Ten Language Programs in China and Taiwan

by Dawn Stanton, Dec 1, 2002 | Destinations: China / Beijing

Hundreds of distinct languages exist in China and Taiwan, but when students talk about studying Chinese, they usually mean Mandarin (Han) Chinese. Speakers refer to Mandarin as putonghua in the mainland and guoyu on Taiwan ("the national language" is a loose translation of both).

"Anyone seriously interested in Chinese studies should really try to spend some time in both mainland China and Taiwan," Cornelius Kubler, Professor of Asian Studies at Williams College, says. When looking at programs, students should keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of life in each locale. On the mainland, you may run into restrictions that you wouldn't encounter in Taiwan. Renting an apartment, arranging a homestay, or finding a part-time job may be more difficult to accomplish on the mainland than in Taiwan. However, the advantage of studying in mainland China, says Dr. Kubler, is that you're in China. It's the home of the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and the Yangzi River; it's a land with a four thousand year history.

Brad Lint, a student in the Chinese language program at the University of Pittsburgh before going to Taiwan, has studied Chinese in programs at National Taiwan Normal University, National Chengchi University, and in a program offered by Mandarin Daily News. Lint, who has been living in Taiwan for more than a decade now, says, "Success at living abroad requires self-discipline. Absent all the pillars of friends and family and cultural cues back home, you will sometimes feel that you are 'treading water.' Forcing yourself into two hours of class per day and another one or two outside will take you a long way." He also encourages students to read about the country where they're planning to live, to read about culture shock, to listen to Chinese music and news regularly, and to "relish in mistakes."

When Dan Joseph went to Taiwan in the late 1980s, he had no previous Chinese language experience. "People always ask, 'How long did it take to learn the language?' and I never have a good answer because you're always still learning. But for me, language progress always came in fits and starts. It seems like the knowledge kind of wells up inside you and you don't know how to use it and then you kind of burst to the next level."

Lint and Joseph both cite reading and writing as the most difficult, but an invaluable, part of their Chinese language studies.

"After fifteen years of on-again-off-again study, I'm still grappling with characters," Lint says. "[Students should] treat writing characters like 'mowing the lawn.' You've got a big field to mow and you just have to do it."

Joseph agrees. "I think reading is very important and I think it's often overlooked because it's so difficult studying Chinese. I don't care what language you're talking about, or what language is your primary language, the difference between well-educated and less well-educated people, articulate people and less articulate people is usually how much they read."

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Most of the programs listed here have small class sizes and offer additional one-on-one or small group tutorials. Some include opportunities to live with a Chinese roommate or with a Chinese host family. Overall, the advanced levels of these programs are intense, focused on broadening and deepening a student's oral communication skills.

For a student to benefit most from overseas language study, it is recommended that he should already have achieved intermediate language proficiency; nonetheless, some of the programs do offer courses for beginners. Full details (and in some cases, online application forms) for each program can be found on the programs' Web sites or can be requested via email or regular post.

1. Associated Colleges in China (ACC)

Location: Capital University of Economics and Business (CUEB), Beijing, PRC

Contact Information: Associated Colleges in China, East Asian Languages and Literature, Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Road, Clinton, NY 13323, Tel: 315-859-4778, Fax: 315-859-4687, Email: acchina@hamilton.edu

URL: Associated Colleges in China

2. Beijing Language and Culture University

Location: Beijing, PRC

Contact Information: Admission Office for Foreign Students, Beijing Language and Culture University, 15 Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing, PRC 100083, Tel: +86-10-82303951, +86-10-82303086, or +86-10-82303088, Fax: +86-10-82303087, Email: zhaosh1@blcu.edu.cn

URL: http://www.blcu.edu.cn/eblcu.htm

3. CET Academic Programs

Location: Various locations: Beijing, Haerbin, Nanjing

Contact Information: CET Academic Programs, 1920 N Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036, Tel: 1-800-225-4262, Email: cet@academic-travel.com

URL: CET Academic Programs

4. Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE)

Location: Various locations: Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Taipei

Contact Information: CIEE, 633 Third Avenue, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10017-6706, Tel: 1-800-40-STUDY, Fax: 212-822-2779

URL: http://www.ciee.org/

5. Hopkins-Nanjing Center

Location: Hopkins-Nanjing Center, Nanjing, PRC

Contact Information: Hopkins-Nanjing Center, Washington Program Office, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036-2213, Tel: 202-663-5800, Fax: 202-663-7729, Email: nanjing@jhu.edu

URL: http://www.sais-jhu.edu/Nanjing/

6. International Chinese Language Program (ICLP)

Location: National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

Contact Information: National Taiwan University, No. 1, Section 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC, Tel: +886-2-2363-0231

Email: tdiclc@ms.cc.ntu.edu.tw

URL: International Chinese Language Program

7. Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies (IUP)

Location: Tsinghua University, Beijing

Contact Information: Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street #2318, Berkeley, CA 94720-2318, Tel: 510-642-3873, Fax: 510-643-7062, Email: iub@socrates.berkeley.edu

URL: http://ieas.berkeley.edu/iup/

8. Mandarin Training Institute

Location: National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

Contact Information: 162 Hoping East Road, Section 1, Taipei 106, Taiwan, ROC, Tel: +886-2-2363-0847, Fax: +886-2-2363-5695

URL: Mandarin Training Institute

9. Princeton in Beijing Program

Location: Beijing Normal University, Beijing, PRC

Contact Information: Princeton in Beijing, 211 Jones Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1008, Tel: 609-258-4269, Fax: 609-258-7096, Email: pib@princeton.edu

URL: http://www.princeton.edu/~pib/

10. Taipei Language Institute

Location: Various locations; main branch: Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

Contact Information: Taipei Language Institute, 7F, 104 Hsin Yi Road, Section 2, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC, Tel: +886-2-2341-0022, Email: tli.taipei@msa.hinet.net

URL: http://www.tli.com.tw/en/1-1.asp

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