I hate to rain on everyone’s parade, but not everything in that article is encouraging for the Chinese learner in Taiwan or mainland China. Keep in mind that in order to bring a foreign service officer up to a level straddling general professional proficiency and advanced professional proficiency in Chinese, it takes 88 weeks, or almost two years after you count holidays. For Chinese, that means 2200 hours of classroom instruction. That’s five hours a day in a classroom with no more than 2 or 3 other students. The first year is done in the US. The second year is done in China. Those five contact hours a day are delivered by the most highly trained CSL teachers in the world. There is no slack time in the syllabus. Every course, lesson and language task has a relevant aim. In addition to a student’s 5 hours a day of class time, they have to do homework and other stuff in a self access center. Although everything is extremely well planned, even the best language students get worn down after a year of nothing but hardcore language study. Some people who’s jobs don’t require professional proficiency leave the program after about a year when they reach about a 2 or 2.5 on the ILR scale, but the people who stay on to the end spend two years doing not much other than language study. I’ve met a few of the folks who’ve done the whole thing. I’ve met people who have reached similar proficiency levels through other means, but I can’t think of anybody I know who is clearly more proficient than the few people I’ve known who finished the FSI program. They’re hot shit. What else would they be after going through the most intense language program on earth?
I would consider myself as having a bit of aptitude for studying languages. I’ve spent the past 5 years studying Chinese. Some of that was full-time, but most of it was part-time and very diligent self study. The reason I quit full-time study is because the quality of teaching just didn’t make it worth it to continue that way. I don’t think it would have been much different if I had gone up to Beijing where things are better. After five years, I’ve tested at general professional proficiency, but you know what? Even though the test results said I reached a 3 on the ILR scale, I still KNOW that I’m not as good as the folks who’ve been through the FSI program. The test just isn’t designed well enough to distinguish me from them. I am proud that I’ve reached this level mostly on my own, but I still know that they are better. And they got paid to do it. :fume:
The FSI program is lightyears beyond the programs that are available to those of us shopping on the regular market. IUP at Qinghua or ILP at Taida are good when compared to a place like BLCU, just as BLCU is good when compared to the likes of TLI. However, I hope you’ll excuse my French when I say that all of these are shit when compared to the FSI. We’re damn lucky to do what an FSI student can do in 2 years in twice that time.