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Short-term intensive Mandarin training in Taipei

Thoughts on short-term intensive Mandarin training in Taipei, Taiwan + MTC and Han Institute and suggestions for both short-and long-term housing–from Daniel Steve (Dan) Villarreal (Chinese name 萬丹青), Ph.D. in Foreign Language Education UT-Austin & BA in Modern Languages, The Citadel, 11A5SLA

The comments about the 3 language schools are from personal experience. I’m a bit hesitant to talk about language schools and textbooks that I haven’t experienced, as an old Army Platoon Sergeant used to say, “me, myself, personally.” I am certain that there are other great Mandarin study opportunities out there, but I haven’t attended them and they’re beyond the scope of this article. This is a set of comments originally designed to respond to somebody who was asking about short-term intensive language training over here.

I hope you find this useful and informative!

International Chinese Language Program:
Very intensive! I took the summer intensive program in 2012 and studied the books Modern Chinese Conversation and Chinese Moral Tales. I had 3 1-hour classes daily (2 w/4 students, 1 was 1-on-1 covering Modern Chinese Conversation), with 4-6 hours of daily homework (plus weekends spent making flashcards for my maybe 50+ vocabulary items per week between both books). I only covered maybe 1/3 or 1/2 of the textbooks; more advanced students were placed in either more advanced books or studied the same books I did at a faster pace. They’re set up to teach you full-time and you shouldn’t be pursuing other time-consuming interests or doing full-time work when you’re enrolled. Their normal program during the school year is 4 hours daily! As far as I know, they don’t do much 1-on-1 work except in the course of their normal teaching + maybe for their very advanced students and grads. Amenities include National Taiwan University student ID which doubles as prepaid bus/MRT card at student rates, access to NTU facilities such as the excellent gym and library, etc. $3700 USD for a summer program!

Mandarin Training Center
Moderate cost and some pretty darn good teaching! I’ve studied the Practical Audio-Visual Chinese (old Book 1) in a group class one summer. Since working on my dissertation (research, writing, editing–glad that’s over!) and assuming teaching duties at a military academy, I’ve studied once a week, 2 hours/session, 1-on-1, on a “no-tests/no-homework” basis due to my work schedule, and my Mandarin is doing OK on a functional level. I’d testify to the power of 1-on-1 teaching! I ‘ve previously studied the Far East Chinese series; Far East tends to lean toward conversational topics + Practical Audio-Visual leans a bit toward grammar. Both are good; neither one is strictly “either-or.” I also took an intensive course in summer 2013 (3 hours daily), back at the Practical Audio-Visual Chinese Book 1 level, to recover what I’ve missed out on from doing sporadic studying of Mandarin.

International Han Institute
Very low-cost and no-frills–no amenities to speak of, except for the free coffee! I’m studying with them, also on a “no-tests/no-homework” basis, specifically to cover material from my previous and future ICLP textbooks, in anticipation of returning to ICLP for more intensive summer training, after climbing the ladder at MTC where tuition is much cheaper. They are very good at tailoring a program to your needs and desires. In my case, I’m prepping the stories, going through vocab, etc. I’m also negotiating getting a small group together for a summer session to study the Far East Chinese Book 1 textbook concurrently with my MTC studies of the Practical Audio-Visual Chinese book–there are discounts for group studies.

Textbooks available from ICLP, and in some cases, commercially online or in-country: 

Lucky Bookstore: an excellent source of Mandarin texts, directly across from the Mandarin Training Center–MTC students with ID can get a discounted price: 

Download this document which includes prices for MTC and the Han Institute + information about a nearby hotel that would probably work just fine for somebody who is studying at the Han Institute and/or MTC for a very short period. ICLP has dorms available for intensive summer session students & I think they can help with housing arrangements for people who are there during the school year.

My advice follows to the gentleman who was once asking me for suggestions about doing a roughly 2-week language refresher training session (it includes advice on both short-term and long-term housing):

I’d advise you to go with MTC as the mainstay, 2 hour daily 1-on-1 lessons with an advanced book (this gentleman already had some pretty good Mandarin Chinese language training under his belt).

Then: Han Institute (very affordable) for supplementary work. I’d suggest getting one of the intermediate or advanced texts from the International Chinese Language Program where I studied this summer and doing selected conversational topics with the Han Institute prof they assign to you, maybe on a “no tests, no homework” basis so as to give you a bit of flexibility in having time to prep for MTC classes. You can then shoehorn in conversation sessions as time permits.

A good textbook for MTC might be the Book 3 of Far East Chinese. It has both grammar and conversation. For the Han Institute, you might want to go with either Chinese Moral Tales (I struggled with it this summer, but you can probably deal with it OK)–an intermediate book about topics such as Confucius, sort of like Chinese equivalents of Aesop’s fables or Jesus’ parables, etc., and possibly a nice window into some cultural insights your previous training may not have stressed as much–OR: a book that I think is called “Chinese Thought” from ICLP, which I believe deals with advanced-level conversational topics, such as “does China own Taiwan?” etc.

Short-term and long-term housing while studying at MTC, ICLP, and/or the International Han Institute

Rates are MTC rates, which include a breakdown on tutorials + the Han Institute’s fees for 1-on-1 or group classes. Also the rates for a nearby hotel, decent one that’s pretty nice and fairly affordable.

The Yo Xing Hotel is near the Mandarin Training Center and the Han Institute. The lady at the front desk quoted me some discounted rates, which are hand-written on the right side of the card. The business card is from the parent company of the Yo Xing Hotel. That hotel serves breakfast and has the basic amenities (coffeepot, TV, etc.) + it’s on a great street corner with a convenient Watson’s (like CVS), gym, McDonald’s and Starbucks, etc. all right in the immediate area.

Another option for short-term housing might be the Hostel located near the Jiantan MRT Station (Red Line)–another spelling is Chientan:—Chientan-YAC-International-Youth-Hostel-092228.en.htm
I stayed at a previous Hostel location across from Taipei Main Station, which has since moved, and this might be the current location. Based on my previous experience: adequate housing, safe, clean, and convenient to local mass transportation. This one is on a Youth Activity Center campus which resembles a small college.

For more long-term housing, you might want to contact my former and current landlords: Jerry (English name) has apartments near the Guting and Gongguan MRT Stations, very accessible to the language schools I’ve written about, plus elsewhere in the city of Taipei. Steve (English name) has a variety of apartments in diverse locales. These two gentlemen have always been great landlords, and the three apartments I’ve rented from them over the last few years have been very adequate, with a variety of amenities such as washing machines, maybe Internet, private bathroom, etc. Also very close to public transportation. Very adequate for language students!

Dan V, 11A5SLA, Ph.D., Licensed Court Interpreter # 315 (Spanish-English, Texas)
Taipei, Taiwan

Copyright 2014 Daniel Steve Villarreal (萬丹青), Ph.D.
Please feel free to share widely as long as credit is given to the original author, Daniel Steve Villarreal (萬丹青) of

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