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First week of studying completed

Today it’s Saturday, which means that I have managed one week in the classrooms of National Taiwan Normal University (see official website). Since I haven’t really said anything in general about what I’m studying, I’m going to do that, and also give a short summary of the different courses I’m taking.

First, some overall comments. I’m studying at National Taiwan Normal University, which is by many considered to be one of Taiwan’s top university. However, I’m not at the main campus in Taipei City, but in a small town called Linkou, about 45 minutes from the main train station. It’s bigger than the town surrounding the university I studied at in Xinzhu, but still not very big. I live around 25 minutes walk from the actual classrooms.

The program is called Chinese Language and Culture for International Students and is roughly what it sounds like. In the first year, the majority of courses are focused on language, even though culture of course seeps into everything we do. Still, we only have one course with anything close to culture in its title. However, the titles aren’t that reliable, because on the surface, we seem to have a number of different courses, which in reality are very close to each other (and are meant to be so, it’s just some bureaucratic manoeuvre because the university system can’t cope with courses with too many credits). Still, even courses that are meant to be different seem indistinguishable to me at the moment. For instance, the listening class was more about conversation than the actual conversation class, which in turn seemed to be much more about reading. Perhaps it crystallises after a while, but until then it’s just simpler to separate the subjects according to teacher and textbook rather than to the name of the course.

Some quick counting will summarise the following list as a total of 22 hours of class every week, although four hours (English and PE) are not related to Chinese itself (even though the physical education is of course taught in Chinese). Considering that I’ll have to study a lot to keep up, I think this schedule is okay, but might prove to stressful later on.

Chinese Characters (2 hours/week, Chen Li-fen)

This is the first out of three of the elective course I take and focuses on the basics of Chinese characters, including many things I already know, but might be a good idea to brush up. I don’t expect this class to be very hard, but I still think I can learn a lot.

Integrated Chinese (6 hours/week, Chen Li-fen)

This seems to be the core of this semester’s Chinese courses. It seems to have a fairly straightforward approach with quite difficult textbooks, a lot of homework and so on. It will be tough to keep up, but it’ll be very good at least for reading, writing and listening.

Training in conversation (2 hours/week, Du Zhao-mei)

This seems very similar to Integrated Chinese and I can’t yet say what the main difference is. There might be a difference in terms of assessment, but the course material and structure seem very similar.

Training in Reading and Writing (4 hours/week, Li, Yu-juan)

Yet another class, seemingly again with the same approach as the other, but with the difference that this class actually seems to be called what it is. The level is still very high and will need a lot of studying.

Chinese Pronunciation (2 hours/week, Chen, Huai-Shuan)

This class seems to be genuinely interesting. It focuses on correct pronunciation, but not only to make our pronunciation correct, but also to teach us how to make other people’s pronunciation correct, which should be very useful for a future teacher. The drawback is that we are a lot of students (all groups together), so I don’t know how much time there’ll be for individual correction. This course is the second of the three elective courses.

English (2 hours/week, Huang Shin-ying)

Since what I’m currently studying is an ordinary Taiwanese university course, there are some mandatory courses which everybody has to take, such as English. However, the school has been nice enough to make a special deal with some people to let native speakers be responsible for a chatting room, or something like that, a couple of hours every week. I’m not a native speaker, but it seems like I can be included anyway.

Traditional Chinese Festivals (2 hours/week, Li, Yu-juan)

This is the last of the elective courses and focuses on, as the name implies, on Chinese festivals. The level seems to be average (high, but a lot lower than the ordinary courses). I don’t know how much pressure will come from this, but I’d rather have too much to do this semester than too little.

Physical Education (2 hours/week, Hsu, Wen-ching)

This feels very much like being back to high school, but since I liked the PE in high school, that’s quite okay. I don’t think it will be entertaining all the time, but I’m still the sort of person who can enjoy this (whereas many of my classmates are just sighing when they see this on the schedule). The teacher seems reasonable, too, focusing on sweating a lot rather than jumping far.

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  1. walium’s avatar

    Det känns väldigt märkligt att gymnastik ingår som en del av universitets kurser. Hur motiverar de egentligen detta? Eller är det så naturligt och självklart att det inte behöver motiveras? :)


    1. Olle Linge’s avatar

      Jag har inte funderat igenom så noga hur motivarat jag själv tycker att det är, men förmodligen inte alls. De har ju ett system här som liknar det i USA, men allmänna kurser som alla måste läsa. Sådant är mindre självklart, jag kan tycka att det finns en poäng i vissa av dem och tankesättet i övrigt, men just idrott ser jag ingen större poäng med.


      1. Martin Ackerfors’s avatar

        Det är inte en folkhälsoåtgärd då?