Studying Chinese Down South


OK, I am now looking at the ChengGong Chinese Language Center to take a 4 - 8 week language classes (The intensive summer sessions - 20 hr per week instead of 10) in Tainan. Has anyone ever taken these before? How is the location and the classes? Any information would be helpful!



I studied at the language center for over a year starting in '96, but they didn’t have an intensive program when I was there. Things have changed a lot in Tainan, but if you can handle the rudeness of people on the street, you can have a great time.

Regarding classwork, my biggest suggestion would be to try your hardest to avoid get a teacher with a ‘Tainan’ accent. They had several when I was there, and it will haunt you forever if you come back to Taipei with such an accent… :laughing: When I was there, they had many different teachers (some were college students looking for a part-time job), so the quality of learning really depended a lot on the teacher you got.

One nice thing about Tainan is the incredibly cheap cost of living…


Are people pretty rude down there? I get free room and board in Tainan, so thats why I am looking down there. Any pointers of must see or must do things while I am in Tainan?


Well… How about this… Some of the people you will end up interacting with and talking to will be some of the nicest and helpful people you could meet. Unfortunately, you’ll get a fair amount of staring, pointing and calling out of ‘big nose’ by strangers on the street. If you can ignore it, or have fun with it, you’ll be fine. It’s certainly worth hanging out in Tainan for a little while, just to get a very different view on Taiwanese culture/life.

Check out the structures left by the Dutch and the Confucius Temple (they’re nothing to wonderful, but neat, and necessary sights to see if you’re there). And check out the


Thanks, One last question, and this could apply for any school. Is it worth the extra money to do the individual classes, or are group classes the way to go?


Baytiger, if you’ve got some money to burn, I’d be doing one on ones. Did it myself for 2 years, and pretty well worthwhile.


I did one-on-ones while I was at NCKU (NCGU?). It was great, but depends a lot on the teacher. Although I think it’d be more worth the money for lower-level students; its great for pronunciation and getting that ever-so-important chance to actually chat with someone (which is what it generally turned into for me, but that’s exactly what I needed at the time…!)


The other thing I found with one on ones was that you can fire and hire the teachers at your own leisure :smiling_imp: . During my two years, I had plenty of crap teachers, well in my opinion anyway, them wanting more to improve their own english level competency than my chinese. I can’t vouch for all language schools, and I’m sure this’d be pretty difficult to so at Uni based programs, but at my school, you could.


Are there any other places to study down in the Tainan area (again the free room and board thing). All I found was the Uni. Thanks again you guys, for all of the help!


I studied at NCKU for one year in 2001. I strongly suggest to take the one-on-one classes. They are not much more expensive than the group classes and you will get much more out of it.

The group classes are tought by the same teachers as the one-on-one’s; the teachers are mostly college students or college grads without formal teaching education. So, if you are unlucky your group class teacher will be teaching a group for the first time herself.

I took 80% one-on-one classes and they were very helpful, since I could set my own pace and I could take charge of the classes myself; this way you can get much out of classes even if the teacher is not so talented.
2 hours of one-on-one cost just around 500NT, which I think is a very good price (they raised it though). Chose “Practical audiovisual Chinese”, since this is the textbook most teachers are familiar with.

I do agree with littleiron that NCKU is not for advanced students, but up to high intermediate it is a very efficient learning environment (up to and incuding Audio-Visual volume 3; that is my own definition of high-intermediate though; the MTC places this book on mid-intermediate, but I think if you really finish this book from cover to cover, then you are pretty good).
You will do lots of talking, thus become fluent fairly quick. On the other hand, if you are more into classical Chinese, real literary Chinese or business Chinese, don’t chose NCKU. It is really more like a place where you learn Chinese to get along in Taiwan.

I have to admit that I have never been to another language school, so I am just judging from my own “satisfaction level”.

P.S.: I didn’t notice any particular rudeness in Tainan. Stares, pointing and an occasional “hello, how are you?” was all I had to put up with. Often people appeared to be very friendly and willing to help (once I was sitting on a bench all by myself waiting for a friend, when an old man came up to me and asked if there was a problem; kind of cute).



It’s great to have the experience of someone who studied there recently. I was wondering if the overall structure was still the same they used when I was there.
From what I’ve seen recently (which isn’t much, unfortunately), Tainan has changed a LOT in the last five years; I think the people there are probably a lot more used to seeing foreigners. A good things, overall.
(But it still bugs me how everyone points and stares… and I’m sure its not my hump! :stuck_out_tongue: )


Thanks Everyone, this has really been a lot of help. Since this is a 6 - 8 week sabbatical I am still trying to decide whether I am going to study for 1 summer term or two (4 weeks or 8 weeks). If I do the 1 term option, that leaves some time for vacation to Cambodia or the like. Any suggestions?


I would spend all the time in Cambodia.


You must know, I am married with a kid, and don’t really party, so 6 - 8 weeks in Cambodia would be a little long.