Hello, I'd like to study undergraduate degree of Chinese in Chengdu but there are a couple of things I need to ask before choosing which city/uni to study in.
First, does the fact that people speak sichuanhua there affect studying mandarin negatively? Do people still learn mandarin?
Second, which university is the best choice? Obviously Sichuan University is the most famous one, but I've heard that some other unis might be even better choice due to smaller classes, fewer foreigners to help the immersion and so on.
Third, is it possible to get part time job teaching english even if I'm not a native English speaker? I'm scandinavian and I speak English somewhat well and from what I've understood the level of native Chinese who teach English really isn't that great so... Is it possible for me to get a part time job if I happen to need one?
All University classes have official certified teachers to teach pu tonghua which is the mandarin that is most common. Definitely Sichuanhua has its own uniqueness, as tryinG to use putong hua with the local sichuanese sometimes gets frustrating on your part, but most of the time they will understand you even if you dont understand them. Most Universities are on equal par in terms of teaching, as most students learning Chinese as a degree in China are foreigners, expect to use them as resource or study partners, immersion is mainly based on study abroad programs you go with, as long as you make 2-3 Chines friends who dont speak English and constantly hang out with them, your chines will improve dramastically, orally and listening wise. Maybe get some Chinese roommates. Some study abroad programs have Students live in dorms with a chinese teacher, and only allow chinese to be spoken in the whole apartment. but iVe only seen that in beijing.
Lastly, I honestly can say i do not fully recommend teaching english while learning chinese, it causes alot of stress as chinese classes require major Dedication to grasp its concepts, until your certain with the basics its easy to forget. As well, on student visas most legit schools would not hire you cause you are technically not allow to work more then a certain amount while in school, I think 8hrs/m? And schools who do hire you for more then 8 hours treat foreigners badly, most of the time, unless your a private tutor.
Overall if your coming to study chinese id definitely just recommend going to school and immersing yourself in everday activities around town to make some chinese friends. practice grocery shopping in chinese with the store clerks, ordering from a chinese menu at restaurants with friends. Enjoy the time and grasp a solid foundation then decide to move on to working part time
I was wondering if the Chinese language degree starts from a scratchand if I am supposed to know any Chinese before starting it?
I'm really divided between choosing Chengdu, Kunming or Beijing to study the language. Beijing probably has the best education (BLCU) and they speak clear putonghua. Chengdu on the other hand doesn't have as many foreigners as Beijing, it's a bit more traditional and has a lot warmer climate, no? And Kunming has awesome climate, even less western influence but I'm no sure about the Yunnan University's quality of teaching.
You can start from 0 with no problems. I did. As the one before me i recommend forgetting about work at least for the 1st semester, then decide for yourself.
Quality of teaching is dependant more on teacher than anything else, process itself is standartized thx to the mighty commies :) 2 years for basic course (from 0) with normal speed, after 3 you'll be reading Confucius in original :)
And if you go to Beijing bring your gas mask. You'll need it.
If you decide on Yunnan you can also try Yunnan normal university or Kunming University of Science and Technology, they offer chinese courses as well.
In Chengdu main choices are Sichuan Uni, SWUFE (aka xinan caidan) and SW Uni for minorities.
Ofc nothing stops you from going to a small unis, quality is still good there and you'll have to learn just to survive which speeds the process, but finding them in the 1st place is a prob :D
(A little scroll down can find my reason why I won't choose here to study chinese so you can skip some paragraphs XD)
By this holidays time I got issues with SiChuanHua. Fist, it is normal that local older people doesn't have a clue of how to speak normal pudong hua. For example, the owner of my room, he doesn't speak any budonghua, and when we have to communicate, he take a peace of paper and write some letters, and in that way we understand each other. Taxi drivers always speak budonghua, but with a really strong accent.
Normally young people speaks very standard chinese, if you talk one to one, or if you speak in a office environment, you will have to use mandarin almost all day.
BUT HERE COMES THE REASON why, if I can, I won't choose SiChuan to study chinese. As I wrote, talking one to one you can always get a complete conversation in very correct and standard chinese, but when you are in a group of people, they ALWAYS will use Sichuan hua to chat. If you are with two friends, they will speak in sichuan hua. Then is kind of useless, when a chinese person talk, with our foreign face, they will use a simple and clear chinese (unless you show an exceptional speaking skill), but between them, they will use a natural language and that's the language we are suppose to catch. So when they are about to speak the "real natural street spoken chinese", they will use Sichuan Hua.
In the north mandarin is the local language, then it will be sure you will always hear mandarin. I were in Taiwan, and I think there is also a good place to learn chinese. Even the accent is not very correct, but people are always speaking in mandarin. At least, in the north of the island they do, as far as I know in the south they use more MinNan Hua.
So judging by what you guys wrote there is no HSK requirement for Chuanda's Chinese program? Or if there is, they offer some sort of training program?
Also, do the western students have their own classes separately from i.e. japanese who already know how to write all the characters and thus should study much faster?
Nah, we are all laowai for them :) I had couple of japs in my class, they had it easy (well, so did i cause i know japanese) . Chances are, after a couple of months they will divide initial groups in (good), (bad), and (wtf are these idiots doing in china anyway?).
I strongly recommend you learn Mandarin in Beijing or elsewhere in the North. I spent 2 years studying at Beijing Normal University, which was excellent btw, and the benefit of having everyone in the city being able to speak "standard" Mandarin is invaluable. Plus, Beijing is great city. I lived there 4 years in total.
I have been in Chengdu for about 1.5 years and it still really annoys me that a lot of people cannot speak Mandarin or, if they do, they have really strong accents and you probably won't understand them. So, from your point of view, you will basically get no or really bad practise by speaking to the locals you will meet on a day-to-day basis.
Studying is up to you where you want to go, its up to your dedication, and everyone mainly speaks Mandarin its just the dialect of how the mandarin sounds is different in each city. if you want the Chinese that most people learn in foreign countries, then you want Pudong hua, which mainly originates from Beijing.
Sichuan has its own basis, and I believe even though they dont speak Pudong hua, Sichuan hua still has alot of similarities, and I live the more relaxed culture here, compared to Beijings High busy streets
Also, I'd like to add that another big advantage of learning in provinces where the main dialect is Putonghua, is that the actual way they use the language is more natural and colloquial.
I've had Chinese teachers here in Chengdu tell me that as well, they said whilst their Chinese is of course great, it all comes from learning at school and is still rather formal.
You really want to learn how people say and phrase things from someone who's first choice language is Putonghua. Much like it's best to learn English from a Native English Speaker and not someone who can speak it well as a second language. There are of course exceptions, but generally you'd find this to be true.
(@Froze, just for your reference, the pinyin is actually spelt Putonghua)
the dialect could affect you negatively or positively. it depends on you if you are able to abstract to the point where you are understand the principles of Mandarin and accept little deviations from CCTV Chinese in daily life.
i'd recommend to check this links in this thread on Sichuanhua
after the first two semesters you have to pass HSK3 and later on after intermediate you have to pass the next level
the university offers a training program, but don't rely on it to pass
for further discussion on SCU stick to these threads
there are differences in pronunciation some differences in grammar and vocabulary, but it's not a second language it's all Mandarin. knowing standard mandarin and some basic rules of Sichuanhua will be usually enough to communicate here.
it's an illusion to think you'll learn THE standard language in a Northern city as people there speak their own local deviation. besides the Beijing ERRRRR 儿儿儿儿儿儿 can't be freaking annoying unless you're from Texas that is.
@ Invisible. I guess this is becoming more of a discussion on the exact history and roots of Putonghua!
I can agree with you that the Beijing Erhua can be annoying at first but, after a short time, your ear gets tuned in to it and it doesn't become an issue any more.
I used to think that Erhua was just a Northern thing, but actually a lot of standard Mandarin adopts 儿 in some words, Beijing hua just has an extensive use of it. One of my best teachers used to encourage us to watch the CCTV newscast every evening as an example of the very best Standard Mandarin spoken.
I certainly don't have any aspirations to sound like a Beijing Cab driver although I have met a few foreigners who speak just like that! Their language skills are excellent, but I try for the more neutral "standard" accent.
I don't believe there is any city in China where everyone speaks the perfect standard Mandarin that you will hear on CCTV every day. But you can certainly live in a city where the distance from this perfect Mandarin is not huge. Seeing as Putonghua is based on Beijing hua, plus all the waidiren I've met in Beijing speak pretty good Mandarin, my argument is that Beijing and other Northern cities offer the best environment for learning standard Mandarin. You will meet just as many waidiren as Beijing people in Beijing, and a lot are from DongBei or just speak pretty neutral sounding Putonghua.
I've looked through all the guides to speaking Sichuan hua and although the differences might not seem to be huge and I'm able to pick up a lot of what people say, it's still another dialect. In the learning stage you don't really want to be trying to cope with too many fundamental differences inside the classroom and outside of the classroom. There are tone reversal differences to contend with plus just basic vowel pronunciations that will wreak havoc to your listening and pronunciation skills. I just can't see how anyone could recommend Sichuan as a good place to learn Putonghua. (Sichuan is a great place, that's why I'm here, but I'm not here to learn Putonghua!)
Beijing is a good testing ground for your language ability because they are used to hearing only putonghua and have pretty low tolerance for unusual or badly spoken putonghua. Basically means Beijingers are not very good at understanding Putonghua spoken by people with strong regional accents. If they can understand you and you can understand them you're doing well. I remember when I was at Emei Shan, and there was a Sichuan lady speaking not so great Putonghua, I didn't really understand what she was saying. She got really annoyed because she thought she was speaking decent Putonghua. I apologise and say I'm not the best judge, I'm a foreigner! Then a proper Beijinger comes along and has exactly the same problem, he doesn't understand what she's saying, which just makes her even more angry.
In short, come to Sichuan for the food, people, it's natural beauty, work opportunities, but not because it's an excellent place to learn Mandarin! :)
Actually, Chengdu's accent doesn't matter that much to your Mandarian learning. Make Chinese friends in the university. most students speak good putonghua. And Sichuan University is a good one, so the students come from all over China, including many from the north who don't have chengdu's accent.
Besides, I'm a Chengdu native, and i speak GREAT putonghua, no accents at all :)
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