星期五, 8月 10, 2007

ICLP Goodbye Party

Our last day of class and ICLP is hosting a goodbye lunch for us today. I'm looking forward to the good food! Since yesterday, it seems as if a good chunk of the student body has already left for home though.

They awarded us certificates too.

Last Day of School

the class tried to gather for a photo but word didn't really spread too well and only 1/3 of the whole class made it into this official photo.

I just finished my last class. To be honest, I feel awful right now because my one-on-one teacher asked me pointedly about what I wrote about her on my evaluation form. I was immediately put off by this because of my strong feelings about anonymity regarding critiques (and because maybe I didn't say ALL nice things!).

At the end of each semester, ICLP students receive an evalulation form for each class taken. It is essentially just a dozen questions with reponses based on a numeric scale and the option to write comments on the back. They are completely anonymous and are handed into the secretaries on the 4rth floor, so in principle, one should feel free to be honest so that the school can make adjustments and catch potential problems early on.

I considered withdrawing my evaluation altogether after the interrogation from my instructor, but decided to let it remain. I'm glad ICLP provides a channel for feedback and I shouldn't let one teacher's curiosity cause me to deny the program of its dedication to continuous improvement.

In retrospect, if I could do it all over again, I would have taken a page from my classmate's book and privately discussed my needs/problems with my instructor much earlier. My classmate saw a problem back in July, wasn't satisfied, and immediately arranged to speak with his instructor outside of class time to essentially tell her that she wasn't making the cut. They discussed how she could improve until they were both satisfied.

星期一, 8月 06, 2007

ICLP and Chinese Culture

Many people probably wonder whether they can truly learn about Chinese culture while studying Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan. The answer, confusingly enough, has to be both yes and no. ICLP will definitely say "of course you can learn about Chinese culture and society here!" But I have strong reasons to believe the ICLP program is firmly seated in the Blue camp. The typical Blue supporter believes he/she is Chinese and dismisses the idea of a Taiwanese identity. The typical Blue supporter, when thinking of what is Chinese culture, thinks of Qing-era Chinese culture which the Chinese brought with them en masse when they fled to Taiwan in the 1940s. Chinese culture in Taiwan, overall, is much more rich and vigorous than Chinese culture in China, but bottom line...it is not PRC Chinese culture. So the answer is yes and no.

During the first week of class, two of my three instructors, made it pretty clear which camp they were in, and the lack of neutrality made me feel quite uncomfortable actually. I began to feel the same way at ICLP as I did in China. It was an eerie feeling having to self-censor myself all over again...quite scary, actually. One of ICLP's major textbooks, because it originated in the 1960s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) era, reeked of KMT propaganda...excessive history of China, national Chinese identity...pushing the idea that China was theirs, even though it was they who fled as refugees to Taiwan after losing to the Communists in 1949. ICLP was not inclined to updating this textbook.

The majority of teachers in ICLP are Blue. When I thought about why, it made sense. Education, the way to control minds and disseminate propaganda, has historically been under KMT control. Because Chinese language had to be imposed on Taiwanese people, who was likely to teach Chinese language but the most hardcore of the Chinese? It drove me nuts to hear my instructor say "We Chinese" this and "We Chinese" that. I just wanted to scream, "Teacher, with all respect, you think you are Chinese, but you've never been to China. I've been to China and you are definitely NOT Chinese. You've been taught all your life to believe you are Chinese, but you were born on Taiwanese soil and have lived in Taiwan all your life. Yet you deny you are Taiwanese. Why, teacher? Why do you continue this delusion?!?!?!"

I highly recommend students studying Chinese language in Taiwan to take the opportunity to learn a little about Taiwanese history, people, and culture, too. Taipei is considered to be the Chinatown of Taiwan (the Chinese who fled to Taiwan mostly congregated in Taipei) so to learn a little something about Taiwan, one need only leave the city limits.

星期三, 8月 01, 2007

ICLP Final Days

ICLP summer session is coming to a close and this week I have seriously been losing all motivation to do any studying. I suspect this is due to the fact that I have been away from home for over 15 months and I'm at the point now where all I can think of is going home.

So far this whole session, I have only missed 1 class in each course (3 total), mainly because I hadn't prepared well enough for the day's lesson. I'd really like to keep that record until I finish on the 10th.

I'm kind of glad now that this session is only 8 weeks rather than 12.

星期一, 7月 30, 2007

An ICLP Student Tip: Transportation

* When buying your MRT Easycard, remember to present a student ID to receive the special student rate MRT card. Don't pay adult fare if you don't have to!

* Riding the bullet train (HSR) from Taipei to Kaohsiung takes roughly a little less than 2 hours and costs 1490 NT. The HSR is predominantly filled with grouchy middle-aged men trying to sleep. Once you've taken the HSR, everything else just doesn't cut it. Riding the 自動 train from Kaohsiung back to Taipei, despite it being the fastest regular train, takes 5 hours and costs 845 NT. It is usually full and has all sorts of Taiwanese people riding on board.

* Taipei taxi fare starts at 70 NT.

星期四, 7月 26, 2007

The Student Lounge

Lately, when walking into the lounge to grab books from my locker, there have been scads of students sitting around tables, books open, chatting away about everything under the sun. I'm not really sure if any studying is actually getting done, but everyone who frequents the lounge could call each other a friend by now. Many of these groups end up planning trips to places like Hualien or Kending over the weekends.

The lounge has a sink, water machine, microwave, mailboxes, daily newspapers, and lockers, which makes it a central hub for everyone.

I spend more of my time in the library, typing these blog entries. Call me a geek. :)

ICLP Lecture #5 - Love Poems

Today, an NTU PhD student who teaches Freshman English at NTU came to show us samples of poems written by her students. I found it interesting just how the sheer "visuality" of Chinese characters lends itself to poetry. Unlike the English language, Chinese poets can utilize the vertical axis just as freely as the horizontal in visually structuring their poems.

The poems reflected a young Taiwanese perspective by the references to pearl milk tea, typhoons, and the internet. Their overall tone was innocent, romantic, and filled with insecurities. What a great way to understand the hearts and minds of the people who surround me on campus, but with whom I never speak a word.

星期三, 7月 25, 2007

ICLP Library

The ICLP Library is on the 4rth floor. Most students who come to this library use it as a study room rather than an actual library. I don't use any of the floor-to-ceiling books that line the walls, mostly because I really don't have the ability to read them and also because they intimidate me. I have been coming to this library a lot more often lately because 1) I really like the clean, open, and brightly-lit atmosphere and 2) it's convenient for my laptop.

many students like the rare atmosphere of silence found in this library

I had started out in the computer labs, but after a while,the air-conditioning, the whir of 20 computers, and the fortress-like walls of the carols began to get to me. In the library, I still feel like I can stretch out and breathe. Also, I can bring my laptop and plug it into the outlets. I couldn't find outlets in the computer labs and of course I prefer using my own computer to using someone else's.

EDIT: (8/05)
明高 informed me there are outlets embedded in the floor behind each seat in the main computer lab.

A university I attended in Beijing which had just launched its Chinese language program (and of which I was among their first batch of students) put us in a classroom where the wall paint was peeling, the flooring was from the 1950s era, our desks were one row long and made of wood and our chairs were wooden too. The teacher used a traditional slate blackboard and chalk (oh, the nostaligia!) and we came in our winter coats and gloves because the heaters hadn't yet been turned on and winter had already arrived. I don't think universities (especially like that of Tsinghua) have this atmosphere, but I admit, I did love that classroom. Its sparseness made my education feel all the more essential.

星期二, 7月 24, 2007

The NTU "Creamery"

NTU makes its own ice cream! It is sold in the NTU Farms store, a small "hut" within the food area that's by the Gongguan MRT side of campus. I had the peanut ice cream popsicle as well as the saltine cracker ice cream sandwich.While there, I also found NTU bread, cake, jams, and other agricultural-type products. They also sell NTU branded shirts. Flash your student card and get a teeny discount.

星期二, 7月 17, 2007

ICLP Writing Classes

Two weeks ago, ICLP posted a sign-up sheet for writing classes on the announcement board. I signed up for it because I'm always game for any activities the program offers its students.

The first class was last Tuesday but I was still too dazed from my whirlwind visa run to the Philippines (the visa problem I mentioned earlier) to remember the class. I was pretty disappointed when I realized I had forgotten about it.  The following week, I certainly did not forget about the class. I got to the classroom at 2 pm today and bumped right into the instructor who was about to shut the door.

"No way! (不行!)" she said sternly before I could even utter a word.

She eyed me for a half a second, "Didn't Miss So-and-so tell you that you can't attend?"

I returned a lost stare.

"If you didn't show up for the first class, you are not allowed to attend this class, sorry." With that, she curtly shut the door.

I can't really think of any other way she could have rejected me out of the class, but really, the rudeness was a little uneccessary. The class had 3 students in total and that empty seat I saw was calling my name! If a student is going to make such an effort to remember the class's location and attend it even after the sign is taken down, couldn't the staff be just a little more friendly in light of such diligence? How much more trouble is it really to have one more body in that empty fourth chair? Especially given that I paid $3000 USD to come here?

The class is a beginner's writing class (i.e. learn the 214 radicals and their meanings) and not an essay writing class as I had originally thought. Not to say that learning the radicals more solidly wouldn't have been helpful! I'm always amazed at how many times I fall back on the radicals when learning or recognizing new characters. A refresher course would have been really good.

Fortunately my classmate IS in the class and will be sharing with me his notes.

A Little Bit Tired

Over four weeks of intense Chinese and I'm feeling a little tired. Perhaps I threw myself into my studies with a little too much gusto early on. Language acquisition is lot of studying with no shortcuts. Encounter, memorize, use, internalize, express, rinse, repeat. On the brighter side, I do feel like the learning curve has leveled off even further! I'm finally getting into a groove and it's just too bad that I have to leave in four weeks time; I know if I stayed I would learn so much more.

For students planning to study for a year at ICLP. I would suggest the summer term as the first term because the classes are only 3 hours per day rather than 4. I can't begin to imagine what having 4 hours a day of class at this intensity would be like for a newcomer.

ICLP Class Schedule

The majority of the summer term students have classes in the morning. From the schedules that are posted up on the wall, I noticed that only a few students had class as late as 1pm. My classes are back to back from 8am-11am. This means that all my work has to be prepared the night before. Unfortunately for me, anything I review the night before tends to disappear into oblivion by the time I wake up the next morning. I end up barely squeaking by in my one-on-one class as a result of my hazy memory. Fortunately, a solution has arisen on its own. I wake up at 4 am. Yes, I wake up at 4 am. This ensures two things: 1) that I retain the information I study (and maybe even reinforce it during classes) and 2) that I don't end up being a lazy procrastinator, since I only have about 2.5 hours to complete my assignments during the pre-dawn hours.

Classes at ICLP are actually 50 minutes, but it seems that this is done so that students don't end up being late for their next class. My instructors regularly go overtime by 5 minutes. My one-on-one tutor is really putting a lot of effort on me by keeping me until the next bell rings. She doesn't have to do that, but she does. She also checks my Chinese language learning blog and makes comments, which I really appreciate. My classmate has told me that since her Chinese level is too high for her class, the professor uses 30 minutes of her lunch hour to review a higher level text with her.

On Fridays, the instructors have open office hours for ICLP students until about 1 pm. I haven't taken advantage of those yet. Sometimes, I really feel like I'm not taking advantage of the resources I have. I must keep reminding myself that after ICLP is over, I won't have all of this to take for granted anymore.

星期日, 7月 15, 2007

ICLP Fieldtrip to Wenshan Tea Farm and Wulai

Yesterday I participated in ICLP's first big fieldtrip to two places, the Wenshan Tea Farm and the merry hotspring town of Wulai. Both of these fantastic spots are south of Taipei and accessible from the Xindian MRT station.

The world's #2 Wulong tea

Our group of 25 students and 5 staff members (our lovely and dedicated secretaries and a young professor) spent the morning being guided about by our Chinese speaking tourguide around the farm. I probably understood about 15% of what he said.

trying our hand at being tea pickers

For lunch, everyone ate BBQ outside, while another girl and I went to the restaurant to share a very delicious vegetarian meal.

i was delighted by the deep-fried tea leaves

After lunch, we learned how tea leaves are processed. At this point, the heat was so pervasive that everything seemed like a haze and I felt the symptoms of heatstroke coming on. Everyone seemed to be on the verge of fainting. Our guide, rivers of sweat streaming down his face, did a great job amidst it all.

step #4 in the tea process

In the end, we finished our whole tour by learning the art of serving tea and sipping several cups of Wulong tea. Maybe someday I will be able to read our guide's notes.

Wulai is a hotspring town not far from the tea farm. It specializes in Atayal culture and of course, the hotspring experience. Many people were also cooling themselves off in the river. I had heard that the 明月 hotel was a great place for hotspring bathing, but I simply did not have enough time to go soak. The price was 450NT all you can bathe...hehe.

Aside from the intolerable heat, I had a great time meeting more of my ICLP classmates and getting closer to those I already knew. For future reference, I think this trip is really more appropriate for wintertime. Who goes to the hotsprings during the summer?

星期五, 7月 13, 2007

Halfway Point at ICLP Summer Program

Four weeks completed at ICLP and I'm getting my 屁股 whooped yet again. I blame this on the visa issues I had over the last weekend which resulted in me losing my entire weekend plus Monday to straighten it all out. (I ended up taking a one day trip to the Philippines).

I took the trip to Manila because I was sick of going to Hong Kong all the time. However, if you need to make a visa run, please choose Hong Kong unless you have good reason to go to the Philippines. They gave me all kinds of trouble at the Manila airport which I won't go into because it will scare you.

So I've spent this past week trying to catch up with my work and miserably failing at it. ICLP is intense and you've got to keep pace. My one-on-one tutor will not slow down for me; I simply have to do my work...and have been losing a lot of sleep in the process. Kind of like a sink-or-swim scenario.

Four weeks left! I've really got to push myself harder!

星期四, 7月 12, 2007

ICLP Lecture #4: Pu-Yi

Professor Huang (University of Hawaii, Honolulu, PhD in Psychology) discussed in Chinese to an audience of about 100 people, what exactly happened to Pu-Yi (1906-67), last emperor of China after his abdication of the throne. There were many Taiwanese from the Psychology department there, as well as many kids from the Berkeley Program. I couldn't 100% follow what he was saying, more like 20%, but I did catch words that I had just learned. Apparently, Pu-Yi had an intense fear of the Japanese. The professor recommended his autobiography, "From Emperor to Citizen", translated by W.J.F. Jenner, 1964-65.

星期五, 7月 06, 2007

ICLP Instructors

I've spent the past three weeks with 3 instructors and I'm positive they and the rest of the ICLP faculty are the reason why tuition is relatively steep at ICLP compared to other language schools. These instructors are simply the best at what they do. They are always prepared and they have a knowledge of the language that goes deeper than I could ever fathom. They are never perfunctory; it always seems as if the class I am in is the first and last class they'll ever teach. They don't need to prove their ability, you can see it in the way they carry themselves, it seems they are relaxed, smiling, and have a natural confidence. They welcome emails and all kinds of out-of-class activities that they think will enhance your learning of the Chinese language. Of course, this could only apply to my instructors, but I have a feeling this is not the case.

I have no complaints. A staff of this caliber justifies the cost. They are not wasting my time, and I hope I won't waste theirs.

星期四, 7月 05, 2007

ICLP Summer Student Body

I think a rough breakdown of the majority of students who are attending this program this summer are:

1. people recently graduated from university
2. college kids from upper-middle class to upper-class families
3. graduate students (on scholarships and fellowships)
4. employees whose companies have covered tuition

The first week of class, everyone is too busy adjusting to notice the others at school. I'd say it's the second week of classes where people are more relaxed about getting to know their classmates. By the third week, general cliques are formed.

ICLP Movie Time

Today ICLP has turned one of the large classrooms into a movie theater and is showing "A Battle of Wits" this afternoon. I hope they will host one of these every week; it's a great extra-curric activity.

星期三, 7月 04, 2007

Linguistics and Karaoke

ICLP hosted another lecture today by a Chinese linguistics professor who was going to discuss the use of the internet in Chinese language training. I REALLY wanted to attend this lecture, but went to spend the afternoon with my friend instead. Today was his last day of his three day stopover in Taipei before setting off to attend a conference in Vietnam.

What did we do? We went and sang Mandarin (and Taiwanese) songs at a Qian Gui karaoke mecca for two hours. I learned quite a few new characters and song names! (閉, 卻, 溫柔 and a few others...)

星期一, 7月 02, 2007

ICLP Lecture #2 - Prof. Shelley Rigger

Professor Shelley Rigger from Davidson College gave us an overview, in English, of Taiwan's political parties, their position on the political "color" spectrum, and their background and evolution. Prof. Shelley also discussed the Taiwanese term "thiau-a-ka" and the underground workings of Taiwan politics, which shed a bit of light on why it is so prone to corruption and votebuying.

Interestingly enough, the professor pointed out that Taiwan's Legislative elections would be held on Jan. 12, 2008 under a completely new system which would shrink total seats in the Legislature down to 113 from over 200 something. According to Prof. Rigger, the move would raise the bar on the quality of the candidates. Another reform for the next Legislative elections is proportional representation, which would cut at the root of the thiau-ak-ka practices and other similarly corrupt practices.

The talk was extraordinarily engaging and broadened my understanding of Taiwan's political structure just that much more. ICLP is doing a great job at bringing in activities which are of interest to graduate students.

星期三, 6月 27, 2007

7th Day of Class at ICLP Completed - Stealth Vocabulary

By tomorrow I should be rather familiar with about 382 new vocabulary words. Tomorrow only being the 8th day of class, it sounds rather daunting doesn't it?

It's actually somehow not as bad as it sounds because we are always repeatedly encountering the new vocab in our texts and subsequent texts, in our classes, and our conversations (and I'm starting to notice them in my environment as well). The words are just kind of sneaking into my brain. And this is coming from someone who had trouble learning 30 new words every two weeks in a non-Chinese environment.

Now this is an indicator of a great language program.

星期二, 6月 26, 2007

Taiwan Culture Lecture at ICLP - 台灣文化演講

This morning, a flyer was posted on the bulletin board announcing a lecture about Taiwanese culture. Out of interest and wanting to post something on this blog, I attended.

Our speaker was a western scholar who spoke completely in Chinese with only the smallest hints of a North American accent. Since half of the 50 or so people who attended had never been to Taiwan before, he first provided a overview of Taiwan's demographics and recent history associated with each demographic. The main portion of his talk focused on a general overview of his research subject, Taiwanese authors from the 1950s to the present. Lastly, he spoke highly about the excellent poetry which has been and is being produced by Taiwanese.

Taiwanese authors and works he recommended included:

1950s - Jiang Gui - "The Whirlwind" and "Rival Suns"
1960s - Bai Xianyong - Taipei Residents (台北人)and Crystal Boys
1960s - Wang Wenxing - Family Catastrophe (家變) and Backed Against the Sea (背海的人)
1960s - Chen Ruoxi - The Execution of Mayer Yin
1970s - Huang Chunming - The Taste of Apples
1970s - Chen Yingzhen - Exiles at Home
1970s - Wang Zhenhe - Rose, Rose, I Love You (玫瑰, 玫瑰, 我愛你)
1980s - Li Qiao - Wintry Nights
1980s - Zheng Qingwen - Three Legged Horse (三腳馬)
1990s - Zhu Tianwen - Notes of a Desolate Man
1990s - Zhu Tianxin - The Old Capital: A Novel of Taipei
1990s - Li Ang - The Mystery Garden

I really enjoy the research and academic focus of ICLP.

星期一, 6月 25, 2007

Calligraphy Class at ICLP

Last week, ICLP announced they would be offering free calligraphy classes during the summer and had a sign-up sheet up for anyone who was inerested. So many people were interested that they had to open up a second session. The classes are about four or five sessions for 2 hours at a time. This is a great opportunity to do something extra-curricular. I completely didn't expect this from the program. Kudos to them.

The introduction went very well. During the first hour, our instructor told very humorous and entertaining stories about learning calligraphy. The one point I got (or at least understood) of all his points was that calligraphy was about beauty, translating the beauty of one's soul onto paper. During the second hour he wrote all of our Chinese names in calligraphy (shufa).

In our next class, we are to come prepared to actually write a little. If we don't bring our own brush, we can buy a very good one from him for 400 NT ($12 USD). I remember when I took a calligraphy class in Beijing, we bought our own brushes for about 80 RMB ($10 USD), which for China seemed pretty expensive!

星期日, 6月 24, 2007

ICLP Flashcards

One of my classmates is putting up flashcards for one of the textbooks being used at ICLP. I also found a ton of other great flashcards here as well. Check it out! Flashcard Exchange

星期六, 6月 23, 2007

One week down, Seven more to go

Today, I felt much better about my classes. I wasn't the nervous, uncertain wreck that I was in previous days. I think I'm going to be alright!

I've realized that the classes assigned to me address areas which would dramatically improve my Chinese level. These are 1) reading and 2) speaking and organizing thoughts in Chinese in long paragraphs rather than one sentence answers.

星期五, 6月 22, 2007

ICLP Welcome Lunch

ICLP hosted a fabulous welcome lunch for us today with something close to a 200 dish spread. I was too busy eating the vegetarian goodies that I forgot to take a photo!!

Hanging in there

Hard to believe that I'm only in the third day of class. Yet another 屁股 kicking. I am getting the feeling that all the other students have grown up listening to Chinese. They all seem to have an intuitive sense for the language and a level of comfort with it that I don't have. If I had taken Japanese instead, I would have been in that same lucky situation! On the other hand, maybe its just my own insecurities with this language which is causing me so much grief.

明高 is the only other student who has started Mandarin from scratch. I think he speaks Cantonese though, which could actually make learning Mandarin for him much harder in some areas and much easier in others. I'm glad there's someone like him in my class.

星期四, 6月 21, 2007

Second Day of Class

The second day of class has seriously kicked my 屁股. I seriously didn't anticipate Chinese being taught at this level of...professionalism, for lack of a better word. Actually, I did anticipate it, but I think I was in denial until now.

Memorization and drudge work is to be done by ourselves. With only 50 minutes for each class, these classes concentrate on actual thinking through Chinese as a language. I'm very impressed.

Second day of class and I need to internalize a total of 180 new words by tomorrow. GAH! I am already behind!

星期二, 6月 19, 2007

Chinese-English Electronic Dictionaries

So you saw an electronic dictionary and think it would be handy for your Chinese studies? Well, it could be, but they are so 90s! One retailer previewed the most basic, monochrome dictionary for me and it was $120 US dollars! I could probably bargain it down to $100, but there is NO way I'm going to shell out that kind of money for something which only has one use. I'd rather put $200 into a color PDA which can run a number of nifty and useful applications.

The software I am planning on installing on my PDA is apparently a very good Chinese dictionary by Pleco. The dictionary can recognize stylus-inputed characters. It can even assemble textbook wordlists which can be downloaded off the internet. Just check out their website and you will see what I mean!

EDIT: (08/05)
I test ran Pleco off of my friend's PDA and it was okay, but intuitive and user-friendly it was not. It was split into two columns which made the content extremely inconvenient to read. I could have put it in one-column mode, but that would have made it even more inconvenient to navigate. It just wasn't as good as I expected it to be. I'm looking into getting a Wacom tablet for my computer instead.

I've noticed that many students here at ICLP are using Wenlin on their computers and also referring to http://xuezhongwen.net.

Gongguan Starbucks - a place to study?

Just by the Gongguan MRT station, there is a 3-story Starbucks. The top floor seems to the be the "study and discussion" area. This is the only Starbucks I've found with a large table and a power outlet...yes... A power outlet for my laptop!

It's nice to listen to so many young people chattering in Mandarin...very motivating!

The Starbucks across the street from the Language Center has two power outlets available and seems to be much less crowded.

星期一, 6月 18, 2007

Very First Day of Class at ICLP

I was placed in classes far above what I believed I was capable of.

Interestingly enough, the first class has one instructor with one textbook (Newspaper Readings) and the second class has another instructor with another textbook (Chinese Culture Topics). So it is as though I am taking two entirely different classes.

The third "class" is 1-on-1 tutoring which works in conjunction with one of the group classes (in my case Chinese Culture Topics).

There are a total of 4 students in the Newspaper Readings class and 3 in the Chinese Culture Topics class. Good small numbers.

All of my classmates in both classes are asian, specifically American and of some Chinese background (i.e. Taiwanese, Malaysian/Singaporean, Hong Kong). The instructor pointed out that our needs and our strengths are quite different from the needs and strengths of the non-Asian students. I'm the only student who is mixed. I think I'm doing pretty well holding my own given that neither of my parents ever spoke/speak to me in Chinese or any form of Chinese.

星期日, 6月 17, 2007

Bus Routes to ICLP

The fastest walk for me to the ICLP building was from the bus stop by the Taida Gym. The walk was roughly 6-8 minutes as opposed to the 15+ minute walk from the Gongguan bus and MRT stations. There is ONE line which stops right opposite of the ICLP building but it didn't go through any section of Taipei I was familiar with and I've forgotten the bus number. Some people also got off and walked from the Technology Building station on the Brown line of the MRT, but I'm not too familiar with that route either.

The buses which stop at the Taida Gym are:
207, 236, 251, 252, 253, 280, 284 (goes on to Taipei 101), 290
642, 643, 668, 675, 676

This list is not all-inclusive.

ICLP Program Assessment: Advantage #1 - Campus Perks

The best part about being an ICLP student is that we receive access to the NTU gym and library. Oh, did my standard of living just increase about 100 times.


The gym complex (which I am visiting almost religiously every other day or more) comes complete with a pretty decent fitness room with ellipticals, stair steppers, rowing machines, and lots of weight training machines. They also have an indoor swimming pool, table tennis hall, and squash courts. Membership for the gym is only 200 NT a month! ($6.60 USD) and membership for the pool is only 250 NT ($7 USD) a month! We can even rent our own lockers for 200 NTD per month. (Yah, renting a locker costs the same as a month of gym membership). The locker rooms have showers. Just love this place!

Outside the gym are the track, bball courts, and tennis courts. Though, I don't know who would want to exercise outside during a Taipei Summer. That's just asking for it. I could be induced to shoot a couple hoops in the evening.

NTU Library

Plenty of English language books for me to pore through and help me along with my research. It's a dream come true. We can rent books for 2 weeks at a time.

With Shida, you can also gain access to their library, but I don't think they have a gym complex. With TLI, there are no perks since it is a company, not a university.

星期六, 6月 16, 2007

Program Assessment: Peeve #2 - Textbooks

For $3300 tuition for the summer semester, couldn't ICLP have at least given us our books for free? Instead, I have to shell out another $680 NTD ($21 USD) for proprietary books published by ICLP...and published back in the 1990s I might add. My theory for this is that since the IUP program moved to Beijing in the late 1990s, ICLP just hasn't been able to put out anything new. To their credit, the books they are using are tried and true. No nonsense and basically just text and wordlists, text and wordlists.

As if I didn't have enough books from TLI and ShiDa and CUHK. Don't Chinese programs ever overlap their materials?

I was dead wrong. My Newspaper Readings text was published March 2007 (not even 3 months ago) and is extremely current.

EDIT AGAIN: (7/19)
The Newspaper Readings I textbook is published by Taiwan Normal University, not ICLP.

Program Assessment: Peeve #1 cont. - Cost Comparison with ShiDa

National Taiwan Normal University's (ShiDa) Mandarin Training Center (MTC) is also considered one of the best Chinese language programs in Taiwan and offers various programs and private tutoring sessions during the summer.

I crafted out a plan which most closely matches ICLP's:

8 weeks.
10 hours of group class per week, 6 hours of private one-on-one tutoring per week.

Total Cost: $1091 USD.

Plus, they don't charge a $50 application fee as ICLP does. That's a $2,259 USD discrepancy between two schools who are within 20 minutes walking distance of each other!

Other programs at Zheng Da (National Chengchi University) and at private companies (i.e. TLI) are even more affordable.

ICLP better be a damn good program for them to be charging such a premium for their classes. Classes start on Monday so keep following this blog and I will let you know how it goes.

Program Assessment: Peeve #1 - Cost

Regarding the summer ICLP Program at Taiwan National University (also known as NTU or TaiDa), my first impression actually hasn't been very favorable for reasons I will blog out in the next couple entries.

First and foremost is the cost factor:

Summer at ICLP
* 8 weeks of Chinese.
* 3 hours of class a day = 15 hours a week.
* Total contact time is 120 hours.
* Each day consists of 2 hours of small group class and 1 hour of 1-on-1 tutorial.
* That's 80 hours of small group class and 40 hours of 1-on-1 tutorial.
* Cost is $3,300 US dollars.
* Breakdown - $27.50/hour.

It all makes sense if you compare this to the US economy, but this is Taiwan, where the average salary is about $1000 USD per month. The $3,300 summer tuition is a little hard to digest just compared to the program's regular semester!

Regular Semesters at ICLP
* 12 weeks
* 20 hours per week
* Total contact hours: 240
* Cost = $3700 USD
Breakdown - $15.50 USD/hour