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Master's Programmes at NTNU and Wenzao: Teaching Chinese as a Second Language

Olle Linge

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Earlier this spring, I applied for two master's degree programmes in Taiwan, both called 華語文教學研究所 (commonly translated as Teaching Chinese as a Second Language) and are at laest superifically similar (meaning that they have similar courses, aims and so on). However, there should be quite a few differences between the two. Has anyone been enrolled in any of these programmes? Do you know someone who has? I'm not too interested in opinions about NTNU and Wenzao in general, because I have attended both already, I'm interested in information, opinions or anything regarding the two programmes that might help me to choose which one I'm going to.

Naturally, there are many factors influencing such a choice, but since don't want to write a page-long autobiography, let it suffice to say that I'm a Swedish guy who has studied Chinese since 2007 and plan to teach Chinese in Sweden in the future. My main goal with going to Taiwan for a master's degree is (apart from earning the degree itself) to improve my Chinese. I've lived in Taiwan for two years preivously, so I don't need information about the place as such.I'd be helpful for any kind of input. If you have any opinions in general (i.e. even if you haven't been enrolled in said programmes), please let me know!

Thank you!

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I have several friends in the program at NTNU. I've not heard good things about it. Basically, they're not interested in updating anything about their pedagogy, only in having you accept the same things they've been teaching for 40 years or however long. They stifle new ideas before they even get off the ground because "that would never work in a classroom" instead of allowing you to follow the idea through in order to find the best way of teaching and THEN figuring out how to adapt it for the classroom. And so on. But it isn't all terrible, it's just that that's what I hear because people don't vent about positive things.

However, many of them have seen it as a means to an end, and are willing to put up with the frustration. For one thing, I'd think there's no way your Chinese wouldn't improve doing an MA all in Chinese. And once you're done, you have the MA in that field and should be able to find work teaching Chinese. If that's the ultimate goal, then you could do worse (and I don't think you could do any better, at least in Taiwan). Just know ahead of time what you're getting yourself into and you'll be fine.

Maybe get in touch with both departments and see if you can contact one of their foreign grad students. They'll give you better information than I could anyway.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for your answer. I have studied at NTNU before (not MTC) and I think I know what I'm getting myself into. If I was after learning how to teach Chinese, I would probably not study for a masters degree in Taiwan or China, but stay here in Sweden and study here. However, as you point out, I'm likely to learn quite a lot of Chinese on the way if I do it in a Chinese speaking environment, something I consider equally important to earning the degree in the first place. Hopefully, I will be able to cope with the attitude you describe simply because the language involved interests me in itself. I have been in contact with some people studying at both institutions and I haven't learnt anything surprising, really. The most significant differences should be the location (Taipei wins), the number of available courses (again, NTNU wins) and the number of students (Wenzao wins, fewer admitted students per class, about half that of NTNU). So, right now NTNU seems likely, but I haven't decided finally yet. Again, thank you for your input!

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