Thinking of moving from Taiwan/She-da to China

Now, on my second semester at She-da I’m seriously starting to contemplate a move to China to study Chinese.

  1. Why stay in Taiwan for more then half a year when you can experience another country and still learn the language?
  2. The Mainland Beijing accent sounds far nicer and richer, to me. Taiwanese’ mandarin is somewhat poor. 44 anyone?
  3. I’m not here for the money and am w/o a schollership.
  4. Why not? (still, making the move is not that simple).
    5-43. Can’t recall at the momet.

Question is, would it be possible to somehow maintain what I’ve learned at She-da and continue from that in China? Traditional or Simplified Chinese? Should I just change to simplified?
Any idea what would be the best place for a She-da student to go study at?


Just go dude. That way you can learn all the dialects too, INCLUDING Minnan and Hakka, might I add. Also, learning to read one of Simplified/Traditional when you already know the other is not difficult at all. I think knowing Simplified and reading Traditional may be easier, since most of the time that task is a many-to-one mapping. Forget Taiwan and its petty provincialism (literally to some).

Well, I doubt you’ll learn too much Minnan and Hakka if you study in Beijing :laughing: but it’s all Chinese…sort of…

One thing you might enjoy about China and learning Chinese there is that the CFL/CSL (Chinese as a Foreign Language/Second Language) folks there are far ahead of their Taiwan-based brethren. The materials available are much more inspiring and varied. We were recently in Shanghai and spent a couple of hours going through the stuff available in an enormous room at the Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore (they only managed to kick us out because it was closing time and they had beefy security guards…)

You don’t say where you’re from or why you’re learning Mandarin – these might be important considerations. For example, if you’re “white”, the US Government has no problem with your having a Taiwanese accent, even though the majority of the clients you would be working with (as a government interpreter, that is) are from the PRC. However, if you appear Chinese, they want a PRC/“standard” accent. If you are simply learning for your own enrichment, then it probably doesn’t matter much; it’s more important to get yourself to a good level of fluency no matter where you do it.

Taiwan is a bit more conducive to living, IMHO, but then again I’m older than I once was and I suppose I’m getting a bit more picky about things like having clean food and not eating it amid a haze of cigarette smoke every meal. The yogurt in the mainland, however, is superior.

There ARE many differences in casual usage between Taiwan and the PRC, but since the textbooks at Shita can’t seem to decide whether they’ll teach Taiwan or what they consider to be PRC usage, I doubt you’ll be any MORE confused if you go to Beijing than you might be now. :smiley:

If you’re independently wealthy, by all means, check it out. You can always come back if you don’t like it. If you need to make money, I think Taiwan is still an easier place to do that, plus the weather is better (usually). :laughing:

I’ll have to respectfully disagree… From my experience, I think it is much easier to learn simplified after you have a good grasp of Traditional, rather than the other way around. (It’s always easier to dumb down… pardon the phrase…)

Also… I would avoid Beijing personally (and not just because of the greater bureaucracy or restrictions, or that I find the accent annoying… ha ha…). The ‘standard’ Beijing accent is generally not found outside of Beijing/Tianjin, while in many places the accent is more… ‘universal.’ When I went to Beijing last year, I could barely understand what people were saying, but when I went to Xi’an and Shanghai, I didn’t miss a single word that was said… and people in Shanghai couldn’t tell my Mandarin was learned in Taiwan - they figured I studied in China somewhere (granted, I’ve lost most of my ‘local’ southern Taiwanese accent).

In my opinion, Shanghai’s or Xi’an’s mandarin (accent?) is much closer to Taipei’s than Beijing’s… Of course, usage still varies.

Just my (slightly rambling) thoughts…

It is exactly the dumb down idea at work, actually. For writing and learning it all, simplified after traditional is easier as you can just drop characters and strokes. Just for reading, however, it is easier to go traditional after simplified because you can drop characters and strokes as you read. Both processes are mapping traditional chracters to simplified characters. It’s a matter of what you need to see (either in your head or on paper) == traditional and what you need to convert to (either in your head or on paper) == simplified.

paper->head = reading
head->paper = writing

Hey Zeugmite, when are you just going to forget Taiwan and move on to making your PRC motherland a better place. I think you can find some Pro-Democracy PRC forum, that would be more productive than preaching unification of communist PRC with democratic Taiwan in so many threads on this site.

Hey guys, Zeugmite is a PRC commie, you can ask him anything you want about the PRC, but don’t believe what he says about Taiwan.

What is Shi-Da anyways?
My comments:
#1 The Beijing accent is annoying to my ear, I prefer the Taiwanese accent
#2 Beijing is cheaper and funner, as told by a Dutch friend who used to learn Chinese in Beijing for a year
#3 The Beijing dialect means the standard pronunciation and grammar of Mandarin

That’s because they are far aways from standardized Mandarin, however they still do speak Mandarin, just like New Zealanders are native English speakers but have the trouble of pronouncing the number SIX which sounds like SEX. Just my $0.022 cents worth of opinion(inc GST)

From what I hear, this is less and less the case. Beijing is getting to be a pretty expensive city and it’s probably only going to get more expensive as Olympic fever spreads further into the property market.

Absolutely false. Contemporary Beijing dialect is NOT considered standard Putonghua in mainland China. Listen to a Beijinger’s accent and then compare it to what you hear on CCTV or any other state broadcasts. You will find that there is a lot more -er in Beijing dialect and that like all dialects, there is lots of “non-grammatical” slang; their tones are also a lot more shallow and they speak with a lot more neutral tones. Beijing dialect is just a dialect and IS NOT considered the standard for Putonghua. The Putonghua of an educated northeasterner is closer to what is considered “standard” Putonghua in mainland China.

[quote=“aivvan”]That’s because they are far aways from standardized Mandarin, however they still do speak Mandarin, just like New Zealanders are native English speakers but have the trouble of pronouncing the number SIX which sounds like SEX. Just my $0.022 cents worth of opinion(inc GST)[/quote]The Beijing dialect is not “standard” Putonghua. Excluding when you hear someone speaking a local dialect, you are just as likely to hear standard Putonghua in Shanghai, Xi’an or Taibei as you are in Beijing. Beijing dialect is anything but “standardized Mandarin,” as you call it. While it does have its own patterns for tones and when to use -er, these are not the standards that Putonghua as heard on TV and as taught in schools follows.

I would think Shanghai would be a better place than Beijing. Is a more active city in my opinion. And the southern accent of Mandarin is more similar to Taiwan than Northern accent in Beijing.

It’s not impossible to get use to but it will take time.

[quote=“ac_dropout”]I would think Shanghai would be a better place than Beijing. Is a more active city in my opinion. And the southern accent of Mandarin is more similar to Taiwan than Northern accent in Beijing.

It’s not impossible to get use to but it will take time.[/quote]

But while you walk down the streets of Shanghai you mostly hear Shanghainese spoken, the same in restaurants. Of course they all speak standard Mandarin when they need to, but I think you hear more Shanghai dialect in Shanghai than than you hear Taiwan dialect in Taipei. However, Shanghai is one of the only decent places to live in the PRC, but that isn’t saying much. Just remember to bring your pollution mask and get your innoculations. Taipei is still a much much better place to live.

Great sites (sights):

Gawd. I’m still here. Shi-da, Taiwan. Hmm.

My Chinese still sucks, I can hardly maintain a simple conversation. I guess I only have myself to blame, but still amazed every morning of how bad Shi-Da is and yet so many people attend it. Like me. My current teacher is better then the first one but still is way too happy to try out her newly acquired English vocab when she gets the chance. I never say a word in English, even when she’d do the english-word+shi bu shi? routine. She likes the other white guy though, he is just too happy to help her with her English. Guess he’s going for a scholarship.
The repetition meter is still at null. You learn lots of new words and weird grammar but basically with zero repetition, and if the word is not in the book then most likely it won’t be taught. The teacher will just use english – even if it’s a word she’d be using every damn class.
People still talk to the white guy in English only, as well. Whenever they get the chance. And once they hear me reply in Chinese they actually get pissed at times. I also found out that a couple of taiwanese “Friends” were there just for the english. “OMG it started to speak chinese. Oh well, let continue with the English anyhow. We need a better job after all.”
Way more people got scholarships for next year - to Shi-da. I guess the Japanese percentage will drop and we’ll have 6 in class instead of 7.
It’s cool and all, don’t get me wrong, makes me wanna learn Japanese.
But the 80’s are gone. I’m still waiting for a Michael j fox movie about chinese companies taking over Baghdad. Or something. “oo y goren, what did you learn in school today mark ke? You should practice it! quick he’s running away, run after him mark ke! run!”. Hmm should seriously study harder. Sure hope next semester will yield a decent teacher. /end rant.

I speak Chinese when I teach English but there are a few rules I try to abide by 1) Say it in English the first time. 2) Say it in English again but more slowly. 3) Say it in Chinese. 4) Say it in English again. 5) If it was really something useful get them to record it in their notebook. They record everything on MP3 as well. Perhaps you could suggest a similar set of rules for your teacher.

I wonder if you might have better luck living in a city other than Taipei? But then again, you might be exposed to more Taiwanese than Mandarin that way… :unamused:

It’s not you, it is the way Chinese is “taught”. Then the teachers hang out in the lounge and complain about how the students don’t work hard enough, that’s why they are not “learning”. Actually the students want to acquire the language, not learn about it. The same thing happens in schools in the US, though. I guess it’s nearly universal in foreign language teaching these days. Repetition and mastery are just not highly enough valued in the rush to “cover the book”.

Unfortunately you’re making the most basic mistake you can make when trying to learn a language - you’re expecting the teacher to make you learn rather than working hard on teaching yourself.

From my experience the people with the best Chinese are hard workers and work at it constantly. The hardest part, of course, is getting up to the basic conversational level. From there its a lot easier.

When I first started learning Chinese I spent time every day at a tea shop studying away. … Realize that learning a language is a monumentous task - one that takes years and years of work.

Taking classes is a good place to start and get you’re basics but where you go from there - really how good you’re Chinese becomes depends on you.

Number one piece of advice I give everyone who is trying to learn - You’ll learn about 5% of your chinese in a classroom - get out and throw yourself in situations where you have to speak - and have to learn. When I came I joined a martial arts class where no one spoken English - not a word - but I certainly learned fast. Do language exchanges (although good partners are hard to find), travel around the island, get a job at a local tea shop, volunteer somewhere, … you’ve got to get out there are talk to Chinese people - It makes me laugh when people who are trying to learn say they don’t have enough opportunities - You’re living in a Chinese speaking country for Christ’s sake

Besides I’ve noticed that people who’ve only learned in a classroom sound odd because they constantly surrounded by other people with imperfect Chinese - get out and talk to real Chinese people and you’ll speak more naturally because you’ll imitate them.

I don’t think Taipei or China is going to make any difference…
jia you

[quote]I don’t think Taipei or China is going to make any difference…

That was great advice. Especially the part about getting out there and doing things that require you to speak Chinese.

But I think Taipei is a better place to do that. In China, your foreignness is a much bigger barrier than it is here in Taipei. It’s easier to join things and be treated like an ordinary person.

You might invest some money into a few hours of tutorials at TLI. They do a much better job than Shida at teaching conversation, and if the teacher speaks English in class, you can complain and something will be done.


I’m going to say this as politely as possible: you don’t know what you’re on about. I don’t hold it against you at all. How would you know better? You’ve probably never been taught Chinese or any other language by a teacher who has even halfway mastered the craft of second/foreign language teaching.

At this point in the development of TCSOL, the ONLY people who have attained any decent level of accuracy and fluency in Chinese are people who worked hard. In such an undeveloped language teaching field, pretty much everybody I’ve known who was not even hot shit, but just proficient (like a 3 on the US ILR scale) got to that level mainly through self study. I would consider myself the same. I’ve enrolled in programs, but aside from the narrow benefits of audiolingual drilling back when I was a beginner, I’d say that I haven’t learned shit from any school I’ve attended. Everything I learned was on my own and with tutors I’ve told exactly how I wanted to go about studying (and fired if they tried to deviate).

You may think that what I’ve written proves your point. It does not. I am a trained and experienced language teacher. In the US or the UK, I wouldn’t be considered anything special among ESL teachers. Over here, however, I have more training and understanding of language teaching and learning than any Chinese teacher I’ve ever met. The reason I got to where I am today with Chinese is only because from my teacher training and experience, I knew what methods are a waste of time and what methods are worthwhile. Browse through these threads. You will probably find that the folks who have reached the highest levels of proficiency (and can probably prove it to you) are the folks who have done TESOL certs/diplomas or MAs in TESOL/applied linguistics. People who’ve mastered other languages as an adult can also do alright with Chinese. Having to study how to teach a language is hardly an efficient way to master Chinese. You are basically making up for your teachers’ incompetence.

No, that depends on what your goals are. Some would say that the intermediate doldrums are the hardest to break out of. Once you get to a level of basic or low-professional proficiency, it is extremely difficult to find teaching and resources that will help you get over the intermediate-advanced barrier. Unless you’ve got a skilled teacher or you are a skilled teacher yourself, you are not going to crack that barrier and reach advanced professional or near native proficiency.

The school that trains US Foreign Service Officers can take someone from scratch to an ILR grade 3 in Chinese in 9 months. Sure, the students there are among the most motivated in the world, but the teachers are as well trained as the students are motivated. It does not have to take years.

Putting yourself in the community is obviously good, but there are core skills that 99% of all adult language learners just can’t learn on the street or through self-study. That doesn’t just apply to when you’re starting out. I still have a need for a skilled teacher; the problem is that it is damn hard to find any. I’m getting ready to take the advanced HSK. There is no way that you could even do well on the intermediate HSK without having had a lot of formal, classroom instruction. Even if you know a good bit about language teaching, this is not stuff that can be “self-taught” with any degree of efficiency.

People obviously need to practice outside the classroom The problem is that the way they are taught in the Chinese language classroom is little or no help for entering the real language environment. I don’t intend this as anything personal, and I don’t know anything about your Chinese, but I’ve noticed that people who make statements like “You’ll learn about 5% of your Chinese in a classroom” and “you just need to get out there and talk to real Chinese people” are usually lacking in aspects of fluency and accuracy that most of us can only acquire or learn in the classroom from a skilled teacher. The “real language environment,” sometimes even for an advanced student, is not always accessible. A good teacher can help you into it far faster than you would be able to do on your own.

The teacher and the materials and methods he uses can and very often do make or break the learning experience for students of Chinese. If there were half the professionalism in TCSOL as there is in TESOL (I’m not talking about the buxiban scene), a lot fewer students would be giving up on Chinese and those of us who’ve already managed to pass through some bottlenecks would be at even higher levels of proficiency than we are now. The teacher is no less crucial than the student’s motivation.

Since you are such “hot shit” there JT maybe you can clue the rest of us peons in on what methods are worthwhile and which are a waste of time. A lot of us here never studied ESL or Chinese in school so I am sure there is so much you could teach us!

Did you have a bad day, bob??? :rainbow:
Now that’s out of the way, I too would be interested in Jive Turkey’s expert advice…seriously! (I need all the help I can get) :wink:

[quote]#1 The Beijing accent is annoying to my ear, I prefer the Taiwanese accent
#2 Beijing is cheaper and funner, as told by a Dutch friend who used to learn Chinese in Beijing for a year
#3 The Beijing dialect means the standard pronunciation and grammar of Mandarin [/quote]

The Beijing accent isn’t that only accent in China. Go to Zhejiang or Sichuan and the accent on their Mandarin isn’t that far from Taiwan’s.

For a student, Beijing is way more fun than Taipei, if just because the cost of living is way less.

And the Beijing dialect is an entirely different animal than the Beijing accent. The Beijing accent is the whole rolling your tongue/adding r’s to every other consonant ending. The dialect is incomprehensible from Mandarin. You’ll encounter that if you try to get your bicycle fixed.

In the larger cities, that is not exactly true. While I had issues about friends of mine always treating me like a guest instead of a regular friend, it still wasn’t that much of a barrier for me to practice my conversation or to hear what they had to say.

I say go for it. One city that I might recommend is Nanjing. I was there for a year. It’s a bit more liveable than Beijing or Shanghai, and they still have decent programs there.