University Mandarin FAQs
We have compiled our most frequently asked questions and address them here for your convenience. If you have more questions, dont hesitate to email us via email@example.com and we will be in touch within 24 hours
What course levels are available?
Courses are available for all levels of Mandarin Chinese study, from beginner to advanced level. Prior to beginning your courses, China Internship Placement (CIP) will enroll you in a placement test to gauge your level of Mandarin, to make sure you are placed in the correct class for the duration of your program.
Schools tier their classes within levels i.e. Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels are further split into further sub-levels e.g. Basic Beginner, Intermediate Beginner, Advanced Beginner, etc, this is to ensure that every student is placed into the correct class at a level that best suits his individual's requirements. Each school has a slightly different practice of categorizing students into the correct levels, so please see our “Schools” section and check out each individual school for exact details.
Where can I find a campus map of my university?
As soon as you arrive in Beijing we will provide you with a map of the campus and give you an orientation of the neighborhood you will be staying in, as well as well as the university, so that you don’t feel lost the first day of school.
Where and when do I get my course textbooks?
All of the CIP mandarin programs include course textbooks in the tuition. dThe textbooks will be given out to the students on the first day of class.
What is the class size?
Classes generally sit in no more than 20 students. dAverage class size is roughly 10-15 students per class.
What's an average day like?
Students are usually placed in one of two 4-hour sessions with short breaks between classes that run daily Monday-Friday: either a morning session (8am-12pm) or an afternoon session (1pm-5pm). Outside of class there is no substitute for putting in the hard hours to reinforce what has been learnt during class hours. Homework generally consists of character repetition and learning. Generally 2 hours of out-of-class homework and revision is recommended in order to keep up with the pace of class and make good progress during your period of study.
What am I going to learn?
This is really up to you, the student. Learning Mandarin is a time-intensive process. There is no substitute for putting in the hard work of practicing character writing and learning new words, so each individual student’s progress is highly correlated to how much time is put in outside of the classroom to practice what is taught during class time.
As a general guide, over the course of a semester of study, we would expect the average student to learn and master roughly 800 new characters (roughly 100-200 characters per calendar month of study)
To put this into perspective:
- Knowing 200 characters will be enough to survive at a basic level on a day to day basis – introduce yourself, give directions to a taxi driver, order basic food and drink
- Knowing 800 characters will allow you to hold basic conversations in Chinese, talk about the weather, your likes and dislikes, perform day to day tasks such as doing your shopping and almost effortlessly getting around town
- Knowing 1500 characters will allow you to be able to read a newspaper without fully understanding all the characters, but allowing you to get a good grip on the context of the articles
- Knowing 2500 - 3500 characters puts you at roughly the same level as a local Chinese high-school graduate. You will be able to fully read and understand newspapers and television programs, and be able to hold detailed conversation on a variety of topics
- Knowing 4500 – 5500 characters puts you at roughly the same level as a local Chinese University graduate. At this level you could be expected to operate fluently within any situation, both professional and private, translate high-level documents and engage in conversations at all levels and for all intents and purposes operate as a well-educated “local”
- Knowing 20,000 – 30,000 characters puts you within a very small group of linguistic academic experts who command a very rare knowledge of all obscure vocabulary and subtleties contained within the Mandarin Chinese language. Not many people, foreign or local, ever reach this level – but there’s no harm in trying!
Can I receive university / college credit for work completed on my program?
The universities that program participants attend are internationally accredited; therefore most international universities accept credits received from these schools. Many of our students in the past have received credit for their coursework completed here. CIP assists students in obtaining any information and documentation required supporting their request for course credit. Still, the final decision to offer academic credit is up to your university.
As every university is different, we encourage you to check with your own university in regards to your accreditation requirements.
What is the grading system in the university program for the Mandarin Language course?
Short-term programs that are 3 Months or less only have one Final exam. Longer-term programs for semester and one year programs consist of one mid-term and one final exam. The weighting of each is 50%, each while some professors consider class participation as part of the final grade, so make sure you go to class and participate!
Which documents will be supplied upon completion of my program?
China Internship Placement (CIP) will provide students with a certificate of completion at the end of their program. For university program participants, each university will issue an additional certificate as well.
Can I arrive before my course starts?
CIP recommends that students arrive on one of the specified arrival dates for each program, which are selected so that you have a couple days to settle into your accommodation, make new friends, and explore the local area! However, if you need to arrive before or after your program's official start date, or extend your stay after the official end of your program, this can be arranged for a small additional fee.
Which lesson and topics does my course cover?
The classes focus on all parts of the Chinese language - speaking, listening, reading, and writing. There is also an emphasis on Chinese skills that allow students to take advantage of the local environment and be able to communicate in daily life. In class, students generally go over vocabulary, practice reading texts, learn grammar points and sentence patterns, do conversation exercises with other students, do some language drills, and many other activities that allow a rapid acquisition of the Mandarin language.
How many hours a week will I study?
The Mandarin classes at most universities and schools run from Monday through Friday for a total of 20 hours of university time per week. Classes are taught in 40-50 minutes periods with short breaks provided in between. Students in the CIP Intensive program have an additional 10 hour 1-on-1 tutoring classes per week with an experienced, private tutor.
What are the lecturers and teachers like?
The professors are very experienced in teaching Chinese to foreigners and are considered experts in their field.
Will I be given homework?
Yes – it's generally best to spend 2-3 hours per day studying and completing homework. This is a tough program because we want you to learn Mandarin. A great way to study and keep on top of things is to sign up for our Intensive program and have the 1-on-1 tutoring sessions focus on the homework set for you in class.
How do I know what level to start at?
Every student will take a placement test after registration to determine which class and level is most appropriate to begin their studies. This placement is given to all students, whether you are a complete beginner or have studied Chinese in the past.
How long does it take to become fluent in Chinese?
Most universities structure their courses to accommodate every level of student, from beginner to advanced. If you follow the courses from complete beginner level to the end of the advanced level, it should take you approximately 3 years. This includes study during summer and holiday breaks.
However, everyone is different. Some learn faster than others, and since you take a placement test at the beginning of each semester, it is possible to skip a level if you have progressed faster than expected. Therefore, completing all the courses is possible in less than 3 years.
Another thing to consider is that it is not necessary to be completely fluent or to have taken all the courses to be able to live and work in China. Students finishing the beginner level should already be able to use Mandarin in daily life and hold simple conversations.
What is the advantage of private tutoring?
The Intensive program offers 1-on-1 tutoring, which most students find very helpful in advancing their Mandarin studies. Not everyone is good at learning in a classroom environment, so this really depends on your learning style. We find that students who have difficulty with speaking and listening benefit the most from the individual tutoring. Also, the tutoring sessions are arranged to fit your schedule, making the extra study time easy and convenient. Many students choose to arrange their sessions in the afternoon after class, and typically students choose the location as well. You can even have your tutoring sessions at home, it's that convenient!