There are many schools in Taipei to choose from for learning Mandarin Chinese. The three major ones are National Taiwan University (NTU), National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), National Chengchi University (NCCU). There are also many other smaller organizations and private schools but for the sake of simplicity I’ll review these 3 main ones and let you decide which one sounds most appealing.
National Chengchi University
This is the school I went to. In short, I didn’t like it that much. I chose this school due to its location near the outer ring of Taipei but little did I know this was considered one of the rainiest places in Northern Taipei due to its location in a basin that is nearby mountains, two features you do not find near the other schools. This meant that at least 3-4 days a week there was a constant drizzle and the skies were hazy most of the time. If you were to take a 15-minute bus ride into the city you would find most of Taipei was dry and sunny. It was that much different. However, the air is fresh here and the campus is located up a hill from the main entrance, giving it a more picturesque view than other locations. If you are a more quiet person and would prefer the more hustle and bustle on the weekends this campus is for you.
The curriculum at this school is the same as the other schools in terms of levels 1-4 as they all follow the same books. However, it was announced in 2015 that those books and overall curriculum were being replaced by a new system. I am not familiar with them since I have not seen or met anyone else involved, nor am I certain all schools will follow it but the answer will most likely be yes. In terms of classes, I feel the teachers were like most other ones I have run into in that some are great, some are so so, and some suck. I had it all at NCCU. I think the teachers could have been more disciplined, and the class times should be changed away from an 8am starting time. The 8-11am schedules are brutal for nightwalkers like myself, and the 1-4pm options just seemed to take up the day. If you are a morning person then this place is for you. In terms of students, there are many Russians studying here and probably the least amount of native English speakers, as they mainly go to NTNU and NTU.
The curriculum here has previously been the same as NCCU’s and NTU’s as mentioned, but again that may have changed as of 2015. Most students go to this school for its more centralized location and because classes are 10 hours a week (2 hours a day) versus other schools who offer 3 hours on average. This is good if you do not want to commit full time to Chinese studies but bad if you do, as you really need 3-4 hours of class a day to really improve. Also, scholarship students complain about one aspect of this school. Because scholarship recipients from government organizations such as MOE are required to attend at least 15 hours of class a week this means that recipients need to make sure and record an extra 5 hours at the school’s library as part of a “self study”. While most students end up in the library sometime during the week this required amount often bothers many and some do not manage their time properly to fit it all in. Basically, as long as you are putting an hour in a day after class you should be fine.
I have not seen any more significant improvement in Chinese skills from those attending this school. Many students are attached to the name but to be honest since all the schools follow the same curriculum and the teachers are mostly accredited from the same universities, there isn’t a whole lot of diversity in teaching. Unless you have a higher budget and want the brand name, we would suggest elsewhere, as the location of this place is also neat NTNU. However, getting to be around NTU is a nicer environment and the Taiwanese students are a different breed compared with other schools, so this makes more an interesting experience nevertheless.
If you want something more in the wilderness and away from the business of the city, choose NCCU or a school on Yangmingshan. If you want the shortest possible classes and a decent curriculum, choose NTNU. If you want smaller class sizes and a good brand for your resume, choose NTU.