TESOL Course Articles
Learn Mandarin: Funding Your Studies

Up to this point, we have assumed that if you really want to go to China to study, finances are not an issue. Unfortunately, for most people financing the trip is a big concern, and relocating to China, for however long, may not be as simple as just buying a plane ticket. In this section, we will discuss three ways you can finance your trip to China to study Mandarin: teaching English, study abroad programs through your university, and the China Scholarship Council (CSC) scholarship.

Teaching English

Right away, you may be thinking to yourself, "Didn`t I just read that I should avoid English as much as possible when studying a new language?" Ideally, yes, you should avoid English as much as possible when studying a new language. Unfortunately, you may not have the financial resources to not work. If such is the case, teaching English may be a great opportunity for you to not only finance your trip to China and your studies, but also to earn some extra cash on the side.

The key to teaching English as a means to financing your studies lies in choosing a school that does not monopolize all of your time. In other words, you probably do not want to work for a school that requires any more than 20 to 24 hours of teaching per week.

You are likely to find that as a new teacher, you will spend a lot of time learning how to teach. You can greatly minimize the amount of time necessary learning to become a good teacher, and hence devote more time to your Chinese studies, by investing in a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification course. Not only is such certification necessary in order to gain access to the best jobs in China, but the Chinese government requires proof of participation in such a course in order to issue you the documents you will need to lawfully work in China.

A good TESOL course will not only teach you how to become a good teacher, but will also introduce you to Chinese culture and language. Our institute, the Will-Excel TESOL Institute, located in Harbin, China, offers a Chinese government accredited TESOL Diploma program. The course includes 160-hours of TESOL training, which includes 20 hours of Mandarin instruction with a native Chinese speaker, free accommodation, meals, transportation to classes, and job placement assistance.

It is worth reiterating that you should spend as much time outside of work studying and speaking Chinese as possible. Many foreign teachers--the term used by locals to refer to a non-Chinese English teacher--fall into a rut of spending all of their free time with their English-speaking colleagues and therefore only speaking English. Avoid this as much as possible and try to optimize your exposure to Chinese. For example, while you should only speak English in the classroom with your students, after class you can ask your Chinese colleagues to speak to you only in Chinese.

Once you have learnt the basics of becoming a good teacher, and you have familiarized yourself with your school`s curriculum, you will find that you have a lot of extra time to devote to your studies.

Study abroad program

Many universities partner with other universities abroad in order to offer their students study abroad options. If you are currently enrolled in a degree program at a university, visit your university`s head office and ask around about study abroad opportunities in China.

CSC Scholarship

According to their website, the China Scholarship Council (CSC) is a Chinese government organization which provides `financial assistance toˇ­foreign citizens wishing to study in China in order to develop the educational, scientific and technological, and cultural exchanges and economic and trade cooperation between China and other countriesˇ­.` Essentially, the CSC is a soft-power arm of the government which gives out scholarships to foreigners interested in studying abroad in China.

The scholarship generally covers all tuition, housing costs at the affiliated university, a meal allowance, monthly stipend, health insurance, etc.

You do not need to currently be enrolled in a university or degree program to qualify. You can learn more about the scholarship at the CSC website and at Chinese-forums. As a community of Chinese language learners, Chinese-forums.com runs a thread each year devoted entirely to the CSC scholarship which can answer just about any question you may have about the scholarship, application process, etc.

In the next section, we will look at how you can learn Mandarin from home, without having to travel to China.

Learn Mandarin Part 6: Studying Mandarin at Home

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