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OneEye

Mandarin Training Center, National Taiwan Normal University

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imron
Because I'm left handed it was always a huge pain in the ass for me

Maybe they'd let you write top-bottom, right-left, instead of left-right, top-bottom?  Vertical writing is still quite common place in Taiwan.

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mprey

Thanks for the responses. I do use Skritter daily as part of my routine, so I'm reasonably familiar with how the characters are actually written and my reading is pretty OK. It's just that if I actually took pen to paper, I'd struggle to be able to write more than 50 characters comfortably since I've never seriously practiced handwriting before (my English handwriting is also an illegible abomination, so for me it's really a big struggle). So it really looks like I wouldn't be able to follow MTC intermediate classes at that level, which is a shame. It looks like I'll just be continuing at TLI with Taiwan Today for now, maybe I can try adding a little bit of handwriting practice to my daily routine and see where I stand in 6 months. 

 

TLI has been good to me. I chose them last year because I deliberately wanted to avoid the avoid the endless rote learning and handwritten drills of MTC and the like (and I was talking to lots of unhappy MTC beginner students back then), and wanted to focus more on conversational skills. This turned out well in that I'd argue my conversational skills are easily superior to the average Shida student at my level. But now that I am increasingly looking forward to more reading and academic things, I guess this decision has also come back to bite me in another way.

 

I could of course just design some custom 1-on-1 class at TLI following the pattern of some of the MTC courses mentioned in here, and then I wouldn't have to worry about handwriting. But I'm also kind of looking for a change in environment. After taking 1-on-1s for a year I never came into contact with other students (which may not matter to everyone), there was nobody forcing me to do homework or to take exams, the school is inside a random office building, occupying 2 cramped floors with tiny classrooms. I kind of long for something more like an academic environment with a little bit of a sense of community, and also some actual pressure to get me off my butt...

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etm001

 

 

So it really looks like I wouldn't be able to follow MTC intermediate classes at that level, which is a shame. 

You know, I wouldn't give up on MTC so quickly. It sounds like you'd really benefit from a classroom environment, both in terms of motivation and camaraderie. And I apologize for not stating this explicitly in my last post: the majority of my tests were multiple choice, fill in the blank, etc., with usually just 1-2 free response questions at the end of the test. So it might not be as bad as you think. (That said, if you are doing no writing at TLI right now, then relatively speaking you are going to be doing a lot more at MTC).

 

 

 

But I'm also kind of looking for a change in environment. 

Funny, I left MTC after ~2 years because I wanted a change in environment too. So I guess we're seeking the same goal, but we started from opposite ends. My reading and writing is better than my speaking and listening, which is why I signed up for 1-on-1 classes at TLI.

 

 

 

I kind of long for something more like an academic environment with a little bit of a sense of community, and also some actual pressure to get me off my butt...

Seriously, reconsider MTC. It's old fashioned, non-glamorous teaching, but on the balance I had good teachers and learned a lot (combined with my own personal study). I met a lot of great people from all over the word too.

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mprey

I've contacted MTC directly with my situation and they said that "Handwriting is an essential part of MTC's pedagogy. We are afraid the group class may not be suitable for you", suggesting the individual class arrangement instead, which is obviously what I want to get away from.

 

I guess there is no way around getting my handwriting in order if I want to go anywhere near a real classroom environment again. If anyone has any tips regarding getting my handwriting up to speed, I'd appreciate it...in the meanwhile maybe I can try a group class at TLI.

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imron
If anyone has any tips regarding getting my handwriting up to speed, I'd appreciate it

Practise, practise, practise.

 

There's not really any substitute for that.

 

I would look to do some sort of dictation where you listen to audio and then try to write from that because it will force you to use active recall, rather than just copying characters down from somewhere (which uses passive recall).  You'll struggle at first, but then certain characters will start to stick, and then other characters will and so on.

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etm001

 

 

 "Handwriting is an essential part of MTC's pedagogy. We are afraid the group class may not be suitable for you"

Definitely true for beginning classes, and as I mentioned previously, less and less so as you move upwards. I understand your reluctance, though.

 

@imron said:

 

 

 

I would look to do some sort of dictation where you listen to audio and then try to write from that because it will force you to use active recall

You might want to look into getting one of the Glossika packages (there is a long, long thread elsewhere on this forums debating the pros/cons of the material). It provides Mandarin and English audio and full sentence transcriptions. With material like this you can improve your aural, oral, and writing skills all in one go.

 

Good luck!

 

P.S. The Glossika materials are not intended for beginners (which based on your post it's clear that you are not). With ~1 year of instruction under your belt, the  "Fluency" packages might right for you. (You may feel that the audio is below where you are now, but even so it'll still be a great resource for dictation and picking up some new vocabulary (more so in the 2nd or 3rd Fluency package - there are three in total).

 

Good luck!

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oceancalligraphy

I'm curious if anyone can break down the MTC levels in terms of American university language levels. MTC courses are broken down into 9 levels (let's assume all courses are available). Let's say a typical American university's courses are divided into 5 levels: elementary, intermediate, advanced, and advanced reading. What would be the correspondence is between MTC's levels and the typical American university levels? Would there be a one-to-one correspondence of the first five levels?

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etm001

Hi,

 

MTC published a "Class Levels and Learning Objectives" [PDF] guide that correlates each MTC term to CEFR levels. This was published in 2013-2014. This information may also be available on the MTC site in non-PDF form (I thought I saw it once before, but I couldn't find it).

 

In short, after completing "X" terms at MTC, your expected CEFR level is...

  • 2 terms: A2, novice-mid
  • 4 terms: B1, novice-high
  • 8 terms: B2, intermediate-mid
  • 12 terms: C1, advanced-low
  • 16 terms: C2 advanced-high

One term at MTC is ~3 months. It's extremely rare for anyone to study there longer than 8 terms/2 years. 

 

 

 

MTC Terms 

 

 

Class level_English.pdf

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oceancalligraphy

What are the expected CEFR levels at American universities?

There was a post a while back that a student with a BA in Chinese from the US tested into level 3 at MTC. That's why I'm wondering what the corresponding levels are.

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etm001

 

 

What are the expected CEFR levels at American universities?

 

I think there's too much variability between schools, teaching methods, and target languages to create a standard reference between CEFR and typical four year university language programs. According to Wikipedia:

 

Language schools and certificate bodies evaluate their own equivalences against the [CEFR] framework. Differences of estimation have been found to exist, for example, with the same level on the PTE A, TOEFL, and IELTS, and is a cause of debate between test producers.

 

I think it's fair to say that a native English speaker, on average, will reach a higher level of proficiency in Spanish/French/Italian than Chinese/Japanese/Korean upon graduating a four year university language program.

 

 

There was a post a while back that a student with a BA in Chinese from the US tested into level 3 at MTC.

 

I'm not sure how much this is a reflection on the student, his university, or the challenges of learning Chinese. I've actually never thought of my studies at the MTC in terms of "levels" - unless by level you mean "book". If that's the case, i.e., he tested into PAVC Book 3, which does seem low for someone having completed a BA in Chinese. Then again, I'm sure many people are surprised to find that their classroom, academic 標準 Chinese does (initially) serve them well in an Chinese speaking country. 

 

P.S. For what it's worth, the PAVC books are no longer used at MTC. The new books were written at the MTC and are titled "A Modern Course in Chinese".

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dtails

I saw a post about new books used at the MTC, A Modern Course in Chinese. I can't find any info on these new books, if anyone is familiar with them could you please post what you think about them? Thanks!

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etm001

 

 

I saw a post about new books used at the MTC, A Modern Course in Chinese. I can't find any info on these new books, if anyone is familiar with them could you please post what you think about them?

I had a chance to browse the first book in the series, and it seemed solid. The vocabulary and grammar are introduced in rough equivalency as with the old PAVC books, although now each chapter contains two dialogues with accompanying vocabulary. The total number of glossed words per chapter and per book seem to be the same as with PAVC.

 

My biggest gripe is with the graphics and page layout. The books have a "Microsoft Word" feel to them. The graphics look like Microsoft Word clip art. All the material is black-and-white, using only spacing and bolded/italicized words for emphasis. The PAVC books used tables to reasonably good effect, but I don't recall the new books using tables that much, if at all (I could be wrong on this point, it's hard to remember). The quality of the books' paper and bindings feels very much "self published". The best comparison I can make is with the supplements you may have had to buy when taking a university course (i.e., multiple articles that were bound into a single volume, printed by your local print shop, etc.)

 

Don't misunderstand: based on what I saw in the first book, the content is fine, and doesn't lack when compared to PAVC (the truth is, the content of PAVC wasn't bad at all, save for some outdated words and/or lack of newer words related to the technology, the Internet, etc). But as someone who cares about information presentation (e.g., layout, etc.), it's clear that the MTC skimped on these books (even as compared to the PAVC books). As a reference, I think the "Integrated Chinese" serious of textbooks has a decent layout and design.

 

Update June 2015:

 

 

 

My biggest gripe is with the graphics and page layout. The books have a "Microsoft Word" feel to them. The graphics look like Microsoft Word clip art. All the material is black-and-white, using only spacing and bolded/italicized words for emphasis.

I'm happy to say that the MTC has published a new edition that has a professional design and layout. It looks nice. As far as I can tell, few if any content changes were made for this new edition.

 

Update July 2015:

 

The ICRT "Taiwan Talk" podcast published an episode on July 6, 2015 that discusses the revised MTC textbook, as well as other aspects of the MTC and learning Chinese as a second language in Taiwan.

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giokve

Thank you for the write-up. This is probably a dumb question, but aren't there a speaking section and a writing (where you actually have to write a short text) section? Or is it only for higher levels?

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etm001

 

 

This is probably a dumb question, but aren't there a speaking section and a writing (where you actually have to write a short text) section? Or is it only for higher levels?

Yes, there is a speaking and writing test. They are separate tests which are scheduled on the day following the reading/listening test. At the moment I don't have any plans to take either. I also don't know anyone who has taken them. I don't much about either test, but I'm assuming they are still computer based. For the speaking test you probably speak into a headset microphone, and type pinyin for the writing portion.

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giokve

So you can get a certificate without speaking and writing? This is very different from the CEFR, and definitely more to my liking.

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etm001

 

 

So you can get a certificate without speaking and writing?

I haven't received my certificate yet, but I'm assuming it will list the level in which you placed for both the reading and listening tests. (I haven't received mine yet, so I'm not 100% sure). I'm not sure if it will list the actual scores (I'm guessing not, since passing/maximum scores can vary from test to test)

 

Update June 2015

 

See the edit I made to my earlier post, in which I describe both the score report and the certificate you receive after taking the test.

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Elizabeth_rb

 

Don't misunderstand: based on what I saw in the first book, the content is fine, and doesn't lack when compared to PAVC (the truth is, the content of PAVC wasn't bad at all, save for some outdated words and/or lack of newer words related to the technology, the Internet, etc). But as someone who cares about information presentation (e.g., layout, etc.), it's clear that the MTC skimped on these books (even as compared to the PAVC books). As a reference, I think the "Integrated Chinese" serious of textbooks has a decent layout and design.

 

Update June 2015:

 

Quote

 

 

My biggest gripe is with the graphics and page layout. The books have a "Microsoft Word" feel to them. The graphics look like Microsoft Word clip art. All the material is black-and-white, using only spacing and bolded/italicized words for emphasis.

I'm happy to say that the MTC has published a new edition that has a professional design and layout. It looks nice. As far as I can tell, few if any content changes were made for this new edition.

 

This is exactly what happened during the development of the PAVC series.  I was in Taiwan for my first year studying then (1997/8) and one friend stayed on the next year too.  She did the then Book III (now PAVC bk 5) and she said she had the type of text that you described - the supplementary material copy book type.  It was clearly a trial run edition. Not long afterwards, the first of the 'real' ones came out and were re-designed at least once again since.  I actually have the first Book II (now bks 3 and 4), as well as the first split into Book IIA and IIB...

 

I expect the same process is happening with the latest series, about which I am mad curious!  Any cover and sample page spread photos would be great.  Hint, hint, hint!! :D

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etm001

 

 

I expect the same process is happening with the latest series, about which I am mad curious!  Any cover and sample page spread photos would be great.  Hint, hint, hint!!  :D

lol, I do plan on buying all the books in the series - not so much because I need them, but I just want to add them to my textbook collection. When I do, I'll take some pics and post again.

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Elizabeth_rb

You sound like me, only, as I'm trying to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, I'm not buying books just now and am trying hard to read and study up the ones I have. Wish me luck?? :D

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