Warning: Declaration of TarskiCommentWalker::start_lvl(&$output, $depth, $args) should be compatible with Walker_Comment::start_lvl(&$output, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /var/www/snigel.nu/public_html/wp-content/themes/tarski/library/classes/comment_walker.php on line 22 Warning: Declaration of TarskiCommentWalker::start_el(&$output, $comment, $depth, $args) should be compatible with Walker_Comment::start_el(&$output, $comment, $depth = 0, $args = Array, $id = 0) in /var/www/snigel.nu/public_html/wp-content/themes/tarski/library/classes/comment_walker.php on line 50 Olle Linge - Languages, literature and the pursuit of dreams · TCSL


You are currently browsing articles tagged TCSL.

After having finished last semester with reasonably good results (thriving rather than merely surviving), I was quite sure that my second semester in the graduate institute of teaching Chinese as a second language wouldn’t crush me, even though I took more courses than the previous semester. In fact, the spring semester flew by and it feels like it was over even before it started.

Just like I did after the fall semester, I’m going to share some thoughts both about the program itself and my own performance. I will also say a few words about the coming academic year and my plans for the future.

My thoughts about the program after the first year

First things first. The program is called 華語文教學研究所 (Graduate Institute for Teaching Chinese as a Second Language) and is primarily aimed at native speakers, but also accepts international students. The institute is part of National Taiwan Normal University and is located in Taipei, Taiwan. I have now completed one academic year here and know infinitely much more about the program than I did when applying.

In general, i haven’t changed my opinion from after the fall semester. The program isn’t perfect (no program is) but is actually much better than I expected. Still, how much I learn here is much dependent on how much I do on my own and not all courses feel meaningful. With some effort, almost everything can be turned to a learning opportunity, especially since all teaching, exams, reports and presentations are held in Chinese and almost all social interaction is also done in Chinese. I might hesitate to choose this program if judged only on the actual content, but if I include the language I learn, it’s more than worthwhile. In other words, I feel that the program is perfect for me at this point in my life, but it might not have been so good earlier or later.

My grades for the spring semester

I typically underestimate my own grades, especially with courses that feel difficult. This semester, we had at least one course that I found very hard (Syntactic Structures of Chinese) and for some of the other courses, I simply had no means of predicting the results. Still, the below grades are roughly what I expected and the grades for the individual courses are more aligned with my expectations than last year when I received some undeservedly high grades.

  1. 華語文教學實習 (Chinese Teaching Practicum): 90
  2. 華語語法學 (Syntactic Structures of Chinese): 90
  3. 研究方法 (Research Methodology): 96
  4. 漢語語音研究專題 (Special Topics on Chinese Phonetics): 88
  5. 高級華語 (Advanced Chinese language course): 94
  • Weighted average: 91.4

I also passed two important bureaucratic milestones. I didn’t spend any time preparing for these, but I still want to mention that I passed both a pronunciation exam for Chinese teachers in Taiwan (華語口語表達考試) and the highest level of TOCFL (Test Of Chinese as a Foreign Language, Taiwan’s HSK), which is a requirement for graduation. I still find the reading section hard on the latter (so much to read, so little time), but the listening was relatively easy.

These results probably say less about my proficiency than the grades above, but they are still important academically. Surviving in the program ought to be harder than passing the exams, but that’s not obvious for casual observers.

The future

Apart from taking another five courses during the coming academic year, I also need to start focusing my research in preparation for my thesis writing. I don’t plan to stay in the program longer than necessary and since I already have a pretty good idea of what kind of research I want to do for my thesis, I feel that my plan is realistic. It’s going to be something about teaching pronunciation to Swedish high school and university students, but exactly what area I will focus on remains to be seen. Much more about this later, stay tuned!


Tags: , , ,

Like many other articles I have planned for this website, this article is long overdue. The difference between this one and the others is that I’ve actually written this one and now also published it. It would feel a bit silly to post a summary of my first semester in the Graduate Institute for Teaching Chinese as a Second Language (華語文教學研究所) months or even years after it actually ended.

Since many people have asked me about how I’m doing so far, I thought I’d write about it here. Therefore, this is in a sense also a Chinese proficiency report, even if I won’t bother to evaluate the different skills this time.

In short, I want to talk about three things:

  • My previous long-term goal for learning Chinese
  • My actual grades for the past semester
  • My thoughts about the program in general

My previous long-term goal for learning Chinese

Roughly three years ago, I set the long-term goal of being able to survive a graduate program in a language-heavy subject taught with native speakers in mind. I didn’t know that I would actually do that back then, but it sounded like a good idea and the goal was fairly concrete as well and something to work towards.

As my grades in the next section will show, I have now reached that goal. Sure, I haven’t graduated yet, but if I encounter problems during the rest of my time here, it’s not going to be because my Chinese isn’t up to par. Obviously, I have an almost infinite amount of Chinese left to learn and I still have some serious problems, but they aren’t of the nature that will make me fail my courses. Spending enough time will solve most problems.

I have been thinking about setting a new long-term goal, but rather than rushing it, I’m going to think about that for a while before I write anything about it. It’s likely to to be something related to teaching, explicit knowledge of Chinese or something similar, rather than language competence in general, as has been the case earlier.

My actual grades for the past semester

I took four courses last semester with a total of eleven credits. The maximum score for each course is 100. 70 is required for passing and 80 to keep receiving my scholarship without problems.

The courses and my grades were as follows:

  1. 華語文教材教法 (Chinese Language Teaching Methods and Materials): 89
  2. 話語語音教學研究 (Studies in Phonetic Instruction in Chinese): 90
  3. 漢語語音學 (Chinese Linguistics): 96
  4. 高級華語 (Advanced Chinese language course): 94
  • Weighted average: 92.1

The last course isn’t actually a part of our academic courses, but a requirement from our institution. All foreigners who don’t have the right qualifications have to enrol in language courses for foreigners. Of the three regular courses, the first and third were compulsory, whereas the second was elective.

In general, I’m quite happy with my grades. I think I deserved the 90 in the phonetics course and the 94 in advanced Chinese, but I actually didn’t expect the 96 in linguistics. I would have expected a result below 90. I don’t know what I expected for teaching course, but perhaps 85. This course had a midterm in-class written exam that made everybody nervous as hell, but since I got 84.5 on that one, I wasn’t too nervous about the final grade.

Apart from actual courses, I also passed the 華語口語表達考試, which is an oral exam that all teachers (including native speakers) in Taiwan have to pass in order to become Chinese teachers. I don’t think I did very well on the exam, actually, but obviously someone thought it was enough. That’s one less hurdle left on my way to graduation! Yay.

My thoughts about the program in general

My overall impression of the program so far is actually a lot more positive than I thought it would be before I came here. As you might know, I have studied at this university before and didn’t like it very much, but this is a new department (sort of), new teachers, new campus and, perhaps most importantly, a new level (master). A new start, so to speak.

The quality of the courses vary, but I know that I will learn an awful lot during my time here. Sometimes it might not be because of innovative teaching methods or brilliant lecturers, but that doesn’t really matter. The program provides enough support, a wide variety of interesting courses and a very stimulating environment. That’s more than enough to make me happy.

Tags: , , ,