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Jan Finster

Best place to study in the winter for a month?

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abcdefg
On 6/12/2019 at 12:14 AM, Jan Finster said:

Another idea I had was to ditch the whole "immersion" aspect this time (since December sounds suboptimal). Instead I could stay in Thailand at a beach and take online Chinese lessons for 4-6 hours a day and study 2-4 hours at the beach by myself. I wonder how inferior such a non-immersion trip would be (?) 

 

You're joking, right? That would be insane. Go to a beach in Thailand and study Thai. Or study nothing. Eat shrimp and drink beer. Work on your tan. Winter is high season there. Weather is ideal. 

 

December is not suboptimal at all for learning Chinese in China. It's the perfect time of year. 

 

Since you have climate issues, go to the lower part of Taiwan, as already suggested. Taichung or Kaohsiung would be perfect. 

 

 

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Jan Finster
7 hours ago, abcdefg said:

go to the lower part of Taiwan, as already suggested. Taichung or Kaohsiung would be perfect. 

 

I have looked into Taichung and Khaosiung and they look really nice. I will also consider Tainan for a week or so. Thanks!

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abcdefg

I've only been as a tourist, but all three of those Taiwan cities really did appeal to me. 

 

 

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zhouhaochen

The problem with tutors and immersion is that the more immersive a place is (no or very small foreign community) the less likely you are to find a good (or any) experienced Chinese language tutor there. Good Chinese teachers are where there is work for them (and like everyone they get better with work experience - if there are no foreigners to teach, they dont get better), so that is no problem in the big centers like Beijing or Shanghai, but very difficult in smaller towns. You can get a graduate with English skills and enthusiasm - but that is not a real teacher (yet). We spend a lot of time and work training teachers in cities where there arent any (like Beihai or Chengde) or try to send them there from other cities (which is surprisingly difficult - the insistence of Chinese people to live in very big and expensive cities when they could have a much better quality of life with a good job in a smaller one puzzles me every time again). It is significantly harder (and more expensive) to provide good teaching quality in smaller cities than big ones.

So if you are looking for a free lance tutor, a big city will have a lot more to offer. Tutors there will have their own issues, but at least there is a market for them, as well as choices available.

Christmas is low season for pretty much all Chinese language teaching institutions on the mainland, so its actually a very good time to come to China to learn Mandarin. You might be able to get discounts (for example LTL offers -25% on all courses over Christmas).

 

For learning Chinese on a beach in Thailand, I think abcdefg's comment is spot on.

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mungouk

Glad to hear I'm not the only one who enjoys studying while on holiday... 😀

 

One of the things I really like about having Skype lessons is that I don't have to stop them when I'm travelling, so long as the internet connection is fast enough.

 

 

 

 

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suMMit

@Jan Finsterthe fact that in the warm south of China most people seem to speak Cantonese).

 

This is completely untrue

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abcdefg

Glad it worked out well!

 

Traditional characters always throw me for a loop too when I visit Taiwan or Hong Kong. 

 

14 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

One major realization was that there is nothing that beats spending time in a Mandarin-speaking country. Once you are actually in the country, what you study becomes relevant.

 

This is a big realization. I agree completely. Nothing beats immersion as a way to facilitate solid progress. I think of it as a "necessary but not sufficient condition." I realize this isn't true for everyone. Some people can make decent progress back in Cleveland or Stuttgart by just using textbooks and on-line tutors, but I never could. On the other hand, just being in country and not making an effort to acquire the language won't work either. The language does not just magically seep in.  

 

In my early years of spending time in China when I was trying not only to learn the language but trying to get a feel for how it would be to live here part time, I did all sorts of crazy stuff to enhance the experience. One example that comes to mind now is that even if I was staying at an international chain hotel where over half the guests were English speakers, I remember going through the buffet serving line refusing to point at the items I wanted. I would stuff my hands in my pockets and insist on saying "I want one portion of eggs and two slices of bacon" (in Chinese of course.) Made myself use the language even when the easy way would have been to momentarily opt out and just point. That approach soon led to refinements, and before long I could tell the cook (in Chinese,) "I want two eggs over easy, not too well done." 

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Jan Finster
8 hours ago, suMMit said:

@Jan Finsterthe fact that in the warm south of China most people seem to speak Cantonese).

 

This is completely untrue

 

It is completely untrue 😁 This was my misconception that brought me to Taiwan. In fact,  before my Taiwan adventure I spent one week in Guangzhou at a conference. I was so surprised that 2 friends, who grew up in Guangzhou would speak Mandarin to the taxi driver and among each other. I was able to use Mandarin in Guangzhou just fine and would have loved to stay there. Totally awesome city and in my opinion much nicer than Shanghai and Beijing. 

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