Aprendiendo Mandarin.

Aprendiendo Mandarin en Taiwán.

Debo admitir que de niña nunca le preste mucha atención a ningún idioma asiático, siempre pensé que como hispano hablante debería permanecer en los lenguajes con la misma raíz; entonces por eso es que me vine para acá con cero conocimiento, bueno al menos podía decir “Ni Hao!”

Uno de los retos que me encontré al llegar a Taipei ha sido el idioma, por dicha hay bastantes personas que manejan un buen nivel de inglés, sin embargo, para andar por ahí en la ciudad es más fácil si se habla por lo menos las cosas básicas. Este descubriemiento me ayudo mucho, puedes ver que más he descubierto aquí: Descubriendo Taiwan

Aprendiendo Mandarin

Así que aprovechando mi tiempo libre, y considerando que eventualmente me gustaría trabajar mientras estamos aquí, dos semanas después de haber llegado acá me inscribí en un instituto privado para aprender mandarin. No les puedo mentir, ¡después de mi primer clase terminé con un ligero dolor de cabeza y de garganta!

Escuelas de Idiomas en Taiwán.

Dado que estamos viviendo en Taipei, solo consideré las escuelas que están cerca de mi área; sin embargo, no dudo que existan otras buenas opciones en las demás ciudades grandes como Kaohsiung, Tainan, y Taichung.

Empecé haciendo una pequeña investigación en línea y leí todas las revisiones y recomendaciones de las principales escuelas, al llegar fui personalmente a las mismas para asegurarme de la ubicación y demás detalles de la escuela, así también para averiguar más de los precios, ya que fue un poco díficil encontrar esa información en la web. Estos son mis resultados:

Mandarin Training Center.

Esta escuela pertenece a la Universidad Nacional Normal de Taiwán o mejor conocida como “Shida”. Al ser parte de una de las universidades principales aquí tienen mucha credibilidad y reciben a muchos estudiantes, sin embargo, creo que el formato y la duración de las clases no son para todos. Esta escuela es para personas que se puedan quedar por aquí al menos un año, su inscripción es anual, y se necesita aplicar con buena anticipación para entrar en el periodo deseado, de ahí, si te seleccionan debes entregar todos los requisitos y estar presente en el país en el mes que debes iniciar el curso.

La gran ventaja de esta escuela es que desde el día uno vas a estar totalmente sumergido con la lectura y escritura de los caracteres chinos. Tiene varios horarios a escoger y todo el ambiente universitario se presta para socializar y encontrar nuevos amigos en tu misma situación. Hay que tener en cuenta que pueden tener de 25 a 30 estudiantes por clase, así que no será tan personalizado como podría desearse.

Esta escuela ofrece becas por medio de programas gubernamentales, si te interesa puedes encontrar más información aquí: MTC en NTNU.

Taiwan Mandarin Institute.

Ubicado en la misma zona que Mandarin Training Center, está escuela se especializa más en extranjeros que quieren aprender un poco de mandarin mientras están de paso por la isla. Esta escuela ofrece una nueva clase todos los lunes, sin embargo esto solo sucede si hay al menos tres personas inscritas para comenzar. Ofrecen clases en la mañana, y en la noche (por aquello de que trabajes o andes paseando de día), así como varias clases privadas donde puedes escoger el horario que mejor te convenga durante la semana.

Lo mejor de esta escuela es que solo abre grupos de seis personas, logrando una clase dinámica con la participación constante de los alumnos. Aquí se enfocan más en las habilidades conversacionales y aprendizaje del vocabulario, de hecho, aquí se usa el libro desarrollado por el Mandarin Training Center, el cuál es el certificado. Lo único malo es que, dado a que hay muchos estudiantes de paso, según vas avanzando el nivel puede que no haya suficientes alumnos para abrir el siguiente nivel.

Taiwan Chinese Academy.

Esta escuela privada está en la misma zona que las otras dos, al igual que Taiwan Mandarin Institute, tiene un enfoque en los extranjeros que vacacionan o viven por periodos cortos en Taipei. Sin embargo, aquí si existen fechas fijas de inicio así que es mejor acomodar las fechas de viaje de acuerdo a sus horarios.

Tienen varias clases en la mañana, y de noche, así como los horarios privados de acuerdo a tus necesidades; también se enfocan en la parte conversacional transicionando lentamente a la lectura y escritura. Como tienen las fechas de inicio fjas puede ser más fácil ir avanzando de nivel continuamente, ya que se aseguran que haya estudiantes para abrir el curso

Aprendiendo mandarin en Taipei

¿Cómo escoger entre escuelas de mandarin?

Mi recomendación número uno es que te inscribas lo más pronto posible al llegar aquí, no importa cuanto tiempo te vayas a quedar, es mejor que aproveches el tiempo, no solo por el aprendizaje, sino también para estar inmerso en esta bellísima cultura y aprender más allá de las palabras.

Hay que tener en cuenta que la única escuela que te ayuda con la visa de estudiante es Mandarin Training Center; con las otras dos escuelas, tienes que seguir el proceso personal para conseguir la visa de turista según las regulaciones de migración de Taiwán para tu país. Adicionalmente, para Shida, necesitas preparar tus documentos y traducirlos a inglés, y certificarlos en la oficina diplomática taiwanese de tu país. En las otras escuelas solo con tu pasaporte es suficiente para la inscripción.

Taiwan Mandarin Institute y Taiwan Chinese Academy el costo de las clases ronda $22000NT (cerca de $740USD) por 12 semanas, dos horas al día, de lunes a jueves. En el otro caso, Mandarin Training Center el costo es de $28000NT (cerca de $940USD) por el mismo periodo, solo que ellos tienen clase los cinco días de la semana. Los libros y otros materiales son extra en las tres escuelas. Te recomiendo que revises el precio directamente con ellos antes de inscribirte ya que puede cambiar con el paso del tiempo. you can start connecting with all the wonders that Taiwan and its culture has to offer.

Recursos adicionales.

Finalmente, si de verdad te interesa empezar a hablar mandarin en el futuro cercano, la práctica te ayudará un montón, no tengas miedo de hablarle al que te atienda en el restaurante o puesto de té. Si aún no quieres andarte exponiendo por ahí, te recomiendo que uses dos aplicaciones que puedes descargar en tu celular, una se llama Hello Chinese, y la otra se llama Chinese Skill. Ambas te ayudarán a aprender más vocabulario así como a practicar el pinyin y la pronunciación. Si te gusta escuchar podcasts te recomiendo el de Chineasy, muy interesante y con temas muy oportunos.

chinese apps

¡Mis nuevos mejores amigos! Así puedes encontar las aplicaciones.

Admito que estuve un poco negativa con todo esto, en las primeras semanas me sentí muy frustrada, pero a como fui avanzando fui encontrando el simbolismo detrás de cada significado y me dí cuenta de lo hermoso que es este idioma, ¡el reto que representa me tiene decidida a conquistarlo!

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Taiwan Cherry Blossoms Season 2018: Tips and Tricks for you to get the most out of it!

As the winter is getting colder here in Taipei, my time outdoors has decreased. While scrolling on my cellphone, I found the most interesting news “First cherry blossoms spotted in New Taipei City”.

Surprised by this (I always thought this was a Japanese thing!), I made a day, grabbed my coat, and headed to TianYuan Temple in Tamsui, whose gardens have several cherry blossoms.

I’ve always known of people’s fascination with cherry blossom trees, in high school, one of my closest friends was always dreaming ongoing to Japan and see these Sakura trees. Until this day, for me they were only nice trees with pink flowers. I’m now in love with these beauties!

 

TianYuan Temple

Wuji TianYuan Temple in Tamsui. Photo by Richard Marin.

 

 

The Taoist temple of Wuji TianYuan it’s stunning by itself, rising in the hill with its beautiful facade. Take your time and walk thru the gardens. As you get deeper into them, you can see the first cherry blossoms.

There is plenty of walkable space, water fountains, and benches for you to enjoy peacefully the place. Make sure to go all the way up to the top. The landscape from there won’t disappoint you!

Searching around the internet, Japan covers the entire information. Well, let me tell you, Taiwan has several places to sightsee, and the best part, it won’t kill your budget!

Taiwan Cherry Blossom Season

Cherry blossoms in Taiwan: What you need to know!

  • What is a cherry blossom?

The cherry blossom, known worldwide as Sakura, is the flower of a Prunus tree. These trees found more in the temperate areas of the northern hemisphere. This flower doesn’t become a fruit; however, this tree is related to almond, peach and plum trees.

  • Cherry blossom forecast 2018.

Is happening during the last months of winter, some places might bloom in late January, during February, and will end on March. Locals say this year started earlier due to a warmer winter (nonsense! I’ve been freezing all along!) This year in Taiwan they are due to appear from mid-January until the end of March.

  • How long is cherry blossom season?

The season last around two-and-a-half months, from mid-January until the end of March. Depending on how cold the weather is in a particular area, the season might start until late-February.

  • How long are the cherry blossoms in bloom?

Each tree lasts around 15 to 22 days. Once the flower has blossomed takes one week to reach its peak, after another week it’s completely blossomed, and then will start falling. Rain and strong winds can cut the flowers sooner.

  • Where can you find cherry blossoms in Taiwan? How to get there?

These are the most famous places around Taiwan to spot cherry blossom trees. I’m providing you with the easiest directions for you to get there.

Northern Area.

TianYuan Temple, Tamsui.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Tamsui, and get down at the last station. Get out and turn right to the bus station. Take bus 875, and after 30 minutes, get down at Bei Xin Zhuang stop, walk straight to the Seven Eleven store and make a right.

Pingjing Street, Lane 42, Shilin.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Tamsui and get down on Shilin station. Walk three minutes to Shilin Farmers Association bus stop and wait for bus 303, after one hour ride get down at Lunziwei stop, walk straight and you can find the beautiful street decorated in pink.

Yangmingshan National Park, Beitou.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Tamsui and get down on Beitou station. From there take the bus 230, it will take directly to the park. This place has many things to offer, make sure you take the whole day to enjoy it.

Wulai Scenic Area, New Taipei City.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Xiangshan, get down at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and switch to the green line to Xindian.  At the north of the same station, take bus 849 to Wulai.

Central Area.

Alishan National Scenic Area, Chiayi.

From Taipei, it can take over 10 hours to get there by public transportation. It would combine buses and high-speed train for you to prove how convenient the system is around here. Once you are at Chiayi main station, take the bus 7322, get down at A Li Shan Rts and take the Forest Railway.

Wuling Farm, Taichung.

Even though is located in Taichung, is easier to get access from Yilan. Get to the Yilan railway station and from there take the Kuo Kuang bus to Lishan and get down just in front of the farm.

  • What countries have cherry blossoms?

The most popular place is Japan; the cherry blossom is also their national flower. You can find it as well in Korea, Siberia, China, United States, Canada, India, Iran, Pakistan, and of course here in Taiwan.

Last but not least!

  1. Take your more comfortable shoes! These areas are worth the visit and they all will make you walk.
  2. Is winter season during those months, some days are colder than others. And especially in those high places, the cold and strong winds may be present.
  3. Take your camera and your patience! It’s obvious to think that being so beautiful and popular, these places won’t be alone, and everybody wants a picture!
  4. Make sure to visit the food places around, they won’t disappoint!
  5. Chinese New Year is on February 15 and 16, meaning people from around the country and some neighbors may be celebrating here!

Well now you know, if you need to visit the cherry blossom trees without breaking your savings account, Taiwan is the best option for you.

 

Found out more of my Taiwanese discoveries here.

Cherry Blossoms Season 2018 in Taiwan.

One of the most beautiful sightings of spring, the Cherry Blossoms Season 2018 is here and is gorgeous!

Cherry Blossoms Season 2018.

As the winter is getting colder here in Taipei, my time outdoors has decreased. While scrolling on my cellphone, I found the most interesting news “First cherry blossoms spotted in New Taipei City”. Surprised by this (I always thought this was a Japanese thing!), I made a day, grabbed my coat, and headed to TianYuan Temple in Tamsui, whose gardens have several cherry blossoms.

I’ve always known of people’s fascination with cherry blossom trees, in high school, one of my closest friends was always dreaming ongoing to Japan and see these Sakura trees. Until this day, for me they were only nice trees with pink flowers. I’m now in love with these beauties!

 

Cherry Blossoms Season 2018

Wuji TianYuan Temple in Tamsui. Photo by Richard Marin.

 

 

The Taoist temple of Wuji TianYuan it’s stunning by itself, rising in the hill with its beautiful facade. Take your time and walk thru the gardens. As you get deeper into them, you can see the first cherry blossoms.

There is plenty of walk-able space, water fountains, and benches for you to enjoy peacefully the place. Make sure to go all the way up to the top. The landscape from there won’t disappoint you!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Searching around the internet, Japan covers the entire information. Well, let me tell you, Taiwan has several places to sight see, and the best part, it won’t kill your budget!

Cherry Blossoms Season 2018

Cherry blossoms welcoming spring!

Cherry blossoms in Taiwan: What you need to know!

  • What is a cherry blossom?

The cherry blossom, known worldwide as Sakura, is the flower of a Prunus tree. These trees found more in the temperate areas of the northern hemisphere. This flower doesn’t become a fruit; however, this tree is related to almond, peach and plum trees.

  • Cherry blossom forecast 2018.

Is happening during the last months of winter, some places might bloom in late January, during February, and will end on March. Locals say this year started earlier due to a warmer winter (nonsense! I’ve been freezing all along!) This year in Taiwan they are due to appear from mid-January until the end of March.

  • How long is cherry blossom season?

The season last around two-and-a-half months, from mid-January until the end of March. Depending on how cold the weather is in a particular area, the season might start until late-February.

  • How long are the cherry blossoms in bloom?

Each tree lasts around 15 to 22 days. Once the flower has blossomed takes one week to reach its peak, after another week it’s completely blossomed, and then will start falling. Rain and strong winds can cut the flowers sooner.

  • Where can you find cherry blossoms in Taiwan? How to get there?

These are the most famous places around Taiwan to spot cherry blossom trees. I’m providing you with the easiest directions for you to get there.

Northern Area.

TianYuan Temple, Tamsui.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Tamsui, and get down at the last station. Get out and turn right to the bus station. Take bus 875, and after 30 minutes, get down at Bei Xin Zhuang stop, walk straight to the Seven Eleven store and make a right.

Pingjing Street, Lane 42, Shilin.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Tamsui and get down on Shilin station. Walk three minutes to Shilin Farmers Association bus stop and wait for bus 303, after one hour ride get down at Lunziwei stop, walk straight and you can find the beautiful street decorated in pink.

Yangmingshan National Park, Beitou.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Tamsui and get down on Beitou station. From there take the bus 230, it will take directly to the park. This place has many things to offer, make sure you take the whole day to enjoy it.

Wulai Scenic Area, New Taipei City.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Xiangshan, get down at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and switch to the green line to Xindian.  At the north of the same station, take bus 849 to Wulai.

Central Area.

Alishan National Scenic Area, Chiayi.

From Taipei, it can take over 10 hours to get there by public transportation. It would combine buses and high-speed train for you to prove how convenient the system is around here. Once you are at Chiayi main station, take the bus 7322, get down at A Li Shan Rts and take the Forest Railway.

Wuling Farm, Taichung.

Even though is located in Taichung, is easier to get access from Yilan. Get to the Yilan railway station and from there take the Kuo Kuang bus to Lishan and get down just in front of the farm.

  • What countries have cherry blossoms?

The most popular place is Japan; the cherry blossom is also their national flower. You can find it as well in Korea, Siberia, China, United States, Canada, India, Iran, Pakistan, and of course here in Taiwan.

Last but not least!

  1. Take your more comfortable shoes! These areas are worth the visit and they all will make you walk.
  2. Is winter season during those months, some days are colder than others. And especially in those high places, the cold and strong winds may be present.
  3. Take your camera and your patience! It’s obvious to think that being so beautiful and popular, these places won’t be alone, and everybody wants a picture!
  4. Make sure to visit the food places around, they won’t disappoint!
  5. Chinese New Year is on February 15 and 16, meaning people from around the country and some neighbors may be celebrating here!

Well now you know, if you need to experience the cherry blossoms season 2018 without breaking your savings account, Taiwan is the best option for you!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Found out more of my Taiwanese discoveries here.

Chinese Language.

Learning Mandarin in Taiwan.

I must admit that growing up I never paid much attention to any Asian language, always thought that as a Spanish native speaker I should remain on the same root of languages; and so I came here with zero knowledge, wait, not zero, I was able to say “Ni Hao!”

One of the challenges I’ve faced since my arrival in Taipei has been the language, thankfully there are a lot of people who handle a basic to a good level of English, however, to wander around is a lot easier to speak the basic stuff. This was a wonderful discovery; you can read more about my first impressions here: Discovering beautiful Taiwan

Learning chinese

So, taking advantage of my free time, and considering that eventually, I would like to work and make a living while I’m here, two weeks after our arrival I enrolled in a private institute to learn Chinese mandarin. Not going to lie, after my first class I ended up with a little headache and a sore throat!

Language Schools in Taiwan.

Since we are living in New Taipei City, I only consider the schools in the nearby area; however, I’m sure there are plenty of options in other big cities like Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Taichung.

I started making a little online research and reading all reviews of the main schools here, and after my arrival I went personally to each place in order to make sure about the location and the overall feeling of the school, as well as to find out about pricing, since is very difficult to find it online. Here I summarize my top three findings:

Mandarin Training Center.

This school belongs to the National Taiwan Normal University or best known here as “Shida”. Being part of one of the main universities here gives them a lot of credibility and has a lot of students, however, I believe the format and the length of their classes are not for everybody. This school is for people who can stay in Taipei at least for one year or more, their enrollment is made once a year, you need to apply in advanced around May, then if you are selected you need to fulfill all requirements and be here ready to start in September.

The big advantage this school has is that since day one you will be totally immersed in reading and writing the Chinese characters. There are several schedules for you to pick from and the whole college environment will help you socialize and find new friends in your same situation. Have in mind though, that they can take up to 25-30 students per class so it won’t be as personal and conversational as you may like.

This school offers scholarships thru government programs, if you are interested you can find more information on their website. MTC at NTNU.

Taiwan Mandarin Institute.

Located in the same area as Mandarin Training Center, this school is more focused on foreigners who would like to learn a bit of Chinese while they are staying here. This school offers a new class opening every Monday, however, this only happens if there are at least three people signed up for it. They offer classes in the morning, and in the evening (in case you need to work during the day), as well as several private classes where you can pick the most convenient hour during any weekday.

The great thing about this place is that they only open groups of up to six people, making the class more oriented to participation; you have almost a personalized experience. They start focusing more on conversational skills and pushing vocabulary, also, they use the book developed by Mandarin Training Center, which is the certified one. The bad thing is that, since there are a lot of students just passing by, as you would move forward you may not have enough classmates to open the next level group with you.

Taiwan Chinese Academy.

This is a private institute in the same area as Shida, just like Taiwan Mandarin Institute, has a focus on foreigners vacationing or living short-term in Taipei. However, they do have fixed starting dates so is a good idea to arrange your arrival according to their start time.

They have several classes in the morning and evening as well as private classes according to your schedule; they also focus on conversational learning slowly transitioning to reading and writing. Since they have fixed dates you may find continuity easier as they will always have enough people to start.

How to choose chinese school in Taipei.png

How to choose between Chinese Schools?

I strongly recommend you to sign up for language classes as soon as you arrive, it doesn’t matter how long you will be staying, take advantage of your time, not only for the sake of learning a new language but also in order to immerse yourself in this beautiful culture and learn beyond words.

Please have in mind that the only institution that can help you with a student visa is Mandarin Training Center; with the other two schools, you need to apply yourself for your visitor visa according to the rules and requirements for your country. Also, for Shida, you need to prepare your papers and have them translated to English, in case your papers are written in other languages, and have them certified by a Taiwanese diplomatic office near you. With the other schools, you only need to show your passport.

Taiwan Mandarin Institute and Taiwan Chinese Academy charge around $22000NT (around $740USD) per 12 weeks, two hours a day, from Monday to Thursday. On the other hand, Mandarin Training Center charges $28000NT (around $940USD) for the same period of time, only their schedule is five days a week. Books and other materials are extra on all of them. Please double check all pricing directly with them prior signing up at this might change with time.

All three of them offer nice non-mandatory extra class activities, different every week so you can start connecting with all the wonders that Taiwan and its culture has to offer.

Additional resources.

Last but not least, if you are serious about speaking Chinese any time soon, practice will help you a lot, don’t be afraid to start practicing with the personnel at the restaurant or tea spot. However, if you don’t want to be that exposed yet, I recommend you to use two apps that you can download to your phone, one is Hello Chinese, and the other one is called Chinese Skill. Both will help you learn more vocabulary as well to practice the pinyin and pronunciation. If you are into podcasting I recommend you the one from Chineasy, very interesting and very up to the moment.

chinese apps

My new best friends! This is how you can find the apps.

I must admit I was a bit negative about all of this, during my first weeks I found myself feeling frustrated, but as I continued and discovered the beautiful symbolism of every character and every word made me realize what a wonderfully rich language this is, and the challenge it represents just makes me want to overcome it even more!

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