at the body language of the teacher to understand what we were doing. So getting something meaningful after all that hard work was really satisfying. On the other hand, if you aren't prepared/ or don't have the time to invest in studying I would advice you to go to start a lower level and just go out after class, experiencing Beijing and practice your Chinese with locals. Your Chinese will become better without much studying.

Regarding class size, we started with around 16 students but around the end of the semester we were with 2 or 3 students. Noone feels like coming to class the day after Christmas or the second day after New Years (you don't have class on January the first). 


Tips in getting more out of your stay

-Wechat! Is ideal for finding an off-campus language partner (use your status + people nearby function)

-React on notes in the C-building from students looking for a buddy

-Walk around and go on trips with your buddy (Fragrant Hills is a good hike)

-Turn of English websites ;)

-Become a member of one of the studentclubs

   In the beginning of the year, there will be a large market with all the studentclubs (located on the road between the C-building and the large canteen). I became member of the photoclub, the skiclub, the thee appreciation club and the cantonese association. Trust me, it's really fun, but most of them won't be able to send you emails because they aren't used to reading long email addresses using Western characters. Instead use an e-mail with numbers like [email protected] (every Chinese has them) otherwise you will have to find them back on Renren (Chinese's Facebook) which is a pain if you aren't that good in Chinese.


I hope you this helps

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Hello! I'm planning on applying to the Chinese Language Program next spring. I just have one quick question to you guys, are the chinese classes taught in english? I think i have read the answer to this somewhere but I cant find it... I thought from the beginning that it was quite obvious that they was teaching chinese in english but after reading some replies here I got i bit unsure. 

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I am fairly sure I've mentioned this before but I've made so many posts I can't find it either!


All classes in Chinese. At higher levels a lot of the (usually older) teachers can't even speak English. Middle levels tend to be fully in Chinese but they may very, very occasionally drop in an English word. All of the explanations are in Chinese. The lowest level tends to speak a bit of English as some students can't speak any Chinese yet.

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  • 3 months later...

Tsinghua language courses start from absolute beginner (zero knowledge). HSK isn't a requirement to attend classes but they ask if you've passed any level of it to help them place you in the correct level.


Chinese language program size probably varies year to year. Thinking back to when I was there ... it's hard to say. Quite a lot of students. 

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