Say It Right Series

ChinesePod: Better than University

Posted by danjo March 25, 2008 in the Group General Discussion.

I wanted to relate a little lesson learned about how best to study Chinese. After two years of self-study while working in China, heavily assisted by ChinesePod, I thought I would spend my last six months in the country making the best use of my time and enrolled in the Chinese program for foreigners at a university in Shanghai I had heard good things about. It was quite expensive (9,000 RMB for the semester after I had been earning 3,000 RMB/month in one of China's least developed regions) but I wanted the best Chinese learning experience available, no matter the cost. I could also earn a lot in Shanghai with part-time English teaching jobs.

However, after the first week of classes I felt a huge sense of disappointment. I had envisioned less than 10 students in the class with plenty of speaking opportunities with the teacher; instead I had 20 classmates with literally one or two minutes of speaking time in a three-hour day of classes, even 口语 class. Despite the students being foreign the teaching style was 100% Chinese, with little interactivity and the class contents based solely on an inspiring textbook. For the first time ever learning Chinese, I was bored. I was the only one who had never studied Chinese through a school before and I noticed that most of the other students had poor pronunciation and speaking ability. Ironically, I would be so busy with class and working to get by in Shanghai that I would no longer have time to actually converse in Chinese.

So I quit while I still had the chance to get the majority of my money back, and I'm glad I did. Now I'm back in Gansu province where I concentrate on full-time self study with ChinesePod as well as a private tutor, and for a  fraction of the cost of the school. I learn just as much, get quite a lot more speaking practice, and enjoy it much more. The language environment is also better here as I already have friends and the local people are so much friendlier and eager to speak to a foreigner. I have heard of really good experiences learning through a school and I'm sure many would appreciate the structure of it, but I've come away feeling that motivated self-study is definitely the way to go, certainly when you have the chance to live in a country that speaks the language.

Comments (45) RSS

loading... Updating ...

To comment, please login.

Not sure if your comment is appropriate? Check our Commenting Policy first.

New lesson idea? Please contact us.