Survey for international women living in China

At the moment I’m in the process of writing my master’s thesis. My research plan was approved and I’ve started to gather replies for my survey. Finding enough people from my target group hasn’t been easy, and I’m still looking for more expat women to answer my short survey.

This survey is for:

  • foreign expat women living in Mainland China
  • stay-at-home women like housewives and trailing spouses
  • haven’t studied Mandarin at all or have studied less than 1 year
  • is not married to a Chinese national

If you fit all these criteria above, it would be a huge help if you could spare a few minutes and answer to my survey here. (http://www.wenjuan.com/s/QVbE7vD/)

Or if you know expat women fitting the demographics, please share the survey with them!

Thank you everyone for your help and support!


Writing a Research Plan in Chinese

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Now that my bachelor’s thesis seems like a faded memory, it’s time to start my master’s thesis! I’ve finished my fist year of graduate school and all of my courses expect thesis writing that will begin next week. Of course I’m being optimistic and hope that I have passed all the courses I took!

Back in 2013 I wrote about writing a thesis in Chinese and then defending it in Chinese. For a master’s thesis the process is similar:

  1. Write a research plan (开题报告)
  2. Research plan is evaluated by your teachers (one or two that are supervising your thesis writing) [End of August]
  3. Make  changed if (when) necessary
  4. Present the research plan in front of three teachers who will ask questions and offer valuable feedback (开题报告会) [Mid-September]
  5. If necessary come up with a new topic (if the first one didn’t pass), or make changed to your research plan according to the advice
  6. Write a first draft of the thesis
  7. Send the first draft to your supervising teachers for feedback [Around Chinese New Year 2016]
  8. Write your thesis again according to the feedback, write the final draft
  9. Present and defend your thesis in front of three teachers, pass and get a grade or if unlucky (your supervising teacher didn’t warn you) you get back to the drawing board [Around May 2016]
  10. Make final corrections and print your thesis

Originally the deadline for the final draft is around the Chinese New Year next year, but because I happen to have a baby deadline coming in the beginning of November, I’m planning to get my first draft done before that as well.

Right now I’m in the process of reading research papers and theses around my topic, making notes and papering the theory section of my thesis. Before the end of the month I also need to make an outline for my thesis as well as a schedule how I’m going to finish my thesis in time. Basically I have to write the beginning of my thesis from Introduction to Research methods.

Luckily together with my supervisors I came up with a great topic for my thesis that I’m very excited about. I can use the knowledge I’ve gathered for my graduate courses, the experience from teaching my students and hopefully write something that will help me a lot in the future with my students.


Busy Autumn Continues


Finnish Booth During Culture Day

It’s been over a month since my last post, the busy life of a graduate student in China, because I’ve truly been that busy with lectures, homework and teaching. Today I wanted to take the time to relax and update my blog that has become way too quiet since I started my master’s degree.

Some of my classmates, especially the locals students, stay up until after midnight writing homework or planning events for our department. I’ve been lucky to be able to sleep well, only a few times staying up until 1am. Because of all our courses are done during our first year, its gets very hectic and many of my classmates have complained the department, now the teachers are actually giving us a chance to voice our opinions anonymously.


The cat’s aren’t happy that I don’t have enough time to play with them

I’ve been mostly enjoying the busy life since doing nothing for half a year, challenging my self with studies has been great. I’m reading a lot more in Chinese than I ever have, we also have plenty of opportunities to practice our spoken language during class, group discussions and presentations. Once I mentioned during class that I didn’t learn pronunciation properly during my first year of studies in Finland, after that the head of our department always corrects my fourth tone when he gets the chance! I was a bit annoyed first, but now just take it as a chance to improve.


At taiji class

I got excellent thesis supervisors, one energetic and excellent younger teacher with a lot of passion. Another one is bit older and in charge of us graduate students, one of the most important teachers at our department. This first semester is mostly for study and reading tons of research to pave the way for thesis writing next year. One of my supervisors hinted that I could do something related to vocabulary, especially synonyms, but I also have others interests that I would like to pursue.

Me and my husband Alan are staying in Guangzhou for the foreseeable future, but you never know if we at some point find out selves in Finland. I’ve slowly started to understand the current state of Chinese teaching in Finland, connecting with a few great teachers that has been so kind to share their experiences with me. It’s very interesting to see how Chinese teaching and learning continues to grow in Finland, it’s already grown so much since I was studying Chinese at Tampere.


Only some of the books I’m reading this Autumn

I don’t often do “this is what I’ve been doing” posts, but as you all know, being a student means a lot of time at classrooms, lecture halls, libraries and having my nose buried into books. It’s very interesting, but doesn’t leave much time to explore anything else. Thank you for still being here with me along the journey!

I almost forgot, we booked tickets to Malaysia for our honeymoon in January! First we will be spending a week at Kota Kinabalu and then two nights at Kuala Lumpur. It’s going to be the ultimately best way to end our first year as a married couple, and also my first busy semester as a graduate student.


Busy Life of a Graduate Student

Sun Yat-Sen University

It’s been a busy start of the semester, but finally I found the time to share my first thoughts and feelings how it’s like to be a graduate student in China. As most of you know, I did my bachelor degree here at Sun Yat-Sen University first, and continued to the master’s this August. Doing the undergrad was more like going to high school: go to lessons, do your homework, take exams, just with an added bonus of writing a thesis in the end.


Doing a master’s in Teaching Chinese (or International Chinese Education as we call it), is something totally different. My studies consist of following elements:

  • lessons
  • individual homework
  • group projects
  • reading articles, research papers, books
  • writing project reports and course papers
  • listening to experienced teachers teach
  • teaching simulation
  • internship at Chinese Teaching Materials Base

My current courses can be seen on the schedule above, later this year two courses will be added to the mix. Next year Spring and Summer semester will continue more or less in a same way, leaving the teaching internship and thesis writing for the last year.


Studying a graduate degree in a second language is always a big challenge, what makes it a bit easier is that in our class of 63 students, we have 22 foreign students from all over the world. We come from different cultures, but also have similar challenges in studying a degree in Chinese. It means a lot to have this support group.

All of our courses are of course taught in Chinese and I can follow the lessons well. I can see that some teachers are still a bit unsure in which way their teaching can keep both the foreign and Chinese students happy, but in general it’s us foreigners that need to keep up with the Chinese.

Reading a lot of material in Chinese is also a challenge at the moment, but at the same time a good way for me to improve my reading skills and speed. I will be reading papers mainly on teaching, psychology and culture fields, using digital versions on my iPad whenever possible.

Later on writing course papers will present another challenge, I need to improve my written Chinese and avoid too colloquial expressions in my writing. I believe reading a lot helps with writing skills as well.

A good choice

I’ve been very happy that I got the scholarship and the chance to continue my studies here at Sun Yat-Sen University, during the years it has already turned into my home university. I just got the news that the supervisor teachers I chose also chose me, so I will be doing my thesis next year in a good company.

This is just the beginning of my degree, there will most probably be sweat and tears along the way, but hopefully also feelings of success and happiness. I will keep you posted!


Getting ready to start a Master’s Degree in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages

sunyatsen universityThis morning I saw the Confucius Institute Scholarship’s results on their website. I was almost sure that they wouldn’t be updating anything during the weekend, but I still had to continue my daily habit of checking the results site. And there it was!

申请进度:“奖学金资格评审中”- 授予奖学金

I was awarded a full scholarship for Master’s Degree in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages aka MTCSOL! I knew that my chances were good as I graduated from the same Sun Yat-Sen University last December and had both good grades and good relationships with the teachers. But I couldn’t believe it not until I saw it in writing this morning.

So what does this degree actually hold in it? Lets take a look at the courses that I will be studying for the next two years. Usually all the courses are planned for the first year, the second year is mostly reserved for internship and thesis writing.

Teaching Chinese courses

At my university’s website I found a course plan from 2011, that lays out what kind of courses will be studied and their course credits. Of course the syllabus might have been changed after this, but in general it gives and idea of the structure of my courses.

According to my understanding, almost all courses foreign students will study together with Chinese students.

Core courses 18 credits

  • Degree public courses 6 credits
  1. Survey of Contemporary China
  2. Advanced Chinese
  3. Chinese Linguistics
  • Degree core courses 12 credits
  1. Teaching Chinese as a Second Language
  2. Second Language Acquisition
  3. Case Study of Classroom Teaching and Practices
  4. Survey of Chinese Culture
  5. Cross-cultural Communication

Expand courses 10 credits

  • Chinese teaching courses 4 credits
  1. Linguistic Elements in Chinese Teaching
  2. Skills in Chinese Teaching
  3. Comparative Studies of Chinese and Foreign Languages and Error Analysis
  • Chinese Culture and Intercultural Communication 2 credits
  1. Classics of Chinese Culture
  2. Comparative Studies of Chinese and Foreign Cultures
  • Education and Teaching Management
  1. Foreign Language Education Psychology
  2. Teaching Design and Management
  3. Survey of Chinese Teaching in Different Countries

Training courses 4 credits

  1. Application of Modern Technology for Education
  2. Resources & Application for Chinese Teaching
  3. Teaching Assessment and Evaluation Design
  4. Demonstration of Chinese Culture

Seminar 1 credit

  1. Language, Culture and Education
Cultural Experience 1 credit
  1. Activities of Chinese Culture or Cultural Exchange between China and Other Countries

Internship 6 credits

South Campus of Sun Yat-Sen University

Getting ready for the master’s degree

It’s been half a year since I finished undergraduate degree, a year since I’ve taken classes. Now it’s the time to get ready and take a head start for a very challenging year ahead!

First of all I have already started working on finally getting my tones right and improving my pronunciation.

Secondly I want to find out which books we will be using on the courses the following year so I can start reading them now. I need to get more used to reading in Chinese, that’s includes reading speed and taking notes in Chinese. I want to review what I learned during my undergrad, as that knowledge will surely be helpful during my master’s degree studies.

Thirdly I’m looking for students in Guangzhou (perhaps online as well) to teach Chinese to. I want to get more experience in teaching, especially in teaching beginner and elementary Mandarin Chinese. If you want to learn Chinese, you can contact me through email.


The only way is up!

I’m ready for the challenge!

I’m looking forward these two years to improve my Chinese overall level, learn more about teaching and make plans to teach as a career after my graduation.

Get ready for more blog posts on learning and teaching Chinese in the future! If you don’t want to miss any of my new posts, please subscribe for free on my about page or on the right sidebar.