Today I finished my first week of Chinese at Shida University. In this posting I want to tell you a bit about the pace of the class and about how the the teacher holds the class in general.
My first impressions of my language course at Shida are still very very good. Actually I am a bit sad that it is friday by now and I have to wait two whole days until I have class again. Really sounds like a "Streber", thats how we call it in German. I guess in English that would be "geek", but I am not too sure about that. Those guys at highschool that REALLY do their homeworks and happily present it to the teacher after class, if they had no chance to present it in class...haha!
Okay, about the pace of the class. I had four sessions now, from tuesday to friday. And in these sessions we covered exactly one chapter, which was chapter 23, pages 429 - 449. So the pace is for sure not too fast. Since I had already worked through the book myself and therefore knew about the words and the grammar, I had the feeling that we were even moving a bit too slow. But I guess that was just my perception because I had already worked through that chapter. If everything was new for me, I guess the pace would just have been right. We will see when we start with the second book soon.
Our teacher started out with the vocabulary. But not the whole set. She just introduced half of the vocab and then directly started with half of the text that would use it. Thats much better than teaching all the vocabs directly at the beginning. While introducing the vocabulary word for word in Chinese, we would always directly have to make use of the new learned words, like for example in a role play with the neighbour. So it is everything but ex-cathedra teaching, it is really interactive and involves a lot of speaking. The teacher of course uses Chinese to explain the words and to my surprise that works much better than I thought. Reading the text is much like you would expect it to be. After we all read the text and understood its meaning (again, she explains every sentence in Chinese), we have another role play and try to make use of all the new words and phrases that were introduced in the text.
So there is a lot of Chinese speaking in the class, obviously. But the good thing is that we don't just stick to the book and do all the exercises one after another, what also could be done at home and would be rather boring. No, the course is very lively and full of discussions in Chinese. Sometimes we completely get side-tracked and for example talk about that earthquake that happened the day before, or the funny maps that I mentioned. And I tell you, this class is filled with laughter the whole 2 hours which is just good. For me this is the perfect playground to use my Chinese. Here I can really try to express myself and even directly get corrected if I make a mistake. I wouldn't feel so easy with that "trying" out on the streets. Here I can just start to talk and doing so gives me confidence with my Chinese. A confidence that I would never gain with just reading the book at home on my own.
So what about the progress-o-meter... ;) Well, no more characters in that page of "The Alchemist" so far, but for sure that will change. But still, I did make progress in this week. I feel a lot more confident to really speak and I more happily do that out in the streets of Taipei. In Chinese. Of course. :)
Concerning the extra work, that you would have to do at home, I would say you are done with not more than one hour. We didn't get other homework than study the characters and the vocab, so that was really okay. If you consider taking this class and wonder if you still have enough time to earn money next to your course: you can. I am managing to write my master thesis in Information Technology next to this course and I feel there is no problem at all.
Have a good weekend out there!