Where to learn Chinese?

Any recommendations where to learn Mandarin (written & spoken) in Taipei? Must be after office hours (~6:30pm), preferrably near MRT station. Twice a week or so would be just fine.

Shida and Taida have semester long courses i.e. 2 hours a day for three months, approximately NT$ 21000 and NT$27000 respectively. Most private schools, Mandarin Daily etc. cost around NT$ 4500 a month, 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. The private places offer one-on-one classes, but this costs more, around NT$ 300 an hour, and they have classes after hours.

If you want flexibility in hours and twice a week, you’re basically going to be talking about the smaller language schools. They’re more or less interchangeable, I guess. The quality of tuition is more the luck of the draw than any function of “teacher training” or anything else, despite their claims (unless there has been a major revolution since I left Taiwan 2 years back, but I doubt it.)

I had good luck at TLI, at China Language Institute (off Renai Rd.) and know the teachers at the newer school near the CKS Memorial, sorry can’t remember the name, but they are ex-Shita teachers who left (or were “asked to leave”) for daring to ask for decent pay and the same benefits other teachers at Shita receive. I recorded a brutal 200-page Chinese textbook with one of them (the textbook was completely useless for learning Chinese, but it was like the dying wish of the author or something like that, and I actually saw it on sale in the States once…

I don’t have personal experience with Mandarin Daily News, and I didn’t think Pioneer was very good. My roommate and I went there at one point and she actually had a teacher who would practically cut off a chengyu after the 2nd character if the bell rang. Very time-oriented and little teaching technique. They were mostly just underemployed college grads who couldn’t figure out what to do for whatever reason so they were moonlighting there teaching Chinese for way too little money (especially compared to the fees the students were paying).

Just my NT$1 as usual


I can teach you Mandarin for free as long as you can help me in practicing spoken English in return.

I did teach Mandarin a few years ago but not now (professionally) anymore. Although I’m not a certificated teacher you may find in a language shcool, I’m absolutely confident that I’m capable of teahing. I will design proper Mandarin classes according to your need and spend time on prepartion of teaching ahead of our “class”. The only reason I’m willing to teach you Mandarin for free is that I need more chances to practice my English speaking. If you don’t have time for equal language exchange, I don’t mind giving more time to Chinese teaching than English learning. But if you are really not interested in language exchange, then forget it, I don’t need this extra money.

Just found a mistake I’d made… are you a native English speaker? Anyway…If you are a French speaker, I can still exchange languages with you just as what I said in my previous posting. I’m learning both the languanges.

Thanks for the suggestions so far, will check it out. Any more coming?

No Money, appreciate your interest but I am neither native English nor French, thus making perhaps not a good teacher in this case. I also think I would prefer classroom training, even it’s going to cost me …

No Money,
I dont’ know if you are still interested, but I may be interested in exchanging with you.

I’m a CBC (Chinese-born-Canadian) - NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKER. I have a B.Ed, have experience teaching ESL and am teaching English now in Taiwan.

I have been studying at a Chinese school (CLD) for three months…and have been debating whether to pay for another three months…perhaps a language exchange would be a good option?

(I was getting tired of the 10 hour/week classes!)

Reply if you are interested!

(you can email me: sonyayong@hotmail.com)

You can find a good place if you are lucky enough, you can meet a great teacher, if you try enough teachers.

If you’re going to keep posting ads, at least figure out (that is, admit) the name of the school in question (if indeed this is a registered school…?) This whole “I don’t have the other information” thing which has appeared in this and other posts of yours is getting tiresome. First post, maybe. After that…


Hi, Terry,
I was just trying to let the people who is looking for a great place to study chinese, It’s not actually a “School”, but it’s going to be one as long as the government works faster.
I was studied with the teacher there, she is great, and i introduced some of my friends to them, and they all love the way they teach. Now, they’re on the way to make a “school”, so we were just trying to help them and let others know “there are some GREAT teachers there”.
I’ve had very bad experences in other language school. They let me feel that they just care about “money” not “us”. Especially if you’re not “Blonde/Westerner”. So when i met these teachers, i found i’m so lucky, they really love teaching and they treat every of their students as friends and make the school their home. Now they’re running their business so i want to help them with this. I’m sorry that if i make you uncomfortable.

haoren, I see from your posts that Chinese is not your native language. What is?

Well I’m both blonde and a westerner. Where can I receive this marvellous preferrential treatment you speak of? Which language schools specifically prefer Blonde/Westerner types?

My school (NTNU) has this awful meritocracy rubbish going on; teachers seem to like the students who do their homework and do well on tests, skin/hair colour is totally irrelevant. This, of course, is a highly objectional state of affairs and I must receive my preferential treatment forthwith.

---- the above is a joke ----

Joking aside, does this “great” not actually a school with its “great” teachers have some sort of name?

Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume there are a group of teachers working to form some sort of school and they need patronage to get started.

This is my advice: “Great” is a great adjective and all but the teachers are going to have to give a little more detail.

Here is what I need to know before even bothering to pick up the phone:

How many teachers?
Average experience?
Are teachers native speakers?
Levels taught?
When are classes?
Where? (“near ShiDa” is dependent on the definition of “near”. Where precisely?)

Lastly and MOST importantly - what is their angle? Why should I switch to this school? What makes this school better than some other school? Are they competing on price, on service quality, on flexibility or what? If their competitive advantage is their teaching method then you will need to develop a more complete description of their method and how precisely it will help the students.

In my opinion,try to find one local to know how to pronounse each sounds,even record them to practice your listening and speaking.Then pick few books for practice,especially which part means what,in addtion,you can watch news or listen to radio.but I have a bazard recommand that’s children’s books are very good material for people with basic Chinese if you won’t feel weird.
This method could help you with less cost and faster,if you are really hard enough.

HI, serendipity
I’m not native English speaker, i am from Japan, that’s why i can deeply felt that how teachers treats the students different if they’re not from western.

Do you think the teachers expect more from Japanese students, because “they should know the characters already”, for instance?

When I took the Shita Chinese exam some years back, I was the only white face in a sea of Japanese and (maybe – not sure!) Koreans…there may be discrimination by teachers (I have no experience in the area, so I can’t really comment) but it seems that it is the Japanese who are getting to the point where they can “compete” with the Chinese on written examinations.

Do posters feel there is a discrepancy in numbers in advanced classes?? Just curious!


There’s absolutely a discrepancy at my university. I’m wondering if it’s not because of the teaching methodology. I’m at the year and a half mark and the pace is unreal. We get 60+ new words and ten grammar patterns a week. I’ve noticed that the only people that are in the advanced classes are Japanese (who can already write) and the Indonesians (who can already speak when they get here).

I sometimes think that Westerners are being weeded out. Most of us can’t keep up. It takes me two hours a day of writing just to learn the new words and my Japanese classmates can LOOK at a word and figure out the meaning. Ugh!

Back to the methodology, it seems that there is no creativity at all in the teaching, just follow the textbook and write more characters.

This is because of how the teachers themselves learned isn’t it? Is there another/better way to teach us foreigners?

Yes, there is. But it isn’t taught in Taiwan.

Seriously, in that kind of a class, take defensive measures. Namely, use mnemonics as much as possible (make up stories about the characters, the shapes, the radicals, and so on, even if they’re stupid [especially if they’re stupid] they will help you remember the characters better). Request that your teacher give five or six oral example sentences of each new word, not just 1 or 2. This will give you more chances to hear and respond to the word in DIFFERENT contexts which will help your retention.

Consider trying tonal spelling or color-coding to strengthen your retention of tones.

If your grades are not crucial to your life (i.e., scholarship, university credit, etc.) take a long hard look at what you want out of the course and adapt your participation accordingly. It might be more valuable for you to recognize all the characters and miss out on a few in producing them, but using the time you would have spent copying them endlessly for free reading, reviewing texts, or other activities.

Western students often may to be frustrated in classes taught by traditionally-minded Chinese teachers (tradionally-minded in the educational sense) because their particular needs are not being met. I think [don’t want to be too stereotypical here however] that the psychology and experiences of Japanese learners are probably nearer to those of the Taiwanese teachers, so they find the class easier (plus they’ve known the characters or something very close to them for years already.)

Hang in there and let me know if you want other, endless, boring suggestions…


Request that your teacher give five or six oral example sentences of each new word, not just 1 or 2. This will give you more chances to hear and respond to the word in DIFFERENT contexts which will help your retention.

Yeah this is important. I think teachers sometimes forget that there’s no one to one correspondence with English words, so one example is usually not enough. Try asking “can you say…” using bizarre usages of the word, to test the ‘boundaries’ of the word’s meaning. Include figurative uses as well, eg can ‘luan’ (messy) be used to say “ta da xiangfa hen luan” - he’s got messy thinking? etc

Chessman - I’m curious what university you goto. Tai Da?


I like the suggestion about blowing off the grades. i hadn’t thought of that. Actual learning of the language is more important than any grade and i can tell that where I want to go with my studies isn’t where the teacher wants to lead us.

I go to Wen Hua which I think is an okay school. I picked them because they were flexible (at least in the beginner’s classes) and the office staff was nice (unlike Shida). The pace was comfortable until recently, I have a rougue teacher on my hands now.

But I can already see problems ahead. The approach to teaching isn’t student centered, it’s all teacher centered and the upper classes are actually more rigid at Wen Hua because we have fewer people than other universities. We aren’t allowed any input into what we will study and the sequence is pretty rigid. So I’m looking at changing schools.

So what’s the most student-centered school in Taipei?? Is it TLI?

I had pretty good luck at China Language Institute (there are 2 of them: one in Tienmu and one on [I think] Anho Road. just north of Hsinyi Rd.

Of course, I went in there with a pretty rigid set of requests about what I wanted, and I took individual classes, not group classes (also, it’s almost impossible to get advanced-level group classes as everyone’s interests are different). But you could try them.

I’ve also done OK at TLI (the Hsinyi Rd. center, although I suppose any branch would be similar) in the past.

Pretty much anywhere you go, you can get what you want if a) you know what it is, and b) you can pay for individual classes. But individual classes are super-expensive if you have to take enough to justify the school giving you a visa, so that’s a problem.

You might want to see if you can gather a group of like-minded individuals to get what you want as a group class. Any school that wouldn’t accept your definition of what you wanted the class to be would simply lose your business. It’s about time this whole thing was converted to a situation where the consumer (the student) had more say, IMHO.

From what I hear, I think you might see something different on the Chinese school horizon in Taiwan fairly soon, but I really can’t say anything more about it at this time. Watch the newspapers and this board… it would probably be very helpful if people who would consider something really “different” would pipe up and say so, as it would help to ease the minds of the people who might hypothetically be involved in such a project and help to get things off the ground.