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One week at Shi-Da

I've already been studying at Shi-Da for a week now. My class has had a few students come and go. There are now five students: two Koreans, one Japanese, one Czech and an Australian.

During the first few days of class I thought about changing to a different level. However, I came to the conclusion that I should stay in the class as I was still learning a lot of new vocabulary and grammar.

I have already read the textbook (Newspaper Readings II; 新聞選讀第二本) before. In my one-on-one class I read about three or four articles from the book per lesson. In the class at Shi-Da it takes about two lessons or more to go through just one article. Before I just read for general understanding, but at Shi-Da the teacher goes through all the vocabulary and the important sentence patterns. He also gives a lot of supplementary vocabulary and associated characters. While it is probably not so good for practicing reading per se, I can still learn a lot of new language. 

Yesterday we had the first dictation test (聽寫). This was the part of the course I was least looking forward to. I haven't really spent much time practicing writing although I put in a few extra hours in the days prior to the test. I didn't do it perfectly but my result was much better than I expected. I will practice writing more although I often feel it is not really so important in this era of computers. Also the amount of time you need to spend to be able to write well could be much better invested in other forms of study, particularly more extensive reading. 

File next to:
The best beef noodles
Little blue truck adventures
The future of this blog
Links 2 July 2007
Human rights under attack in Taiwan

Mandarin Chinese iPod phrasebook


Comment from nostalgiphile
Time June 15, 2007 at 11:31 pm

Hang in there, man, it gets easier…except the part about writing. lol…Just kidding, if you never type in Chinese you should be okay. I thought about getting myself a Chinese penpal from remote Xinjiang or someplace just to keep up the writing habit, but then I remembered I can’t write in simplified anymore…hmm, perhaps I can find one from Pingtung?

Comment from Keith Grey
Time June 18, 2007 at 9:12 pm

Hey David,

You’re a better man than I for continuing your Chinese writing studies! Back in Seattle, I took a Chinese course at the Univeristy of Washington, and it was very difficult! The teacher was from the mainland and we were forced to learn about 10~20 new characters per day! Of course they were all in simplified Chinese, which has been totally modified from its original form and does not make any sense at all. Some part of me could not bring myself to memorize how to write all those symbols with no relation to the oringal meaning. More often than not, I would draw a blank on the test.

One day outside of class I found my fellow students outside of class. They all appeared of Asian descent and they were talking in Mandarin! I asked them why they were taking the class? Was it only for the “easy A” ? They responded that they were only in the class to “learn how to write the characters”! Sheesh… I had to work my butt off to get a C- in the class. I could only endure one year of Chinese Studies, but it did serve me well upon landing in Taiwan.


Comment from somimi
Time June 22, 2007 at 5:35 pm

Hey there,

Sounds like a pretty intense class! I’m in one of those overseas Chinese classes for people who can speak and comprehend, but not read or write. How do you like ShiDa?


Comment from David Reid
Time June 22, 2007 at 6:55 pm

I am still forming an opinion about Shi-Da. I’ll write some more about it on this blog soon.

Comment from Mark
Time June 23, 2007 at 11:00 pm

I had forgotten about your feelings about learning how to write Chinese characters. Had you known that Shida required its students to take written quizzes and tests before you chose to study there? I used to study there myself, and we had a tingxie every week.

If you don’t want to spend time on writing, you might have better luck at Pioneer across the street. They offer private and small group classes that focus on pretty much whatever the students are interested in. I think Shida is okay, but it’s sure not the most flexible school out there.