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.



Thesis defence in Chinese and on the doorstep of graduation

It’s been a hectic week here in Guangzhou, can’t believe it’s Monday again! Those days last week before Friday all let to my thesis defence on the 29th. It was one of the most nervous days of my life, making me almost faint at the classroom!

I arrived early to the campus as printed out two pages of my thesis that had a terrible error on them. I wanted to show the teachers, that I had noticed the mistake my self which is better than wait for them to point it out. Of course I have noticed several small typos as well, wondering how tired my eyes were when I checked my thesis before printing it out.

We had our presentations in small groups, with me I had a Korean girl, Indonesian girl and an Italian guy, last two being ethnic Chinese. We were seated at one of the sides in the classroom, we would be speaking in front of the room and the teachers were seated at the back. There was also chairs for classmates to come in and listen to our presentations.

While I waited my turn, I was third, I started getting more and more nervous. Would I be able to finish my presentation in the 7 minutes allowed or would it be too short? Could I answer all the questions asked my teacher? Heck, could I even stand on my two feet?

Finally it was my time to take the spotlight. I had prepared a nice Power Point slide show about my thesis, but probably it didn’t really matter much. After I was done, I sat on the chair in front of the teachers. I had a desk in front of me and I placed my thesis on the desk. I had read it over a few times, making careful notes on mistakes and questions the teachers might ask.

I have no idea how long they asked me questions, and can’t remember all of them, but somehow I lost my nervousness and was able to be calm. I answered everything the best I could, but wasn’t given enough time to defend my thesis as much as I would have liked to.

Three of us received a grade good, one received average. It was a relief that I was able to get a good grade, but I would be lying if I said I was happy with it. Not being able to get the highest grade, excellent, was bitter.

There won’t be a change to do it all over again, but if everything goes well, I will be writing my master’s thesis in two years. What I have learned during these months is that it’s crucial to choose the best teacher to help you and start as soon as possible. Don’t leave anything at the last-minute and check your work numerous times before printing.

Writing a thesis in Chinese was nerve-wracking at times, but I learned a lot too. I’m happy to get it finally of my hands very soon and head for new challenges.


Writing a Thesis in Chinese


This semester I’ve been busy with my thesis writing and the last week of rewriting is about to start. As my major is Chinese language, my thesis is also in Chinese. Writing such a long academic text have been nothing but easy to do in my second foreign language.

The first challenge was back in June when I had to come up with a topic for my thesis. After going back and forth I finally decided to find out why Finns are learning Chinese. More courses are offered in Chinese language in Finland and our country will need more Chinese speakers in the future. But what are really the reasons that young Finnish adults learn Chinese?

Second challenge was to get enough students to answer my survey. For some reason no one from Helsinki University answered, which resulted in having quite a small number of answers for my thesis.

Third challenge was to analyse the date that I got from the survey. It was super difficult to do as it was my first time to do quantitative research. I even lost a day’s work as for some reason the Excel didn’t save what I had done at the end of the day. I also wasted a lot of time by doing all the wrong things instead of taking the time to really learn how to do the analysing correctly.

Fourth challenge is right now when I’m rewriting quite a large part of my thesis. I got feedback from three different teachers and there is still a lot to be done in order to make this thesis better. Luckily I’ve got some great ideas from my boyfriend who also helps me to check the grammar. Besides him, I also have a friend to help me out with grammar and typos too.

This Autumn have brought many changes for me, as I haven’t been taking any classes anymore. Next Spring will be even more different as I don’t have any university responsibilities! That doesn’t mean that the learning is going to stop though, hopefully I’m able to set some new and exciting goals next year.


Studying at Sun Yat-Sen University: Spring semester’s grades

I’ve been studying at Sun Yat-Sen University for four semesters now. As many of you know, my major is Chinese language and I’m specializing in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language (TCSL). On Spring 2013 I had my last compulsory courses and in this post I want to share my grades and final feelings of those courses.

You can also read about my other previous semesters here:

I hope these posts are helpful to anyone who plans to study their bachelor’s degree at SYSU.

But lets take a look how I did last semester:

综合 Comprehensive Chinese

Last March I wrote how “My biggest challenge have always been how to be motivated when studying boring material”, that was definitely the case with this course. Because I wasn’t inspired by the course or the teacher, I had difficulties motivating my self to learn and do homework.

I’m not surprised that I only got 79 (out of 100) from this course.

计算机 Computer Course

We learned a lot of important things about Word that will definitely help me with my thesis. Studying Excel was a bit boring, but I actually learned some useful skills that I’ve used after the course. Power Point was really familiar to me already, as we had to make many presentations at school, so there wasn’t that much to learn.

I was bit surprised to get 95.

偏误分析 Error Analysis

The course was all about looking at students’ sentences and finding their mistakes. It wasn’t always that exciting, but I understand it’s important for future teachers to know how to correct your student’s errors. To make it a bit less boring our teacher made as do short spontaneous speeches in front of the class and other classmates would keep their ears open for any mistakes.

I got 93 from this course.

教育心理学 Educational Psychology

Absolutely my favourite course of the semester! Even my thesis is about study motivation, even though I unfortunately didn’t get this teacher to help me with my thesis, as she was taken already by my classmate. We learned a lot about both learning and teaching. As our final exam we had to write 3000 characters in a topic that could be the same as our thesis.

I was happy to get 93 from this course.

毕业论文写作 Thesis Writing

I really liked our Teacher Li on this course, she’s an amazing person. I know that writing is often my best skill, much better than speaking, and she even praised my homework in class once or twice. Writing our theses without this course would be much more difficult, so luckily they got the new textbook out just before our course begin.

I was also very satisfied to get 92 from the course.

What’s next?

I was really surprised that this was my best semester! I almost feel like did our teachers be too easy on us or how could I get so great grades from most of the courses. The one odd 79 doesn’t really bother me much as I know the reason why I didn’t do well on that class. Sure I could have worked harder, but what’s done is done.

The next step is of course to continue writing my thesis. I have to send out the questionnaire in September and then in October we have to hand in our first draft. Everything should be ready in December for dissertation defend.


New Semester At Sun Yat-Sen University

New semester has started at Sun Yat-Sen University. During my previous three semesters here I have received the Excellent Student Award (being best at my class, grades 80+) two times and once I got a Didn’t-Skip-Classes Award (or something like that, for someone who skipped a very very few classes and grades were 70+).

So I have a lot to prove this semester! Lets take a look what kind of courses I’m having this semester.

Compulsory courses


As always, there is the Comprehensive Chinese course which includes vocab, grammar, reading and writing. We changed to a new book series for this course and are now using Road To Success Advanced. It’s very different from the last book series we used the previous three semesters. New book is a welcomed change, but unfortunately our teacher is a tiny bit dry. We had such a great and entertaining teacher last semester, that I can’t help but to feel bit disappointed. My biggest challenge have always been how to be motivated when studying boring material, any tips?


Computer class! During this class we will learn how to use Word, Power Point and Excel in Chinese. I’m not sure how much I will learn during this class as I know how to use those quite well already. But it’s a good idea to get used to the Chinese interface. This course should help us write our thesis and make Power Point Presentations, or PPTs, if we work as a teacher some day. The teacher is young and energetic, so that makes this course better.


Error Analysis is a course that will help us to teach our students and correct their mistakes and errors. Hopefully it will also help me to correct some of my own errors as well. During this course we will need material to analyse, which will be a bit challenging for me. There aren’t so many Finns around here whose Chinese I could analyse, but I hope to find at least one or two. Or find more online. Teacher is young, but seems to know very well what she is doing. I think this will be a good course.


Educational Psychology will be one of the best courses this semester, at least that’s how I feel like just after first class with the teacher. We will learn how students learn the best and how a teacher uses this information in order to help the students. I’ve always been interested in learning methods, strategies and such, so I’m really looking forward what we will learn during this course. This teacher taught us last semester as well and she’s great.


Thesis writing! Of course we need a course to teach us how to write a thesis and this course is all about it. We will learn everything from how to choose a topic to the layout of the paper it self. One important task this semester is to choose a teacher to guide you with your thesis. The best teachers get chosen really quickly so I want to make my decision fast. I don’t want to end up with a young teacher without any experience. The teacher of this course is quite excellent, perhaps I should ask her.


And then there is the Taiji, compulsory course  for us degree students. I feel so lucky that I don’t have to use my head and think what to do on Friday evening as I have Taiji classes then! What a relief! (Or not…) There isn’t anything wrong with Taiji, I actually like it, but not in this setting. Not when there are 50 students and all of us just want to pass the stupid thing.

Selective courses


Read aloud and correct pronunciation is the name of this course, just what I need! We will prepare texts at home to read to the teacher and she will correct us, that’s the basic pattern for this course. I hope to improve my tones and some tricky pronunciation point that I still haven’t got right (z c zh ch). This teacher was really strict when she was my Comprehensive Chinese teacher a year ago and I expect her to keep it like that.


This might be the most fun course of the semester! On this course to Chinese Popular Customs our teacher will introduce as to interesting places in Guangzhou related to different popular customs on the area. We will then visit them our selves taking notes and photographing the visit. After that we will present our finding to the class. What a great idea for a course!


Chinese philosophy is taught by one of my favourite teachers, our Comprehensive Chinese teacher from last semester. I probably don’t do the exam on this course but just because of the teacher I’m willing to take the classes. I’m sure it will be entertaining and interesting at the same time.

That’s it!

So these are my courses this semester. During this semester we will decide our thesis topics, find a guiding teacher and finally write a 开题报告, Chosen Topic Report, or something like that to finalize our topic choose. Next Summer and Autumn will be all about writing the thesis of about 6000 characters, there’s a lot to learn before that!