Studying in Yilan or Hualien

Hi guys,

I’m applying to come out to Taiwan and study Mandarin starting September 2015 and was hoping to get some advise on choosing schools. Really I want to be based on the East coast (I’m a big surfer, and kind of sick of living in huge cities), which gives me two MOE approved options (I’m applying for the scholarship); Tzu Chi (Hualien) and Fo Guang (Yilan).

I’ve researched pretty hard, but they’re both small schools, and I can’t get my hands on much info. It would be great to hear from anyone who’s studied at either/knows someone who has. Firstly I’d be interested to know what the general vibe is there. And then get some detail on the school itself. One of my worries is that the quality of teaching is going to be sub that of the schools in the big cities and they might not push you so hard. I’m also coming in at a slightly awkward level (somewhere around HSK 2), and figure they might not have the numbers to make a class of a similar level to me.


Tzu Chi will usually push you pretty good, don’t doubt that. I’ve heard that first-hand.
Teachers are good, and the school ethos could be summed up as ‘work damned hard, don’t play much’.

Thanks again Nuit! Are you based near Hualien then? Do you reckon the guy would would recommend it? How do you think it compares to those in Taipei?

I’m not the guy to make comparisons (never studied Mandarin at that level in Taiwan), maybe some otheres can chime in here. I just hear that Tzu Chi has a decent language institute, although you are going to come into contact with the Tzu Chi culture, it can be a bit heavy for some people.

Hi Tim,

I attended Tzu Chi’s CLC from 9/2013 to 3/2014. I don’t think you need to worry about being pushed.

The class I was assigned to, based on the placement test ,was too advanced for me, so on the 3rd day of class I switched to the next level down. You have one week to check out which level is right for you.

Our class was in the middle of Practical Audio Visual Chinese (PAVC) book 2. In addition to having a vocabulary/grammar quiz almost every day, our daily homework consisted of writing a journal entry, as well as explaining/relating a Tzi Chi or other Chinese aphorism. Each day one of the students would present their aphoism explanations orally to the class. Our teacher rarely used English in class. Once a week we had a more relaxed culture day with a different teacher.

The next quarter I had a different teacher and we went through the first half of PAVC 3. We didn’t have quite as much writing homework in that class, but we seemed to have more difficult tests, as well as a final presentation that included interviewing two local business owners and making an audio visual presentation to the class. Of course, this was all in Chinese.

What you get out of the class of course depends on what you put into it, as well as using the language outside of class. Tzu Chi has official outside activities about once a month (ours included calligraphy, martial arts, Moon Festival, and volunteering at an elementary school for disadvantaged kids), and other get togethers that the students and/or teachers might arrange.

All in all I think it’s a good program. You never know about how individual students will affect the class dynamics, but that’s always an unknown.

I forgot to mention that they’ll also arrange a language exchange with a Tzu Chi student. It’s supposed to be once a week, but you’re free to alter it.

The campus itself is tranquil, as would be expected, and has some strict rules for those living in the dorms. I lived off campus and had my own scooter, which I highly recommend for easily getting out to see the beauty of Hualian, and even Taidong.

Feel free to send me a pm or ask here if you have any other questions.

[quote=“Steve4nLanguage”]Hi Tim,

I attended Tzu Chi’s CLC from 9/2013 to 3/2014.[/quote]
I was at that school a bit earlier and can basically second what Steve wrote here… Hualien is a nice place to live and study. :wink:

Hey, I’ve been studying at Tzu Chi for the last 6 months. It has a quiet academic feel to the place which I like, and living here is certainly cheaper than a big city.

However if you are looking for the most serious language school then that might be Yilan - see their language pledge:

So you have to speak Mandarin full time from early on or risk being kicked out of the program. Coming to Taiwan I was a beginner at 中文 and found this idea too intimidating, so went with Tzu Chi. However if you are really motivated then Yilan might be for you.

The main bit of advice I would give is make sure your reading ability is at a similar level to your speaking or you will struggle to find a group class at your level. Because of this problem I switched to a private class.

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