Sun Yat-Sen University

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.



  • Yael

    That’s spectacular news! I know here in the States, getting full rides at the master’s level is difficult. No idea if it’s the same over there, for this degree, but it’s still mighty impressive. Is SYU within easy commuting distance? How are classes structured over there? I ask because the list above seems quite long for only one year. Is the school on a quarter system? My sister did a master’s in journalism and her husband did a master’s in teaching Spanish, and I don’t think they had to take as many I individual courses as you have listed! My husband and myself did the law school route, but oh, some times I wish I had gone for a Master’s in teaching English as a SL. Did a brief stint in the Czech Republic in college. It was such fun. I bet you will do wonderfully and have a great time!


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    There are a lot of scholarships to study in China. At my university we had seven students in total applying for this same scholarship, not sure if anyone else got it too.

    I live far away from everything, so it takes one hour to get to SYSU, but I’m used to that already. I’ve been happy with my undergrad courses there, but hard to say how it’s going to be for the masters as we have Chinese students as well.

    I think the masters is the same as undergad, two semester per year and one course usually lasts one semester and is two to four hours per week. I’ve heard that in other countries, such as UK, degrees has less courses, but each courses is bigger.


  • Olle Linge (凌雲龍)

    Hi Sara,

    I’ve been through years of grad school here in Taiwan, everything in Chinese mostly designed for native speakers (about 3/4 of my class are Taiwanese). I’m not saying your experience will be the same as mine, but if you need help with anything, I’m happy to help. Good luck with everything!



    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    That really means a lot Olle, I will surely be asking you a lot and I’ve also read your other blog about your study experience. Book recommendation on the field could be interesting, but not sure if the books you find good are available in simplified as well.


  • Hue Rocks

    Good news! Congrats and enjoy this experience, I’m sure you’ll learn a lot while teaching others. I find the teaching techniques and activities very interesting. I think that being a foreign language student help me (you, whoever) grasping what techniques are better for each target student and course, to have more resources and a useful insight on the learning process.


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Thanks! I also agree that it’s a huge benefit to actually have gone the learning experience my self, seen the highs and lows of learning.


  • Rebeca

    Congratulations! That is an amazing opportunity!

    I am curious to know what you’ve been doing since graduating, job-wise, and if you’ll be working while pursing the master’s degree?


  • Maya

    Congratulations! That´s great! I look forward to hearing more about your experience in Master studies as well. Greetings from very cold Finland!


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Thank you! Hope you all in Finland will have a better weather for the juhannus!


  • Ellen

    Yaaaay! I’m sincerely happy for you. I know that tension and nail-biting while waiting the results, so I can imagine how happy you are!
    I have had the honour to experience your lectures, and that makes me even more happy that a worth person received the right scholarship.
    Where are you going to do the placement, btw?

    And I loooove the picture of you in this post :)


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Thank you Ellen :) Do you mean the internship placement? I’m not sure what requirements the school has for it, perhaps giving those free lessons at the uni could be counted as internship? If not, then perhaps they could consider private tutoring as well, that’s how we did our internship on our undergrad degree.


  • Bendigo

    Congratulations on the scholarship! During your time as an undergraduate at SYSU, did you get the chance to talk to people taking the MTCSOL for advice?

    (Also, a question – you’ve had experience with both SYSU & Guangzhou University; have you any opinions or hearsay on the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies as a place to study Mandarin? It’s the only institution in Guangzhou that my New Zealand university has an exchange agreement with, but it is very hard to find any anecdotes about it! Also, thank you so much for your blog – so much amazing information, insight and reflection!)


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Unfortunately I didn’t really know any graduate students, but when I asked two of them during our graduation dinner, they just said be well prepared and study hard. Well, that’s for sure!

    My fried studies at GUFS, in Chinese known as 广外, and she likes it very much there. I’ve always had the impression of it being a good university to learn Chinese. I only decided to come to SYSU as it’s more famous and ranks better than GUFS.


  • Alva

    Good luck Sara!
    Don’t forget to have fun during your studies, Masters can be hard and stressfull, but if the program is what you are looking for, very rewarding! I’m sure it will be in your case!
    Keep us posted!


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Thank you Alva! I hope that with my studies I will also make many new friends that share the passion for learning and teaching Chinese :)


  • maria carolina

    Hi! Congratulations on the scholarship!
    It’s been 1 semester already, have u been liking it so far?
    How is this course different from the Masters in Chineses as a Second Language?


    Maria Carolina


  • Elly

    Hi Sara, I’m so happy I have found your blog, it has been a light in the dark!
    I’m from Italy, planning to move to China to stay with my Chinese boyfriend, and I’ve seen Hanban’s Scholarship for MTCSOL, but still have a lot of doubts about the terms and requirements of it.
    I know you are very busy now, but could I ask you some questions about it? Maybe using email or Wechat without bothering everybody here for a private matter. Let me know, it would be of great, great help, since I’m starting to plan my future life now!
    Thank you, and Happy New Year! :*


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