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OneEye

Mandarin Training Center, National Taiwan Normal University

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roddy
Roddy asked me to do a write-up

Wasn't expecting a novel-length effort! Excellent stuff, thanks.

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OneEye

Eh, I take any chance I can get to practice my English these days. :D

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Daan

Great stuff, thank you! I'll be sending a few people who may be going to Taiwan next year a link to this thread. I studied at the MTC for a year in 2009/2010 (good times), and it seems not much has changed. Although I'm surprised that they offer the orientation in Spanish too, these days. Has there been a sudden increase in the number of Spanish-speaking students at the MTC?

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OneEye

There are a lot of Spanish speakers here. It seems that several Latin American countries have a lot of students here on scholarship, and I believe many of them are here for their BAs (on scholarship), not just the language training. I assumed that was a normal thing here, but I guess not.

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Daan

Hmm. When I was there in 2009/2010, there were some students from small Latin American allies of Taiwan at the MTC, mostly on Taiwanese government scholarships. But certainly nowhere near enough to warrant offering the orientation programme in Spanish, too. You'd think they'd offer it in Japanese, Vietnamese and Indonesian first. On the other hand, there were lots of students from Latin American countries in the language centre at NCCU (國立政治大學, in 貓空) even back then, so it's not all that surprising I guess.

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OneEye

I think they do offer the orientation in Japanese, since there were no Japanese students at my orientation. Probably Korean too I guess, since there is a fairly large number of Koreans here, but I don't know about Vietnamese or Indonesian. I haven't met any students from either country.

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OneEye

Added some more useful info to the end of the first post, thanks to a commenter on my blog. How the final exams are, how you can test out of parts of books, etc.

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okdemosthenes

Thank you so much for such a thorough write-up.

After reading your post I'd like to sign up for the intensive program at MTC. I'm wondering, however, whether anyone in the forum might know whether a bachelor's degree is necessary for a Taiwanese government scholarship. I'm a 30-year-old Columbia drop-out from the States who grew up speaking English and Spanish and gained fluency in French as an adult. My spoken Chinese remains minimal, having only studied on my own using audio methods, largely due to a lack of commitment to traditional and simplified characters. I'm happy to say, though, that I've decided to do both, the need for structure leading me to seek out a classroom environment.

Any thoughts?

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OneEye

The information for the MOE scholarship is here. No BA necessary. Good luck with it!

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OneEye

To expand on this above:

#2) Both intensive and regular take a ‘final’. The regular one will include writing, speaking, and is based on textbook material which you have been studying during the term. The intensive ‘final’ is a timed 100 question final. It’s 50 questions listening comprehension and 50 questions reading comprehension. For the listening, you have 5s to pick and answer before it moves on to the next question. No you can’t go backwards. For the reading, you can manage your own time and skip forward and/or go backwards. Assuming #1, you’ll need 75 to pass. If you get 85+, you can skip to lesson 5 of FarEast 3. If you get 90+, you can choose FarEast 3 Lesson 5 or PAVC 5. Those are your choices…

This term my class finishes in PAVC 4 Chapter 4 (out of 14). For my final, I needed a 65 to pass, an 85 if I wanted to skip to Chapter 10, and a 90 if I wanted to skip straight to Far East Book 3. I got an 87. I talked to my teacher after class the other day about what happens after I finish PAVC 4, and she said usually the teacher lets the students vote on whether they want to take Far East 3 or Mini Radio Plays. The number of students taking Far East 3 outnumbers those taking Radio Plays 3:1, so statistically, I'd probably be taking Far East III.

I want to take Radio Plays though, and my teacher said she thinks there's no need for me to take Far East 3 since I already know most of the material in it anyway, and that I should be fine if I skip straight to Radio Plays instead of finishing PAVC 4. She actually thinks I'd be OK to skip both of those books and go straight to PAVC 5. I would be, but I want to work on my speaking and listening some more before I move onto the more 書面 stuff (which starts with PAVC 5). I've heard really great things about Radio Plays, and I've taken a look at it and it seems like a fun textbook (overly melodrammatic dramas complete with dead moms on Mothers' Day, husbands in car wrecks, "bad-boy" boyfriends getting arrested, etc.). A friend say he is now, at the end of the book, able to turn on the radio and understand pretty much everything because the book also teaches a lot of slang, and another person I know said he is able to follow university lectures really easily now from the listening skills he developed in that class (obviously this will also require a knowledge of the vocab in whichever field the lecture is in).

Anyway, my teacher said I should go to the office and plead my case, asking them to let me skip to Radio Plays. I did, and they asked about my score on the test, whether I had looked at the book and if it seemed like I'd be OK. They're going to get in touch with my teacher to get her opinion, and then let me know if I can on Monday or Tuesday. I expect the answer will be yes from the way they talked about it.

So I guess the moral is, work hard, get a good grade on your final, and you can skip. Show off occasionally in class so your teacher has a high opinion of your ability, and you can skip further. But I'd only recommend it if you know your language ability really is up to the task. I've been studying extra textbooks on the side, both Modern and Classical Chinese, so I'm at that level now. Another girl in my class got about the same score I did but she's choosing not to skip at all because she's afraid she'll miss out on important stuff. So think about it before you charge ahead. 三思而行, right?

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Meng Lelan

The more I read this thread the more I envy the fun OneEye the Former Texan is having in Taiwan, while I continue to suffer through Idiotic Life in Texas.

Textbook for Radio Plays sounds like fun, I wonder how I can get a copy. Forget the audio for me though, since I'm not going to hear much.

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OneEye

Here ya go. If I remember correctly, shipping from them is reasonable. If not, it is also available from Amazon.

Edit: And yes, I'm having a great time!

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Meng Lelan

OneEye, you're awesome. I'm gonna order that book right now.

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etm001

OneEye,

Thanks for this great post. I'm considering a one year Mandrain study, and your post about MTC caught my eye. I'd love your perspective on a few things. A little about me:

  • Mid 30s business professional making a mid-career change.
  • Goal is to obtain proficiency in Mandarin in the most efficient, time effective manner possible, mostly for personal use, although business use (in the US) is a possibility.
  • Currently I study Mandarin in a small class (just two of us) in my local Chinatown, one lesson per week for 1.5 hours with native speaker. We use the Hanyu Jiaocheng textbook, which I don't care for, so my teacher is willing to switch to Integrated Chinese. I don't have an opportunity to speak Mandarin as much as I'd like; my reading comprehension is better than my listening comprehension (typical for a new language learner, I think).
  • I expect I would place into the first or second level at MTC.

I'd love your perspective and/or validation on the following as related to MTC:

  • What is the age range of students at MTC? I expect most people to be younger than me; not really an issue for me, but it would be nice to know if there are others in my age bracket.
  • What is the average dedication level of students in the intensive program? I want to be in classes where everyone is taking the learning experience seriously (but also having some fun too).
  • How interactive is the learning experience? A different way of putting this: I absolutely, positively want to avoid a "lecture" style classroom setting, where students simply listen and take notes, with little interaction with the teacher or their classmates. I don't think this is the case at MTC, especially at the lower levels, but I want to be sure.
  • From what I gather, students at MTC are on their own for housing. Given my low proficiency in Mandarin, this is the only aspect of the process that stresses me out. Did you arrange your accomodations before arriving? Any other tips on finding housing?
  • I thought I saw a one year program at MTC, but I might be mis-remembering. Do you simply re-register for each quarter?

Thanks!

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Meng Lelan

Level 8 - Contemporary Short Stories from Taiwan

Anyone know what textbook if any for this one at MTC? Or what stories/authors exactly are read in that course?

You said graduate students come in the summer for refresher courses? Are they graduate students from outside Taiwan taking summer courses at MTC?

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OneEye

Sorry, I just now saw this.

What is the age range of students at MTC? I expect most people to be younger than me; not really an issue for me, but it would be nice to know if there are others in my age bracket.

Most are younger (college-age), but certainly not all. I'm 27 and I thought I'd generally be the oldest in my class, but I haven't been so far. There was a 28-year old Japanese girl in my class my first term, and a 28-year old Canadian guy and a 36-year old Korean guy in my class this past term. There are a fair few men in their 60's, actually, so there really is a full range here. I can think of one Japanese, a French guy, a Brit, and two Americans (sounds like the opening of a bad joke) that are mid-50s or older.

What is the average dedication level of students in the intensive program? I want to be in classes where everyone is taking the learning experience seriously (but also having some fun too).

Generally, I've found that people are committed to doing what is assigned and learning it well, but they don't tend to go beyond that. I study from 3-4 textbooks at a time in an effort to learn as much as possible in as little time as possible, so I'm probably not a reasonable yardstick for this, but I would say that most people in the intensive program are there to learn. The students in the regular program are a whole different thing altogether, from what I've heard. Some of my friends have gotten sick of the other students in their regular classes and so are switching to intensive this term.

How interactive is the learning experience? A different way of putting this: I absolutely, positively want to avoid a "lecture" style classroom setting, where students simply listen and take notes, with little interaction with the teacher or their classmates. I don't think this is the case at MTC, especially at the lower levels, but I want to be sure.

There may be some teachers that teach this way, but I'd imagine they are pretty few. My first teacher was outstanding, and my second teacher was very good, about getting us to interact and use the language in class. You can sniff out how a teacher will be after the first class or two (at the most), and you have the whole first week to switch. And actually, I think the interaction will be even higher in the higher levels, because you're already able to use the language fairly well by that point.

From what I gather, students at MTC are on their own for housing. Given my low proficiency in Mandarin, this is the only aspect of the process that stresses me out. Did you arrange your accomodations before arriving? Any other tips on finding housing?

You can relax on this one! I actually found my apartment through Craigslist, but most of the ones listed there are very expensive. It's still worth a look though. You should also check tealit.com and forumosa.com for apartment listings. Also, the 7th floor at MTC has a bulletin board that usually has anywhere from a few to a few dozen listings for apartments. All of these are pretty likely to have English-speaking landlords. You can also hang around MTC and try to find a native speaker who is willing to help you out. You'll find people here are really friendly and very willing to help out. You could even turn that into a language exchange (or something more :wink: ) if you want.

I thought I saw a one year program at MTC, but I might be mis-remembering. Do you simply re-register for each quarter?

Yes, you just go to the office toward the end of the term and pay your money for next term. They'll make announcements and it's on the calendar on their website. Your teacher will also give you the registration form for the following term in class, so it's hard to miss the registration period.

Another thing I want to point out is the ICLP program. If your goal really is "to obtain proficiency in Mandarin in the most efficient, time effective manner possible", ICLP is what you need to look at, if you can spare the money (it's more than 3x the price). That said, you won't have a lot of time for enjoying life in Taiwan, because you'll be too bogged down with studying. But maybe the summer session at the end of your year here. I've heard really outstanding things about the results of even one summer term at ICLP, and it's a little less intensive than their academic year program, both in terms of workload and financial burden.

A year here will do really great things for your Chinese, no matter which program you choose. If you come in at Book 2 level, you'd probably finish the first part of level 5 (either Far East 3 or Mini Radio Plays), assuming you stay in the intensive course, and neither fail (which is rare) nor skip (which is very possible if you're working hard). However, I can tell you as someone about to start Mini Radio Plays that I would not be confident enough to use Chinese in a business setting right now. I'm perfectly fine with making conversation, getting around in daily life (including taking care of important things like immigration forms and applying for a resident card), talking about my background, even some light political or academic discussion and such, but it really doesn't go much beyond casual discussion at this point. My business terminology is nil right now. That's partly because that isn't what I'm learning Chinese for, but it's also because we haven't covered any of that type of stuff in class.

That said, there is a business conversation class offered in Level 5, but since it isn't one of the "usual" classes, you'll have to either find enough other people who also want to take it with you, study it on the side by yourself, or hire a tutor to work on it with you. You can hire an MTC teacher as a tutor, which works out to about 700NT per hour I believe, or you can seek out your own and probably save some money. Or hire an MTC teacher as a tutor, which means you're more likely to get good instruction and the teacher won't have to split the money with the school. :twisted:

Hopefully this helped! Feel free to ask more questions, and I'll try to get to them sooner next time!

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OneEye
Anyone know what textbook if any for this one at MTC? Or what stories/authors exactly are read in that course?

No clue. Generally, the courses that don't have a textbook are marked such on the course listing posted on each floor at MTC. This one isn't marked, but I've never seen a book with that title at the bookstore. It may be one of those classes that is on their list of "offered" courses but doesn't actually ever get offered because there aren't enough people to take them. If I can find anything else out about it I'll let you know.

You said graduate students come in the summer for refresher courses? Are they graduate students from outside Taiwan taking summer courses at MTC?

That was partially speculation and partially just me being hopeful that some more courses will be offered in the summer. I would imagine that some grad students do come here in the summer. But really, given the choice, if I were moving to the other side of the world for a few months to boost my Chinese for my research, I think I'd be willing to tack on an extra US$2000 to go to ICLP instead of MTC if at all possible. I like MTC, don't get me wrong, but I think I'd find any way I could think of to afford ICLP if I were on a time crunch and my thesis or dissertation depended on it. I also tend to think MTC isn't going to help you all that much at that level anyway.

But maybe I'm just trying to convince myself that it's worth the money because that's where I'm hoping to study for a year starting this Fall. :conf

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Meng Lelan

That was partially speculation and partially just me being hopeful that some more courses will be offered in the summer. I would imagine that some grad students do come here in the summer.

Oh, you're staying there through the summer while I'm at Middlebury. Well if you see anything graduate level in the summer time there let us know. If I ever take any graduate courses in Chinese in the summer then I would want to do so at Middlebury or at ICLP.

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Daan

The book used for that short stories course was edited by the impressive Vivian Ling, IIRC. Maybe SMC Publishing in Taipei would be able to help you get a copy.

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