Monday, July 11, 2011

Taiwan: 2011 Summer Fellows – About ICLP

In my first blog post, I would like to introduce the International Chinese Language Program (ICLP) at National Taiwan University (NTU), where I am spending this summer learning Mandarin Chinese. I hope this will be helpful to those who are interested in studying Chinese.

The curriculum of ICLP is well-organized, but somewhat inflexible. Through a fairly difficult placement test, ICLP assesses students’ Chinese language ability and places students into eight levels of classes, from basic conversation to discussion of current events. Most textbooks are published by ICLP. Compared to several other textbooks that I used at Beijing Normal University and Korea University, these textbooks are more structured. The curriculum strictly depends on each student’s ability. Although ICLP’s Summer Program provides students with individual classes (danbanke), students are virtually unable to tailor the curriculum to their personal needs. What should be kept in mind is that ICLP’s curriculum is highly focused on speaking and listening. If a student’s speaking ability is below a certain level, the program offers courses that concentrate on practical conversation regardless of the student’s motivations for studying Chinese.

Overall, ICLP provides an excellent environment for studying Chinese. Most importantly, students have more opportunities to speak in class thanks to the small numbers of students in each class. Also, instructors are well-trained and enthusiastic. They want to know who students are and always try to make classes more interesting. For example, my three teachers took note when I introduced myself in the first class. The next day, they had already prepared questions related to my personal interests for our class practice. In addition, ICLP’s language pledge encourages students to practice Chinese. Each student pledged that they would not speak other languages in the ICLP building during orientation. This pledge is actually followed by almost all students. Moreover, students speak Chinese in the ICLP building even after school hours. Despite these systemic efforts, however, the effectiveness of each class still depends strongly on the particular characteristics of instructors and students.

In addition, the program offers students facilities such as ICLP’s own library, language laboratory, student lounge, personal mailbox and locker. Students are also allowed to make use of NTU facilities, including the main library and a full equipped gym.

Nevertheless, despite all these amenities, tuition costs should still be considered. ICLP is infamous for its substantial tuition fee; the tuition of the 2011 ICLP Summer Program was 3,300 US Dollars. Compared with that of the Mandarin Training Center’s Summer Program at National Taiwan Normal University, which is approximately 750 US Dollars, ICLP’s tuition is still a significant investment. Even if you are a recipient of the Sigur Center Grant for Chinese Language Study in Taiwan, which provides you with a maximum of $6,000, the stipend barely covers a round trip flight ticket and tuition. Living expenses, including textbooks, insurance, and living spaces, is entirely on you.

Seung Joon PAIK
Ph.D. Political Science, 2015
Sigur Center 2011 Chinese Language Fellow
National Taiwan University, Taiwan

No comments:

Post a Comment