Where to Study Mandarin?

Sorry. Post edited.

I would not recommend NTNU but it is the only one I did. The books teach me all the tourist spots of Taiwan and how friendly people are. I have a teacher who didn’t allow me to use Taiwanese Mandarin because in her view the real Mandarin is from China and Taiwan is part of Taiwan and we pay to learn Chinese Mandarin, even though she speaks more English than anything else: “American people coffee, burger. Chinese smart. You country very poor”.


Pioneer across street from Shida is where I started. Get 1:1 tutor 3 hours each day. They will be your employee. If you need to take a visa run, take it . Emphasize pronunciation and practical stuff from day 1. Practical stuff is how to fill out the visa form, get bank account, order in a restaurant, read bill etc.

if you want a different teacher, you tell Them because you are the boss. Group lessons are a waste of time. TLI is another private school

NTNU MTC will take your money and treat you like dirt. After Pioneer, I went there and left after 8 months

You can hire your own private teacher and not use any school. You can pay that teacher a fraction of what you pay a school. Whatever McDonald’s pays is what you could pay.

You have to be the boss. In Confucian society you will only rarely meet any authority figure who is reasonable and balanced and fair. If Chinese Taiwanese have a speck of authority they will condescend to you as if you were a farm animal.

(You have some counter examples of nice Confucian authority figures? Of course. Everyone has a few counter examples— to. Everything. Do they disprove the general rule? No. Are they representative of the population? Nope. They’re just outliers)


That’s such a shame :\ I did hear that the teaching quality varies by teacher.
I hope you still found that your Chinese skills improved a bit having gone through NTNU’s notoriously tough regime…

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Thanks for your thoughts tango - What did you like about Wenhua MLC, and anything you didn’t like as much?

I did see that other post that you linked. Which other places did you also try?

I’m not sure if you did 1-on-1 or group classes at all your language places. I’m leaning towards 1-on-1 but not sure, especially for the private places. There isn’t as much feedback out there about the private places!

Gee what a ride you went through! Thanks for repeating yourself. I thought I’d repost on this topic as I haven’t come across that much recent feedback about Wenhua and the private places

Your story makes me wonder… did anything good come out of your learning at NTNU? I hear that reading and writing are also important for speaking and Chinese literacy as a whole. Or maybe NTNU still only helps beginners, based on what you’ve said? You’d know better than I haha

Thanks Malasang - any feedback always helps, even if from 15yrs ago :wink:

So would you say you made more progress in your Chinese speaking, reading, writing, etc after going to Wenhua vs NTNU? I’ve heard that NTNU classes move faster than Wenhua, though not sure about 1-on-1 classes.

And that although NTNU focuses more on reading and writing, these skills are also important for improving speaking and listening?

Beginner / intermediate and advanced levels might call for different teaching styles, maybe :slightly_smiling_face:

Yeah I’ve heard of Tamkang as well :slightly_smiling_face: I’ve heard they’re more relaxed
What did you like about them, and anything you didn’t like as much? I assume you took their 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 classes

That’s a good point about 1-on-1. And thanks for the cultural insight. I am definitely considering 1-on-1 tutoring, 15hrs/week. Or maybe that’s too long.

I haven’t heard much about Pioneer. Why did you pick them over 1:1 tutoring at other private centers or even unis? Was there anything you didn’t like that much about Pioneer?

I don’t buy this. Sure there are a lot if dick hole bosses, but I’ve met authority Figures who were fair and equitable. There’s nothing in confucian teachings that requires you to mistreat your subordinates

Edit: unlike in Hindu society where that’s actually part of kingly dharma. But that society has changed a lot as well over the years

The teachings of Confucius indeed get a bad rap. Many supposedly Confucian values - such as blind deference to authority - are diametrically opposed to the actual teachings. It’s analogous to the situation with a certain type of American evangelical who is pro-war, pro-gun, pro-capital punishment, pro big-business: these views seem outrageously inimical to the teachings of Jesus.


As others have mentioned, it depends what your goal is. Someone might enrol in language classes because they need the visa or because they want the camaraderie of being with other students. Some people might be happy to learn some simple phrases, a few characters, without ever aspiring to fluency in the language.

If the goal is to eventually achieve genuine fluency (be able to have serious conversations on all kinds of topics, read and listen to content aimed at native speakers) then I would suggest investigating self-study as an alternative to classroom teaching. Based on my experience learning languages and observing other successful language learners, I believe the key is massive comprehensible input: listening and eventually reading large quantities of material appropriate to your level. I feel that you can expose yourself to this input much more conveniently, cheaply and efficiently by using suitable online resources.

I also feel that it isn’t necessary to try to talk in the target language before you have exposed yourself to a great deal of audio content. For example I’m learning (or rather exposing myself to) Japanese now and I’m in no rush to start having conversations: based on my experiences learning other languages I’m confident that in a few months, after I’m able to understand native-oriented material without too much difficulty, I’ll be ready to start having proper conversations and discussions in Japanese (as opposed to having a Japanese teacher teach me). There’ll come a time when you’re ready to speak and, already having good audio comprehension, you’ll be able to jump straight into actual conversations with native speakers (or with teachers on platforms like italki that you’ll use for conversation practice rather than systematic teaching).

Learning a language is big investment of time and money, so in any case I’d advise you to carefully research different learning methods and investigate how others have achieved genuine fluency. The majority of students who attempt to learn a language don’t go on to fluency, so if that’s your goal it’s not enough to go along with the rest and enroll in traditional classroom based teaching with traditional textbooks - you have to look at what the exceptions who actually mastered a language did.

Good luck! Jia you!

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I have a beginner (zero Chinese) class starting this Saturday, 10 pm Taiwan time. If you like that, and you want to do 1 on 1 (at a more convenient time!), we can talk about that. I teach by Zoom, I’m in the US, I’m not a native speaker of Chinese - but I specialize in beginners, and I teach using CI, so it’s completely different to what you’re going to get in Taiwan. Up to you. PM me if you want a link.

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I took 1 on 1 and studied with full class for some semesters.

There were only a couple things that I didn’t like, such as:

  1. During the first semesters, most students were away head of me, probably because they were mostly from Vietnam and their language is similar to mandarin

  2. Some students, specially during the afternoon classes, only go to school to justify their stay in Taiwan

  3. I thought they were kinda too hard on the Vietnamese and Indonesians students on the issue of illegal working. One day a representative from the labor office came to explain to a hall full of students, that helping your friends to wash dishes during free time, could be considered illegal working lmao.

I’m currently at MLC, yes I would recommend it, but also in some ways I would not.

I think as a beginner its a good choice. Should get you up to speed as long as you can keep up.

My biggest gripes are

  1. Too much writing. IMO learning to write Chinese is a waste of my time. I would rather spend the time speaking… which I don’t see a whole lot of in the classroom.
  2. Tests. I’m a grown ass man, it doesn’t sit right with me.
  3. Homework. Same reason as point 2.

If I didn’t need to go to MLC to get the visa, I wouldn’t(unless there were no tests and no homework) my time could certainly be better spent than endlessly writing Chinese characters and taking -suitable for Asian people only - tests.

I’m glad your Chinese friends are amused. I get “huh? What are you saying?” (In a rude way) from all Chinese people in the US when I talk like a Taiwanese person. The only people who appreciate my accent are (Taiwanese), Singaporeans, and Hong Kongers.

Generally speaking, Chinese teachers don’t know how to teach Chinese to westerners and curriculum doesn’t exist for practical life. Not enough effort has been made to write books that are relevant to anything but CCP propaganda nor train teachers in common sense methods like having a real world conversation, so everyone throws their hands up and says “it’s just hard”. So we keep teaching skills that are actually unnecessary— you need to know how to write Chinese characters, but knowing how to write them off the top of your head isn’t a skill you need as an adult in 99.9% of situations. When I first moved here, I’d know all sorts of random characters locals had forgotten as adults because they don’t use them. It’s called “just type it into your phone!” If a random person walking down the street doesn’t know how to write it without looking at it, you too should not waste your time remembering how to write the character without looking at it. (Though plenty of people learn Chinese cuz characters are fun, in which case, knock yourself out)

Of all the teachers I’ve had for Chinese (the program I did in Beijing was a rotation daily between ~30 or so teachers, plus my three uni professors) the only person who knew what to do was a white American who trained at Middlebury college in Vermont. Otherwise it was kill and drill and a lot of “Chinese culture is better than your because”. But you can’t learn as much on your own as you can in a class, even with their stupidly worthless methods.

Anyone know about TMC (Taipei Mandarin Center)? They post their ads here about once a month but I don’t hear them mentioned at all. I’m looking to actually work on my reading skills (I’ve sat between HSK 5-6+ with little progress for a few years now, due to no one pushing me to read cuz that’s not a skill I use at that level in daily life)

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It’s kinda funny. She got mad at me for picking Taiwan over China to learn Chinese.

Yeah they have no idea our needs.


I’m curious how you go about doing this when you can only read a handful of words. Do you start with just memorizing the most commonly used words first, then move to reading?

I disagree with this part. I’ve been forcing myself to have (painfully difficult) conversations with native speakers and it’s really helped me improve. I find making mistakes and learning from them to be the most useful language practice.


I wonder if they have the same vigilance for overtime work asked by the factory or by the families for caregivers.