Class at Nan Da

I’m now in the third week of Chinese language class at Nanjing University, or Nan Da as it’s known to locals from its Chinese name Nan Jing Da Xue. I enrolled directly in the Foreign Students Institute, which offers Chinese classes at every level from beginning to advanced. Finding any reliable information about the program beforehand proved difficult- I basically enrolled without any clear idea of what I would be in for. In case anyone else is wondering, here are my reflections on the program so far.

Tuition for one 14-week semester is 9500RMB (about $1350 US). Each week students receive 24 hours of instruction in Chinese: 10 hours of writing class, 10 hours of speaking class, and 4 hours of listening class. My section is taught by three different teachers, meeting every weekday morning plus two weekly afternoon sessions.

I placed into the beginner’s class level, even though I studied independently for about a year beforehand. This is basically due to one thing I overlooked in my self-study: reading Chinese characters. Therefore, taking the placement test went something like this:

Answer the following questions by choosing the word that most appropriately completes the blank:
You blah blah blah person blah blah, blah blah blah blah have ____ blah blah.
A) Blah B) Blah C) Blah D) come

Oh, I thought, let’s go with D- that sounds good. Only then did I realize I was answering the example question, which to my dismay I still answered wrong. The rest of the test was pretty much downhill from there.

Already in two weeks, though, I’ve built a repertoire of more than 50 characters, and I imagine I’ll be able to write more than 500 by semester’s end. Class ends around mid-June.

There’s a great mix of students in the program- Europeans of various nationalities, plenty of Americans, some Canadians, and large contingents of Japanese and Korean students. There are also some students from Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. Some, like me, directly enrolled in the Institute. Others are on school exchange programs (paying much more tuition back home than the program itself costs). Still others are on China-sponsored scholarships, which I intend to look into for further semesters of study. One of the most interesting things is to hear an international crowd of students all conversing in Chinese, with all of the different accents from various linguistic backgrounds.

Anyone else looking for info on studying Chinese at Nanjing University, let me know and I can send some details.


2 Responses to “Class at Nan Da”

  1. 1 Eric Madsen March 10, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing your China experiences publicly. This blog is a huge help to my wife and me. We’re in a remarkably similar situation: About to have our first child (due in mid-June), I’ve been studying Chinese for almost a year, and we plan to move to China as soon as feasible to study the language. Reading your blog has helped both of us become more excited and open-eyed about the adventure. I’d welcome the chance to learn more about this language program you’re taking and any other programs that you’ve become aware of since moving there. One other question – any recommendations on a high-quality Chinese-English electronic dictionary? Thanks! Best wishes to the three of you!

  2. 2 Becca March 15, 2008 at 3:20 pm


    So I’ve been keeping my folks updated as well and my Dad wants to know….but do you know the answer to the example question yet?

    OH! and I’ll pray for mucho scholarships for you if you pray for mucho grants for me for Radiology (thus maybe I can come and visit!) :o)

    Love and prayers.

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