I’m starting a job teaching late in January to early February. I’m mostly doing the teaching as a way to financially support my Chinese studies. As such, I wanted to ask if anyone knows of any intensive courses offered through the month of January. And, since I’ll not be working, I’m looking for properly intensive courses - many hours a day over those 3-4 weeks. I’ve looked around a bit and found some that run around these times, but I’m not sure whether they’d be willing to work it down both in terms of cost and time to a month for me specifically. Additionally, they’re not quite as intensive as I’d like - I’d prefer something around 4+ hours/day of immersive practice.
I’ll be living in Taichung, so if I could find courses there, that’d be great, but if there are programs that offer accomodations, I’m fine with being in other parts of the country too. I’d prefer Tainan, as it’s cheaper to live in than Taipei, but beggars can’t be choosers…
Lastly, I’m not exactly swimming in money, so if there are really good programs that run on the cheaper side, I’d happily go for that regardless of location. At the end of the day, I’m looking to learn this language and I can make do with less than exciting surroundings if it means that my Chinese ability goes up.
A lot of schools are happy to build a 1:1 intensive for you. You’d have to ask. A few in Taipei that claimed to have “new courses starting every Monday” told me they weren’t doing those now due to COVID, but they’d happily take my money to make a week of 1:1 courses “worth my time”. I didn’t end up enrolling in one, but that would be something you could consider.
It would cost more in an hourly sense (per hour cost higher than group classes), but you don’t need to take four hours of 1:1 classes/day as is standard for those courses. One, maybe two hours max is enough, especially since those courses put 99% of the learning on you and you’re really just paying someone to hold you accountable in your self-study (you’re expected to memorize everything before you show up for intensive classes. The teacher only reinforces what you already taught yourself when you show up to class)
Short term intensive courses are not worth your money, for a very simple reason : half of learning chinese is memorizing characters. You’re better off doing 2 hours every other day with a private teacher online with prices going as low as 10 bucks/hour for quality stuff (which i’ve personally done), which amounts to roughly 150 dollars a month, and i’m pretty sure your “intensive” course will be more expensive than that. The only issue will be pronunciation because it will be annoying to get that through a mic, but language exchanges are perfect for this (and probably the only thing they’re useful at).
A 100% this. They will give you walls of vocabulary lists and characters to write and write over and over and the only reason you’re keeping up is because you don’t want your money to go to waste. I think a 100 bucks per month is enough of an incentive to work.
Well, half of learning Chinese shouldn’t be memorizing characters, but unfortunately there are approximately 3 Chinese teachers in total here on Earth that use methods that get students reading and writing Chinese characters easily and effortlessly without route memorization. There’s research that shows that what those three teachers are doing works better than the route memorization route, but there is a 100% guarantee no native Chinese speaking Chinese teacher is even going to try those methods.
So if you’re in Taiwan, it’ll be “here’s a text. You’ll understand about 60% of it. Your homework is to learn all the characters you don’t know. There’ll be a quiz on them tomorrow. If you get one stroke, sound, or tone wrong, the whole thing is wrong”. For courses that people put up with that for a full semester or more (I did…), eventually, your Chinese character writing and reading gets very good.
But there are other ways. Like graded/leveled readers. Pleco has pretty much every graded reader novel (targeted towards Chinese learners/not native speakers) available for a decent price in simplified and traditional characters. There is plenty of reinforcement of the same characters in different ways. @ironlady also has low unique character, high repetition in meaningful way texts and stories. That’s on https://squidforbrains.com/ and sometimes Amazon. Leveled news like Chairman’s Bao (I think there’s 25% off lifetime subscriptions until the end of the year. They’re not sponsoring this post ) are also good if you’ve got a decent grasp of the common characters and want more “news at my level” instead of stories. But you have to be careful not to get sucked into the “memorize all the characters!” trap. Just read the text in your reader app of choice so you can quickly recognize the meaning and sound of the new characters/words, then read another one. Throw them into an SRS system and go over them, but don’t spend the majority of your time memorizing characters. It’s not worth your time!!!
To OP: Comprehensible input is not some outdated teaching method from the 80’s. It works!!! I’ve used it with my Taiwanese students learning English for years, and have more recently used it with my international students learning Chinese. It’s much faster to dump the memorizing in favor of meaningful, comprehensible input, and I will strongly recommend you find a teacher that understands that, rather than drop a lot of money on a language intensive where the teacher is merely assigning you busy work.
Any recommendations on finding a teacher/center that uses that method? I’ve looked into Ironlady’s profile, but she seems to have a true beginner class right in the middle of January, meaning that I’d either have to find an alternative class for that period or something. It might be worthwhile to combine route memorization and deliberate study with comprehensible input via a tutor, but I’m not sure where I’d find the tutor nor whether I’d be able to manage all that learning But it’s worth a shot.
I think IronLady is focused on true beginners and willing to work with “false intermediates” (is that the term she used?), which are people who have progressed through a few “levels” but haven’t actually acquired the necessary language to really be “intermediate”. That’s the impression I’ve gotten from her posts over the years.
What level do you think of yourself as? I always point to ACTFL standards with my learners, as those are clear indicators of what you can do in the language, as opposed to what your textbook and (not actually aligned to any standards) tests suggest you should be able to do. NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements | ACTFL
Honestly, probably a novice learner. I’ve only progressed through around HSK 1-2 in my studies, which have been largely self-study. I can understand a number of characters, probably decent for my level, but I don’t always know what they mean in context. I’ve had very little practical speaking experience and a bit of heavily graded listening experience. Weaker than I’d like to admit all around.
Well everyone needs to start somewhere, so if you’re able to read and understand HSK 1 or 2, then that’s your start. But when you say “progressed through”, do you mean “understood the vast majority of (99-100% of) what you read and heard” or do you mean “made it through textbooks that are supposed to prepare a person for the HSK 1 and 2 exams” (which may or may not indicate “retention of” or “acquisition of” language)?
You sound like me when I was in a language intensive in China.. It took me nearly a decade (of already being very advanced in Chinese) to understand the problem with this statement. Now that I’ve read as much as I have about CI (and “TPRS with Chinese Characteristics”), I am so frustrated that this is a “step” in Chinese learning. It is an unnecessary step. If you are getting proper listening experience and provided with meaningful texts that you understand, you shouldn’t have a problem understanding the characters presented to you in context. Unfortunately, even the “best” textbooks for Chinese don’t really do that — you still end up memorizing words and characters out of context, which prevents you from naturally making connections when you see characters you’ve seen before used in new ways.
Expand off listening more and your reading comprehension will be better. Yes, your listening will be “simple” if you’re seeking out your own texts, because there’s not a lot of listening material that exists for Chinese that allows you to listen and comprehend that isn’t “simple”. But you need enormous amounts of input that you can comprehend to make the time you spend listening worth your time. @ironlady has posted tons on this across forumosa, but she will also add the importance of the teacher facilitating the comprehensible input and asking questions (“circling”) to make sure sufficient CI is given before ever touching the text.
There’s nothing to “admit” about proficiency in language learning. It’s not a competition (despite what cram schools would make you believe). You are where you are and now you want to take the next steps to further improve. The ACTFL “can-do” statements that I posted above are merely a guideline for you to consider what you need to know to continue to progress.
Basically, my main outline for language learning of any language is to know that Stephen Krashen has put a lot of ideas into the world about language acquisition that have been taken and used to be backed up by many, many more language teachers over the past half century. Terry Waltz (IronLady) really figured it out for classroom Chinese. But if you don’t have access to Terry Waltz personally, focus on listening input. DO NOT LISTEN TO THINGS YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. It is not helpful if you’re getting “input” but you’re looking up every few words. Get the leveled readers that have audio. Listen to the chapter (or a few minutes of the chapter) a few times without looking at the text before then listening and following along with the text a few times. But make sure you’re listening to something you understand. By understand that means 99-100%, not 80%. Listening to the same audio over and over and then following along with the text is in direct contrast to what Terry Waltz tells Chinese teachers to do, but I’m not sure how you could replicate her method on your own. You’d need a teacher creating texts for you, based on what spoken language was used in your specific classes. Or a teacher previewing the target text, making sure you get sufficient listening input (and “circling”, so you can interact with the language), and then giving you the text to read.
I don’t disagree. My point is simply that everyone does this, should you go on a course online or an intensive one IRL. It’s nice to know that there are novel methods one can follow but ultimately learning is about continuity and regularity, until you reach a certain point that I would place past B1. It’s all nice to have non-standard techniques that allow you to get there faster but it still takes some time, and during that time frame you might have to switch teachers or infrastructures or even countries and then good luck finding a teacher that is compatible with the way you’ve learned your stuff so far. As someone who’s learned his fair number of languages the best way to get to there is to follow whatever standardized course there is, no matter how suboptimal (it still gets you there if it’s standardized anyway). It is however up to you to supplement this standardized course with other techniques (flashcards come to mind), but following the beaten path is something I always recommend over anything as long as you’re not able reach that stage where just staying in the country and interacting with people will be enough for you to improve on your mandarin. Everyone ends up doing this comprehensible input thing eventually as they start filling in the gaps.
As someone who taught English as a foreign language for years I really can’t stress enough the importance of going outside and just talking to people. Attitude and mindset are really important. Go out and make mistakes, ask questions, put the learning 100% into your own hands.
Kids do it. You already learnt one language that way. Why not do that process again? Be more childlike, let go of your ego.
Well, not really. You spend the first two to three years of your life going “buh buh buh”, “muh muh muh” and imitating the various specific sounds of the language(s) spoken around you until you find that some sounds get a response from your caregivers. Your caregivers also quickly figure out what your (unintelligible to outside people) babbles mean, as your brain continues to absorb the language and you get positive feedback in the form of what you want when you say things like “bah-oh”, because your caregivers know that means you want a “bottle”. Babies spend a LOT of time (tens of thousands of hours) acquiring spoken language before they ever come close to producing spoken language, especially grammatical and complete sentences. But yes, going out and talking to people all the time, if you have a foundation, is great practice. But it doesn’t come close to a solid comprehensible input class with a teacher that knows what they’re doing.
What are you talking about mate? Children start using words at ten months old. They enter the language cliff at around three, by which point all the phonemes they’ll ever learn are set. Adults have already done all the tens of thousands of hours of hard work of language acquisition as babies.
I believe that language schools for adults are like diet plans. Designed to keep you coming back for more. It’s all a scam. Adults can teach themselves to fix cars, cook dishes, learn mathematics, teach themselves musical instruments, become great at chess, art, writing books, etc but they need to go to a teacher to acquire a new language? That’s horse shit.
Go outside. Make mistakes. Learn through trial and error. Life is the best teacher.
I see it like a personal trainer at a gym. If you are starting with zero it can be a lot of help to start. And a good trainer can make a big difference. But living in Taiwan is like having a home gym, if you know the basics all you need is the intrinsic motivation