Choosing a Mandarin Chinese Learning Center in Taipei, Taiwan

Choosing a Mandarin Chinese Learning Center Taipei Taiwan

I recently decided to take a few months and go study Mandarin “properly” in Taiwan. I’ve always promoted, and still firmly believe, that one does not need to spend time in China/Taiwan to master the language. That being said, there are a lot of benefits to doing so.

( Photo by *Yueh-Hua 2013, on Flickr )

Immersion – Being present in an environment where the target-language is the most commonly spoken language around you will increase your learning efficiency. Outside of such an environment, you can still achieve similar results in a similar time frame, but it will require more work.

Comfort – Being out of one’s comfort zone is often at the root of many people’s greatest achievements. Being in a less familiar environment and being surrounded by a less familiar culture is a great way to get out of your comfort zone.

Travel – Studying away from home is a great way to see some new sites and experience new culture.

Taiwan is awesome – No, really. It’s a beautiful country and many would argue its the best place in the world to live.

Where to learn Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan

Upon searching for where I should study in Taiwan, I was bombarded with information and acronyms. So, I’ll do my best to summarize everything and hopefully simplify this step for other’s who also decide to study Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan.

First things first, decide which city in Taiwan is the best city to study Mandarin Chinese in for you. If you’ve been to Taiwan, you will probably have your preferences already. Otherwise, this article sums up the differences pretty well.

I personally decided on Taipei because it’s a proper (big) city with great public transportation, I prefer cooler weather to warmer weather, and there is more diversity in terms of food and culture.

Deciding what the best Mandarin Chinese Learning Center is in Taipei

I’ve compiled a few summaries of the main Mandarin Chinese learning centers in Taipei. Hopefully these will come in handy when you try to decide on NTU’s CLD or ICLP vs NTNU’s MTC vs NCCU and so on.

Chinese Language Division Language Center (CLD)

Mandarin Chinese Learning Center NTU CLD

One of National Taiwan University (NTU, aka Tai-Da)’s two Mandarin Chinese learning centers.

Program / curriculum

  • The program is a fairly standard combination of conversation, reading and writing practice
  • Enrollment in a single term is an option for shorter-term study
  • Supplementary courses are limited / non-existent outside of extra small classes and tutoring sessions
  • Class size: 4-6 people

What people say

There hasn’t been too much discussion about CLD specifically. But overall, people have a lot of good things to say about the teachers and staff. Generally highly regarded.

Location and facilities

  • Gym access with a small fee: heated swimming pool, fitness center, squash and badminton courts, etc
  • Library access
  • NTU is pretty centrally located in the city and easily accessibly via MRT/subway
  • Surrounded by restaurants, cafes, bars, markets
  • No on-campus housing for CLD students
  • The surrounding area is bustling with students, scooters, cars and bikes

Course tuition/cost

  • NT$29,100 – NT$35,000
  • $980 USD – $1180 USD

International Chinese Language Program (ICLP)

Mandarin Chinese Learning Center NTU ICLP

The other Mandarin Chinese learning center at NTU (located inside the same building).

Program / curriculum

  • Intensive, immersion style classes
  • Private lesson on each day of the school way to focus on your specific needs
  • Small group (2-4 student) classes each day of the school week
  • The main academic program requires enrollment in at least 3 consecutive terms; The summer program does not

What people say

The structure is nice, but with some discipline you can achieve similar results for a lot less money by getting a tutor and by doing language exchange. On the other hand, many swear by ICLP’s methods. I have also personally met a couple people that did ICLP’s intensive courses for a year and achieved really good results. If you have the finances, time, and determination, ICLP might be a good match for you.

Location and facilities

  • On-campus housing is available
  • Also located on NTU’s campus, so otherwise more or less the same as CLD

Course tuition/cost

  • NT$98,600 – NT$120,000
  • $3,300 USD – $3,900 USD

Mandarin Training Center (MTC)

NTNU MTC Mandarin Training Center

The Mandarin Chinese learning center at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU, aka Shi Da). Photo by yarnie on Flickr.

Program and classes

  • A fairly standard program, with a large emphasis on reading/writing skills
  • Offers several class types: individual, regular and intensive
  • Offers variable class lengths ranging from one to three months
  • Language classes are no larger than 10 people in size
  • Offers an array of supplementary classes (these are generally much larger classes)

What people say

There is probably more discussion about NTNU’s MTC than any of the other Mandarin Chinese training centers. In said discussions, there are a lot of mixed reviews as well.

A lot of people find the courses to focus too much on reading/writing and claim that the class structure leaves people with weak conversational skills. Also, a lot of people feel the teachers and staff generally lack in quality/experience especially when it comes to teaching intermediate students. That being said, other’s find the courses to be well balanced and feel they learned a lot here.

Location and facilities

  • Gym access (unconfirmed)
  • Library access
  • Just a couple MRT stations up from NTU
  • Housing/apartments, restaurants, etc are all very accessible
  • On-campus housing is available

Course tuition/cost

  • NT$16,800 – NT$84,000
  • $560 USD – $2,800 USD

Chinese Language Center (CLC)

Mandarin Chinese Learning Center NCCU

Chinese Language Center (CLC) is National Chengchi University (NCCU, aka Cheng Da)’s Mandarin Chinese training center.

Program and classes

  • Standard courses with more focus on conversational Mandarin Chinese
  • Offers lots of optional culture/activity courses
  • Students enrolled in the “regular program” have access to a large list of free, supplementary courses

What people say

A lot of people feel that the curriculum focuses a lot more on conversational Mandarin Chinese here. Some people feel it is more practical than other schools like NTNU, but others feel the overall pacing is a bit slow.

Location and facilities

  • Lacks some facilities (such as a gym)
  • Outside of the bustling city (some 20-30m from the city center by MRT)
  • Less foot and scooter/car traffic
  • Not as many restaurants, cafes, bars, markets, etc
  • On-campus housing is available but limited

Course tuition/cost

  • NT$22,500 – NT$27,000
  • $752.106 USD – $902.527 USD

Other Mandarin Training Centers in Taiwan

I chose to focus on the main training centers in Taipei, because they are generally the most distinguished and most talked about. Yet, I found it non-trivial to track down all the details and differences in order to make a decision on where I should study Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan.

The Republic of China (ROC, aka Taiwan)’s Ministry of English (MoE) website has a complete listing of the official Mandarin Chinese Learning Centers throughout all of Taiwan.


Please leave a comment and let me know if this article was helpful! And of course let me know if you have any more questions, too : )


  1. Dody - reply

    May I know which Mandarin Learning Center you finally choose? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And also, I’ve been learning some Mandarin (until HSK level 3 proficiency – I consider this as lower intermediate) using simplified Chinese characters (็ฎ€ไฝ“ๅญ—). Do I have to fully use the traditional characters (็นไฝ“ๅญ—) when studying there?

    • steven - reply

      Hi Dody, I ended up choosing NTU’s CLD. I am starting my course in 2 weeks and plan on doing a follow-up review ๐Ÿ™‚

      If I understand correctly, most of the schools (including CLD) allow the use of simplified characters (็ฎ€ไฝ“ๅญ—) on homework and tests/exams, but only traditional characters (็น้ซ”ๅญ—) are used in class.

      I also started with simplified characters (but only halfway through HSK 2) before I switched to learning traditional characters. For me, personally, It’s worked out pretty well and I generally prefer using traditional chinese characters now.

  2. AGnes - reply

    Hi Steven,

    I’m looking into NTU’s CLD program and was wondering if you could help me out clarifying some questions. I have no Mandarin background and was wondering if it a program where students can work towards a certificate or program? Or is it just a program more like extra curricular?


    • steven - reply

      Hi AGnes, the program is pretty comprehensive, but I’m not 100% sure about whether or not you will receive a certificate upon completion. I will check on this and get back to you!

  3. Rob - reply

    Hi Steven,

    Thanks for the post, a nice succinct summary of the minefield of info out there. I’m very interested to know how the CLD course is going. Very consistently positive reviews seem to come out regarding ICLP and considering the price, one would expect it. I’m very serious about my future study in Taipei and will wear the cost of ICLP if I have too, but considering CLD is in the same campus, I’m interested to hear your feedback. I initially only considered MTC.

    Thanks mate.

    • steven - reply

      Hi Rob, sorry about the delay! I am going to put together a follow-up post this weekend. In short though: I have heard the same about ICLP and have met a couple people that impressed me after studying there for only a short time.

      I am happy with the quality of the courses at CLD so far and my girlfriend has been inspired to study there after meeting some of the second-year students.

      I was originally in the same boat as you in regards to MTC. I’m happy I chose CLD though, since I’ve recently been hearing more and more that MTC’s classes are simply too big and the overall quality isn’t what it used to be.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Lucas - reply

    Hi Steven,

    Thank you for this excellent blog post! I am planning on travelling to Taiwan in January or February of 2014 to study Mandarin. I have heard many good things about the MTC, but all from people who studied there 15-10 years ago (I suspect things have changed a lot in that time). I would love to know more about your experience at the CLD, when you start your studies there.

    I’m looking forward to reading more about your time in Taiwan!

    Kind regards,


    • steven - reply

      Hi Lucas, thanks for the nice comment and I’m glad this post has been of some use : )

      I found only the same old information online in regards to MTC when I was doing my research. Word of mouth suggests that it isn’t the best place to study these days though. I will be posting a follow-up post in more detail this weekend!

  5. Patrick - reply

    Hi Steven thanks for your post , it really gave me more choices.

    I would like to know if there are any good accommodation around CLD?

    Might be going for the 2014 spring term



    • steven - reply

      Hi Patrick,
      tealit has a pretty decent listing of apartments for rent, many of which are near the university. If you understand some Chinese you can also try 591 and kijiji. Either way though, I recommend you find a temporary place to stay and check out all of the listings in person. Many times pictures can be misleading…

      A friend helped me arrange the place I am currently staying in, but I am in the process of finding something more permanent and planning on doing a post with all the relevant vocab when I’ve got it all figured out ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hope that helps!

  6. Francesca - reply

    Hi Steven,

    thanks for the post! it helped a lot getting through random information found on the internet

    I’m planning to go to Taipei next summer, and since I have a job, it will be quite impossible for me to get more than 2 weeks holiday, so I was wondering if you can recommend some good mandarin private schools where I can attend an intensive class maybe?



    • steven - reply

      Hi Francesca,
      Unfortunately I haven’t personally come across any short-term intensive courses, but I’ve heard that both Taiwan Mandarin Institute (TMI) and Taipei Language Institute (TLI) both offer short term courses. The catch is that these classes are generally private lessons and will be relatively pricey in contrast to the other options in this post.

      Another option/supplement would be to find a language partner or two, schedule some time to meet up and practice with locals. You can find a lot of people eager for language-exchange on tealit.

      If you end up trying out a short-term study program, please let me know how it goes!

  7. Francesca - reply

    I will Steven ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve contacted the TMI and also the TLI in Taichung (seems to be less pricey than Taipei Center). Thanks !


  8. Lucas - reply

    Hi Steven,

    I’ve been accepted to the NTU CLD, have my visa, and am now going through the process of booking my flight and finding an apartment.
    I’ve posted a message on tealit, but haven’t had too much luck yet (lots of language exchange requests, but little about housing).

    Do you have any pointers as for what I should be looking out for when searching for a place. Is housing easy to come by, or can it be tricky? Would you recommend looking for a place online, or staying in a hostle for a few days, and looking for an apartment in my first week there?

    I was originally planning to be in Taipei for Chinese New Year, but one of my Taiwanese friends suggested that it would be much easier to arrive the week after (I’m looking at the 6th or 7th of February).

    Looking forward to hearing any recommendations you may have.



    • steven - reply

      Hi Lucas, sorry about the delay!

      I wanted to give you a more detailed response so I put together this post: How to find an apartment in Taipei, Taiwan.

      Hope it is helpful, and let me know if you have any more questions ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Lisa - reply

    Hi Steven,

    I intend to study in Taipei, too in 2014.

    Could you pls tell the standard cost for study & living there ?

    I will choose a intermediate conversational class about 6 months or 1 year.
    Any possibility to live on campus? Which you prefer on campus or off campus?

    Many thanks

    • steven - reply

      Hi Lisa,

      Please let me know if this new post answers your questions! If not, I’d be happy to go explain anything I left out ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. A - reply

    Hey Steven,

    Thank you for the write-up and the helpful summary!

    I am currently having a hard time deciding between NTU’s ICLP and CLD program. I am wondering if you would be able to advise on which one would be more appropriate for my objective.

    I have saved up enough funds to attend ICLP – however, my Chinese is honestly at a beginner’s level and I’m concerned that I wouldn’t be in a position to benefit from a program as intensive as ICLP. I am primarily interested in improving my conversational skills, and learning Chinese for business applications (I understand ICLP is well-known for their strengths in teaching academic Chinese).

    I am wondering if I would be able to benefit as much from CLD (or maybe more, if the program happens to be better-suited for my needs) compared to ICLP, or if I should just go ahead with ICLP if I can afford it.

    Time and money is incredibly precious (and scarce) right now so I’m a bit paranoid on choosing the best program for me. I’d be extremely grateful for any advice you can provide on the matter!

    Thank you!

    • steven - reply

      Hi A,

      ICLP is more structured and more intense, but both programs will demand a lot of time and cover a great deal of material.

      If time and money are a concern for you, I recommend NTU’s CLD program. The progress I’ve seen absolute beginners make there in a short amount of time leaves me confident that you would get a lot out of their program.

      Also, I highly recommend you find a language partner and make local friends ASAP. In some ways, this will take you a lot further than the private lesson time at ICLP would.

      Hope this helps and best of luck!

      • A - reply

        Thank you for your prompt reply! I’m going to heed your advice and apply for the CLD program (and if my Chinese improves to an adequate level by then, perhaps consider ICLP summer program). Once again, thank you for your help! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Nathan - reply

    Hello Steven,

    This site helps a lot with informing me about the options. At this moment I am in between jobs and I was wondering whether these schools also teach in the evenings. Because, who knows, I find a job at a Taiwanese company and then I can continue studying in the evenings! Do you know if these schools offer this as well, or maybe non-university related schools? I will continue researching as well ๐Ÿ™‚



    • steven - reply

      Hi Nathan,
      Most of the schools listed about do in fact offer evening classes (the exact times varies from school to school though). Unfortunately, I haven’t researched any non-university schools since studying at said schools generally does not quality students for a visitor visa (extendable, study visa).

      If you do happen to look into and find a good alternative, please let me know!

  12. Bryan - reply

    Hi Steven.

    Can I know how your progress at Cld?
    I have learnt simplified chinese.
    Can I still use it when study In Taiwan?


    • steven - reply

      Hi Bryan,
      I feel like I’ve progressed quite a bit studying at CLD so far. I skipped last term to go back to the U.S. and visit my family, but have returned for the spring term and find my new class even better than the previous. I did a quick write up about studying Mandarin at NTU’s CLD a bit over halfway through my first term, and plan to do another one in a couple more weeks.

      As far as Simplified Chinese goes, it will definitely help. But, you will be required to learn Traditional Chinese, as that is what we use in class here.

      There are actually a lot of students here who originally learned Simplified Chinese. Most of said people seem to make most of the transition to Traditional Chinese within a few weeks and slowly fill in the gaps thereafter without too much trouble.

      Hope that helps!

  13. Bryan - reply

    Hi steven,

    Can I know how many hours do you study in Cld?
    Is it 5 days a week?


    • steven - reply

      Hi Bryan, classes are 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) for 3 hours a day (with two 10 minute breaks).

      How much time you spend outside of class will vary, but you’ll more than likely need at least 2 hours each day to memorize new characters and vocabulary as well as to do any other homework.

  14. Charlene - reply

    Hello Steven,

    Do you have any idea why both MTC and CLD require students to have high school diploma? It bothers me and my friend a lot since it needs to be verified by embassy!

    • steven - reply

      Hi Charlene,
      I believe it is because they are both public universities and thus have to comply with certain government standards. I recommend contacting NTU’s CLD office or NTNU’s MTC office via email to see if there are any alternatives if you haven’t already done so.
      Please let me know if you have any luck working around this issue and best of luck!

      • Charlene - reply

        Hi Steven,
        They did accept the original copy without any translation into English or verification from embassy ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. pamela - reply

    Hi steven ,

    Do you have any idea where can i study one year long mandarin, starting in fall term. i am from mexico and i have been looking but all the curses are 3 o 4 month period and i am looking for a longer term.
    Please let me know if you have and idea ๐Ÿ™‚


    • steven - reply

      Hi Pamela,
      Although the term length is 3~4 months, you can study long term at any of the above Mandarin Learning Centers. I am personally going on my 5th month and many of the students here have been studying for over a year ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. f - reply

    Hi Steven
    Great blog and thanks for writing about your experiences. All these programs seem to cater for post high school or college students. Do you know if they take kids younger than 18? My child is 16, has studied for 3 years, knows about 700 – 900 words, and eager to spend a summer in Taipei for learn Mandarin program (a beginner in listening and speech, I would say). Do you know any school that takes kids and will help them adjust in country and keep an eye on them? Thanks,
    (We are interested in a summer in Taipei program from mid-June to mid-July)

    • steven - reply

      This is an excellent question! Perhaps something like a language exchange would work for your child? Nevertheless, I will ask around and see what I can find out.

  17. D - reply

    Steven – Great blog! Thank you so much for posting! How are these programs for ABC (American born Chinese?) I was born and raised speaking informal Mandarin, can write a few hundred characters, but am looking for a language program where I can specialize in business/professional vocabulary. Any comments/ideas?

    • steven - reply

      D, I recommend you contact NTNU’s MTC and ask them if they have any courses that work for you. My girlfriend is currently studying there in a class specifically designed for ABC/BBC/CBCs who can already speak Mandarin Chinese, but cannot read/write. The focus of said course is primarily written Chinese with some sentence pattern review as well. Their language center is a lot bigger, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have something more focused on business as well.

      I’ve also heard that NCCU’s CLC may offer similar courses, but haven’t personally met anyone that studies there yet.

      Best of luck!

  18. josh - reply

    Hi steven, this is really a great job you’ve done here, and a great service you are providing. I have studied chinese for the last 7 summers in beijing and shanghai, and this summer I decided to leave the mainland and the awful air pollution and give taipei a try. I am looking at tmi, and the online reviews I’ve read about it are quite positive.

    But there is one problem I have with the school, and that is the accommodations. They only have studio apartments. (I am 57 and a little old to live in a studio. When I asked the school if they had any one bedroom apartments with kitchen, they told me the following: “It would be quite difficult to find a one bedroom apartment for short term in Taipei and even more difficult as kitchens are also rare. It is the culture here in Taiwan to eat out all the time.” I was wondering what you think of this, based on your experience in taiwan. Thanks in advance!


    • steven - reply

      Hi Josh,

      I apologize for the excessive delay! You’ve probably found the information you were looking for by now, but just in case…

      I wrote this post about Taipei apartments and it may answer some of your questions.

      To address your questions more directly though, what you were told about the apartment situation and eating culture here is generally true. It is a lot more difficult to find affordable accommodations that are not micro-sized by many western standards. And yes, outside of some families, almost everyone eats out for every meal.

      That being said, it’s definitely not impossible to find something that meets your criteria. This is especially true if you opt to live outside of the city center and commute in on the highly efficient metro system (ๆท้‹). But, keep in mind that the metro is packed during peak hours.

      Also, even though only a very small percentage of living spaces have a kitchen and are larger than a couple hundred square feet, there are always a lot of apartments on the market. As a result, the small percentage that do meet the above criteria actually amount to a pretty decent number.

      Hope that helps!

      • josh mackles - reply

        Hi steven, thanks for your reply. You are right, I did find a real nice apartment, right on the water, but it was an hour to my school by metro, so I decided not to take it.

        I actually decided to study in hong kong this summer, which is maybe not the best place to learn mandarin, but I was so disillusioned by the quality (and size) of the apartments I was seeing in taipei that even hong kong’s small flats looked pretty good in comparison. I will try taipei again next summer. Maybe if I up my monthly limit from 30k to maybe 50k I will find something I like better.


        • steven - reply

          Ah that is a shame, though I’m surprised that you didn’t find more options with a 30k budget. I am currently renting a modern, reasonably sized place (large by Taiwan standards) with a small kitchen for 18k, and the commute to NTU is only ~20m. Sorry I didn’t get back to you with more tips earlier!

          I wish you the best of luck in HK and am curious to hear how you find studying Mandarin there.

          • josh mackles

            Steven, part of the problem was probably I started looking too late or too early, I’m not sure. (When I studied in beijing, when looking for an apartment most landlords couldn’t commit to anything until very close to my arrival date.) So maybe I needed to be more patient. But I wanted to lock down an apartment before paying tuition/airfare, so really couldn’t wait.

            I think it would have been a lot easier to find a place if I actually knew taipei. Searching for an apartment with only google maps as a guide is pretty frustrating.

            Thanks again for your help.

  19. Ali - reply

    Dear Steven,

    Credit to your post, really easy to read and insightful info. This is exactly what i was looking for except there is one thing missing in my perspective which is kind of importance. It decides whether I would spend the effort money and time.

    I live in china for 3 months and before that I went to the Chinese school of amsterdam and I only learned how read and everything was in Pinyin. I do not want to learn how to write or read as much, I think conversation is what makes a good linguist after all. Plus my masters starts in March so I dont have longer than 4 months for me learn pinyin/ conversation chinese. CLC seems the most suitable. What do you think?

    • steven - reply

      Hi Ali,

      I apologize for the delay in my response!

      It sounds like you already have the fundamentals down at this point (pinyin, basic character reading/writing skills), so regardless of where you decide(d) to study you should be able to test out of the basic classes. Beyond the basics, there is still a large focus on reading/writing but even more of a focus on the spoken language (at least for the first year or so).

      I agree that CLC seems like a good fit, though if you have the funds NTU’s ICLP might actually be a better fit (reading/writing is still part of their curriculum, but their goal is to get you speaking, fast).

      I’m not sure what your goals with studying Chinese are, but reading/writing is key in understanding many aspects of the language and culture. Also, being able to read/write will save you a lot of frustration while living in China/Taiwan.

      More importantly though, in Chinese culture, most formal settings (meetings, news, presentations, etc) call for using ๆ›ธ้ข่ชž (the written language), even when speaking. And this is generally not taught anywhere unless you already have solid foundation in reading/writing.

      As a result, you will find that many ABC/BBC/CBCs that grew up speaking with their family still can’t understand the news on TV and would be unable to give a presentation in a business setting.

      Of course, none of this may be relevant to you depending on your goals, but it is a key point that many people just starting to study Chinese are unaware of.

      As far as whether or not the courses are worth the time and money goes, it will largely depend on your goals and how seriously you take your studies. I personally am learning a great deal and find the class time to be invaluable.

      Hope that helps ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Jasper - reply

    Hi Steven,

    can i just check if the course you enrol in teaches you how to type in traditional chinese that Taiwan uses? Their way of typing is different from the simplified chinese (ie pinyin vs bopomofo).

    i’ll want to work in taiwan in the future and want to preparemyself if i ever need to type in traditional chinese in the future.


    • steven - reply

      Hi Jasper, you can actually use pinyin to type Traditional Chinese (I personally use this method).

      But to answer your question, I just confirmed with a friend that the Taiwanese method of typing (ๆณจ้Ÿณ zhรนyฤซn / bopomofo) is generally NOT taught in schools here. As a side note, I have not actually taken the time to learn said Taiwanese input method and have not yet run into any issues.

  21. Lillian - reply

    Hi Steven,
    Such a great blog!! And so kind of you to take time to answer stranger’s queries!
    I have been looking for a short course for my teenager and came across MLC by Taiwan Cultural University. It is a 4 weeks course and is available every month and suits us real fine. I just wonder if you know anything about it as to whether it is a good course. She does not speak, read or write Mandarin. Please assist if you can – perhaps you know of some other suitable course? Many, many thanks in advance

    • steven - reply

      Hi Lillian,
      I don’t personally know anyone that has attended their classes; however, I have taken a tour and from what I can tell, CCU’s MLC seems like a decent enough place to study. They also use the same textbooks as the other universities listed in this post.

      In the end, the quality of instruction will largely depend on the teacher, so I recommend that, if given the opportunity, your son/daughter try out various classes during the first few days. I also recommend you contact them and verify that your teenager is allowed to attend if he or she is not yet 18 years old.

      Another very important thing to consider:
      The university is privately operated. As such, your son/daughter will probably not qualify for an extendable visa and his/her length of stay in the country will be limited to 30 days (for AU passport holders). Though, they can leave fly in-and-out of the country to work-around this as needed.

      I hope this helps, and please let me know how things work out! : )

  22. Lillian - reply

    Your blog is so helpful for many who are going to Taiwan to study Chinese. Have you heard of MLC short courses? I am looking for a 4 week course for a real beginner, have you any suggestions? Thanks.

  23. Bryan - reply

    Hi Steven,

    This is an excellent blog and have found this very useful in planning and making some of my decisions for when I come to Taiwan.

    I’m a CBC and my parents are from Hong Kong, that being said my mandarin skills are at a beginner level and I am not quite sure which school to select. My goal is to be conversational in Mandarin and would at least like to be able to understand some business and finance terms.

    I chose Taiwan because I have never been there before and it is on a beautiful island with many beaches that I hope to call paradise on the days I’m not studying Chinese. I decided on Taipei and was looking at TMI as their courses are flexible with time as my duration here will only be about 6 months depending on how far my budget will take me.

    Over this time period beginning in early 2015 when I arrive, I’m budgeting around $15,000-$20,000 for Chinese courses, basic cost of living and accommodation. Realistically would like to stay a minimum of 6 months but would like to stretch that out towards 8 months if possible.

    Based on your previous experience, is this a realistic budget and which school would you recommend I look into based on some of the goals I have described?

    • steven - reply

      Hi Bryan,
      What currency is your budget in?
      If it is in NT$ / month, I think your budget may not be enough for your desired length of stay. This is partly because, if I understand correctly, the Tuition fee at TMI is higher than the other universities listed here. But more importantly, studying at a private language center means you will not qualify for an extendable-visa (Canadian residents are allowed 90 days visa-free entry). As such, you will need to buy at least one plane ticket to fly in-and-out of the country as you approach your 90 days.

      On the other hand, if it is the total amount of Canadian or US dollars, you should have no problems stretching it to 8 months. Just take some time to look at several apartments and find something comfortable that fits your budget.

      In general, I recommend you allocate yourself at least NT$18-20k per month for rent and food. This means eating an average of 3 meals a day at ~NT$100 and spending around NT$9k on rent and utilities. Also, while transportation is cheaper than most western cities, you will still need to adjust your budget if you’d want to make some trips down south.

      As far as the school goes, I think your choice makes sense as you’d like to study some business/finance classes. Generally speaking, we do not start going into those topics at the other schools until slightly higher level. Either way though, I would check with the universities ahead of time as their supplementary courses are sometimes different from term-to-term.

      I hope this answers your questions : )

  24. Bryan - reply

    Hi Steven, which language institution other than TMI would you suggest to go to? I need something that is flexible in hours and time as I am unsure if I would like to study fora duration of 1 month or 5 months…

  25. Marcelo - reply

    Hi Steven, thanks for the post! I found it really usefull.
    Question here, I’m an Argentinian born Taiwanese. I studied chinese when I was little (primary and highschool). For some reasons I discontinued my classes and rarely use or practice my chinese now. I only use it at home to speak to my parents (both taiwanese).
    I’m searching for a course that suits my needs, I know the basics, The pying yin, the accents, I also speak relatively fluent, but I have a hard time trying to read and recognize most of the characters (mostly beacuse of years of lack of practice). In you opinion, which one would you recommend me to take? Do they do a leveling evaluation before assigning you to a course?

    I will appreciate very much your answer, lots of thanks in advance!

    • steven - reply

      Hi Marcelo,
      All of the language schools will evaluate your Mandarin Chinese level before placing you in classes. However, given your situation, I recommend you attend NTNU’s MTC classes designed for ABC/BBC/CBCs for at least 1 or 2 terms. It is assumed that students in these classes can speak a decent amount of Chinese, but lack reading/writing skills. As such, the focus of the class is on learning to write words/characters and moves more quickly through grammar/sentence structures.

      By the end of the first term, you will have covered most all of the basics and start moving to slightly more formal topics (banking, financial terms, etc). Then, by the end of the second term, you will have a pretty decent written vocabulary and will start recognize a good deal of words in magazines, newspapers etc.

      Beyond that, you may want to consider moving to the standard series of classes or even to another school. But, I recommend you start at MTC and then go from there. Hope this helps and good luck!

  26. Gloria - reply

    Hi Steven, thanks for all your sound advice! It has helped a lot in planning my trip.

    I actually speak Cantonese but lack reading/writing skills. I am interested in learning Mandarin and chose Taiwan because my parents are from Hong Kong. In other words I want to learn traditional over simplified and have been advised that it is not too difficult to ‘guess’ simplified characters if you know traditional. I have very little Mandarin.

    I am planning my trip over the summer and hope to stay for 2-3 months. Which school would you recommend? Thanks so much for your help!

    • steven - reply

      Hi Gloria, all of the training centers are going to be pretty similar for complete beginners. You will also find a mix of good and not-so-good teachers wherever you go. However, NTU’s CLD has a few extra school policies designed to raise the bar a bit and attract more diligent students, which may be something to consider depending on how seriously you plan to take your studies.

      If you do in fact take your studies very seriously and have the funding, I recommend looking into ICLP’s summer programs. Not only are their programs more intense, but the students there seem more willing to speak Chinese out of the classroom as well.

      Regardless of where you decide to go, I think you will have a good experience in Taiwan. Also, I recommend you make it a goal to do most of your learning outside of the classroom : )

  27. Mercy - reply

    Hi Steven,

    Thanks for your blog posts. I’ve been looking through the myriad of information online with regards to learning mandarin abroad. Yours came across really useful and a nice read too.

    Just wondering if you’d have any advice for me on which learning center would be suitable for intensive course from Jan to Mar period? I’ve looked around at official programs by universities; some looks very appealing, however the semesters tend to start at March. Therefore I’m considering to go for more private/independent learning centers. Do you have any recommendations on that?

    Thank you,

    • steven - reply

      Hi Mercy, unfortunately I don’t have any experience at the private/independent learning centers, so I can’t be of much help here ๐Ÿ™ If you do end up going to one though, please let me know how it goes!

  28. kleber - reply

    Hello STEVEN

    Thanks for your time and help.

    I studied in Mainland China for four years my bachellor degree , but it was all in english ๏ผ› therefore I do speak chinese but I am not good at writing. Right now I am studying one semester in begginers level 2 , basically I am slowy learning to read and write what I know to say.

    For personal reason I am moving to TW next year 2015 at the end of February , I want to keep studying chinese, but all I know is simplified chinese, and I am interested on this one.
    Do you know any universitie where I can study the simplified one?

    thanks a lot

    • steven - reply

      Out of curiosity, while you were in China, did you take any Mandarin Chinese classes? I’m curious about your experiences there ๐Ÿ™‚

      As far as I know, most (if not all) of the university-associated schools in Taiwan only teach traditional Chinese characters. Though, there may be some privately operated universities or language centers that offer simplified Chinese based classes. I recommend reaching out to a few of them and seeing if you have any luck. MLC’s CCU (as recommended by Ira) seems like a good start.

      If you plan to be living here for a while though, I highly recommend putting the effort into learning traditional Chinese. Either way, best of luck!

  29. Ira - reply

    Hi Steven,

    Somebody asked about Chinese Culture University. My son attended summer camp last year and we decided to stay in Taipei for a year. I’m now enrolled in CCU (basic level) and have had good experience so far. My teacher(s) are really amazing.

    They have new classes “every” month.

    (and people at the office are super helpful).

    • steven - reply

      Thanks Ira! It’s good to get some real feedback about CCU’s courses, I’m sure your feedback will not go unappreciated ๐Ÿ˜€

  30. A - reply

    Hi Steven,

    Thanks for the blog post! It has really helped me choose the right learning centre. I’ve chosen to go with NTU and will be starting next Feb ๐Ÿ™‚

    According to the NTU website if a student receives a grade lower than 70 points they will be disqualified to register for the next term.

    Is it difficult to achieve a grade higher than 70 points?

    Thank You ๐Ÿ™‚

    • steven - reply

      Hi! I’m happy to hear you will be studying in Taipei! It definitely requires some work and effort to do well, and the Chinese language can certainly be challenging at times, but classes are not graded on bell curves or any other system that pits you against the other students. As such, as long as you put in the time to study, do the homework, and practice, you will be fine ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Jeff - reply

    Hi Steven, thank you for laying things out so clearly. I just finished teaching English in Beijing for a little over a year. I took Chinese lessons while I was there and made some good progress, but now I’d like to study full-time. I’m shooting for the Spring 2015 term at NTU’s CLD.

    My question for you is about working. I’m a little confused after researching on my own, so I’ll just start with the basics. Is it possible to work legally as a student? I saved quite a bit while I was in Beijing, but I’d really prefer not to dip into my savings too much. What’s your advice for offsetting some of the costs of studying here? Thanks!

    • steven - reply

      Hi Jeff, it is perfectly legal to work as a student in Taiwan. However, you will need to acquire a work permit and related documents (visa, alien resident card, …) to do so. I have a couple friends that work + study in Taipei and, in both cases, they found their jobs while in country and their employers helped them organize the visas, etc.

      Some (many?) people participate in private tutoring/lessons on a regular basis without the legal documents. While I haven’t heard of anyone actually running into trouble doing so, it is technically illegal so keep that in mind.

      Hope that helps!

  32. Sunil Suren - reply

    Hi Steven,

    I am Sunil Suren from Bangalore, India. I am a Technical Writer working at Accenture.

    Thank you for your valuable knowledge-share on top Mandarin Language Learning Centers in Taiwan.

    I was planning to move to Taipei later this year, to study Mandarin on scholarship (Huayu Enrichment Scholarship(HES)), between Fall 2015 and Summer 2016, to boost my language skills for social and business networking.

    I have been looking at NCCU’s CLC as the preferred choice, but before I went ahead and applied to CLC, I wanted to check if I was making the right choice, budget- and quality of teaching-wise.

    While I am hoping to be a beneficiary of the HES, I realize that applying for full-time jobs to acquire a work visa and supporting myself, would not be prudent. Therefore, working part-time (with a work visa probably) would be only viable option. Are you working part-time too? I ask because of the response given by you to Bryan –

    “In general, I recommend you allocate yourself at least NT$18-20k per month for rent and food. This means eating an average of 3 meals a day at ~NT$100 and spending around NT$9k on rent and utilities. Also, while transportation is cheaper than most western cities, you will still need to adjust your budget if youโ€™d want to make some trips down south.”

    Please advise.

    Thanks and Regards,
    Sunil Suren

    • steven - reply

      Hello Sunil Suren, working part or full time on scholarship is not legal, but yes, you may acquire a work permit/visa and work while studying without scholarship.

      I am not employed in Taiwan. Rather, I do contract-based work for U.S. based companies and have other small income streams that keep me afloat. I have a few friends in similar situations (one working for a Japan-based company, another U.S.-based engineer, …). To be honest, I’m not 100% clear on the laws in this area, but we haven’t had any problems thus-far. If you plan to do something similar, I suggest doing some research on tax law/agreements with India and Taiwan ๐Ÿ™‚

      Good luck!

  33. Michael - reply

    This blog post has been very informative. I was thinking of perhaps studying at National Sun-Yat University in Kaohsiung, but there is not much information on how their program is. Thus Taipei seems to be the place to be for studying mandarin.

    Have you heard much on the programs at Ming Chuan University and Fu Jen Catholic University? I am trying to get a more complete picture on what Taipei has to offer.

    Thank you again for the information thus far.

    • steven - reply

      Hi Michael! Sorry, I haven’t heard too much about the universities that you’ve mentioned. The ones I highlighted in this post seem to be the most reputable and most talked about, so I focused my research on them.

      From my experience and from chatting with some friends/teachers, it seems that the actual materials covered at the universities here is more or less the same, so I suspect you’d probably have a good experience if you went with an alternative as well. After all, a good portion of your learning will come from your time outside of the classroom, anyway : )

      Of course, if its important to you, an employer, or a school to have attended a more “recognized university”, you may might want to stick with one of the universities in this review.

      The biggest differences you will find between Taipei and Kaohsiung will be in regards to lifestyle (transportation, apartment-size, cost-of-living, …), culture (politics, patriotism, traditional values, …), and language (people in the south generally have stronger accents and use more Taiwanese). Which will be better for you will come down to personal preferences.

      Let me know what you decide on! And, if its one of the less-talked-about universities, please be sure to share the experience ๐Ÿ˜€

  34. Harris - reply

    Hi Steven
    Planing to be in Taipei shortly.
    How bad is the mosquito problem and
    how do you protect yourself.

    • steven - reply

      Mosquitos in Taiwan love foreign blood. You will probably be bitten. But unless you stand still around drains or like to leave standing water around your apt, it probably won’t be too bad. On the bright side, I haven’t heard of anything like dengue fever going around. Good luck ๐Ÿ˜‰

  35. Katrina - reply

    Hi Steven,

    Awesome blog- this is so helpful! Based on your feedback I am going to attend NTU. Can you recommend any specific teachers? Also do you think attending CLD as a beginner was better for conversational Mandarin? I heard NTNU was better for reading and writing. I want to do them all equally well.

    Thanks so much!


    • steven - reply

      Great news! NTU is great for beginners and for reading and writing as well. The pace may seem a bit fast at first, but hang in there, make some local friends, and you will both learn a ton and have a blast. I think you have many great times ahead of you ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Katrina - reply

        Thanks Steven! Do you think you could recommend any teachers or do you think they’re all equally good? Any specific teaching style that you thought might work better than others?

        Thanks again!

        • steven - reply

          Ah yes, of course! ้™ณๅฉงๅฉ—่€ๅธซ (Chรฉn Jรฌng Nรญ LวŽo Shฤซ) is super patient, sincerely cares about her students, is just a good teacher overall. I’m not sure which level she will be teaching in the terms to come, but if you have the opportunity I highly recommend switching into her class!

  36. Neil - reply

    Anyone have any advice about a self-directed, very short-term “course” (about three weeks, likely one-on-one private tutorial) on classical Chinese grammar? Where would it be best in Taipei to pursue this? Any recommended teacher/s? Planning tentatively on spending about three weeks this March. My level is pretty advanced though my modern reading and speaking, of course, could still be better. But I’d like to sharpen my weaker understanding of classical Chinese (which I’ve studied before) through grammatical explanations in modern Chinese.

  37. Sach - reply

    Hi Steven,

    Thank you for such wonderful blog and patiently answering all the queries.

    I know basic Mandarin Simplified Chinese.

    I am applying for scholarship for 6 months where in i need to put the institute. So will CLD is good for me?

    Also what will be the average cost per month in NT$

    I m pure vegetarian so is there Veg restaurants.

    More importantly how’s campus environment and weather at CLD.

    Thanks in advance. Would like to meet you in Taiwan if selected for scholarship.


    • steven - reply

      Hi Sach, I personally prefer CLD for the atmosphere, class size, location, teaching guidelines, etc but I suspect any of the language centers on this list will be good for 6 months of studying. A lot of the benefit really comes studying the language in-country.

      I have a general breakdown of expenses/cost-of-living in here in my post about finding an apartment in Taipei.

      For better or worse, much of the famous cuisine in Taiwan has some sort of meat in it, but due to the large Buddhist population, it is also one of the more vegetarian-friendly countries in the world. You will have no problems finding vegetarian restaurants and food all over the city.

      As far a the weather goes, it is a humid, subtropical climate and is quite warm outside of winter. Some people hate it; others love it.

      Best of luck! I hope you get the scholarship! : )

  38. Steven - reply

    Hey Steven,

    Thanks for quick and informative reply.


  39. Violet - reply

    Hi Steven,

    I really really want to say a BIG thank you for taking your time in writing such a comprehensive, helpful and easy to understand blog post for those of us who want to study Mandarin in Taiwan! I’m so happy to have stumbled upon your blog and honestly, your experience and knowledge along with some of your readers, helped me to narrow down to 2 places (your program & CCU). Now, my goal is to apply to both and see which one takes me in for Fall 2015! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Question: Do you know any volunteer places in Taipei where I can work with children/youth in teaching them English and at the same time can interact with them and practise my Mandarin?

    Thank you in advance for answering my question. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cheers, Violet

    • steven - reply

      Happy Chinese New Year! I’m happy I could help ๐Ÿ™‚

      I don’t personally know of any such volunteer opportunities, but have forwarded your question to a friend that has participated in similar volunteer work. I will get back to you as soon as I have some recommendations ๐Ÿ™‚

      Best wishes and good luck with your application!

  40. Manuel - reply

    Hello Steven

    Thank you very much for your informative article.
    I am a Swiss student about to finish his bachelor and I want to do a masters in Taipei, either at NTU or NTUST. Before starting with my studies I want to learn Mandarin as best possible for a few months.

    I did some research and stumbled upon the Taiwan Mandarin Institute ( You have not mentioned this one in your article, so you might not know about it. This school is not attached to any university, so my question is: Do you see that as something positive or negative?

    My considerations are that a school focused solely on teaching a language
    is more concentrated on the task. Also they are more flexible (no attendance for example) because they care more about the good service than the reputation of the whole university by being very strict and accepting only the best/most hard-working.

    What would you say makes more sense: a language devision of a university or an independant language school? Thank you so much for your reply!

    • steven - reply

      Hi Manuel,
      Overall, I’ve heard good things about the non-university-associated Mandarin institutions, but nothing too concrete. The biggest drawbacks/considerations are probably price and visa issues.

      That is, these institutions are generally more expensive and students attending classes at said institutions generally do not qualify for extendable visitor visas. As such, you’ll need to fly-out-and-back every three months or so and/or find an alternative means of obtaining an extendable visa.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

  41. Jessica - reply

    Can you give me some more information about the MLC kids camp and how your son enjoyed it. I have registered my kids age 8 and 10 in it for the summer 3 week camp July2015. The early bird price is 18000 TWD each plus lunch 1200 and 300 admin fee. We are likely to stay in a superior room offered by MLC as the other short stays were very far. Although the accommodation Hsiu-Chiu House cost 26000TWD, 2 beds and although the short stays are further it seems by MRT would be the same distance and more comfortable… Do you have any comments on how to find a short stay for a family?? As for the parent/child learning program do you know anything about this ?? It cost 8000 for 36 hours which does not seem too bad. I have grade 6 2nd language mandarin from Singapore. We are Canadians by the way…
    Steven–thx for all your information and forum to ask questions…. Jess

  42. Essi - reply


    Thank you so much for the informative post. I found this while I was searching for information about different language schools in Taiwan. I’m applying for a scholarship to study there and find it difficult to choose the language school from all the different options. I know someone who studied in MTC and she really liked it, but she also told me that they focus more on writing and reading. I want to study all parts of the language equally. I did study Mandarin in Shanghai while I was doing my university exchange and that’s when I fell in love with the language. Now I’m back for more! ๐Ÿ˜€ I was thinking about applying to CLD. It seems like the best fit for me and the location is also appealing. I like the hustle and bustle! ๐Ÿ˜€
    I will definitely read your other posts about Taiwan and keep my fingers and toes crossed for the scholarship!

    Essi from Finland ๐Ÿ™‚

    • steven - reply

      Hi Essi, thanks for the comment, I’m happy this post could offer some value to you ๐Ÿ™‚

      You will find a reading/writing focus at all of the universities since the writing system is an integral part of the language. That being said, I feel the CLD courses are slightly more balanced due to the smaller class sizes and often dreaded, but very helpful weekly presentations.

      Good luck! I hope you get the scholarship, too : )

  43. Violet - reply

    Hi Steven! I want to say thanks for replying to me previously, and forwarding my question re: volunteering in Taiwan to your friend. Guess what? I got accepted into your program and I start this Fall! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yay!! I’m now going to check your post on finding an apartment in Taipei and may ask you questions there…Hope to hear from you soon re: volunteering! Thanks so much once again!!!

    • steven - reply

      Yay!! Congrats! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Sorry for the delay in response… I am fighting off a bad case of the flu and will get back to you on your other comment in just a couple days.

      Just wanted to let you know though, I did reach out to my friend and it turns out the volunteer work they did was with much younger children and unrelated to English teaching (they could barely speak Chinese as it was). I have a couple other people that might have some recommendations though, so I will also be reaching out to them in the next couple days. Sorry again for the delay!

  44. Diego - reply

    Hi Steven!

    It’s a great post. Congrats :).

    I am about to gradute and I’m looking forward traveling to Taipei to study mandarin for at least a year. I have read some schoold have 3-month courses. Do you know about any school with at least 6-month periods and with capability of upgrading to higher levels?

    However my level of mandarin is really low (just a year of studies two years ago) so I need courses to learn basically from scratch.

    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    • steven - reply

      Hi Diego, even though the courses at all of these schools are 3 months long, the courses are divided into various levels and students move up in level as they complete each course. Generally, you can attend any of these schools for anywhere between 3 months and 3 years depending on how long you’d like to study.

      I hope this helps clarify things : )

  45. Tomas - reply

    Hi Steven,

    Thanks for the great review, appreciate it a lot.

    I am about to finish my graduate degree here in the Netherlands and am planning to spend some time overseas before I start working. I have visited Taiwan in the past for a few days and I absolutely loved it! That said, I am presently thinking of going back, now to learn Mandarin Chinese in Taipei.

    In pursuit of this idea, I have done my research online (including your excellent review!) and I have now narrowed my choices down to the CLD and the ICLP. I would be very happy if you could give me some advise on which of the two is best suitable for me.

    My level of Chinese is 0. Apart from ‘che che’ I do not know any Mandarin presently. By taking classes in Taiwan I hope to at least reach a level where I am able to have a basic conversation with people who do not speak any English. Ideally I would be able to achieve this level within a period of 9 months. I’m considering starting a career in diplomacy and for that a level of A2 Chinese is required.

    I have read quite a few stories on high intensiveness of the ICLP. I definitely do not mind an intensive workload, I have become used to it throughout my education and internships. Be that as it may, I would still like to be able to hang out with locals – participate in sports (taekwondo and soccer), go out, etc – without obstructing my studies.

    I am aware of the price differences between the more affordable CLD and the more expensive ICLP. Does this also result in a difference in standard of education / facilities?

    Thank you so so much in advance for your help! ๐Ÿ™‚



    • steven - reply

      Hi Tomas, it sounds like you’ve definitely done your research! Based on your description, I suspect CLD might be a better choice as it will allow you more time to participate in all of the activities you listed. Also, my experience is that you can learn just as much (if not more) by doing more outside of class with locals than if you spend an extra couple hours with a teacher.

      The difference in price is really more related to the amount of instruction time you have and not necessarily reflective of the quality of facilities/instruction. In fact, ICLP and CLD are not only in the same building, but the facilities are more or less the same as well.

      I hope this helps and please let me know what you end up deciding on : )

      • Tomas - reply

        Hi Steven,

        Considering that I have zero experience with Mandarin, do you think I am still eligible for the CLD? Like I do not know ANY Mandarin…


        • steven - reply

          Yes, no need to worry! All of these schools have classes for complete beginners : )

  46. JOE - reply

    Hi Steven,

    Great blog! I’m joe, an FBC (Filipino Born Chinese) based in the Philippines. I have took some time-off work to continue my further studies in Taiwan. I have
    been using most of your blogs in my search for a good school in Taipei. So far I am decided in going for CLD this coming Fall. ๐Ÿ˜€

    I just have a few questions before I jump in:

    1.) upon checking their site, the deadliest deadline would be Aug 7, 2015. If I would submit my application form on May, how long would it take before they send back the admissions letter? I’ll be doing my VISA by then.

    2.) I’ve read your blog about finding an apartment and it has helped me a lot in what to do. CLD has also recommended two hostels to check-out before getting an apartment.

    Taipei Hostel
    6th Floor, No 11 Lane 5, Lin Shen North (Lin Shen N) Rd.


    Formosa Hostel
    3rd Fl, No 16, Lane 20,. Chungshan N Rd, Sec 2.

    Do you have any insights on either of these two hostels? I plan to stay here first before the school year starts on Fall (August) and do my Housing Hunt.

    3.) According to your blog, would it be sufficient if I would allocate my budget per month this way?

    Food: NT$ 3,500 (USD 112)/Month
    Lodging: NT$12,000 (USD 386)/Month
    Utilities: NT$ 2,000 (USD 64)/Month
    Adventure: NT$ 3,500 (USD 112)/Month

    TOTAL BUDGET NT$22,000 (USD 708)/ Month

    Thank you and looking forward for your advice.

    • steven - reply

      Hi Joe, I think its great that you’re going to take some time off work to travel and study this beautiful language that’s also part of your heritage!

      I suggest you contact the CLD office and explain your time concerns. At the same time, complete and send in your application via email and request that they also email you a digital copy the acceptance letter. In the meantime, I recommend you contact your local Taiwan embassy or representative office and explain the situation while verifying if a printout of the acceptance letter will be okay to submit with the visa application. I suspect you’ll find both parties quite helpful.

      Unfortunately I don’t have any experience with the hostels in Taiwan, but a couple of my old classmates from the UK stayed in a hostel for a large part of one term without any issues, so I suspect they will be okay. Either way, it sounds like you are doing the right thing by going early to find a place to rent before classes start.

      As far as your budget goes, everything seems in order except your food budget is quite low. I think you want to give yourself at least NT$6,000 ($200 USD) per month to make sure you’re not limited to eating only rice balls during your stay. Most locals use somewhere in the range of $250-350 USD on food. The breakdown is generally something like NT$40-60 for breakfast, NT$90 for lunch bento, and NT$100-160 for dinner.

      The main trick to reduce spending on food is to eat like a local. Another trick is to use a refillable water bottle and refill at the water fountain in the language center before/after class (a lot of people do this). Also, as soon as you have your student ID card, get a student transit card. You will get a nice discount on every metro and bus ride. OH, one more thing is that a lot of places on campus and even a few off campus will give you a 10% discount on purchases.

      I hope this helps and hope you have a great stay in Taipei!

      • JOE - reply

        Hi Steven,

        I’ll keep that noted. Thank you for sharing your inputs.
        On a side note, you can use your blogs to attract these taiwan schools to hire you
        as a foreign liaison. I can see that you’ve helped a lot of people and
        you can help these Taiwan schools to get students too. Just my 2 cents. Cheers mate!

  47. Fiona - reply

    Hi Steven,

    First of all, thank you for your post. It’s really informative!

    I would like to ask for your opinion where it would be best to study for a overseas Chinese person. I speak mandarin myself, but I’m not 100% fluent. I can read and understand the language by ear, but speaking is be my weakest point. Therefore, I want to go Taiwan to improve my speaking skills, but I’m not sure which learning centre would be the best for me.

    I’ve looked into many learning centres, but a lot of them primarily cater for beginners. It’s hard to find any feedback for people in my situation.

    Any help will be appreciated. Thank you!

    • steven - reply

      Hi Fiona, how far along are your reading and listening skills? Can you understand books/newspapers and tv programs/movies? If your reading and listening skills not too far ahead, you should be okay joining the normal classes if you can test into a more intermediate level.

      Unfortunately, aside from private tutoring, the only specialized classes I know of are at NTNU’s MTC, but those are directed at overseas Chinese that can speak and listen but lack reading/writing skills which is obviously not what you’re looking for.

      If you really want to focus just on speaking, I suggest finding a private tutor while in country. Then, make a best effort to go out and meet and chat with locals whenever possible. Practicing with locals will help you get the flow of speaking down while building some confidence. Your tutor can help you correct pronunciation and help you fill in any vocabulary/sentence-structure blanks.

      Once people find out you’re a foreigner, they will likely ask you a lot of similar questions. This repetition is an invaluable way to increase your speaking skills. After you get to a certain comfort zone with your standard answers, you can start to throw in new sentence structures and terms as you learn them.

      Best of luck and let me know what you decide to do ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Fiona - reply

        Hi Steven,

        Thank you for your response.

        My listening skills are quite advanced. For instance, I can watch an entire episode “ๅคงๅญธ็”Ÿไบ†ๆฒ’” (raw) with no trouble at all. Of course, I don’t understand when when speak Taiwanese Hokkien, but I can rely on the subtitles provided to understand what they’re saying.

        That being said, my reading skills is at a similar level. If I read a Chinese article, I can’t read as fast as someone who was born in Taiwan, but I know what is being said.

        You’re correct about sentence structure, which is why I have trouble speaking the language fluently, as well as some minor pronounciation issues.

        So there’s not really a language centre I can enrol into because many don’t offer what I’m looking for, and private tutoring would be the best option for me?

        Thank you.

        • steven - reply

          Unfortunately I’m not aware of any courses that would be a good fit for you. It’s possible that some of the private institutions may have something more specialized, but I suspect it would probably just be in the form of private lessons.

          In the meantime, I recommend trying out WaiChinese. I’ve recently been playing around with their product and it seems great for learning/refining speaking and pronunciation, especially if you already have a working knowledge of the language. They offer quite a few lessons and it is free to try. Hopefully it can provide you with some value ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Fiona

            How are the intermediate to advanced classes at NTU CLD. Some people say they’re good for people at an advanced level? Do you have any insight on those classes?

          • steven

            Hi Fiona, I can confirm that the intermediate/advanced level classes at NTU CLD are quite good. After finishing the text books, you will move on to watching and reading news articles. My teacher was great and put a lot into selecting/preparing the articles ahead of time so we could get the most out of our classes.

  48. Jane - reply

    Hi Steven,
    Would you know which school has a 4 week course for kids aged 12 and 15? They are not beginners, having studied as a second language from young but are shy to speak. I was hoping with an immersion course that they will be able to speak more fluently. I’m planning to send them in July or Dec. Are there courses in Dec over Christmas?

    Thanks for you blog and all your replies. It’s been very helpful with trying to plan.

    • Jchung - reply

      I registered my kid for July at MLC. You have to
      Inquire in March the latest as spots fill up quickly…My kids are8 and 10. The grouping are 7-9 and 10-14.

      • Jane - reply

        HI Jchung,
        what is MLC? Do you mean MTC? I have enquired about the latter but they start registration in Jan so it’s full. I guess I have to wait till next year. Unless anyone knows of another schools which conducts classes for kids aged 12-15.
        Thanks for your help.

        • steven - reply

          Hi Jane, I believe Jchung was referring to this MLC. It looks like they have a summer program with both kids’ classes and classes for teenagers.

          It looks like there might still be time to register for both of these if you reach out to them soon!

        • Jchung - reply

          It is Mandarin Learning Center through Chinese Cultural Center. It is near Dann Park. You can get Accomodation through them as well which works out cheaper than a hotel.

          • steven

            Jchung, thanks for taking the time to share you’re knowledge and experience! ๐Ÿ˜€

  49. Gloria - reply

    Hi Steven,

    I was excited to learn mandarin this summer but unfortunately I was not accepted into this year’s ICLP program.

    Can you offer any advice as to how I should proceed?

    Thank you.

    • steven - reply

      Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that ๐Ÿ™

      although not as intense, CLD is still a pretty good alternative. You can always supplement the classes with additional tutoring and/or language-exchange. Though, I recommend getting a feel for the class pace, etc before signing up for anything extra. Hope that helps!

  50. Emily - reply

    Hello Steven,

    Thanks for your excellent post! My 19 year old daughter is considering applying for NTNU’s MTC program but is concerned that she will be surrounded by classmates who are much older than her. Do you have any information regarding this?


    • Emily - reply

      Hi Emily!

      I went to MTC last year for two terms and in both terms they were quite diverse, but predominantly young. In my first term we had an 18 and 30 year old classmate and the the rest were 20-25 (only had about 8 students total.) During the summer term there are a lot more college students that come for a semester.
      My classmates were a lot of fun and I made a lot of good friends there! I hope she enjoys MTC if she decides to apply ๐Ÿ™‚

  51. Fiona - reply

    Hi Steven,

    I can’t seem to reply to your comment above, so I’m posting a new one.

    Thank you for your insight. But do you get much opportunity to SPEAK in intermediate/advanced classes at NTU’s CLD (not just reading, writing and listening)?


  52. rebecca - reply

    Hi steven,
    This blog is brilliant for me and so helpful, I still have to choose which school I want to go to, when I learned french I went to a private language school for an intensive course rather than a university so I would like to stick this way for mandarin. I am a beginner and I dont know weather to study traditional or simplified. The school I am talking to is called Taiwan Mandarin Institute and they said I can choose simplified or traditional. What would your advise be?i basically want to learn fast?is either easier?would you recommend TMI, I have read good reviews online.thanks for your time ๐Ÿ™‚

  53. Phil - reply

    Hey Steven,

    I’m interested in learning Chinese. Right now I am in Taipei.
    Would be awesome if we could meet to have a drink and talk about the whole thing ๐Ÿ™‚

  54. Lisa - reply

    I’m from America and I’m currently in Taipei learning Chinese for almost six months now. I enrolled in a private Chinese institute. Overall the teaching is good, but a little pricey compared to what I found later in local tutors at

    You can find good local Chinese tutors with affordable fee and quality teaching as well. By the way, teacher Frank is the local private tutor I found from Craigslist, and he’s doing a decent job so far. If you need reference, shoot me an email and I will forward to him.

    Good Luck learning Chinese!

  55. Hali - reply

    Hi Steven,

    Thank you so much for this write up, it is really helpful!

    I’ve been accepted into NTU CLD winter course for this coming November, which is around 10 weeks. I know that besides the winter course, the CLD programs are 12 weeks long but I noticed in one of your comments above that you are currently in your fifth month. May I know how did you extend your program?

    I’m really interested in learning Mandarin and I would love to learn it for more than the 10 weeks provided in the winter course.

    • steven - reply

      Hi Hali, that’s great news and happy the post helped! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Even though the courses are only a few months long, you will be able to continue the following term and move up to the next level as long as you pass. Also, depending on you’re residency and visa situation, you can either leave the country every few months for a day or two to renew your landing visa or apply for a title=”Study in Taiwan Visa Information”>visitor visa extension.

      I personally applied for the visitor visa, paid for a couple terms in advance, and then extended the visa until I qualified for an ARC (alien residency card). Many of my friends felt the visa processes were too troublesome and preferred going on occasional weekend trips to Hong Kong, Thailand, etc to keep their landing visas valid. Either way, make sure you check the entry requirements for your country of residence first!

      Good luck, learn and lot, and have fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Hali - reply

        Okay that makes sense now lol.

        Thanks for the clarification and the tips! your posts on Taiwan has been really helpful, I really haven’t found any other blog that is as informative as yours regarding mandarin centres and life in NTU CLD.

        Please post more! ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply