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Normal University, which offers intensive Chinese training using the "total immersion" method. Your Chinese-language instructor or other knowledgeable China specialist at your university can help you decide which program would be best for you. In some programs, an American adviser, who is often a faculty member from the sponsoring university, stays with the students to supervise language training and other activities. You may want to call the program instructor with specific questions. Many programs include, in addition to language training, courses in Chinese culture and history taught in English by either American or Chinese faculty. Many also include excursions to nearby sights of historic and cultural interest and a tour to other parts of China.

The advantages of such a program (when it is well managed) include a structured, well-supervised program, the mutual support of fellow students, substantive courses in English, and a supervisor who both helps with problems students might have and works directly with the Chinese university administrators and teachers. Language instruction tends to be more suited to American needs as well, since course content may be jointly decided between Chinese and U.S. faculty, and more participatory styles of U.S. instruction may be employed. The style of a well-run program thus retains a certain "American" flavor despite the Chinese setting, and the supervisor can serve as a buffer and mediator between the Chinese liuban and the students. Students experiencing their first taste of China, and perhaps abroad for the first time, often have difficulty knowing how to negotiate the Chinese academic bureaucracy. Moreover, U.S-sponsored programs can work out rules governing dormitory behavior, including late-night noise levels, that less-structured programs cannot, allowing students more quiet time for study in the dorm.

U.S.-sponsored programs tend to be more expensive than enrolling directly in a Chinese school. You will want to inquire about what the package includes—international airfare and travel within China, for instance. Inquire whether course credit is given and whether your university will accept the credits. Find out as much as you can about who will be teaching, how the courses will be structured, and what materials will be used. You might then ask your own language instructor's guidance on whether the materials are suitable for your goals.

The main disadvantage of most U.S-sponsored programs is that while language instruction may be good, many of the potential benefits of absorbing a language through constant exposure are lost. Most interaction outside of class will be with fellow Americans, and unless students have pledged to speak only Chinese (which a few programs require), the medium of communication will be English. Students in such programs tend to be so isolated from the mainstream of Chinese life that interaction with Chinese students and administration is limited.



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