I have been very satisfied with my compulsory courses at the Sun Yat-Sen University, but I can’t say the same about my elective courses. I have to electives this term, Cantonese and Chinese calligraphy. The major problem on both of those courses is that there are way too many students in class.
There are about 50 students at the beginner Cantonese course and most of the students seem not to be that interested in learning to speak Cantonese. Or they still haven’t figured out how to close their mouths. Many students are talking casually through out the whole lesson and teacher doesn’t seem to know how to make the group silent. She tries, but in my opinion, not hard enough.
Teacher simply doesn’t have enough time to correct our pronunciation or even here all of us speaking. How are we going to learn this language without help when the pronunciation is quite difficult?
Also the textbook isn’t that good. It used Guangdong romanization, not the more widely used Jyutping. The first things I would like to learn in Cantonese are the numbers and how to go out and buy things. This would be the vocabulary I could use from day one. But instead we are learning how to greet people, ask how they have been doing and if they work or study. This is also common topic, but it could wait until later.
Chinese calligraphy course
My other elective course, Chinese calligraphy, is difficult, but interesting. There are also about 50 students at class and due to the timetable changes made by the teacher (and because he always finishes early) the class lasts about 60 minutes, not 90 minutes as it should be according the the original plan printed on our schedules.
The calligraphy teacher doesn’t seem to care much. I agree that as we are all adults studying there we can decide if we come to class or not. But when I do come to class (which is always, but not today because I’m going to a MRI with my knee) I would hope to get more guidance. The teacher usually doesn’t help you if you don’t ask him to help. We had a substitute teacher one week and I have to say he was better than our regular teacher.
But even with the not-so-great elective courses, Sun Yat-Sen University is still much better than the Guangzhou University where I used to study before.