Studying Chinese at Sun Yat-Sen University: Intensive Course

The comprehensive course (综合) or intensive course (精读) in other words is the most information packed course we have at the Sun Yat-Sen University. We have intensive classes three times a week which makes up 27% of our total class time. The course includes new vocabulary, new grammar, reading, exercises and occasionally writing short essays.

Our teacher Zhang always comes to class prepared and is an excellent teacher. We first go over the new words, but not all of them at the same time. We usually first cover the words mentioned in the first paragraph of the text, then read the text aloud with our teacher and after that she will explain the tricky parts and grammar for us. With this method it takes us one week to finish one lesson.

Every chapter also have eight to ten exercises that we do partly during class, partly by our selves at home. Every now and then our teacher wants us to write a small essay related to the lesson. Sometimes we also do our homework to our special notebooks and hand them over to teacher Zhang to correct. Homework and essays are graded with letters, A+ being the best one.  (Homework grades are 10% of our final grade.)

After every five lessons we have a small exam which makes up 5% of our final grade. The aim is to make sure we study hard during the semester and not only cram before the final exams. (Final exam is 60% of our final grade.) I think I did a good job with our first exam and got 89 points (100 being the best score).

Studying during class is of course not enough. Besides homework there are lots of new words to learn. Every lesson includes about 50 word’s vocabulary and usually most of them are new to me. It’s not only learning the meaning of the words, but also how to write the characters by hand.

First I write every new character (and old ones that I still don’t remember) 10 times by hand. Then I put all the words to Skritter (affiliate link) and review the words there. I bought the writing tablet and a pen just to study with Skritter.

For memorizing characters and words it’s also good to read the chapter at home at least once. Besides reading the textbook it’s also advisable to read other material. I’m reading my first Chinese novel at the moment (for our reading course) and every time notice words that I have just learned at intensive course.

Intensive course might be the best course I have at the moment. The textbook is good, teacher is great and I learn a lot every week. The level suits me well, keeps me busy, but doesn’t feel impossible to handle.

Besides final exam (40%), small exams (10% in total, two exams) and homework (10%) are final grade also includes attendance (10%) and being active at class (10%). It’s not enough to just show up, but it’s also not enough to be good if you skip classes regurarly. You’re also not allowed to take the exam if you skip too many classes.

If you have any questions about our intensive course or studying at Sun Yat-Sen University in general, please leave a comment!