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OneEye

Mandarin Training Center, National Taiwan Normal University

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OneEye

All the best stuff seems to be edited by Vivian Ling. It really is amazing.

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Meng Lelan
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.

You mean the short stories from Taiwan book? Yes, Vivian Ling's work is stellar, she did the "Reader in Post-Cultural Revolution Chinese Literature". I think she's at Indiana University now.

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Daan

Right, I think apart from that reader and some other magnificent textbooks for advanced learners, she also edited the volume used in that short stories course. I could be wrong about that, but anyway, it should still be possible to get your hands on a copy if you really want to. I recall seeing it either at the NTNU bookstore or at SMC in Taipei just two years ago, and it seems this blogger managed to buy a copy in Taiwan just a month or so ago. You can even see the book cover at the ICLP website - which by the way seems to suggest there are two volumes, so that'd be a different one from the one I saw, I think. In the US, you should also be able to get a copy through inter-library loan. I'm amazed there's not a single copy in the whole of continental Europe, apparently...

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Meng Lelan

There's not a single copy in Europe?

I did see that blogger post and emailed the blog author but no answer so far. So it seems that ICLP has its own bookstore located in Taipei and can non-students purchase books there? Can I get a branch opened here in Texas? Or else I guess I have to resort to interlibrary loan here through my public library. Oh, I see from your link that my future summer school Middlebury has a copy. That tells me I picked the right summer school!

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OneEye

Sad news about ICLP's "bookstore". It's just the office at ICLP, and they will only sell books to current students. And even then, only if you're currently taking that class at ICLP. A friend at ICLP offered to buy me a copy of "Talks on Chinese Culture" (中國文化叢談), also edited by Vivian Ling, but they wouldn't sell it to him since he's in the level above. Never mind you can buy it from Yale University Press or even Amazon in the US (albeit at a really over-inflated price compared to what it would cost here). I ended up buying an older book that TOCC was based on called 20 Lectures on Chinese Culture (中國文化二十講). It's absolutely dripping with KMT propaganda, which is kind of fun, but I've heard that the modern edition is no better in that respect.

Anyway, fortunately the short stories book you're interested in isn't one of their "exclusive" books that they won't sell to outsiders, so it's available at the Lucky Bookstore. I think they might have an online shop, and I'm sure if they don't you could email them and work something out for them to ship it to you. The people there are really friendly, so I bet they'd help you out.

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etm001

OneEye,

Thanks you for the thoughtful reply - it was really helpful. I'll definite take your advice and check out ICLP. I'll be sure to post more questions as they arise.

Thanks again,

-etm001

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Meng Lelan

That's really weird about that bookstore selling to only current enrolled students. Maybe you can try to cart off the entire stock and open up a branch here in Texas.

Well I guess either I do interlibrary loan or wait until July in Middlebury and grab it off the library shelf before anyone else does.

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etm001

Hi OneEye,

I spent some time searching the forums for more information on ICLP and MTC. I found your reply to this thread about ICLP vs. MTC, and found it informative. Here's the section that struck me the most:

Another thing to think about is that very intensive programs like IUP and ICLP, while fantastic programs, aren't always the best option. You will learn a very formal colloquial style of conversation, but you won't have much time to get out and learn the Chinese used on the streets. ICLP, for example, assigns between 4 and 8 hours of homework per day (as in, they give you 8 hours per day, but most people don't do the full 8 hours every day). Add that to 4 hours of class, and your day is gone. Besides that, I know an ICLP teacher who says the ICLP program moves too quickly for nearly everyone that studies there. Since they move on to each new chapter so quickly and study 3-4 textbooks at a time, bad habits sometimes don't get addressed very well (I'm sure the teachers address them, but then it's up to the students to put in the time to actually fix them), and tend to get cemented. She said she has students who can read and discuss Zhuangzi but still frequently mess up basic grammar patterns. So yes, they reach a high level, but they're still making beginner mistakes.

I recommend considering a more normal program, where you can study extra on the side if you want, but you also have time to go out, be social, and enjoy your time in country. I'm doing this at MTC, and it's going very well. In fact, due to my additional study, I'm probably going to be able to skip nearly a whole book (a semester worth of work), but I'm also able to have a great social life, get outdoors on the weekends, and have a great time. I also get exposed to Chinese other than that which is written in my textbooks and recorded on my CDs, so that in class I'm able to point out, "but nobody says it like that, they say it like this, right?" I've written a good bit about my experience studying at MTC and doing extra work on the side on my blog, take a look if you're interested. I did a post a while back about trying to approximate the ICLP experience while studying at MTC, which of course can be adapted to wherever you study and your particular situation. Of course, if you're the type that needs a really intensive classroom environment in order to push yourself, you may want to forget what I just said.

The things that stood out to me the most, and hopefully you can expand upon, are:

  • ICLP "colloquial style of conversation": is this something you've noticed when speaking with ICLP students, or has this been commented upon by others? Would everyday Mandarin speakers find an ICLP student to speak in an odd or stilted fashion? Is it that MTC teaches a less colloquial style, or, because you have more free time at MTC, you simply have more opportunities to learn colloquial language (i.e., by going out, etc.)?
  • ICLP "moves too quickly for nearly everyone that studies there": I'm not sure if there's much more you can say about this, but as a mid- or intermediate-beginner student, this is something that gives me pause. I'm certainly not worried about my dedication to intensive studying, but it would be frustrating if I felt like the class was zooming at light-speed and I couldn't catch up.
  • Creating your own "ICLP experience" at MTC: are there many other students doing this? Is this approach more realistic for an intermediate or advanced student, as opposed to a mid/intermediate-beginner? I like the idea of saving money by attending MTC over ICLP (I can afford ICLP, if necessary).

In the end, it sounds like both MTC and ICLP both offer great experiences (at the end of either program, my proficiency will undoubtedly be vastly increased), but obviously I'm trying to fine tune my decision.

Thanks again!

-etm001

P.S. I do have some questions about the logistics of being a student at MTC/ICLP and life in Taiwan in general, but I'll save those for another thread.

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OneEye

1) The goal of ICLP is to get you functioning at a professional level in whatever it is you're doing. I believe most people go there so that they can pursue graduate studies, but they also offer options for people who need high levels of Chinese ability for business, interpretation and translation, diplomacy, etc. Essentially, people who need to use Chinese in a professional capacity. This necessitates an approach that emphasizes a more formal, higher register of the language. And yes, I've heard that since you don't have a lot of time to get out, your everyday casual conversation-making ability does not develop as well. That's not to say you absolutely can't make an effort yourself outside of class, and there are courses like Radio Plays and Film Scripts that will likely have plenty of slang and all that, but the bread and butter courses there are pretty serious business. Here's an example of something you're expected to be able to translate in the first week/chapter of their level 5 (out of 8) core textbook, Thought and Society:

"Most people say that Mencius' and Confucius' thought is similar. In actual fact, saying that they are similar is less accurate than stating that the former is an extension or an elevation of the latter."

Not that that's an especially hard sentence to translate, but it gives you an idea of the type of material you work with most of the time. Thought and Society 思想與社會 is considered to be ICLP's signature course, the one, from what I've read, that they don't let anyone skip and where the real magic happens (not to mention the headaches). So that's probably a good indication of the type of language you're working with there.

Now, MTC uses a lot of the same texts, but the classes are more informal and casual, and you have students that have lived here a while and have soaked up some of the slang and such, so it naturally gets introduced throughout the course. And now, in the Mini Radio Plays course I'm taking, it can get really, really slangy. But there's a whole range of language actually. The second chapter, for instance, is about a guy and his girlfriend who end up stealing a scooter and getting arrested. The police officer speaks in a fairly formal and official tone, while the other two talk to each other using slang and such. So there's a good mix. But like you said, MTC students just tend to have more time to go out and absorb the language.

2) A friend actually reiterated this to me the other day. I told him I liked to finish my homework early so I could have time to "make my own little ICLP at Shi-Da". He laughed and said that the difference would be that at ICLP, you can't finish your homework.

Anyway, at a beginner level, I'd hesitate to recommend ICLP. I'm sure you'd progress very quickly, but teaching beginning students is not their specialty, and not where they shine. I read about someone who started from their third level, Modern Chinese Conversation, and he said he kind of regretted not being able to go in at a higher level because he didn't feel like he had gotten enough out of the program. Basically he got to the point that he was really aware of just how much further he had to go, and then had to return to the States.

Of course, now that I look again, if you were able to start at Level 2 at ICLP, and were there a full year (4 terms), you'd finish Thought and Society and be able to take some Business Chinese classes at the same time. So your Chinese would be pretty good by that point. Ideally though, I'd recommend something like what I'm doing. Try to make it so that you can be here for two years, and study at MTC the first year and ICLP the second. This way, when you start at ICLP you'll be able to go in at either Level 4 (Talks on Chinese Culture) or 5 (Thought and Society). Here's a useful page that will give you an idea of what combinations of classes you might take at each stage. While at MTC, make a bunch of friends and go out and practice your Chinese, learn the local culture, take some time to see the country. Enjoy yourself, but work hard too. Then while you're at ICLP, you can really buckle down, and you'll leave with amazing Chinese. There's even the possibility of getting the whole thing paid for. Apply for the MOE scholarship to cover your first year, and the Blakemore Freeman scholarship for the second. The latter is much more difficult to get, but I've heard (from someone who knows) that some years they much prefer business people over the academics who make up most of their applicants, so it's worth a shot.

3) I am not the only person studying lots of extra stuff on the side at MTC. In fact, one of the guys in my class, who is like a superstar when it comes to conversational ability, studies from a few books at a time just like me, but unlike me, his are focused more on conversation and less on writing. There was a guy in my previous class studying extra on the side, but he wasn't very diligent about it (I guess having a local girlfriend will distract you). And besides rather than choosing a book that challenged him, he chose a book that was way above his level and labored through it at a rate of about a chapter per 2 months. The result was that he learned a whole lot of "advanced" vocabulary but had no idea how to use it and only a vague notion of how more formal written Chinese works, because his book assumed you already had that knowledge.

Anyway, I really think this approach is suited for anyone who has the time and goes about it in the right way. I started studying this way when I was in Book 2. Two terms later, I've skipped most of Book 4, and all of Far East 3 (more on that in my next post) and I'm now firmly in the "intermediate" camp and still trucking. Note that I'm using "intermediate" in the sense of "beginning to get comfortable reading native material" rather than "second-year university Chinese", which is not actually intermediate at all. People with BAs in Chinese frequently get placed in Book 3 or 4 here, if not lower (I knew one girl who started out in Book 2, Chapter 4 after getting her BA in Chinese). And that's generally only due to their reading, because their conversation is usually at a lower level than their reading.

All that said, you're right: your Chinese will improve a ton whichever program you choose. It will almost certainly improve more at ICLP, but you can definitely achieve a decent level at MTC too. I'm to the point now, going into my third quarter, that I rarely have trouble getting my meaning across, and usually in a reasonably adult manner. And I discovered today that there actually are Business Chinese courses being offered at Levels 5 and 6 this term, so you may be able to do that instead of Far East 3 if you choose MTC.

Anyway, hopefully this all helps.

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OneEye

I discovered recently that Level 5 at MTC is not set up the way I thought. I thought that you could take either Far East 3 or Mini Radio Plays for Level "5A", as I'll call it, and for 5B you had to take PAVC 5 before moving on to Newspaper I or whichever Level 6 class. I asked my teacher yesterday which book we'd start after we finish Mini Radio Plays (we'll finish before the term is over), and she said Newspaper I. I told her I thought we had to study PAVC 5 before moving on to Newspaper I, and she said that we could choose that book if we wanted, but she didn't think it was the best idea.

Everyone I've talked to who knows, teacher and student alike, has said that Far East 3 has very little to offer since a large portion of the vocabulary and grammar covered in the book is just a review of what you've already done. If you're at MTC, try to skip it if possible. It can't be too hard to skip, because not one person in my class went any further than Chapter 4 of Far East 3 last term, so they all skipped most or all of it.

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etm001

Hi OneEye,

I'd would message you directly through this forum, but I don't have enough approved posts. I'm taking your advice and investigating wthether MTC (intensive classes) might be a better choice than ICLP. To that end: I'm trying to track down the necessary information on registering for autumn 2012, but I'm coming up short. I found the registration page, which focuses on payments and other miscellaneous things. What I can't seem to find are the application forms and/or any information about autumn 2012 registration. I thought you might have some insights since you are there. Most of all, I don't want to miss the application deadline.

Thanks!

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roddy
I'd would message you directly through this forum

And Oneeye would ask you to post in public so he can answer there once, rather than several times by private message. Or at least that's what I think he'd do.

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OneEye

The application deadlines are posted here. Application materials are posted here.

roddy, you've got me all wrong. I'd just post the answer here and say "Someone (you know who you are and what you did) asked me this in a PM, so I'll post it here and we can all 指指點點".

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etm001

As always, thanks OneEye. I scoured the site over and over again and somehow didn't find these links - much appreciated.

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yellowpower

Hi

was wondering how much of the courses at the higher levels focus on developing practica formal l writing skills (not character writing) for work or professional purposes, in addition to informal writing? Or are the courses at MTC mainly to develop speaking skills?

have you heard anything about the BA in Chinese as a Second Language for international students offered by NTNU? And are some of these students in the MTC langauge courses as well?

Thanks

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OneEye

There is an advanced writing course, but if you need to develop really good writing skills, I don't think MTC will do it for you. As far as the BA in CSL for international students, if you're talking about the "Chinese Language and Culture for International Students", I'd say it may not be worth your time and effort. I've heard they let just about anyone in, a good portion of the classes are taught in English, your Chinese doesn't have to be very good to complete the course (my Chinese is probably good enough already), etc. To be fair, this is all hearsay, but that course does have the reputation of being kind of a joke here.

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yellowpower

@OneEye - thanks for the insights about the courses at MTC.

Curious about the 'teaching methods' - in the classroom discussions is it more 'free style' where you use the vocab learned and your own words to share your opinions/thoughts, or is it more like parroting and rephrasing the words/sentences that are used in the reading texts.

How often does the teacher 'correct' the students while speaking or offer suggestions in choosing other expressions to better convey your idea/meaning?

Besides, the textbooks do the teachers recommend or give out supplementary materials?

Thanks again.

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OneEye

The answer to all the above, unfortunately, is "it depends on the teacher". There are some teachers who focus on drilling and having you produce sentences using new patterns and vocab, and there are teachers that explain stuff and then have you discuss it and in their minds it's "good enough" just to understand (I'm very frustrated with this right now), but don't actually have you actively using it, and there are all other kinds too. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any standard method here. Fortunately there are some very good teachers, and if you don't get one of them you can always switch during the first week or so.

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kimmieting

Hi, I sent in my application to MTC some time ago...do you know how long it takes for them to reply me? and how did you find accomodationin taipei when the landlords all speak chinese? ^.^

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OneEye

I think I mentioned the apartment thing in an earlier post, but it's probably better off in its own post so it's more visible.

There are several ways to find English-speaking landlords if you need to:

1) forumosa.com has a housing forum

2) tealit.com has classifieds

3) craigslist actually has a Taiwan site. Most of the listings seemed to be geared toward people coming over on expat packages and so were very expensive, but some were affordable. This is where I found the apartment I'm in, actually.

4) The 7th floor bulletin boards at MTC often have ads for apartments, usually near the school.

I'm sure there are other places you can look, but those are the places I used when I was looking. Alternatively, you could hang out at MTC and try to make some Taiwanese friends (it's very easy, just sit at the picnic tables outside and look friendly). Many of them will be more than happy to help you find an apartment. Some will even help you negotiate better terms (price) on your lease agreement with the landlords. This can be better than finding an English-speaking landlord, because those come at a premium, in my experience. The downside is if you have problems with the apartment, things can become difficult if your Chinese level isn't there yet, but some friends may still be willing to help in this instance.

As far as how long MTC takes to get back to you, I believe I got my acceptance letter in late April last year, but I don't remember when I applied. Sorry!

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